Zimbabwe now needs is a political settlement to stop the slide towards
A Ncube: 08/09/02
widely expected demise of Zanu Pf by the Movement of Democratic Change
(MDC) at the ballot box earlier this year did not happen. No surprises
there then, given that the government had set in motion a chain of events
that were designed to pre-determine the outcome of the election in its
people of Zimbabwe were denied their fundamental right to choose a leader
of their own liking and this fact alone should have rendered those elections
null and void. That the results were allowed to stand is yet another
reason, after Gukurahundi and the Willovale scandal, that we should not
recognise the legitimacy of the Zanu Pf government. It goes without
saying that to want to hold Zanu Pf to account is to invite accusations
from the Minister for the control of public opinion, Jonathan Moyo, of
being MDC (as if it's a crime) or "agent of the colonialists".
MDC was right to contest the March elections even when faced with insurmountable
odds. By participating in a contest they knew would be rigged and
still coming close to unseating the government, the party won a moral
victory in the eyes of many Zimbabweans.
months on, the MDC seems to be in disarray. It doesn't appear as if the
party had seriously considered the prospect of opposition. Has it
mastered the art of opposition? I think not. It has not been able to translate
its moral victory into real opposition. This, however, is hardly
a surprise because having been founded on a populist wave, the MDC will
always be re-active rather than pro-active to the political situation
in Zimbabwe. It appears to be looking to the masses for signals to act
while becoming very good at telling us what we already know - that Zanu
Pf is a spent force and must be replaced. As things stand, talk
of Zanu Pf demise is misplaced.
is in this post-election period of disillusionment that quiet reflection
is needed. I would like to think that the MDC is currently undergoing
this process, otherwise how does one explain their ineptitude? I would
like to see its leaders emerge from this slumber with more courage than
they have shown so far. There is undeniable thirst for a viable
alternative to the present government, which once again, is holding the
country hostage. Since independence in 1980, Zanu Pf has been in
open confrontation with citizens of Zimbabwe - first it was the Ndebele
and today it is everybody. For all its intellectual clout, the government
cannot see, or if it does, refuses to accept that reforms both within
its ranks and the country at large, are long overdue. Instead, it
is gripped by paranoia, blaming everybody but itself.
article gives what the writer feels should be the way forward for Zimbabwe,
a country in a state of siege equal to that of the 1980's. During
the rape and pillage of Matabeleland and the Midlands by the Fifth Brigade,
international opinion was focused on apartheid South Africa. Similarly
today, world focus has shifted to the "war against terrorism" thereby
relegating Zimbabwe to the sidelines. Robert Mugabe used apartheid South
Africa as cover for his genocide in Matabeleland. Today he is hiding behind
America's campaign against Al Quaida to rape, maim and murder opponents
of his government. He should not be allowed to get away with it
government sees land re-distribution as the final act in its black empowerment
programme. Judging by the preceding Affirmative Action Campaign,
which started off as a well-intentioned plan to promote black economic
empowerment but ended up as a Zanu Pf vehicle for self-enrichment, it
is no wonder that the so-called "Hondo yeminda" has suffered similar fate.
Senior government, police and army officials have unashamedly helped themselves
to the best farms, evicting ordinary people already settled on these properties.
While there is an undeniable need for land re-distribution in Zimbabwe,
the politicisation of the process by Zanu Pf has condemned millions of
citizens to starvation and death. The country has been set back
a century. So, given this background and the fact that the government
and MDC are now pitted against each other in a low-intensity civil war,
what should be the way forward for Zimbabwe?
two main parties have got to accept that a political settlement is now
a pre-requisite of any lasting solution and must therefore renew efforts
to talk to each other. For that to happen though, Zanu Pf must first
accept that the MDC is now an indelible part of the political landscape
while the MDC on its part will have to understand that no political settlement
will preclude violence. To therefore insist on the total cessation of
hostilities, as a precondition for talks is not only unrealistic but also
perpetuates the suffering of Zimbabweans. MDC leaders would be wise
to study settlements in South Africa, Northern Ireland or even Zimbabwe
itself (Lancaster House Agreement and "Unity Talks/Accord"). In fairness
to the MDC, the party has largely refrained from retaliation, instead
insisting on democratic re-course to argue its case. This has undoubtedly
won it many sympathisers at home and abroad, but how long will they continue
to look the other way? We will have to wait and see.
Robert Mugabe is nearing his end is in no doubt but more uncertain is
what a post -Mugabe Zimbabwe will look like. What should a post-Mugabe,
or even new MDC government do to pull the country out the present political
and economic quagmire? They will have to be reform minded, which
means formulating and implementing bold and radical policies. The
MDC would seem the better-equipped party to do this, as theirs is a party
without the suffocating personality cult, unlike Zanu Pf. Pro-action
should be its buzzword. So, what kinds of reform process any new government
should undertake? It should be a process, which is centred on the
three areas of government/state, the economy and society.
Let us look at each one in turn. State or government. A new
relationship between state and citizens is required; a new system of government
must be introduced. I strongly believe that a federal system, properly
constituted, is the best way forward for Zimbabwe. Of course, it
would take a very courageous government to implement it and such a fundamental
change would be met with fear and mistrust by some sections of society.
Having said this, federalism is not synonymous with tribalism or the break-up
of the country, nor should it be.
the economy, a clear distinction must be made between the state and the
markets. Government should only play a regulatory and supervisory
role to promote increased economic activity. The markets, backed
by a sound regulatory framework, must be left to producers and consumers
to engage one another without excessive, obstructive state interference.
As for the finer detail of the regulation or fiscal policy, I will leave
it to the economists to ponder but let us briefly look at the all too
important sector of agriculture as an example of what could be implemented.
being the mainstay of the economy, requires fundamental reform, beginning
with the protection of farm workers. It is a well-known fact that
some commercial farmers subject their employees to appalling working conditions.
It is common practice for farm workers to work 24-hour shift patterns
on low pay, no holiday entitlement or life outside the farms they work
on. The creation of an independent national farm workers union,
preferably by act of parliament, would give these workers the respect
and protection they deserve. After all, commercial farmers have
a union to look after their interests, why not the their black workers?
Is the MDC bold enough to ask this of its powerful backers in the Commercial
Farmers Union? Again, we will have to wait and see.
for society, I have already said in previous articles that it goes hand
in hand with culture. The promotion and preservation of cultures
must be left to communities with the state getting involved only to encourage
not undermine their efforts. Diversity must be acknowledged and
celebrated. Bias, whether by fault or design, against other cultures
by the Zanu pf government, is one example of the kind of meddling that
has destroyed social cohesion. A consequence of this bias has been
the alienation of minorities in Zimbabwe (see "Two
countries in one? Concepts of citizenship in Matabeleland").
these reforms to work, there needs to be a conducive platform to work
from. The present confrontational and destructive situation does
not provide conditions that will make it easy for Zimbabwe to get back
A political settlement between the two main parties must be the starting
point. Such a settlement is required to end the current state of
siege and allow for the creation of a platform from which to institute
a reform programme best suited to Zimbabwe. Solutions to the current
crisis lie inside Zimbabwe itself, if only the politicians could seize
the chance to set a tone for the rest of Africa.