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NGOs, donors and Zimbabwe's transition - SAPES Seminar with Jonathan Moyo and Brian Raftopoulos
Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa,
May 27, 2010

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As part of their ongoing policy dialogue series SAPES Trust hosted a discussion about formulating a strategy for Zimbabwe's Economic Recovery. Presenting at the Seminar themed NGOs, Donors and Zimbabwe's Transition was former Minister of Information, and current Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho, Jonathan Moyo. The discussant was Zimbabwean scholar and activist Professor Brian Raftopoulos. The seminar was chaired by Professor Rudo Gaidzanwa.

The following are excerpts from their presentations.

Jonathan Moyo

The nationalist view of Zimbabwe's transitions is about achieving and maintaining the country's permanent as opposed to temporary indigenous interest which brings together the past, the present and the future aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe. This stands in contrast on the other hand to a view of transition which I present here as the regime change view and this regime change view of the NGO donor alliance, locates the Zimbabwean crisis in 2000 and defines it as being about undemocratic or autocratic rule, bad governance, chronic human rights violations the break down of the rule of law and poor economic management. According to this NGO / Donor view, and in very plain terms, the Zimbabwean transition is supposed to be from ZANU-PF rule to MDC. Listen

What about the goals of development is emphasized by these two perspectives? Obviously it stands to reason that countries seek economic growth and this is has been an objective of this state since 1980. It also stands to reason that they seek equity or redistributive justice as a second goal. They seek democracy, good governance, rule of law and human rights as a third goal. They also seek political stability and order as a fourth goal and finally sovereignty or autonomy in international affairs. The nationalists have remained seized with all these five in a total package or as pillars of the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, as objective of the state. The state has sought in various ways to address these five things. The regime change alliance of NGOs and donors has exclusively remained focussed on the goal of democracy, with the preposterous claim that the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe, starts or started in 2000. Listen

There have been some attacks or setbacks to the nationalist view of the Transition that started in 1980 from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. It has had the following setbacks over the years. Number one: the Gukurahundi atrocities between 1980 and 1987; Apartheid destabilisation between 1980 and 1994; the ill-advised adoption of ESAP between 1990 and 1997; the Anglo-American onslaught against our country led by Tony Blair's so called new labour between 1997 and two weeks ago. Then, the failure of the 1998 donor conference on Land in Zimbabwe; the failure of the Draft Constitution in 2000; and ZANU-PF's poor electoral performances in the 2000 and 2008 general elections. Listen

This alliance has suffered major if not fatal setback out of which the following stand out: One: right from the beginning it has been an alliance without common values and without a shared strategy or ethos. Its been all about regime change, but it has not been about alternative values to the nationalist legacy, nationalist ethos. In fact its very instructive to know that most of the NGOs with the support of their donors who have been part of this process when ever given the opportunity, they have behaved more ZANU-PF than ZANU-PF itself, especially on those issues that they have criticised. They have not shown any behaviour or holding of values and principles that constitute a paradigm, which can be said to be an alternative. This has been quite fatal. Then there has been the failure of the MDC to win the 2000 elections, which was quite a major blow. If you have such an alliance and you contest an election for the first time around, for the transition that you have in mind to succeed you must win. If you lose or fail to win, your opponents, especially if they are nationalists, will wake up the next day with a bigger and better plan. And yours will be an uphill struggle. We saw this when the MDC had quite a difficult time in the 2005 elections. ZANU-PF actually won a two-thirds majority as a result of the failure of the MDC. Then of course there was the split of the MDC in 2005, and the failure of Tsvangirai to win outright the March 2008 presidential election. The signing of the GPA by MDC-T in September 2008, MDC-Ts joining the inclusive government in February 2009. We remember some of us that the mantra of the donors at the time was "no deal is better than a bad deal" and it appears that they went into a bad deal from their own point of view. Listen

Above all there is donor fatigue. After ten thousand hours of failed regime politics, people have gotten tired. In western countries and therefore among donors, anything that does not succeed after ten years must be reviewed, and often the review results in dramatic changes in strategy, discarding of partners, looking for new partners. If you want to understand how that goes look at the case of Libya and you will understand how in fact It is possible that yesterdays friends will part ways and the donor community will start trying to find and forge new relationships with the nationalist movement. Listen

If you follow carefully the debates that are going on in our country today they are being shaped by ZANU-PF around fundamental questions of indigenisation, economic empowerment, consolidation of our natural resources. We have in Washington, the United States Government amending ZIDERA, promising us debt relief and so forth, but at the same time, threatening to block us from utilising our resources. If there is going to be a change in our country in terms of the upliftment it will require that we use our resources and the message about that is coming form the nationalist movement. The NGO and Donor talk about outstanding GPA issues, political and media reforms which was quite prominent a few months ago is now having fewer popular takers. The nationalist message is winning the day. Listen

Brian Raftopoulos

I think one of the important things that emerged in 2000 was that we did get a more plural notion of what the nation should be. A more diversified discussion around democratisation, around constitutionalism, and about ideas of a state which imposes certain narrow definitions of what citizenship and belonging is. I think that's been one of the great achievements of the civic movement to open up the debate on what national belonging is. And to not allow being owned by a party state, which says that it alone has the right to define what the national question is and what national belonging is. I think that still remains one of the great challenges that we face and I feel that we have a long way to go. Listen

But more than that I would say its not just a question of indigenisation. It's a question of state party ownership of processes. That what we've been seeing in many of these fields, certainly on the land, certainly in the judiciary, its not just a level of indigenisation, but a level of state party control where the state itself is assumed to be the possession of a particular party. And we see therefore that process taking place in all these areas. That's a very different process from the broader process of indigenisation. The two are not the same and should not be conflated. That ZANU-PF constructs it like that, that doesn't make it so. Listen

What has been the issue is the right of Zimbabweans to expect their vote to be respected. And that has not happened yet in this country sufficiently. The key role that the civics have played is to document the abuses around that particular right, to have their right to vote. Which after all was a major feature of the nationalist struggle which was one man, one vote, to have that recognised fully in the context of a post colonial dispensation. And therefore the role of the civics had been around documenting abuses around that question. Listen

When it comes to the question of messaging, of course ZANU-PF sets the trend, for a simple reason, they control the media. They control the means of communication. You'd be absolutely hopeless if you weren't controlling the messaging around certain issues. . one would want to see how that would be if there was a greater openness of the discussion around that messaging especially in the electronic media, especially in the radio, so that you really did get a national messaging which came out of a conflicting sense of opinions. That's a key issue now in this transition. Listen

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