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  • Talks, dialogue, negotiations and GNU - Post June 2008 "elections" - Index of articles

  • Wednesday is a political watershed
    Tanonoka Whande
    February 09, 2009

    I AM very tempted to hold my breath and cheer, wishing with every fiber of my existence that the Government of National Unity (GNU) to be consummated by dictator Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change on Wednesday will take hold and succeed.

    Sadly, I am cursed with pessimism. Fear comes uninvited.

    With all the odds staked against the success of this GNU, this thing called hope, remote and faint as it might be, lingers and flatters lazily about. It is hope forcibly born out of a desire to see the cessation of hardships inflicted on our compatriots by the same man whom we are now expected to trust to bring national salvation.

    We are expected to put our lives in the hands of the same man who, over the decades, has taken so many of our peoples- lives. Our break with the past is to be overseen by the man who has soiled the past we are so desperately trying to abandon and forget about.

    Unfortunately, I am one of those who can never think that Robert Mugabe can do anything positive for the people of Zimbabwe; not after the man gave himself almost 30 years to destroy everything in his path, like the fabled bull in a China shop.

    He used the 30 years at the helm of a peaceful, prosperous country to convince the world of his character.

    There was a chilling display of brutality. There was an undisputed demonstration of economic incompetence and of corruption.

    We lived through human rights abuses during which we witnessed so many of our compatriots die and many more go missing.

    Property rights were taken away from us and many of us lost property to our own government.

    Our judiciary was contaminated while our Parliament became a madman-s bedroom, where political sadism was practiced at the expense of legislative protocol.

    Our homes were bulldozed to the ground and others were set alight as our own government, our supposed protectors, exposed our infants, the elderly and the infirm to the elements.

    Millions of our compatriots were forced to flee the country of their birth to seek protection among strangers outsider our borders because our own government wanted to do them harm.

    I find it ironic that I sit here in Gaborone, unwelcome in Zimbabwe, my mother country, where a foreigner, Mengistu Haile Mariam, the Butcher of Addis, where he is known to have killed more than 500 000 of his own people, is given sanctuary and sits and lives in comfort at our expense.

    That is the ultimate insult.

    Meanwhile, the so-called African leaders met during of their endless and now meaningless summits in Addis Ababa and elected Libyan tyrant Muammar Gaddafi as Chairman of the African Union.

    They were also addressed by Mugabe who bombarded the hapless presidents with details of his "impressive" record as President of Zimbabwe.

    After the March 29 elections SADC forced the winners of an election to relinquish a clean mandate legitimately given to them by the people. For SADC-s sake this arrangement must succeed then SADC may, at least, claim that they achieved something.

    But I am a worried soul.

    My greatest fear is that the presence of the MDC in this government, in which Zanu-PF is clearly dictating both the terms and the direction, resuscitates Mugabe and strengthens his brutal regime. The MDC-s presence in this government legitimizes Mugabe in the eyes of the world and the last thing we want to see now is Mugabe replenishing his strength.

    I pray that this unity is temporary. I wish it could have been slated to last only a few hours because I feel terribly uneasy with an angel (figurative) who keeps following and asking the devil-s help to cross a river. Can the angel do so without compromising himself?

    I hope this is temporary.

    Zimbabweans had voted for a clean break with Mugabe and the opening of a new chapter. We got neither.

    It is my hope that the MDC knows something we do not know. They are obviously taking a very big risk on behalf of the nation, a risk that might end up leaving Mugabe in a stronger position than he enjoyed before the agreement.

    While the contestants literally circle around each other in the arena, sanctions on Mugabe and his cronies must remain firmly in place.

    There should be no letting up and the pressure must be maintained or even tightened until we see a deliberate willingness to free the Zimbabwean people and to give back the people their freedom and protection.

    I do not believe this marriage of convenience will last. I fear its consequences. There is too much at stake for both sides and compromise is going to be necessary. Yet compromise is one thing the two camps are at pains to make.

    I do not believe in this exercise at all, not because of Robert Tsvangirai but because of Robert Mugabe. My fear and reluctance are born from past and current experiences.

    The resilience of the Zimbabwean people is a matter of public record. Zimbabweans have managed to somehow survive under the most of excruciating circumstances. They have miraculously provided food for themselves and their families.

    We fought like lions to liberate our country and still refuse to be tamed by anyone.

    For several decades, everyday has been D-Day for Zimbabweans because Mugabe treated us with disdain.

    On Wednesday, we enter a new phase which, regardless of whether the GNU holds up or not, will peg a watershed on our political landscape. It alarmingly requires of us to trust Robert Mugabe more than we have ever done before.

    I think the international community is expecting a little too much of Zimbabweans, knowing as we do that there is absolutely no way something called a government of national unity can emerge and last in Zimbabwe.

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