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  • Tsvangirai, MDC must read between the lines and push for elections
    Courage Shumba, Zimbabwe Telegraph
    January 26, 2010

    In light of the fact that there is agreement between the coalition partners that there are a number of issues that still wait to be resolved in the implementation of the global political agreement it is unavoidable that we scrutinise the nature and character of the sticking points and examine the extent to which they interfere and impede the task for which the unity arrangement is in existence.

    These outstanding matters must be itemised, examined and valued to prove the extent to which each and every one of the issues is truly of national importance. It must be borne in mind, reader, that whilst these negotiations are about the future of democracy in Zimbabwe they are also about the future of power in our country. It is that element of power-mongering which has affected the resolution of the real business of the GPA which, if carefully understood, is to create credible electoral processes capable of delivering a peaceful, free and fair election.

    The Global Political Agreement has been needlessly overshadowed by politicking about sharing government office. The main business between the parties must be to redraw the relationship between politicians and the electorate after so many years in which Zanu PF destroyed the integrity and fabric of our national politics. The second task is to create an institution capable of running a credible election. The third challenge is to engage the security services and wean them off their direct and partisan interest in a civilian-s right to choose who governs them. The fourth task is to organise an election. The fifth is to manage peaceful transition from the loser to the winner. Who ever wins will have the right to form the government and appoint whomsoever they see fit.

    There has to be an awareness that all the offices created by the government of national unity will only last as long as it will take for the global political agreement to come up with implementable changes to the politics of our country. Therefore the showdown about political appointments is misplaced. It is a fiction and a non event because this temporary arrangement of running the country together is only there whilst the rival parties make changes to the law and environment in which elections will be held.

    This is a transitional arrangement with no permanence such that to raise the issue of appointments of ministers, deputy ministers and public servants to the level of an outstanding matter ignores the reality that the only purpose for this arrangement is not to run the country together but to work jointly to ensure there are no electoral stalemates in future (except only by an even, indecisive and equal vote of the electorate for which a legal and peaceful solution must exist).

    To prove the point we have to remind ourselves that the MDC and Zanu PF have irreconcilable differences on almost every policy being that the later has no authentic vision for Zimbabwe by means of policy beyond bludgeoning the electorate and corruption. A Zimbabwe without all the corruption, injustice and lawlessness is a direct threat to the usual thuggery of the bigwigs who have repeatedly gained access to wealth and protection through political influence and connections.

    Zanu PF is not interested in the implementation of reforms and it will use any excuse to stall the process.It has to be pointed out that the appointment of Bennett and sacking of Tomana and Gono as insisted by Tsvangirai, however exaggerated will never qualify, be quantified as or even be mistaken for reform.

    The dismissal of these two imbeciles justified as it may be will never score for policy or reform. What Zimbabwe needs are reforms of institutions not replacements of people who run them. Tomana and Gono are mere desperate individuals being deployed to create a reason for a stalemate. They are of no consequence if the MDC wants to go for the kill by withdrawing from making them a prominent issue into an irresolvable one and calling for elections knowing the two will never serve in its government. What must be changed is the purposes, work pattern, mentality and beliefs of our institutions and the causes they serve.

    If we fight human targets instead of the cultures, philosophies and illness represented by Tomana and Gono Zimbabwe will always be at war with itself. The real job about changing mindsets will never be accomplished by an illegitimate and tainted mix as represented by the G.N.U with Zanu PF conduits and shallow characters inside it. The job can only be executed by a legitimate sitting government geared to creating a new national identity and cultural assets. The point here is that the MDC must not be lured and trapped into the debate about the distribution of high office positions in the coalition government because the nature of reconstruction that-s there to be done can never be done with Zanu PF in the mix hence President Zuma-s calls for fresh elections.

    Supposing that there in nothing to discuss the GNU is a liability because it is a compromise illegitimate government incapable of framing and delivering real policy changes because of the frictions inherent in its composition and background. It must be clear to the MDC that an election now or whenever will be closely monitored throughout the world and any violence or treachery will have far reaching implications for the perpetrator. Therefore instead of insisting on Tomana and Gono being sacked and /or Bennett confirmed, the MDC must actively explore what it will mean if they masterminded an early resolution by downplaying what are rather monumental stalemates and victories and go on to pre-empt their rival by pushing him into an early election which will be watched by everyone on the globe and one which he is sure to lose. The result will be a phenomenal success for democracy.

    Zanu PF cannot afford a free and fair election. It cannot afford to live with the consequences of a stolen and bloody victory another round either. Zanu Pf has sought to frustrate the MDC by way of talks to ensure the election is pushed out of question by complicating the negotiation process yet there is nothing really that needs to be negotiated between these groups. The winner if an election is held will form a government of its choice based on the policies it wants to pursue. That point takes away the essence of all this hype about talks and outstanding issues. If a party wins it will not be required to consult other parties over who it appoints to whatever positions. That means effectively the only thing to talk about is how to have a fair election whilst of course the country is under some skeletal management in the form of that G.N.U caucus.

    Tsvangirai must be able to see that things have changed significantly and the only hiding place for Zanu PF is in the talks. It was expressed by this writer in an opinion published here and elsewhere that the time had come for a methodical and surgical approach to dealing with the last days of Zanu PF. It was argued in that paper that there was need for tactical pressure. The question today is why has Zanu PF not joined the chorus in calling for the election after Zuma made clear his preference? The fact is if it does call for the election it will be expected to play the game like a gentlemen and it has never done that and it cant do that. It will be unprecedented in the history of the country-s elections and very risky for Mugabe and his disciples. Zuma is showing Mugabe the exit door without having to push him out.

    On the contrary if any election was held and it was characterised by the violence and terror of the previous elections the option of negotiation would be revalued with the possibility that a different aggressive course of action may become justified and suitable. It is unlikely that anyone who has been facilitating these talks will want to talk of talks if there is no commitment by the parties to the agreements that they are bound with what they agree. One fundamental agreement is to hold peaceful, free and fair elections and it goes without saying. The perpetrator of violence is likely to be left exposed and weakened. This vulnerability will send Zanu PF into a tailspin and lead to its collapse.

    It must be emphasized that the bickering about ministerial office is misdirected if it is allowed to be raised to the level of an outstanding issue when none of these appointments are truly substantive in letter and spirit. If there are no issues to discuss then an election must be organised so that the winner can form a legitimate government.

    On a word of caution: MDC must not try to make every disagreement it has with Zanu PF a GPA outstanding issue. The purpose of the GPA is not to create consensus on every matter or to resolve each and every issue. The MDC must be eager to get as much as assurances and commitments that Zanu PF is now committed to fair and free elections and call for one. All other issues will be addressed to the satisfaction of the MDC and the good of our people when it (MDC) is in government. By calling for an election MDC will expose Zanu PF to scrutiny and to a test of its commitment to change through dialogue. If the army should want to take over we want to see how they will do it and with whose support and for how long they will sustain that regime. We will be eager and curious to know what will happen to perpetrators after the few days of that military government.

    There is no need to waste time discussing detailed government policy instead of concentrating all the effort on making sure the relevant changes are made so a credible election is held as soon as possible after a new constitution is put in place. It has to be made clear that whichever way you look at it progress or no progress on the GPA talks the next election is expected to meet the standard of a credible election. The stakes are very high and the sooner we get to the next election the better for everyone.

    Regards the matter to do with sanctions the MDC must be seen to be doing its best to have the sanctions against state business and lines of credit removed. Defence industries must remain under sanctions.

    The individual people must of course remain under sanctions until it is reviewed what public good it is for the sanctions to be removed or lifted. The case against these people is real and the sanctions against them are justified. Regards so called pirate stations it must be emphasized to Zanu PF that it is at the core of MDC political, economic and social policy to enhance freedom of speech and creativity through deregulation of monopolies such as ZBC and ZTV which in turn creates jobs and generates revenue for the state through taxes. MDC must be unequivocal about the need to licence and encourage more independent investors in the media industry. There are thousands of jobs locked up in the media industry because of Zanu PF-s political patronage.

    In conclusion, if Zanu PF insists that it has met all its obligations and there is nothing to discuss then let the country prepare for an election. Let there be eloquence on this matter. The people of Zimbabwe will be waiting to vote and the world waiting to judge. You can be certain about one thing though that a repeat of the last election will hurt those who have the most to lose. The stakes have never been higher.

    * Courage Shumba is a human rights advocate. He writes from the United Kingdom

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