Monday, 17 August 2009

Zuma's intervention in Zimbabwe will be futile

South African President and current chair of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Jacob Zuma heads to Zimbabwe at the end of this month to resolve outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement that underpins the Inclusive Government between Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF and the two MDC factions.
The outcome of this diplomatic effort is so painfully obvious as to make its undertaking an empty ritual meant only to furnish perceptions that 'something' is being done by the regional group. Mugabe has already dug in, accusing the MDC in the past week of failing to live up to part of their bargain - meaning the removal of western sanctions on Mugabe and his top lieutenants.
It is ludicrous to suggest that the MDC, or any foreign entity for that matter, has the responsibility, let alone the power, to make American or European foreign policy.
Because Zanu PF has sought to monopolise Zimbabwean nationalism and projected itself as its sole and perpetual vanguard, it has come to believe its own propaganda that the MDC is not of itself but a mere spawn of the 'white', 'imperialist' West. Thus, by demanding that the MDC gets European and American sanctions lifted, Mugabe and Zanu PF are effectively pushing the MDC to accept the derogatory, alienating identity that they have sought to pin on it from the day of its inception.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Mugabe passes on UN trip, sends Mujuru

VICE-President Joice Mujuru is in New York where she will attend the United Nations summit of world leaders on the global financial and economic crisis and its impact on development. I think Mugabe's decision to pass over this meeting has to do with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's trip to Western Europe and the US.

Despite its failure to unlock the vaults of western treasuries, the PM's trip has made one thing resoundingly clear: Morgan Tsvangirai has arrived on the global stage. For whatever he did not get materially, Tsvangirai received recognition across Europe and the US. He was received warmly and in many respects, as a head of state. Mugabe must have calculated that it was not tactically astute to venture onto the global stage and be eclipsed by Tsvangirai's towering shadow which still projects across the western world as we speak.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Dinner with Morgan

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai inspects a guard of honour with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to that country as part of his 3-week European and US tour.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party is holding a banquet for him on Saturday evening. Zimbabwean groups and other interested parties have been invited to come and wine and dine with the Premier – at the not too modest price of £75 per head!

Personally, I strongly feel that it is inappropriate for the Prime Minister, who is on state business, to attend a fundraising dinner for his political party. It is naïve of the MDC’s UK branch to conscript the Prime Minister into a partisan fundraising project in the midst of his very first foreign assignment on behalf of an extremely fragile coalition government. It is not strategic and it causes needless friction.

As a matter of protocol, it seems rather inappropriate for a statesman on an important assignment on behalf of the state, and enjoying such reception as established diplomatic protocol reserves for one carrying the seal of one's state, to detour into private political interests within the course of that same mission. It becomes particularly odious when those private engagements replicate the very objective of his official mission – fundraising on behalf of the state.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Response to Denford Magora

I tried posting my comment on Denford Magora's blog but an internet explorer error message keeps popping up and aborts the operation. See Magora's latest entry "Biti Stole STERP From ZANU PF, Says Mugabe As Coalition Crumbles".

Denford, what do you make of the possible fate of Zanu PF and Mugabe's own manoeuvres? You have consistently looked at the inclusive government from the perspective of the MDC as the variable and Zanu PF as the constant in the overall grand scheme of things in Zimbabwe's current politics. I mean, you imply that MDC faces the choice of either walking out in frustration in the face of Mugabe's unrelenting obstinacy, or staying put but endure certain humiliation at the hands of Mugabe.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Polygamy, patriarchy and the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe

Morgan Tsvangirai arrives for SA President Jacob Zuma's inauguration in the company of his niece Dr Arikana Chihombori.

This post arose out of a debate with colleagues on the Association of Zimbabwe Journalists UK googlegroup following allegations on The Zimbabwe Times website that Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is believed to have a second wife.

Concerning polygamy, it's beyond argument that this practice is the hallmark of patriarchy. Indeed, the existence of laws that legalise polygamy in Zimbabwe points to the endurance of patriarchal forms of social relations in our society and culture. It is an unequal form of social relations and has grave ramifications on economic and other power relations between men and women. This is why campaigners for women's rights in Zimbabwe and elsewhere take issue with it.

Monday, 27 April 2009

MDC must be more forthright about its values in this govt

Mugabe swears in Tsvangirai as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

I'm not sure that Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC have a clear strategy to counter the infidelity of Mugabe and Zanu PF in this marriage. Why does the MDC think this arrangement can work only if they are willing to prostrate themselves before Zanu PF in supplication?

I think they're seriously undermining themselves by giving Mugabe and Zanu the semblance of power and authority. I say 'semblance' because even though Mugabe's authority is still constitutionally enshrined, we all know it is worth no more than hot air since his position is really underpinned by nothing other than the GPA and the MDC's willingness to subscribe to it.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Zimbabwe's false dawn begins to unravel

Well, all that hope and expectation has predictably hit a brickwall with a resounding thud. Never was Robert Mugabe going to share power with the opposition MDC fairly and work towards securing the national interest through concerted economic revival programmes accompanied by far-reaching policy reforms.

Mugabe and Zanu PF continue to ride roughshod over the interests of the majority, prioritising power and control over everything else. Tsvangirai and his team have been marginalised into a corner from which they occasionally shriek vain opposition to Mugabe's unilateral exercise of executive authority with such impunity that one would be forgiven for thinking he was the outright victor in the last election.

What's more, Mugabe is demanding that the whole world shift its position regarding Zimbabwe without him having moved an inch. Talk about having one's cake and eating it too! If he has succeeded in bullying the MDC into his government and confining them in a corner, at least the rest of the world must not allow him to get away with it. Sanctions against his government must be maintained. Why, even Arthur Mutambara, who regularly fulminates about imperialism and all that Mugabesque balderdash, is quick to admit that Zimbabwe is hurting more from self-inflicted sanctions than any imposed by external forces. Zanu PF simply needs to be shown that being the bully on the block and successfully armtwisting political rivals at home does not wash with the rest of the world. There should be no assistance without real reform.

Monday, 16 February 2009

The waiting game begins

So, Morgan Tsvangirai is now Prime Minister of Zimbabwe! The Global Political Agreement between Zanu PF and the two MDCs was finally consummated with the swearing in of Tsvangirai and the power-sharing cabinet last week. As with most Zimbabweans, I would really like to believe this marks the first step towards Zimbabwe's recovery and reconstruction. However, the prevailing reality is that the battle for power and control rages on, albeit in a new context.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Transitional government a viable option for Zimbabwe

The real tragedy in Zimbabwe’s political crisis is that both Zanu-PF and the MDC lack viable options outside of a power-sharing agreement signed last September. For the suffering majority, the stark humanitarian crisis has reduced politics to a banal who-gets-what affair as Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe haggle over cabinet portfolios.

As the political crisis has escalated over the past eight years, Zimbabweans have witnessed with growing disillusionment the utter failure of international diplomacy. Regional efforts have failed to break the deadlock and western moral reprobation of Mugabe has not halted the people’s immiseration.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is contemplating ditching its mediation role even as it prepares for a final throw of the dice at an emergency summit billed for Pretoria on Monday. Suggestions that perhaps the African Union (AU) should now step in only reflect naïve hope. In fact, it was the AU that was first to accord Mugabe the legitimacy that he desperately needed when, soon after the widely condemned June 27 run-off election, he appeared at the continental body’s summit in Egypt.

So what must be done?

First, it is crucial to understand that it is beyond Zanu-PF’s nature to yield full control of any of the security ministries, as the MDC demands. Violence and electoral manipulation have been key pillars of the Mugabe regime’s survival strategy ever since it came to power in 1980. No opposition party has ever laid eyes on the country’s mysterious voters’ roll, which remains under the custodianship of a Mugabe appointee.

Zanu-PF’s mortal fear is having the MDC turn these instruments of coercion and manipulation against it. In its psyche, therefore, ceding full control of the home affairs ministry to Tsvangirai is suicidal.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis grows ever more acute. Half the population is threatened with starvation; and a cholera epidemic that has wreaked havoc in urban centres is now sweeping to the rural areas where it will be much harder to contain. The economy is now effectively dollarized in a country where unemployment stands at 80%.

The moment demands leadership.

Zanu PF continues to stare stoically at the suffering masses, all the while concerned only about wearing down the MDC and retaining power. No sane mind expects Mugabe and his party to put the nation first. In contrast, the MDC cannot afford to be drawn into protracted political hardball without losing its moral authority and popular appeal. As Tsvangirai himself is reported to favour, the MDC should go into the transitional unity government as a first step towards fresh elections under a new constitution in 18 months. This imperfect unity deal remains the only port in Zimbabwe’s storm.

Dislodging Mugabe’s wily and economically entrenched dictatorship can only be a gradual process, as experience has shown. Those that urge the MDC to sit out the regime’s ‘endgame’ are simply waiting for Godot: it is unlikely that Zanu-PF will collapse in a spectacular ‘Walls of Jericho’ fashion. Even if it did, the resultant outcome could feature an even more egregious regime in the shape of a military junta.

The MDC’s key priorities in a transitional government are two-fold. Through the party’s envisaged control of the social welfare and health ministries, the MDC could mobilize international responses to the humanitarian crisis and ensure that food and medicines get to those that need help most.

Secondly, through the constitutional affairs ministry, the MDC could forge ahead with crafting a democratic constitution that creates robust democratic institutions, guarantees individual freedoms and ensures the conduct of free and fair elections.

There are also other ancillary benefits to participation in the transitional government. The MDC could seriously destabilize the party-state nexus that has allowed Zanu-PF to abuse state resources and sustain its operations for so long. It could also greatly roll back state-sponsored violence against citizens and curtail the culture of impunity that Zanu-PF functionaries currently enjoy.

Overall, this period of detente could allow the opposition to rebuild its structures across the country, including in the so-called no-go areas of rural Mashonaland, where MDC grassroots organizers were directly targeted by Zanu-PF.

Zanu-PF’s succession conundrum also presents a strategic opportunity for the MDC to exploit from its vantage point as a member of the transitional power-sharing government. As Mugabe turns 85 next month, daggers are still drawn among the warring factions in his party over who takes over from him. The fallout from these internecine conflicts could present the MDC with an invaluable opportunity to forge beneficial alliances with reform-minded Zanu-PF dissidents and be able to outflank whoever succeeds Mugabe.

The power-sharing deal presents the country’s leaders with an opportunity to mitigate the humanitarian crisis and lay the basis for a return to legitimate government; it must not be missed. New elections under the present legal and political climate will yield another disputed outcome and much needless bloodletting.