Cut the Cr@p and take our crisis in Zimbabwe seriously

Posted: June 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

In my blog last week, I tried to unpack the crisis in Zimbabwe, which many felt SADC was denying the existence of. Last week, reading Zimbabwean news sources about what transpired at the SADC meetings in Livingstone and Johannesburg spelt out once again the crisis of polarisation that exists in our society.  The SADC Troika meeting in Livingstone gave a report on Zanu-PF state violence. The main focus of the follow-up meeting in Johannesburg was the election road map for Zimbabwe but it also noted and endorsed the report on violence.

After the Joburg meeting, every political party in the Global Political Agreement claimed victory, saying SADC had done what they expected. As the media reported these victories, the parties’ spin doctors then came in, seeking to confuse us by defining the terminologies surrounding the “noted” and “endorsed” words. As I followed the news, I thought, hang on, cut the cr@p, there is nothing exciting here. To me, the fundamental question is whether the details laid out in the election road map document will be followed or not. That is the thrust of the whole issue which we should concern ourselves with. These are key matters that need to be given attention to make the elections credible next time around.  Political parties, especially Zanu‑PF must stop the violence and intimidation against citizens. The media must be allowed to, and compelled to report freely, impartially and especially truthfully. Even more important, is the voters’ role which many believe is in shambles. The current voters’ role contains ghost voters, dead voters and voters who left Zimbabwe decades ago. These are the key issues that Zimbabweans and their politicians must be focusing on. Without a resolution on these matters, then we might as well throw this election out of the window before it happens.

To talk about free and fair elections, we all know that Zanu PF is allergic to that. For starters this is a party that has discovered it has no suitable candidate to contest the elections. Think about their proposed Mugabe. The guy is 86 and rumour has it that he struggles to use the bathroom on his own. If reality was to be checked against the capabilities of the human body, Mugabe would fail the test. Let’s say for example Mugabe was to be a taxi driver. At his age and with his secretly deteriorating health, would he manage to drive the taxi at the same time as collecting money from passengers? The answer is no. Instead, the taxi would crash before it reached the first stop. We hear he sleeps in meetings, which explains why Zanu PF has decided to send military personnel to accompany Mugabe in all important meetings.  We are told that he was accompanied by a senior army officer at the SADC meeting, a fact that strongly suggests the army is running the country. This is the same army that has been ravaging the DRC, looting its diamonds and polishing the art of military rule. It has already brought home its diamonds looting skills to Marange.  What do they have in store for an attempt at a free and fair election? The answer we expect is “violence”.

To cut the cr@p, it must be a clear tactic of the opposition not to spend time explaining the obvious but rather spend time mapping out strategies on how to deal with the issues I raised above .


Sucks to be Zimbabwean,

Sadly, everybody witnessed what happened before the SADC meeting in Sandton (Johannesburg). At their most typical, Zimbabweans were at each other’s throats. Wow, what a nation! Very united it is! I am sure there are some genuine reasons behind the chaos but the timing was very bad. It is one thing to have a bad relationship with an organisation that is similar to you, but washing dirty linen in public is extraordinary. Differences aside, did it not occur just for a second in people’s minds at the time that “wait a minute? Are we not doing Mugabe a favour by strangling each other?” The answer is, I don’t know. What I know is the war against one another has been declared and we all are facing an election in the near future. So my solution would be for people to listen to each other and by this I mean MDC, MDC T, MLF, ZAPU and the Zimbabwean civil society. When trouble strikes, people always have a strange way of reacting. In this case, they each went back and publicly attacked each other through the media, our media, which likes to write about scandals like these. But I think everyone knows what the problem is and, to go further, we all know the solution. But let us all pause for now and say, “wait, we all want regime change, why are we fighting against each other”. There are good people in all these organisations and I know they are capable of sorting this mess. These are people who have demonstrated their capabilities to organise people in a good way and I don’t see the reason why they should fail to complete the change they started together. What is required is for everyone to realise that we are different people, we belong to different organisations, our origins and cultures are different, we are led by different styles of leadership. But, we all share a common democratic cause and for that, no one has a right to dominate others.


And the answer is leadership…

I think the only answer to our problem is for leaders of organisations, be it political or civil society, to start acting like real leaders. By real leaders, I mean everyone must try to see the bigger picture and understand that we are approaching dawn. The darkness before the sun rises can be scary and confusing. We are in the final hour and we can’t feed this moment to the dogs again. Leaders can bring unity amongst people and sometimes we have to unite for a special cause and then look at other things later. I know some of my friends will say, “no ways, we have come this far and waited for long and this is not happening”. But I can answer my friends again and say we have cut the big tree and we just need to push and let it fall. Imagine Mugabe at his age. Do you think any sane person in this world would like to vote for an old leader who gets assisted to go to the toilet? If its leader needs assistance to the loo, then rest assured that the party needs assistance too.


Back in Harare, its business as usual,

Having seen the respect that the Zimbabwean political parties gave to the SADC leaders, one would have thought that things might change. But wait a minute, these are boys from the Jongwe House and we know what they are like. As soon as they got back home, they sent their rent-a-crowd boys to go and attack the Minister of Finance to try and force him to sign an anti sanctions petition. Let’s just remind ourselves again “What is this petition? What are they trying to achieve?,” Well I know the answer and it’s the fact that Zanu‑PF needs something for their rent-a-crowd to be doing something while they get on with looting the country’s resources. They are diverting the attention of their foot soldiers from the real prize by giving them a small dirty bone to chew. In no time, they will be back to cause election violence and we know it. Meanwhile, their leaders will be miles away, smiling all the way to the Chinese Banks while the foot soldiers spout hate language everywhere. So, it is business as usual in Harare and few if any of the things in the election road map will be achieved. We are in for a tough one, actually, if the state shifts toward full militarisation. We must be worried because we know what soldiers are trained for. It looks like someone in the military has decided to take matters to their hands and soon, they will publicly deny Mugabe if he doesn’t die in the next few months. Let’s wait and see.

  1. Mike Davies says:

    Good blog, Mathula, but I would debate your call for unity a bit, in particular your statement that “we all share a common democratic cause.”

    I don’t believe that we should seek unity merely because we are opposed to the rule of Zanu-PF but we should try to understand the diverse motivations of those who seek to remove Mugabe.

    Granted, some of us are genuine democrats although I think these are very, very scarce since Zimbabweans have never experienced a true democracy and do not know what that elusive beast really is.

    Others are fair-weather democrats: as long as they are winning, they will be democrats (just like mugabe was?) and then if they are losing or threatened, will say ‘democracy must be based on each nation’s situation’ eg Museveni or ‘democracy doesn’t work in Africa’ etc.

    Yet others are not democrats but merely seek to get their turn to extract whatever rents they are currently denied. I personally know many of this type and frankly I don’t want them in power…ever! It was naive to call ourselves a movement but to allow anyone to join which opened the doors for failed zanu-pfs and perennial electoral politicians. While it could be argued that those who were zanu before they joined the MDC have seen the light and changed their ways, I am sceptical.

    Others merely seek to return to the ‘good old days’ when they could lord it over the people and enjoy their privileged lifestyles; they frankly don’t give a damn about democracy and just want stability and security, even under a tyranny.

    Then there are the NGO aristocrats who have never had it so good with their inpatriate lifestyles, 4x4s and endless workshops who must dread the end of the crisis when they will have to get ‘proper’ jobs.

    Others are just so angry about what has happened to our country that they just want mugabe out and they don’t think about what will happen when he is gone or that things could be very much worse (eg Zaire after Mobutu left). They don’t really think about democracy at all.

    We have past experience about ‘unity’ to guide us.

    One of our biggest mistakes was to ally ourselves with white commercial farmers in 1999. Apart from giving Mugabe the perfect weapon to chastise us, the farmers (as a class, that is, for there some excellent populist democrats amongst them) undermined our movement and turned it into a political party (which drove out many people – Gwisai, myself and others) The split in 2005 was a logical outcome of this partification.

    The alliance with black capitalists after 2003 (Masiyiwa, Makone, Ncube and others) has had even worse effects and has given rise to an elite that is very worrying for genuine democrats.

    I am a committed democrat of the participatory persuasion (rather than a liberal or representative Westminster-style one ) and a street-level community activist for many years. As chair of CHRA , I was often at loggerheads with my colleagues in civil society who rationalised many anti-democratic practices. When Madhuku manipulated the membership of the NCA to capture the chair and his thugs assaulted Tendai Biti, I demanded action by my fellow leaders but was told that ‘we are all in the struggle together and we will sort him out later when we win’. Ha! Madhuku will be life chair of the NCA unless he gets a better offer. When our (the popular democrats) candidate stood for the leadership of Crisis Coalition in a contested election, the elite met behind closed doors to resolve the contest and he withdrew his candidacy before a vote was held.

    Democracy is hard and messy and includes the possibilities of making mistakes. I stepped down as chair of CHRA after my two term limit was reached. Despite some calls for me to ‘do a Madhuku’ and change the constitution, I refused. As a result I was ostracised by the new leadership (who saw me as a threat rather than an asset and who didn’t know what to do with an ex-leader since Zimbabweans have no experience of such phenomena), there was a break in institutional continuity and the organisation largely collapsed. This was in part my fault for not building a stronger, more resilient organisation but also a symptom of out political immaturity. But it is not a justification for anti-democratic practices.

    I am wary of calls for unity. The agenda of the MLF is not the agenda of the MDC or others. The only very tenuous link is a common hatred for zanu-pf. Other than that, they are diametrically opposed. Even a tactical unity would be wrong.

    I think we should recognise this diversity, that we should ally ourselves with those who have more or less similar ideologies and be very wary of making tactical or strategic alliances with others. Even if the struggle takes longer, it would be better than allowing the wolves in sheep’s clothing, the anti-democrats, the chance of usurping us and taking over when we eventually displace the current regime .

    Oh shit…. it’s already too late!

  2. Mathula says:

    Thanks Mike!
    Indeed, Democracy is hard and messy and includes the possibilities of making mistakes. I agree. Generally I think you raise very interesting points which need a broader attention in the whole political sphere of Zimbabwe. I don’t know when the answers for these questions will come. For long, we have been, with others trying to describe what democracy is to all we interact with and it seems some people are prepared to ignore the very principles they wish to see in a new Zimbabwe. Take for example as you say it correctly, the Madhuku leadership of NCA. For when at once are Zimbabweans going to disagree with such elements in the society. His refusal to lead by example in a democratic way is just giving the Mugabe led Zanu PF ammunition to carry on with their belief of hanging to power forever. As for the NGOs, I think you are right again because the lucrative lifestyle has created a dilemma in this area. There is a group of people who are acting as the only knowledgeable ones and if you don’t belong to this circle, you are out of the game. The problem with this is there is no allowance of new ideas to manifest themselves by adapting correctly to the new demands/needs of the struggle. The leadership of many credible NGOs has taken this line where they have now created a circle of the comfortable and chosen ones. I think it is wrong for democracy.

    My views of seeking unity are a result of the prolonged struggle with no sight for how the whole issue will be solved. I think it will be difficult to win if we don’t put our heads together to share strategies on how to get out of the mess created by Zanu. Now the problem is that of struggle custodians, “at least those who call themselves that”. They seem to block every idea that others come from others and as a result, there are more splits, more groups coming up, anger, corruption and all, you name it. I don’t have an answer on how these problems will be solved and that is why maybe I suggest a unity of purpose. As I said in the blog, we are in for a high jump but I guess by doing what we are doing now, we may at least inject new ideas from sharing and the struggle may take a new shape to accommodate everyone. People must be allowed to think freely and it’s the job of leadership to create an opportunity to do so. You did a great job with CHRA and you respected democracy. The question now lies with NGOs, MDCs and others, are they prepared to pass the baton? We probably know the fatal answer and sometimes keeping these answers to ourselves is unfair to the future of democracy in Zimbabwe. Strange that when one has different views from the leadership; they become enemies of the struggle. I think this stinks and it must be put to an end. Of late, we have even witnessed the violence in the opposition being allowed to be legitimate. I don’t know if others see what we see but for democracy to survive there is a need to look at our opposition houses and clean our acts. I agree.

    Aghhh, not that late maybe *Clears throat*

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