By Lloyd Msipa
THERE is an old Chinese proverb that says that “over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long time, you learn about the ch
aracter of your friend”. Loosely translated it means over time, strength or resolve will determine whether one will stand the test of time.
Opposition politics in Zimbabwe have come full circle — from the politics of confrontation and division to engagement, constructive or otherwise.
With the recent climbdown by the opposition on Constitutional Amendment Number 18 to the total dismay of other players like the National Constitutional Assembly and the Save Zimbabwe Campaign coalition it appears the opposition in Zimbabwe in its current composition will not succeed in unseating the Zanu PF government next year or in the future.
A cursory analysis of the strategies employed by the opposition in Zimbabwe against the government now and in the past reveals major tactical errors.
The opposition used the politics of confrontation when at the time engagement was more plausible; divisive politics further exacerbated their strategies rendering them weak and hence less effective to carry out the mandate confided in them by Zimbabweans in and outside Zimbabwe.
Today they have espoused the politics of engagement when confrontation or a hybrid of both confrontation and engagement would have been appropriate.
This approach has significantly reduced their esteem in the eyes of progressive Zimbabweans and the international community. Yes, some would argue that either way the opposition had little choice in the matter and hence the attempt to salvage whatever concession by supporting this Bill was more appropriate, unfortunately politics is not that simple.
In politics permanent interests take precedence over permanent friends. To illustrate my point one has to look at the return of politicians like Emmerson Mnangangwa to mainstream Zanu PF politics as a case in point.
It is in this spirit that as Zimbabweans in and outside cannot be seen to leave the destiny of Zimbabwe in the hands of a few individuals who themselves seem rudderless.
Zimbabwe’s situation is not only unique but is fraught with complicated historical and modern problems.
Zimbabwe under the government of Zanu PF represents a challenge to the efforts of the Pioneer Column in 1890.
The Zanu PF government has in all essence reversed the work begun by the Pioneer Column led by Cecil John Rhodes and his British South Africa Company (BSAC) in 1890.
This episode saw the annexation of Zimbabwe by a force (later christened the British South African Police — BSAP ) consisting of some 480 men together with all the various mining rights and prospects.
The Pioneer Column was set up to exploit the provisions of a treaty of 1888, the so-called Rudd Concession between Cecil John Rhodes’s BSAC on behalf of Queen Victoria and the sovereign power in the region at the time which was the Matabele King Lobengula.
The Pioneer Corps were officially disbanded on October 1, 1890 with the formation of the BSAP. Each member was granted land on which to farm. As we all know the rest is history.
In the modern context the impact of challenging this historical injustice has got us where we are today.
The challenge that is presented to us as a generation is generational intervention. The complicated but yet unique situation in Zimbabwe requires more than just politics of the podium.
The politics of Zimbabwe require an all encompassing approach by all progressive Zimbabweans who think outside the box. The Zimbabwe problem cannot be resolved at party politics level.
The Zimbabwean problem demands a United Peoples Patriotic Front. We need to arrive in our lives at a point of personal resolve. Before we are political party members we are first and foremost Zimbabweans.
The outcome of the Zimbabwean project will serve as a precedent of what happens in South Africa and other African countries with regard to the land issue and the politics of food that go with it.
It is in this spirit that I am particularly wary of the status quo where we have mortgaged the solution to the Zimbabwean problem to a few individuals and a fragmented opposition party.
It is important that the people of Zimbabwe come out of their comfort zones and begin to formulate an all encompassing people’s solution to our problems.
Charity begins at home. We cannot be seen to be outsourcing the solution to the Zimbabwe problem.
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”, to borrow from President John F Kennedy. Zimbabwe now more than ever requires in place before the next plebiscite a new people-driven patriotic front to serve as a vehicle to our salvation.
* Lloyd Msipa is a lawyer resident in the United Kingdom and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org