By Denford Magora
THERE is a law in Zimbabwe which most people believe should be repealed. That law is the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and its various legislative sidekicks. But hang on a minute, be
fore we actually repeal this law, I believe that it should be used one more time.
This law has a specific provision for prosecuting those who “spread alarm and despondency” amongst Zimbabweans. This clause is what someone should use to sue the Zimbabwe government. Our government’s behaviour on the economic front (and specifically the fuel crisis which they should have seen coming a long time ago) is indeed spreading alarm and despondency within the ranks of the population. Their silence on whether a plan even exists to sort out the fuel problem once and for all has seen Zimbabweans from all walks of life dejected and despondent.
Their government does not seem to know what to do. This situation is comparable to a father who fails to provide basic food, shelter and clothing for his family. When asked by his helpless children what is going to happen to them, the father says that he was fired by so-and-so and therefore, so-and-so is to blame for the predicament that the family finds themselves in.
Those at the front of the battle against our economic problems seem to have thrown up their hands. Ministers, the ruling party and all of government are now holding aloft the white flag of surrender.
How else are we supposed to see Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa’s comment in parliament recently? Asked when the current economic crisis (specifically the fuel problem that has made a joke out of public transport and is committing economic genocide within the ranks of the country’s business community) would end, the minister blandly admitted that he had no clue. Instead he offered the now tired excuse of sanctions as the reason why his government is in office but not in power. And the nation is supposed to accept this? It would be idiotic to take that explanation.
I, amongst other Zimbabweans, have all along held the view that, covertly, the country is being de-campaigned and there is the Zimbabwe Democracy Bill in the United States that actually forbids any extension of credit to Zimbabwe by the IMF even if the country settles its debt tomorrow. True, pictures painted of a wanton murder of white people in the country discourage tourism and investment in business. Still, the government that has raised all of this hell for Zimbabwe on the international scene refuses to resign.
My view has been that this is fine if that government continues to get elected into power as happened in March this year (putting aside the somewhat jaded accusations of ballot-stuffing). By refusing to bow out, the government is saying that it can fix the mess that it got us into.
We took this to mean that the government was determined to make a concerted effort to right the economy, provide housing as well as an environment in which more jobs can be created. In other words, Zanu PF and Mugabe have all along led the nation to believe that they are capable of turning this country around. Because I will not be told who to vote for in my country by some drooling imbecile in the United Kingdom, I chose to give them the benefit of the doubt. The nation, in effect, gave Zanu PF a long rope in the belief that the party in government was actually committed to seeing the economic crisis come to an end.
We were all misled, as evidenced by the current meltdown which is threatening the very foundation of Zimbabwe’s economy.
Chinamasa’s comments in parliament are telling in several respects. First, this man, who also happens to be “Leader of the House” essentially told the nation that his government has neither the resources nor the wits to overcome the “illegal sanctions” imposed upon the country.By virtue of his statement, he has told the country that his party and government cannot get the nation out of the mess we face. His government does not have any idea how or when the fuel crisis will come to an end. This is an admission of failure which should make us ask just why Zanu PF insists on clinging to power when it is acknowledging that it has no idea how to end the suffering of the people it lied to in order to get re-elected.
Lied, yes, because the ruling party spoke about an economic turnaround when they sought the people’s mandate at the last election. Zanu PF spoke as if it had the solutions to the economic problems facing us. Now the party is plainly admitting that it cannot solve our economic problems. Instead, the president and his party are now saying that our fate is in Morgan Tsvangirai’s hands. He asked for the sanctions, they tell us, and he should go back and ask for them to be lifted.
What utter nonsense! Even if Tsvangirai was to go and ask the IMF, World Bank, America and Britain to remove the “sanctions”, do Zanu PF and the president truly believe that British premier Tony Blair and US president George Bush would oblige?
Of course not. Rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly, Zimbabwe will not get any relief from the outside world no matter what. There is absolutely nothing that Mugabe and Zanu PF can do, short of resigning, that will see this country being welcome back into the corridors of Washington or London. This is something everyone, including street kids, know to be true.
So, if the government’s position is that they need the West after all and that the West should lift the sanctions to enable the government to do its job, then this is a basic admission that there is no end in sight to our problems.
What, the nation has to ask, can spread despondency better than that? What could possibly alarm the population more than hearing their own government say that it has no plans to end the fuel crisis and the economic decline that erodes people’s paycheques before they even receive them?
Does it not follow then that this government is in breach of Posa?
*Denford Magora is a Harare-based writer.