Let’s forget about the South Africans

By Tanonoka Joseph

SO South African President Thabo Mbeki is not alone after all! I have always believed that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party (SACP)

would soon start pushing Mbeki to do something about the tragedy here in Zimbabwe.


After the humiliation of Cosatu officials at the hands of our government, I had hopes that at last now, these two African National Congress allies would cause their government to take a more open, weighty and robust approach towards Zimbabwe’s wayward government. But I now feel let down and terribly betrayed because I do not believe in Mbeki’s ineffective “quiet diplomacy”.


Diplomacy is for people who respect law and order, people who respect human rights, people who respect and are themselves respected by other people.


Parents always teach their children not to fight with other kids. They instead encourage them to play together peacefully. Woe to the parents who, upon seeing their youngsters embroiled in a fight, abandon respected parental obligations and start urging the youngsters to fight cleanly.


It boggles my mind to hear Blade Nzimande, secretary-general of the SACP, proffering what he calls “a pragmatic acceptance” of a bad deal “in the hope that somehow, after a flawed election, a victorious Zanu PF would be more magnanimous and a reduced MDC would be more realistic”.


We do not want any flawed elections, Cde Nzimande. We have already had flawed elections stemming from a flawed constitution, resulting in President Robert Mugabe and his government using or misusing power with the blindness of the damned. We want you, your government and the man you are all protecting to be realistic and humane. Just stop the damn fight, Cde Nzimande, and make your president do the same.


Africans have been in turmoil for too long. Zimbabweans have lived under flawed elections for too long and we do not want that any more. And for such a high-ranking official from such a powerful ally to show a willingness to accept a flawed election is sad not only for South Africa but for the continent and democracy.


Here in Zimbabwe people died, Cde Nzimande, and people continue to die at the hands of a cowardly government that has broken every rule in the book just to stay in power. Citizens here, including your South African citizens too, have been abused and have lost property.


Our economy is all but done. Our education has become a laughing stock and I am sure you know the sad truth about the food situation in our country. Soon, the Zimbabwe Independent, or any surviving paper in this country for that matter, might not be able to publish your opinion because I do not suppose you will care to come here to seek a permit so that you may talk as we all will soon be required to do under the just-passed law.


Are you aware that donor organisations are being harassed for trying to assist helpless, innocent people who are being neglected and abused by this government? Be real.


Fence sitting just encourages wrongdoers, Cde Nzimande. Pain and discomfort are being inflicted on us now, today. You and your government do not view our predicament with urgency. You seem to believe that we are able to postpone feeling the aches. Zimbabwe is an over-crowded political orphanage full of Zimbabweans running away from themselves.


Every time there is an election here, it is the voters who lose. Because of these improperly held elections, we have here physical casualties that are both victims and symbols of the flawed system; and we have emotional casualties that are sickly survivors because we do not have a proper constitution to handle our elections. We do not even respect our own laws. How many times has our own government shown no respect for the laws of this country?


We need a new constitution to see us hold meaningful elections. A new constitution is the only thing that can level the political playing field so we can be made full participants in the mapping of the destiny of our nation.

And, my fellow Zimbabweans, it is evident that there is no help to be expected from the South Africans. We need to do this and to move things on our own. Whatever moves is moved by another, said St Thomas Aquinas.


So here we are, my compatriots. We have this irresponsible government that did not cause itself, a government that we caused. It is us who have to move it. And I think we should. Don’t count on the foreigners; they just pontificate over our sorrows.


*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Zvishavane-based writer.

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