HomeCommentCandid Comment: Fine, but MDC and PF-Zapu worlds apart

Candid Comment: Fine, but MDC and PF-Zapu worlds apart

IF I were asked for a simplistic cause of our national crisis, I would say we are responsible.


By the same token, the solution lies with us. That is if we didn’t have too many people lending us a shoulder, and watch us luxuriate in our victim status.

I have been accused of supporting or defending South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki’s handling of the Zimbabwean crisis. Either way, I have no other defence than simply that we have no reason as a nation to outsource solutions to our problems and blaming those trying to help us. No foreigner can have a better interest in our welfare than ourselves. Nelson Mandela has cleverly warned of “a leadership failure” in Zimbabwe, and that’s what is being tested now.

After the March 29 and June 27 elections we have once again contracted a persona called the “international community” to deal with our crisis while we cast aspersions on those we feel are not doing enough to deal with our problem — Robert Mugabe.

Every suggestion for Zimbabweans to sit down and talk is sneered at while every foreign proposal, including a military invasion, is warmly embraced. We have lost faith in our ability to do anything for ourselves and believe aliens know better and have the financial and human resources to sacrifice to deliver democracy to Zimbabwe.

Of late, debate has been about the options open to us after Mugabe was re-elected, however controversially so. Legally, it’s a fait accompli. Sadc is divided. The African Union is dithering. The international community, happily, is making all the noises we love to hear.

Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai have adopted predictable positions. Mugabe wants recognition; Tsvangirai can’t confer the legitimacy. The debate then is whether we look inwards or outwards for a solution. For the majority in the opposition and civic society movement, there is need for foreign “intervention”. That has tended to inform the hardline stance against dialogue between Zanu PF and the MDC, together with an exaggerated fear of becoming another PF-Zapu.

The rejectionists claim the opposition won the presidency on March 29 and it is time for MDC hegemony. To them, the law is an ass.

I agree with those who counsel caution in discussing either a government of national unity or a transitional authority with Zanu PF. It is inevitable that Zanu PF, now having seized the other centre of power, will seek to manipulate the process.

A transitional authority by its definition is a stop-gap measure while institutional changes are being made to our body politic. That might include a new constitution and a redefinition of the role of the police and the army, and the essence of national service training.

I don’t understand the mechanics and structural requirements of a GNU. Tsvangirai says the issue is not about power-sharing, but democracy. In his view, given the violence in the country, it is hard to find common ground with Zanu PF. Yet Zimbabweans have to
negotiate a way out. I see a very limited role for
outsiders because we shall have to live with the consequences.

My anxiety with a hastily crafted GNU is the danger of creating a behemoth which leaves us with a one party state. It is a possibility. But I disagree with facile parallels being drawn between the MDC and what happened to Joshua Nkomo and PF-Zapu. The objective conditions on the ground have changed.

For one, between 1983 and 1986 over 20 000 ordinary
civilians are estimated to have been killed while the same cannot be said of the period from the MDC’s formation in 1999 to today. I can’t understand the pressures on the MDC to equate the situation to that genocidal catastrophe which forced the PF-Zapu leadership to capitulate.

Whether by hindsight people think Nkomo sold out or was cheated by Mugabe, the reality is that he didn’t have as much leeway as Tsvangirai has to extract concessions from Mugabe. An ethnic minority was encircled in a dark corner of the country, they were being massacred and did not have a voice. A mean killing machine was let loose to mow down everything in its path because it could “not differentiate who was a dissident or not” by language, name or party affiliation. The CCJP’s protests were brushed aside. The popular refrain was: “Hit them hard.”

For those in denial, the 100-day Rwandan genocide which killed over 800 000 in 1994 has convinced me that it is possible for a hated ethnic group to be wiped off the face of the earth while the “international community” examines the correct protocols, especially where there are big powers involved.

The MDC and Tsvangirai are not under the same threat which PF-Zapu and Nkomo faced in the 80s — extermination. The world has since opened its eyes to the reality of Zimbabwean politics. The MDC has the media to tell its story. NGOs and civic society, which back in the 1980s were few, weak and pliant, have now sprouted and taken on a more adversarial role against human rights violations.

PF-Zapu and Nkomo were completely alone and of no more than fleeting interest to a world still dazzled by Mugabe’s novel policy of “reconciliation” with white Rhodesians so soon after a gruelling independence war. This was neatly balanced with his blistering attacks at the UN on the evils of apartheid in South Africa while he quietly launched on a shameless three-year career of savagery against erstwhile comrades-in-arms in Matabeleland.

In short, the MDC has more leverage to hammer out a more balanced deal than Nkomo could ever dream of under the jackboot. Now it is Mugabe on the facade watching an economy implode in his face who is weaker. It is Mugabe under the jackboot, not necessarily of the MDC, for, behold on the sunset horizon, scorned and full of fury, an elephantine beast not unfamiliar and fair, slouches towards the bastions of the Republic.


Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading