Mutambara: Wake Up, Smell The Coffee

THE media gave ample space to MDC leader Arthur Mutambara to articulate his views on the future of Zimbabwe as its people desperately seek a lasting solution in 2009.

Unfortunately the space was wasted on a rambling diatribe against the West.

Mutambara, Zimbabwe’s youngest political leader, has obviously come to the conclusion that bashing the West is the best way he can bolster his credentials as an anti-imperialist, Pan-African progressive leader. His overweening ambition blinds him to the sterility of this type of politics.

Zimbabwe is in a terrible mess caused by the selfishness, ineptitude and decadence of the Zanu-PF leadership. This is where Mutambara should direct his vitriol, instead of begging Robert Mugabe to appoint him deputy prime minister. The majority of Western leaders he hopes to get political capital from attacking have a peripheral interest in Zimbabwe.

Mutambara has total faith in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed on 15 September 2008. In his article, “The inconvenient truths about the West and Zimbabwe”, he fails to explain why four months after the signing the proposed inclusive government has not been formed.

He insinuates that MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai is, at the behest of the West, stalling the process. Mutambara is now at one with Mugabe in viewing Tsvangirai as a lackey of the West. He refuses to apportion any blame on Mugabe despite the fact that he holds all the ace cards. Where does the responsibility, at least the lion’s share of it, lie?

After the signing of the agreement Mugabe went to New York to grandstand at the annual UN General Assembly meeting. There was extremely urgent business to be attended to at home. He then visited Qatar at a time when a cholera outbreak was claiming the lives of hundreds of Zimbabweans, leaving it to foreign agencies to solve the problem and heal the sick. Now he is on a month-long holiday leaving the country on a downward spiral without a government.

Furthermore, he made no attempt to hide his contempt for the agreement and its other two signatories. In violation of the spirit and letter of the GPA he unilaterally allocated ministries to the three parties and appointed all 10 provincial governors. Gideon Gono’s contract as Reserve Bank governor was unilaterally extended and a new Attorney-General appointed.

The state-controlled media continues to pour scorn on Tsvangirai, treating him as an enemy and not a partner. Violence against members of the MDC and civil society, which reached savage levels after the March 29 election, continues.

Today many people are still unaccounted for while over 40 languish in jail facing trumped up charges. All indications are that Mugabe is laying the ground for a massive crackdown on Tsvangirai’s MDC as soon as the GPA is officially buried. Add to that the embarrassing spectacle of South Africa having to intervene to get Tsvangirai issued with a passport.

Yet Mutambara ignores all of this to put the blame on the West. This may earn him cheap popularity in certain quarters but will not impress ordinary Zimbabweans who are sick and tired of leaders who simply will not accept responsibility for their own actions.

The GPA was a bad deal because it disregarded the will of the people by giving Mugabe a full five-year presidential term. Mutambara and Tsvangirai blundered by signing it.

They were sold a dummy by Thabo Mbeki. It is a measure of Mugabe’s attitude that despite the GPA being in his favour he is not prepared to act in good faith to get it off the ground.

His aim is to collapse the deal and blame it on Tsvangirai or form the inclusive government on conditions that thoroughly disempower and humiliate the MDC leader. What he is not prepared to accept is a power-sharing arrangement in which the MDC will have some say in how things are done.

It is Mugabe’s role in all of this that Mutambara should focus on instead of trying to outdo the old autocrat in denouncing the West.

At this critical juncture Tsvangirai and Mutambara must face up to the facts. The GPA is a dead horse and there is no point in flogging it.

There is now talk of forming a government at the end of February after Mugabe and his family have enjoyed their annual Asian safari. In most countries leaders cancel official engagements abroad to attend to domestic crises.

In Zimbabwe Mugabe is all too willing to leave behind a dysfunctional state with no government to boost his ego in foreign lands. The two MDC leaders should stop misleading people through disinformation. Both factions peddle the lie that the proposed inclusive government is transitional.

The fact is that it will serve a full five-year term with Mugabe as both head of state and government. In a recent article Eddie Cross of Tsvangirai’s faction said if their conditions for joining the government were met his party would be in charge. Nothing could be further from the truth. The GPA vests all executive authority in Mugabe for a full five years. Tsvangirai will be a prime minister with no executive powers.

The Council of Ministers he chairs will be an irrelevant talk-shop far removed from executive decision-making.
The MDC factions should stop pretending that the GPA offers a solution. On the contrary it only prolongs and legitimizes Mugabe’s rule. They should have the humility to admit that the country is living with the consequences of their folly.

Mutambara must also realize that the West was given the opportunity to engage in the Zimbabwe issue by the inaction of Southern African Development Community (Sadc) leaders since 2000.

Ironically the little they have done to find a solution has been as a result of pressure from the West. When the crisis began in 2000 Sadc leaders chose to turn a blind eye on Mugabe’s brutal excesses and wilful violations of his country’s laws and constitution.

They applauded him as he ranted against the West while presiding over the destruction of his own country. In what was a total abdication of their responsibilities they allowed Mugabe to violate Sadc protocols on governance, human rights and elections.

It is this failure to act that gave the West the space and opportunity to get involved. It will continue to do so as long as African leaders cannot summon enough guts to deal honestly with the Harare regime.

It is not too late for Sadc leaders to put things right. A few truths have to be acknowledged. As stated above, the GPA is a dead horse. It must be discarded. A solution predicated on the supremacy of the will of the people must be pursued.

A UN sanctioned transitional authority must be put in place to prepare the country for free and fair elections. This way people are at the centre of determining the future of the country. The GPA is a backroom deal that gives power on a silver platter to Mugabe, which he could not get through a free and fair election.

For that reason alone it is a bad deal.

Mutambara must wake up and smell the coffee. The fault for Zimbabwe’s mess lies not in the West but in the man he once opposed but now reveres. Mugabe does not want this inclusive government.

Stop writing grovelling letters to “Your Excellency”, humbly requesting to be appointed deputy prime minister. This may meet your needs but it certainly is not the solution the country seeks. Put people at the centre of a solution based on a free expression of their will.

BY TENDAI DUMBUTSHENA