Unity Govt Offers new Opportunities

ON Wednesday, Zimbabwe turned a new leaf just like it did on November 11, 1965, a day that remains etched in the country’s story as the beginning of the end of white minority rule.


Will they or will they not? Will it or will it not work? How secure is Zimbabwe’s future in the hands of three men? Whose government is it anyway? What is the Zimbabwean promise? Will they or will they not deliver on the Zimbabwean promise? How will it work?

Conversations on Zimbabwe continue to be shaped by the past and our collective inability to locate the Zimbabwe story where it should be correctly located, ie in the hands of the people who have the ultimate responsibility to make it work.

The inclusive government provides yet another opportunity for citizens to begin serious discussions about democracy, government and the challenges of nation building, with special attention on Zimbabwe’s contemporary history.

Regrettably, in 1980 euphoria took precedence and citizens squandered the opportunity offered by Independence to engage in conversations about what kind of Zimbabwe they wanted to create and whose responsibility it was going to be to make it happen.

Many expected much from state actors who in the pursuit of power promised too much and never took time to think about what the Zimbabwean promise was all about. Free education was offered and taken advantage of, and yet the resources to sustain such a promise dwindled by the day.

The last 29 years have shown that the state has been an unreliable partner or instrument of the people. Instead of serving the people efficiently and effectively, the state has become a monster with a track record of dismal performance.

The focus has rightly been on the head of the fish in the firm belief that removing the head will terminate the life of the presumed toxic asset. Zimbabweans and the rest of the world have come to accept that Robert Mugabe is the toxic asset and any solution that leaves him in the melting pot will not advance the Zimbabwean promise.

What should have been the touchstone of Zimbabwe’s post-colonial society? To the extent that post-colonial Zimbabwe was born out of an unjust political, social and economic system, it was the expectation that the new society would be informed by an acknowledgment that freedom, responsibility and citizen participation were fundamental and non-negotiable foundational principles.

However, as Zimbabwe travels the last mile of Mugabe’s exclusive rule, it must be accepted that citizens abdicated in their responsibilities to ensure that their freedom was never to be the business of someone else.

Many trusted state actors to guarantee their freedom, refusing to be the change they wanted to see. The mere fact that the focus is on Mugabe confirms what is wrong with the country. People have been crowded out of the solution market and the state actors with no better solutions have taken the mantle with no defined end game.

A danger exists now as it did in 1980 that citizens yet again will choose to surrender their sovereignty to elected (or dubiously elected) individuals who will represent them in the inclusive transitional government. The last 29 years have exposed the fact that citizens failed to create their own institutional arrangements to hold their representatives in the state accountable and responsible.

Zimbabwe faces challenges and there remains no consensus on what is required to address such challenges.

Sadc/AU, President Mugabe and Zanu PF are at one in holding the view that sanctions ought to be removed as a starting point and this alone will facilitate the turnaround. How accurate is the assessment that Zimbabwe is solely a victim of the targeted sanctions regime?

If the priority is to remove sanctions that have been imposed by sovereign governments who are entitled to their own opinion about what kind of Zimbabwe they want and should like to support, it is unlikely that Zimbabwe will move forward in the short-term without addressing the concerns of the sanctions imposers.

The Zimbabwean promise can only be guaranteed and delivered by Zimbabweans working together. How feasible is it that Zimbabweans will be inspired by the transitional administration to take responsibility for the country’s future?

Over the last 29 years, citizens have rightly lost confidence in their representatives in the state who saw their primary function as that of thinking for the people and providing for the people. It must now be obvious that the future of Zimbabwe lies in the hands of the doers and dreamers who do not necessary have to be state actors.

To what extent was the Zimbabwean crisis caused by bad decisions and the inaction of citizens?

Zimbabwe has been joined by even the developed states that are also engulfed by an unprecedented economic crisis, a response to which has had the effect of placing state actors as the drivers of change and development.

Only time will tell if state actors can substitute for private actors in driving the economic engine, but history does not have good examples of countries that have delivered on their promise without citizens enjoying freedom, justice and liberty.

What is clear in the case of Zimbabwe is that the state has now thrown the towel and has accepted that the power of the market in allocating resources cannot be underestimated. For President Mugabe to accept the dollarisation regime now in place knowing his views on the West and neo-liberal economic theories exposes the fact that there is after all no alternative plan in place.

Zimbabweans have no choice but to make hard choices and deliberate urgently on issues that bring cohesion and invest in the information required to make decisions that advance the promise. This responsibility should lie less in the hands of state actors but citizens whose future should never again be the business of a few minds in the state.

There are many ideas that people have in their minds about what Zimbabwe needs to move forward but such ideas must and should not be retailed but wholesaled through organisation. Zimbabweans, whether in or out of the country, must be organised so that they can have an effective mechanism to talk to their government.

This must be done urgently and such organisations must represent real interests that determine the success or failure of the country.

Zimbabwe is a creature of citizens and is an artificial person without the benefit of a human voice. Citizens are the only people who can give this artificial person a voice. If Zimbabwe were to speak, would it be satisfied with the actions of citizens in advancing its interests?

Zimbabwe is at the crossroads and it can only move forward by finding opportunity, common ground and leverage in its hitherto divided society. It would be wrong for citizens to choose to be spectators of history at this defining moment. It is important that citizens reclaim their future by demanding from their representatives a new dispensation of transparency and accountability.

Already, it is obvious that all is not well in the state. Gideon Gono continues to make the case that he was as much a victim of sanctions as he was a victim of the actions of a confused administration.

An understanding of the role of the RBZ and the state in undermining the rule of law, property rights and human rights through a commission of inquiry set up by the inclusive government has to be a good starting point to allow citizens to know how far their government had been imprisoned a by few “wise” men and women.

Mawere is a Zimbabwe-born South African businessman.

BY MUTUMWA MAWERE