Unity Govt Poses Serious Threat to Vested Interests

ZIMBABWE’S unity government has started on a bad note, confirming what those sceptical of this deal feel and indeed the fears of Western countries that maybe Zanu PF is not ready or, rather, beyond change.

The arrest of senior MDC official Roy Bennett hours before he was due to be sworn into office indicates the lack of sincerity on the part of Zanu PF and the security forces the party controls.

The arrests go against President Robert Mugabe’s pledge that he is committed to the deal and is sincere in his dealings.

As the leader of Zanu PF and indeed the security forces in Zimbabwe, the arrest of Bennett cannot be said to be the slightest of sincere actions.

This arrest and the intransigence still being shown with regards to the continued detention of political prisoners indicate that, to some degree, President Mugabe is losing control of his structures, especially the security agents.

I say so because the unity deal presents the only and last chance to redeem whatever is left of his legacy and present him with probably, his last opportunity for a dignified exit.

It is becoming obvious, however, that many others, especially the high echelons of the security forces now used to running Zimbabwe from the barracks, would not want to cede power and return to their normal and acceptable constitutional duties.

President Mugabe’s tolerance of human rights abuses as a political weapon are now haunting and already undermining the unity government so early in the day.

Violence and repression is what this clique in the security forces is used to and know better.

They seem not to know any other role for themselves in a stable Zimbabwe.  

The root cause of the insolence by security forces and their disregard for the wishes of the majority of citizens can be traced to the wide berth granted by President Mugabe for them to literally do as they please, as long as such actions maintained the rule of Zanu PF and the flow of privileges to the detriment of national stability and development.

It is the same clique in the CIO, the army and police that fears losing these privileges they think are guaranteed as long as President Mugabe is in power and Zimbabwe remains without workable systems.

A democratic, stable and prosperous Zimbabwe is a threat to the interests of this clique as a free and democratic Somalia is a threat to the warlords ravaging that poor country.

They would rather maintain their policy of raping Zimbabwe while holding a gun to citizens.

Apart from this clique of security agents, there are still many in the high echelons of government who are not happy with this deal.

These include the likes on Nathaniel Manheru, a well-known senior official whose career has been to defend the undemocratic actions and policies of the Zanu PF government.

Manheru cannot point to anything that he has positively contributed to Zimbabwe apart from a scorched earth policy on the media.

These senior officials are so used to this way of doing business that they cannot see themselves rebuilding what they have destroyed.

They cannot see themselves being burdened with the real stuff of nation building and governance.

To them this unity government is a threat that has to be destroyed.

What they don’t know, and what they need to be told is that this unity government is equally their only chance of saving themselves and rehabilitating their tainted lives by at least dropping the violence and undemocratic policies they prop up daily.

This same clique cannot see itself surviving as ordinary Zimbabweans; they believe they are the royalty of this country, born to be sustained by the sweat of poor Zimbabweans even to the point of death while not putting a dime back into society.

It is this clique that should be encouraged to drop its sanctions on the people of Zimbabwe.

The world has noticed how for two weeks now, Zanu PF and the state media have increased their call for the lifting of Western sanctions.

The basis of these calls is that Zimbabwe now has a unity government hence the need for the West to lift sanctions.

To them the evidence of the unity government is the paper that this document is written on and the signatures of the MDC leaders.

These calls should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve until Zanu PF and its leadership lift, first, sanctions they have imposed on the citizens of Zimbabwe.

Zanu PF should show sincerity by releasing political prisoners languishing in detention, some dying from torture-induced illnesses.

Zanu PF should lift sanctions it imposed on The Daily News, The Tribune and other newspapers and drop threats on exiled media workers and political activists, many who fear returning to Zimbabwe seeing what is happening to Bennett, Jestina Mukoko and others.

The Western demands on Zanu PF and the unity government are therefore spot on. Zanu PF cannot take the world for fools and it cannot have its cake and eat it too.

The ball is in the court of Zanu PF.

The reasons the sanctions were imposed are clear and in black and white. Conditions for their removal include the release of political prisoners and the removal of undemocratic laws.

We wonder what is so difficult about this for Zanu PF, if as President Mugabe says, he is sincere about this unity deal. Zanu PF therefore has to act first, and President Mugabe must put the security agents on a leash and take charge of his party.

The rule of law has to be seen to be done, and not merely said to be done.

The people of Zimbabwe need to see the unity government in physical terms and not words of senior Zanu PF and regional leaders.

Until this is done, Zanu PF is in fact lying to the world. The party is talking peace while preparing for war.

lRashweat Mukundu is a programme specialist for Media Freedom Monitoring, Misa regional secretariat, Windhoek.

BY RASHWEAT MUKUNDU

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