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2013: Year to return to normality

IN keeping with global tradition, Zimbabweans certainly have New Year wish-lists reflecting their hopes and aspirations over the next 12 months, lists no doubt also informed by the plethora of obstinate challenges that continue to dog the nation.

Editor’s Memo with Stewart Chabwinja

The international community in general, and the Southern African region in particular which has partly borne the brunt of “regional hotspot” Zimbabwe’s destabilising socio-economic morass, also have New Year wishes for Zimbabwe.

The regional hope was this week articulated by the facilitation team of Sadc-appointed facilitator to the country’s  crisis, President Jacob Zuma,  which challenged principals to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) to ensure a free political environment that ensures Zimbabwe becomes “a normal society again”.

In an interview with our sister paper, NewsDay, straight-talking facilitation team spokesperson Lindiwe Zulu — whose forthright approach has earned her a few brickbats from a prickly Zanu PF — said Zuma remained committed to resolving the Zimbabwean political impasse.

“We are taking a short break, but the (Zimbabwean political) issues are never out of sight and we hope this year will be better and all the parties (Zanu PF and the two MDC formations) will have a new resolve on implementing the Global Political Agreement, and bring Zimbabwe back to normality so people can go about their day-to-day lives in a normal way,” Zulu said.

Indeed, life in Zimbabwe is far from normal as the country still fails to tick a sufficiency of the right boxes in diverse international economic and social surveys despite the formation of the unity government. Nor has it been “normal” for more than a decade, and counting.

The country continues to grapple with decaying infrastructure, falling capacity utilisation, failure to adequately supply basic services like potable water and power, while ancient diseases like cholera continue to wreak havoc.

Fundamental rights like freedom of assembly and speech are still trampled upon, with the military occasionally issuing incendiary statements in support of the former ruling party Zanu PF, in flagrant disregard of the constitution.

The return to normality is predicated on full consummation of the GPA, a precursor to the unity government, which among other deliverables seeks to stabilise the economy while levelling the political playing field through a mélange of far-reaching reforms.

It is thus most perplexing that the opposition has effectively yielded to Zanu PF intransigence over outstanding reforms rather meekly, instead allowing itself to be stampeded over polls despite the benefits it and the entire nation stand to accrue from change.
MDC leader Welshman Ncube was quoted as saying his party is ready for elections even under the current constitution that skews the political field largely in Zanu PF’s favour.

“… Our position is that if it is not possible to have a democratic constitution, then let’s have elections without a new constitution,” said Ncube.

The MDC-T formation is in sync with Ncube, as Justice deputy minister Obert Gutu last week said his party was readying itself for the “worst case scenario” of participating in elections minus full reforms.

To disconcertingly cap it all was Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s 965-word Christmas and New Year message to the nation. While Tsvangirai made pertinent references to key 2013 issues such as peace, the new constitution and polls, he glaringly omitted to mention the outstanding GPA reform agenda. Not a word on that!

It may well be that after so many years of the abnormal, even politicians from the MDC formations are so inured that the abnormal now appears normal. Normal life has become a distant memory, as the daily grind to eke out a living takes its toll on Zimbabweans.

Yet reforms are a must for present and future generations.  To that end, the GPA remains a crucial prescription. Pity, though, the MDC — apparently putting all its eggs in the new constitution basket —  is now complicit in Zanu PF’s refusal to swallow bitter but efficacious reform medication.

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