This week’s events in Zimbabwe have stunned the world in a profound manner, but we must never lose sight of the fact that what is needed in this situation is the upholding of the values of the constitution, patriotism, democracy, inclusivity and unity.
Eminent political scientist Ibbo Mandaza has described it as a “factional coup”, others have characterised it as a “soft coup”, while some chose to call it “military intervention”. Whatever your disposition to what has happened, there is no denying the fact that Zimbabwe is in turmoil and must seek ways of de-escalating the tensions before they spiral out of control. What is to be done now?
Whenever this matter is discussed — be it on social media platforms or in the public — a pattern has emerged: there has been more heat than light. People are often tempted to take partisan and downright self-serving postures instead of approaching the topic with cool head. In the circumstances, a National Transitional Council is the best way forward. Such a body, established through a transparent process of nationwide consultations, would be mandated with fulfilling a list of clear-cut national goals and objectives.
The first goal is to ensure safety and security for all the people who live in Zimbabwe. Without safety and security, the country could degenerate into a lawless jungle where brute force rides roughshod over civil liberties and the rule of law.
The second goal would be to ensure justice for all. Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy — at least on paper — and must be seen to be living up to the ideals of constitutionalism. Revenge, an eye for an eye and taking the law into one’s hands will not bring peace to this country but will usher in untold strife and suffering.
The third objective of the National Transitional Council would be the revival of the economy. Companies are collapsing, unemployment is skyrocketing, poverty is endemic, service delivery has gone to the dogs and cash shortages are not showing signs of abating. Long-suffering Zimbabweans deserve a fresh start. In the absence of economic growth and development, the danger of civil strife is a constant menace. The transitional authority’s fourth objective would be to ensure that the country eventually holds free, fair and credible elections. For far too long, the Zanu PF government has robbed the masses at the ballot box.
Some major opposition political parties yesterday called for the formation of a transitional government. Fair and fine, but who exactly should constitute such an administration?
It is our considered opinion that none of the warring sides should be in the transitional authority. In other words, the military commanders should not be part of it. The domination of political parties in the transitional council has to be thoroughly scrutinised; the last headache a fragile nation needs is a polarised and politically poisoned atmosphere. All these players are interested parties. Besides, Zimbabwe does not need a latter-day Government of National Unity.
Most importantly, Zimbabweans, in their diversity, must take ownership of the transitional government. The days of hero-worshipping leaders are long gone.