THE trip to Washington DC, the United States, by senior MDC Alliance officials, including Tendai Biti and Nelson Chamisa, generated heated debate in the public sphere and within government circles. Welshman Ncube reportedly failed to make the trip due to a family emergency.
Editor’s Memo,Dumisani Muleya
Social media was awash with posts and debate as ordinary people, academics and activists engaged vigorously on whether the MDC diplomatic adventure was progressive or not.
Critics say the MDC should have first engaged the new government, the region and African stakeholders before going to the US. They observe the MDC had learnt and forgotten nothing from its previous mistakes of concentrating on internationalising the Zimbabwe question — while unwittingly arming Zanu PF which always claimed it was a puppet of Western powers — and neglecting domestic constituencies which actually wield the power to vote and deliver change.
Foreign and International Trade minister retired Lieutenant-General Sibusiso Moyo said it was unhelpful for the MDC Alliance to rush to Washington DC, while he engaged American diplomats in Harare. He said the opposition should engage at home first and seek domestic remedies on its grievances.
“Any internal disagreements should be resolved by our engaging with one another,” Moyo said.
“There is no need to invite outside referees whose own fate has no relationship to ours. Let us advance our political goals without inviting punitive measures by strangers on our fellow citizens.”
However, prominent academic Ibbo Mandaza said on social media there was nothing wrong with the MDC Alliance approach, as the Zimbabwe issue is multi-dimensional.
“The Zimbabwe question has always been as much a national one as it is international: that surely explains the rapid response on the part of the United Kingdom, US and China, all of which sent emissaries within hours of the coup; not to mention the mileage that the new ‘rulers’ in Harare received from such a response, including, most significantly, the fact that no one in the international community has had the courage to describe the events in Harare as they truly are, namely a coup which, by definition, means the ascendancy of the military as virtually the fifth estate,” he said.
“The reality is there for all of us to see, especially those of us who have been witness to these developments. So, there’s absolutely nothing wrong for the Zimbabweans to have been hosted on that slot in the US, and, likewise to expect any one of them to have said anything other than they had to say, honestly, about the reality in Zimbabwe.”
This view was also widely shared, although some strongly disagreed with that approach as Moyo did in the wake of presentations in the US by MDC Alliance officials, Biti and Chamisa.
Human rights activist Dewa Mavhinga and writer Peter Godwin also made representations before the US senate foreign relations committee on Tuesday.
Moyo described their presentations as a “macabre charade”, which came only hours after he had met with the American Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Harry K. Thomas Jnr.
Whatever the narratives government and the opposition are pushing, what is critical, though, is enlightened and constructive debate on the best way forward. It is only through such progressive engagement that the best ideas and solutions will emerge.
For now what is critical is that there is a great opportunity to fix the badly broken Zimbabwe.
The recent historic turn of events, which led to Mugabe’s overthrow, offers an extraordinary opportunity for Zimbabwe to set itself on a new path.
People can debate, agree or disagree, and indeed agree to disagree, but the most important thing is how to steer Zimbabwe forward, breaking with the horrifying past and charting a new course through free, fair and credible elections to ensure economic recovery and prosperity. This country has suffered for far too long due to bad governance. It’s now time to bring it back to life.