Dialogue on reforms will save us

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THE past few days have been hell for Zimbabwe; the citizen has been subjected to attrition, causing severe physical and psychological inflammation and, in the worst case, death.

Jacob Mafume
Politician

These deaths have not been through the hand of an executioner with rational legal authority, they have been executed mafia-style by a gang of ruthless scoundrels who turned against the people they purport to represent.

Such is the characteristics of the status quo, a situation in which the executive authority was never derived from the people as dictated by the constitution, which in a normal environment is supreme.

An election gives the citizens the opportunity to be masters of their own destiny by choosing those they see fit to represent them and manage the affairs of the country.

Without subjection to a proper election, those in power pursue a narrow and selfish self- aggrandisement.

They convert the state into an arena of patronage, a coconut republic which they break and share with their friends, clansmen and relatives, enriching themselves at the expense of the majority.

The imbalance brews discontent in the masses. It is a recipe for fragility and, ultimately, state failure. A stolen election is therefore a false start.

This has been the case in Zimbabwe. The past few days vindicate some of us especially from the MDC where we have made this point over and over again.

We predicted that the legitimacy deficit will definitely stall political, social and economic progress in Zimbabwe. We predicted that an elite with no mandate from the people will only serve the interests of the selectorate, they do not owe their stay in office to the masses.

As predicted, government has therefore been characterised by corruption, capture and coercion.

In his wisdom, MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa foresaw the dark days and made a proposal as prevention, a proposal which no one has to date managed to table an alternative to or a bankable counter.

Way forward

Despite the contention and the knowledge that we in the MDC won the election, this proposal was a selfless attempt to abandon an otherwise available route to reclaim victory in its holistic sense.

This was a departure from the triumphalist approach that Zanu PF had taken, the idea that one person grabs everything and runs to the top of the mountain.
Seeing the dangers — some of which have been witnessed these past few dark days — the plan was solid mitigation.

The overriding idea was to provide a soft landing for Zimbabwe and peace for the citizen.

The plan entails dialogue around key five issues:

Firstly, discussion and adoption of a roadmap to legitimacy following events of November 2017 and a subsequent shameless election in July 2018.

Secondly, the resolution of the economic and humanitarian crisis arresting Zimbabwe, which directly led to the stayaway called by several citizen movements led by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

Thirdly, a comprehensive reform agenda and platform with a view to constructing both a sustainable state with a culture which serves the interests of the masses as opposed to serving a few presiding elites and those connected to them.

Reform would also focus on ensuring that instruments of repression are liquidated and the idea of rule by fear jettisoned.

More importantly, rethinking the fiscal approach to improve efficacy, increasing transparency and accountability.

The fourth area of focus is nation building, healing and attending to the social contract.

It is vital to allow the people of Zimbabwe the opportunity to negotiate with those in power and with power itself, fostering unity while eroding hate speech, intolerance and tribalism.

More importantly, couching a common and shared national vision, giving an unambiguous identity to Zimbabweans.

There is, however, the need to look into the past violence, such as the dark ages of Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina and several episodes of violent elections.

Providing remedy and redress to the aggrieved while ensuring justice to the victim and the perpetrator alike, this in our view is an inevitable step to nation building and its sustainability.

Finally, the plan would look at ways of re-engaging the international community.

It is important to take the pain of committing to live by the rules, respect the rule of law, practising constitutionalism and abiding by international standards — at least those contained in the several conventions, which Zimbabwe is signatory to.

We emphasise the point that engaging outsiders must be coherent, it is a step after creating sufficient internal consensus.

Noone must fly into Davos aboard a luxury jet without consulting stakeholders back at home.

A highly consulting state has solid ground of international engagement while an autocratic state is weak, it is on shaky ground and subject to manipulation by negotiation partners.

A unilateral and autocratic approach would surprise citizens someday, as they wake up to a mortgaged nation.

The five-point plan attempt is a conscious and bankable attempt to create a buffer against such a shock.

The balance sheet reflects that those on the other side, despite their arrogance, have failed dismally to couch an alternative.

Their several trips abroad, despite gobbling millions of dollars, have failed to bear fruit.

The economy is in intensive care and the prayer is that the Intensive Care Unit is not at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals. If so, the economy will not recover, for the hospital has no drugs, the medical practitioners are aggrieved and have been called names, and they have no protective wear.

The nation is also torn apart, those with guns are hunting the defenceless and robbing them of the little silver they have before killing them in cold blood.

Zimbabwe has no soul.

Even if a fresh election were to be called tomorrow to cure legitimacy issues, the outcome would be disputed. Half a year after the stolen election, the environment is more militarised. ZBC has moved from bias to toxicity and the board of elections probably more radicalised and partisan.

The long and short is that Zimbabwe needs urgent and sincere dialogue around the five key issues we raise.

It is the only way to protect further loss of life by the hand of kinsmen and the distraction of what is left of the economy.

The proposal is well-thought-out, it must never be viewed as a sign of weakness but be applauded for its patriotic and selfless nature.

Mafume is the MDC national spokesperson.

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