Friday, November 28, 2008

(TALKZIMBABWE) Sept. 15 agreement now drips with blood

Sept. 15 agreement now drips with blood
Leonard Makombe - Opinion
Fri, 28 Nov 2008 05:18:00 +0000

WHAT is wrong with Zimbabwe? Why is a political solution becoming so elusive? Why is it there is so much talk about the best way(s) forward yet we remain at the junction perpetually? Is it the leaders lack reason or the proposed solutions lack reason. Or simply put, we are cursed, so much so that the leaders have been blinded by trivialities.

Even mother nature has unleashed the deadly cholera, just to expose us further, the ominous outbreak may be a rude nudge to the leaders to once again look at the situation and take stock of what they are doing and how it is helping to assist the situation. Assist here is double edged, as it may mean contributing to the problems or making sure that they are eliminated.

As a Zimbabwean whose potential, future, past and present has been frozen in a mortal combat of the elites, I have been left wondering what will happen to the country.

In my very humble opinion, one informed by a struggle for survival, the September 15 agreement now drips with blood. I was against the manner through which the talks were held, and have argued that they should involve the ordinary Zimbabwean, but as many other people we accepted the final product with reservation. It it was a bastard, born outside the wedlock of the basic aspirations of the ordinary Zimbabwean.

Reading through th agreement, many thought there was room for input of the ordinary citizen, especially during the constitutional process as well as the formation of different bodies such as the National Economic Council, which I thought would bring the best brains together to map the way forward for the country.

However, as has been argued earlier in July, there is always a danger of giving politicians all the power to decide on our behalf. In fact what the agreement has done is to execute a coup on the masses of the country as it is now not clear what role we have to play for example if a sitting member of parliament dies or is recalled. Is it possible for us to march through Harare demanding that the agreement be implemented when we were not part of the the initial process. Celebrating the agreement, for us the poor, was like enjoying a meal in a train we did not even know the destination and why we had the meal and what will happen next.

We may have forgiven this coup, if the agreement had restored some of our basic needs, that is food and water. Maybe we would have concluded it was a necessary evil with the end justifying the means. But not at the moment. If anything, there has suddenly been a number of issues which have extended the suffering of the people whose origins directly or otherwise is on that document.

Why is it that there has been the fastest acceleration of the rate of inflation, currency devaluation and erosion of the social service in the last two months. If compared to last year, is what we are witnessing a normal development or a completely new phenomenon. Why has there been a sudden and sharp change at a time when we should have been restoring hope or witnessing a wait and see in the business sector.

A critical analysis of the situation could show a scorched earth policy which has been adopted by politicians and business. The politicians are held up in a rather silly combat as to who should have what, when and how reminiscent of robbers sharing a loot in the graveyard at the witching hours of the night.

The business on the other hand has taken the failure to agree as a sign that central control has collapsed, at least as of now, thus they are capitalising on the situation and sell orange juice for US$7 a product which costs US$2 in neighbouring countries.

These internal acts of terrorism against the people by the politicians and the business sector has brought untold suffering of the people. (We should be asking who in the top brass of the three political parties has a child attending a school in Zimbabwe or has a relative on a deathbed in a semi closed hospital) It (the terror and arrogance) has in other words eroded the hope that was laid in September.

This is not to argue that there should not have been disagreements but we are saying the manner in which they were held and the time it takes to resolve disputes was detrimental. They seem to be in no hurry as I see it. After all the negotiators and their immediate families are assured of three meals and the best health and education. That has always been my argument, how would we let those scratching their stomachs after a hearty meal address issues of 'sadza'.

Some of the issues which spilled into the public sphere, show that the agreement was hastened and issues were brought as an after thought.There is also an underlying fact that the delay in creating a government can also be traced to individual fights for personal pursuits. For most of the time the issues which are discussed are not on policy but on police. My God.

What politicians should note is that the people are not stupid and they would be shocked if they go back to their constituencies at the moment as there is voter fatigue and mere hopelessness. To cite an example given by Julius Nyerere, placing hope in the three parties is like having a village faced with famine send the able bodies to source food. The chosen ones would instead of coming with food enjoy the plenty away from the madding growls never to come back.

Apart from the scorched earth policy which has been adopted by Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC-M, there are some external factors which have compounded the Zimbabwe problems. I call it the 'scorched earth policy' as they are literally burning all the things in sight, the hope, the confidence in negotiations and the ownership of the process.

The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) for example has been caught in a web which it may not extricate itself, at least in the short term. The issue of the contradictions brought by the decisions of the troika and the main body are not anything new. There were not contradictions in what the troika recommended and what the main body recommended, but one is left wondering why take a circumspect route. Why did we have to have a troika in Swaziland, aborted, over the passport issue, then the Harare one with its disputed communique and then the Sadc Extra Ordinary Summit whose decision was also disputed? Its like a a script of a tragedy where we almost can guess what the next line is yet we cannot change anything but wait and see what will happen yet we already know what it is.

Sadc has largely let down Zimbabwe. It is an expose of the bloc, as it has to learn from its handling of the Zimbabwean issue. This is not the first time there has been contradictions in the regional body, the war in DRC a decade ago brought such contradictions and it was a learning curve.

The Troika decided to send a force while the main board was not decisive then. But on the Zimbabwean issue, it is time Sadc be decisive. Like what it said on the Extra Ordinary Summit, it is time for the regional bloc to take steps which will help Zimbabwe out of the political, social and economic problems.

In the same breath, what Botswana has been trying to do has, if anything, been contradictory. We have accusations that the MDC-T is using the country to train a force, which is denied by that country and yet the minister of foreign affairs says they are prepared to have Morgan Tsvangirai resident in the country as a leader in exile.

The minister also said they would assist in "democratic resistance". This statement, in strategic terms would give Zanu PF arsenal which, I believe, will use gladly but not for the betterment of the country but buttering of relations.

Even suggestions by Ian Khama that the country should go back to the polls are misplaced, mistimed and go against the grain of the realities on the ground. It is not too harsh to suggest that there is no political party that is willing, as of now, to go to the polls once again. A return to the polls, with the harrowing experience of the post March 29 harmonized elections still fresh, would make the whole affair another fuss.

Questions may also be raised as to what conditions should prevail before a new elections are held, whether there would be a new constitution, new electoral bodies and the issue of supervision. At this time, like was the case after March 2008, it is not necessary to hold another election.

In other words a call for another election will speed up the turmoil in the country. A cursory look at statistics will show that the slide in economic turmoil accelerated in an election year. A call for another election may be informed by a desire to sweep to power, but what lies beyond that is darkness as of now.

Actually, I support what Khama and Mohlante said this week when they said the unity government is the best way forward. The review period may be reduced, or the government may operate for a shorter period of time, say 24-30 months instead of the 60.

It is quite heartening that the past week has seen a change in the tone pertaining to the speed with which the talks should be concluded.

Arguing that these may take longer or should so that the final product is water tight are inhuman and meant to mislead us. We have respected men and a woman negotiating, and they have been doing this for quite some time. Remember Constitutional Amendment Number 19 came as a result of the hushed talks. They even have a draft constitution in the form of the Kariba Draft. Taking longer on the constitution may mean the parties would walk through more bodies on their route to corridors of power.

Ironically, all the three parties purport to be doing each action it takes in our name and we wonder, at least I do, if as a people I wish to see more of my relatives and friends dying or see the media mud-slinging.

Leonard Makombe

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