Archive | June, 2014

Compromised and Compromising Politicians: The tragedy of opposition politics in Zimbabwe

7 Jun

Since the 2013 July ZANU PF victory or theft or whatever you want to call it, opposition political parties in Zimbabwe have been in sixes and nines – not too sure how to respond to the loss. Calls were made to annul the vote because reportedly Nikuv had secured the victory for the wily Robert Mugabe. Most in the opposition MDC T went on to blame Morgan Tsvangirai for his lack of strategy during the election. Others have recently reportedly called for a Transitional Authority to run a caretaker government leading to new elections and a revival of the ailing economy. Unfortunately, the much sought after silver bullet to heal Zimbabwe from the pains of the ailing economy and democratic deficit will not and cannot be found in the proposed Transitional Authority. This proposition is a fallacy based on an arrogant and patronizing assumption that people like Tendai Biti hold the keys to the final solution because in my view they are too compromised by association and conduct which leads them to make serious compromises detrimental to the common Zimbabwean wananchi.

First and foremost – some evident truths are there for everyone to see. The government is broke, there is no money to pay for essential services, and industries continue to shut down. This cannot be news anymore, and so the so called wise men from the opposition should not continue breaking such information and behaving as if they have just discovered a new planet. Zimbabweans are not stupid – they know what’s going on.

The new calls for a Transitional Authority in my view would have been well meaning if Zimbabwe were in a different scenario. Post war situation or others of that nature. ZANU PF won the election rightly or wrongly last July and the nation must move on. The idea of wanting to keep the nation in a perpetual electioneering mode is unacceptable. The situation requires different stakeholders to now work towards resolving some of the challenges the nation is facing. Of course it is never going to be easy to work with ZANU PF. However, if any electioneering is going to be done, let it be done at party political level to streamline opposition party strategies. Let it be towards electoral law reforms, alternative policies, national dialogue(s) etc. and not any form of Transitional Authority. The opposition was given a 5 year chance to help the country transit from a state of paralysis to a stable one. They must be commended for pulling Zimbabwe out of the mud but we all know that such a type of government will be difficult to manage in the Zimbabwean context as long as ZANU PF holds executive powers through the office of the President.

People must now start to learn to disabuse of themselves of the fallacy that ZANU PF does not have supporters and they out rightly stole the election in 2013. ZANU PF and Robert Mugabe have supporters who genuinely voted for them in 2013. There are Zimbabweans who believe in ZANU PF’s policies of land reform and so on. I do not hold any brief for ZANU PF but over the years a few of the Young Turks such as Kaukonde, Mandiwanzira, Kasukuwere, Mzembi, Nhema etc. whether through abuse of state resources or no have managed to campaign vigorously and retained the fortunes of the party. So people must not continue thinking that ZANU PF does not hold a brief for a huge section of Zimbabweans because unfortunately due to the ambiguous positions held by the opposition of certain sensitive issues such as land people have chosen to side with ZANU PF.

The biggest challenge that Zimbabweans in the opposition now face after having tasted political office at the highest level is that they are confusing personal interests with the national question. It is a fact that certain sections of the opposition leadership would of course want to go back to government. Could it just be nostalgic feelings really gone bad? Power is sweet, it gives you access to resources and just a feeling of invincibility. Well, it could be as well that these opposition leaders have the peoples’ issues at heart. But it is well that they can wait until the next election. If people really want to go back to government I’m sure they can talk to Gideon Gono, and Gideon can talk to Robert Mugabe and something can be arranged. Let this not be a matter of national interest, because it is not!

One other really disturbing matter that keeps cropping up is of the Western governments not willing to work with the corrupt and inept ZANU PF government when it comes to financial injections into the economy. Well, the country cannot continue and afford to be held hostage by people who are not sure of what exactly it is they want. The West knows fully well the idea of a Transitional Authority is just a phantom dream which cannot come into existence during the tenure of this ZANU PF government. The West must by now have engaged think tanks and policy gurus to find ways of engaging the Zimbabwean government in ways that can ensure that their resources do not necessarily get siphoned and end up in the pockets of ZANU PF officials. Infact, the West is better reminded that a Marshall Plan of some sort for Zimbabwe now without this thought of a Transitional Authority could help Zimbabweans move from this confusion wherein most people now view them as enemies and stalling Zimbabwe’s progress through sanctions.

If these so brilliant opposition leaders have alternatives then they should be brought up through Parliament or policy conferences where issues can be discussed. Does it really need someone to have a government position for them to be able to propose a reform to the banking sector or the provision of basic education, health and so on? Maybe I am being naïve, but I would suggest we see the alternative policies first – down to the last detail. Of course some gullible politicians will say that they do not want ZANU PF to steal their ideas. But I guess if the objective is to raise Zimbabwe out of the crisis it finds itself, and then let the policies be brought forward.

And the other sore thumb – civil society in Zimbabwe. Most organizations and leaders have rightly refused to take positions on important national matters and others such as the current succession and leadership wrangles in the MDC T and ZANU PF. Fair and fine, no meddling in internal party politics for civil society. But who are we trying to fool here. Most of the leaders because of their democratic right hold very senior advisory positions in the MDC T which compromises their positions when discussing pertinent issues that could affect the nation. Many a times, critical leaders have failed to comment on Morgan Tsvangirai’s reported and wanton abuse of his girlfriends and wives. The abuse of women cannot be a private matter! People failed to raise even their eyebrows when news surfaced that Tendai Biti had tried to raise funds to rescue a faltering private bank using NSSA funds. When Tendai Biti was reportedly representing Gideon Gono people felt it better to be quiet. But I contend that this is exactly what is messing up civil society and the opposition leadership. People in the opposition in Zimbabwe have become compromised and therefore are taking compromises when it comes to dealing with critical national issues in Zimbabwe.

Another GNU by any other fancy name such as Transitional Authority is not acceptable. In any case, I am going to give ZANU PF free advice. I think they would only be stupid to accept something like that. Zimbabwe must move on. Let us find national solutions to critical problems affecting the nation. Giving national and executive jobs to the boys is not a national question. The opposition needs to go back to the drawing board, strategize and launch a new chapter for 2018. Right now most in the opposition leadership are very compromised and will make compromise decisions detrimental to Zimbabweans.

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Come to think of it the ZANU PF Police and apostolic sect JOKE is not EVEN funny!

3 Jun

I have laughed at these jokes of the Zimbabwean police being beaten by the apostolic sect members all weekend. But come to think of it, IT’S NOT even FUNNY – this is a sad national development. For one moment I thought yes, the police have met their match. But then to what end? For verily verily “violence begets violence”. This has come to pass and the score is now 2 -1 in favor of the Zimbabwe Republic Force but at what cost to the country? Violence and more violence and the ZANU PF leadership is dead silent! For God,s sake, they should show leadership and rise to take control of the nation that is sinking into a cesspool of politically motivated veiled as private citizens differences.

Huge sections of the population in Zimbabwe and abroad are celebrating the incident as a victory against the police. But this tells a bigger story of a nation that is angry; disappointed with its government (security services) and could easily slide to violent ways to resolve deep seated governance and political problems.

First things first! Violence from any quarters should be condemned and punished with the might it deserves. The state through its coercive arms such as the police, army or intelligence organizations should not be allowed to use violence. On the other hand, citizens cannot be allowed to use violence against each other and or against the police. The members of the apostolic church were wrong and committed criminal offences by assaulting the police officers – period. They must be FAIRLY charged and reined before the courts of the law for taking the law into their own hands.

The celebrations from within and outside Zimbabwe reveal a population that is frustrated with the way the police have run affairs in Zimbabwe thus far. The police force is well known for its corrupt tendencies and serious violence perpetrated on dissenting voices to the ruling ZANU PF regime. So definitely, anyone who was going to stand up to the clownish behavior of the police was going to be celebrated. As expected the news would go far and rightly so because in most peoples’ minds the evil forces that are the police force would have met their match and the peoples’ long sought revenge would have been meted out.

The kind of amateurish execution of duties by the police in purportedly trying to investigate cases of abuse of women and children at the apostolic church shrine in Budiriro are largely reprehensible. The police are claiming to have unearthed serious cases of human rights violations in the said church. But honestly this cannot be news to the police. It is a well – known fact that these apostolic sects are notorious for polygamy, child marriages and even denying their children access to medical care claiming that God will take care of them. So for the police to claim that they were going to investigate and try to stop the illegal acts from the shrine and not in the homes where the crimes are happening is preposterous. What evidence did they collect, what witnesses do they have besides the ZANU PF zealot Archbishop Ndanga who led them to “ban” the church.

The Zimbabwean police force has been known to be a partisan ZANU PF extension. Cases in point are the persecutions of Anglican church members who dared to oppose another ZANU PF zealot Bishop Kunonga. The police would beat up congregants at the different churches at the direction of Kunonga and no one would question until a time when even the Archbishop of Canterbury had to call on President Mugabe for the violence to stop. Archbishop Ndanga,s relations with ZANU PF are well documented. He supports ZANU PF by assuring the party votes at election time and in return the state run by ZANU PF looks away at criminal activities in the church such as child marriages, virginity tests and denial of medical care to children. That Ndanga saw it befitting to commandeer police officers to ban a church purportedly committing serious human rights violations against women and children in the church is highly suspicious and must be condemned. Yes, the police can be tipped off by members of the public but in this instance the Archbishop does not seem to have done this in good faith except to further his interest under the protection of ZANU PF (police force).

The Prosecutors must not be quick to condemn the accused without getting fuller details of what actually transpired. Violence could not just have started at the shrine. I am of the view that in this instance the police abused their power of being in police uniforms and state authority and tried to impose themselves on these church goers of course with dire consequences. Information needs to come out on what evidence the police had that they had to go to the shrine, who were they going to arrest; what investigations had they carried before and what evidence did they have? Zimbabweans will need to be told of the senior police officers who gave the orders for the police to be deployed accompanying this said Bishop Ndanga.

It is unfortunate that the police are now using force acquired from the state to arrest and drag the members of the apostolic sect before the courts. Of course the police were always going to emerge victorious in this battle in the end. So no fuss! There is no point for the Zimbabwe Republic Force to boast about it, they are the repositories of force. The leadership of the police force should be “tripping” over each other trying to give orders on who will beat the apostolic faith members the most. This is misguided. In another life, my word of warning is that these same leaders must be reined before the courts of law for failing to lead their subordinates. Infact, assaults by members of the security of forces for clear intentions of extracting information and intimidation and so on are known to attract the wrath of international penalties in a crime called torture. So, police officers must not think that they are invincible. The long arm of international or domestic law will catch up with them. Ask Charles Taylor and others!

This whole issue leads to a more important issue which has continued to skirt governance and democracy discussions in Zimbabwe – security sector reform. Clearly, the security sector in Zimbabwe needs to be reformed so that at a minimum we can have professional police, military and intelligence services. The manner in which the police in this instance behaved calls for serious reforms which include trainings on how to handle investigations; how to respond to restive crowds and even managing public relations. More importantly, a Police Public Complaints Commission should be set up if it’s not already established. Civilian oversight of police services would go a long way in monitoring abuse of office – well this all sounds utopian in Zimbabwe but it would be a good starting point.

Furthermore, there have been calls for the establishment of national healing and reconciliation mechanism to be set up since the 1998 Food Mabvuku Food Riots. The government has been dragging its feet and this might just be high time they woke up and smelt the coffee – even though it is a well – known fact that the ZANU PF government might not welcome such in good faith. Cases of impunity against the police are abundant and there is lack of trust by the citizenry on the police service in many respects. It might just be high time that the government started paying attention to the calls for setting up national, inclusive mechanisms to deal with reconciling the citizenry with the security services.

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