Tag Archives: Emmerson Mnangagwa

Zimbabwe’s Second Republik: dealing with the past, compensating white farmers and knee jerk reactions from civil society

23 Apr

The 39th independence celebrations for Zimbabwe have come and gone. The only thing that remains to show for the 39 years of independence is old Robert’s absence from the uhuru celebrations. The economy is teetering on its knees, bread – the same bread that also aided the overthrow of Sudan’s Al Bashir has risen to 3.50 in Zimbabwe from 99 cents, fuel queues remain the order of the day and strife never seems too far away from the ordinary Zimbabwean. Three things stand out in all this confusion of this state called Zimbabwe. One, Mnangagwa’s government has pronounced that they want to compensate white farmers for developments they left on the farms that were taken from them a decade ago. Two, there seems to be confusion around government’s position with regards how the past including the land reform process should be handled and finally the role of civil society in all this is all mired in serious and perilous confusion. A discussion will thus follow.

Compensating white farmers for what really is the question?

One of the most vexing issues of our times as a nation and state is the land question. What really to do with the Zimbabwean white man/woman with regards compensation for the land that “they grabbed from  Zimbabweans and was also grabbed from them by the black Zimbabwean” remains a thorn in the back of the state and nation. One would think that by now this matter would have been resolved if it were not for the fact that ZANU PF grabbed most of the land and dished it out to its cronies. Now predictably huge tracts of land lie fallow with speculators hoping they will get title deeds and use the security to go borrow money from banks to fund their lavish lifestyles. It is true!

The politics and smearing of the black Zimbabwean aside – the whole land compensation matter reeks of perverted opportunism and a clear lack of vision from ZANU PF. For starters, it defies all logic that a whole people can go to war to fight for their land and other resources only to wake up the following morning apologizing. Zimbabwe is basically telling the whole world that the country is ready to return whatever was stolen from them after they had worked so hard to recover it. Ideological bankruptcy if you ask me! If the Government of Zimbabwe is not clear on what should happen with the compensation then the issue must be put to the ballot in a referendum. Or at the very least, it must be taken to Parliament. The President cannot just run around making pronouncements that have serious significance at a political, social and economic level and get away with it.  Unless, there is some other logical reason, this whole compensation former white farmers is all some gibberish which should come to an end  already.

Who will pay for the compensation?

The more vexing question though is that the government of Zimbabwe says there will be compensation for the developments in infrastructure etc. left by the white men/woman on the farms. While the question of why such compensation is even difficult to understand, the question of who is supposed to pay for such is even more cantankerous to deal with. When the government mentions that the state will pay, what it basically means is that the ordinary Zimbabwean who is taxed left right and center through PAYE, 2% and some other crazy tax schemes operating in Zimbabwe now, will also have to see their hard-earned money used to pay for such compensation schemes when they don’t have medicines in hospitals, and can’t afford to have one meal a day on their tables.

The government of Zimbabwe is broke and this whole talk about compensating this or that person is just misplaced for a very simple reason. If the talk should even arise then it must be the farmer or the black Zimbabwean who took over a house, barns, farming equipment or whatever they found on the farm and not the whole of Zimbabwe. Why should the whole of Zimbabwe suffer collective guilt for some loot that is now enjoyed by a privileged few?

What should happen as a matter of common sense is that those Zimbabwean black farmers who took over those assets should now pay for them. If the white farmer runs into any problems then s/he should approach the nearest judicial court and make a civil claim or whatever to get compensation from these people. I would reckon most of the equipment has been sold, is now damaged or probably broken down now and thus it will all be very tricky to make such claims. All the same, I don’t think the whole of Zimbabwe deserves to be put under such a blanket process of compensating the white farmers. It just doesn’t add up? What is this now – collective guilt for a whole country courtesy of the so called Second Republic?

Dealing with the past – Mnangagwa and NPRC working together or at cross paths?

One of the biggest issues in Zimbabwe revolves around how the country should deal with its past history of human rights violations also commonly known as transitional justice. There is a common understanding that for the country to move forward there must be unity of purpose built around knowing the truth about what happened in the past, who committed what atrocities e.g. the Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, 2008 election violence, what were the motivations, how much money was plundered etc. To achieve this, the government with a push from civil society and literally the whole of Zimbabwe established what is known as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, whose main task is also dealing with the past.

What is becoming confusing and contributing to the false start that is this second republic of Mnangagwa is the seeming confusion between the pronouncements of the President and what the NPRC is seeking to do. In the same week, the news about the compensation of white farmers came out, the NPRC was also deploying into some parts of Zimbabwe to ask the people on what, how and why should the past be addressed. So, if there is a national body under Chapter 12 of the country’s Constitution mandated to carry out such work, why would a whole President be seen to be jumping the gun or putting the cart before horse making such pronouncements?

Some will argue that policy making requires that the Executive makes decisions and be decisive. However, i argue that the kind of policy making in this second republic is very haphazard, and erratic more informed by knee jerk reactions rather than any objective interventions.

The government and the President of course need to lead the way but they must also ensure that there is one coordinated message coming from them that shows consistency and a sense that they want matters to be dealt with decisively. That cannot be done with this kind of erratic behavior. At the least the President can wait for a report from the NPRC and be informed accordingly or he can just come out all furnaces running and declare that his government will implement a policy of reconciliation based on compensation etc. without wasting any more taxpayers money on organs such as this NPRC. If they want to ignore the body they can as well disband in the same manner they did with the SADC Tribunal during Chinamasa’s time.

It is important to note that i did not reach this position on the basis of the white farmers compensation but also on pronouncements made by the President on Gukurahundi. What is also even more interesting is that the President is choosing to remain very quiet when questions are asked about compensating victims of politically motivated and state sponsored human rights violations from the past.

What is the urgency in resolving the white farmers compensation question?

It remains baffling why the “revolutionary” party would all of a sudden be tripping itself scurrying around trying to compensate the former white farmers. Tell tale signs of cheap politicking – serving white people tea at public functions, promising to pay back compensation when in international for a are some of the tactics that have been used to try to sway the international community and financiers to believe that “Zimbabwe is open for business”. But is this really true? What is known by all and sundry though is that, the government needs more loans in forex and the money is just not coming. Well, we will live to see how this will pen out, but it will not end well.

Who will laugh last – ZANU PF or the compensated white farmer?

Some skeptics have noted that the Zimbabwe government is broke. So, if they are broke, how can they pay? Some people have intimated that what will likely happen is that the Government will print money and even create that fictitious money called RTRGS and pay it to the white farmers. Whatever the white farmers will do with that money will be none of the Government’s business. However, we all know and it is true that those who will receive that money will churn it out to the black market, buy foreign currency, leading to a hike in exchange rates and retail prices. We know what happened when the war vets were given huge sums of money as compensation in 1998.

The role of civil society in all this madness – do former ZANU PF officials really need support from civil society?

The third issue that seems to be equally vexatious is the role of civil society in responding to the second republic and its antics. An interesting development over the past year has been the dragging to court of former ZANU PF officials by the second republik to court on charges of abuse of office, embezzlement, corruption etc.

Of more interest though is the almost instantaneous reaction and jump to action by leading civil society groups in Zimbabwe to defend/represent these same people in court and outside the court. While the almost naïve argument would be that human rights defenders are there to defend without discrimination anyone caught under the jaws of any repressive regime, this is certainly not the case in Zimbabwe.  Most of the people who were working under Robert Mugabe’s regime contributed immensely towards the traumatization and abuse of Zimbabweans. The same Zimbabweans who toil day and night seeking justice for past human rights violations but never seem to have their day in court. Compare that to now where all these fat, pot bellied men and women are now receiving top notch legal advice to evade justice from the  Zimbabwean justice system.

That the justice  system in Zimbabwe is crooked is well known. However, on a question of principle and good morals, it would have been much safer for most of these civil society groups who are scurrying around protecting and defending the likes of Kasukuwere and others like him to calm down, take a back seat and really ponder about what they are doing.

The whole argument of nondiscrimination, human rights defending is almost sensible, but it remains really  non–non sensible. Those people can afford, have other choices and must be left to their own whims. I hear all the time as well that it is prudent to court these same people and get them onto the camp of the democrats. My take is that, that whole line of thinking is warped and unnecessary.

If ever, any of the international donors from the West were to ask questions as it is most likely that this is where the support comes from, then the answer must just be very simple – these people contributed to the torment of masses of Zimbabweans, they need to find other people to represent them. If it were in the North, these same people would be in correctional centers by now.

What way Zimbabwe?

The beauty of democracy is that issues must and can always be discussed and people agree or disagree. Questions that remain though are that the Nation and State of Zimbabwe must get a grip on itself and choose a clear path ideologically on how it needs to address it past especially with regards the land question and compensation of former white farmers. The loud dissonance between the motives for waging a guerrilla warfare and today’s knee jerk pronouncements of compensating white farmers do not speak to each other. The confusion is also compounded by Constitutional bodies that seem not to understand their mandates or what they are in office for. By now, one would hope that the NPRC would have challenged the President and asked him to stop making pronouncements such as those around compensating former white farmers until such a time as the body would also have done its work. Equally, civil society seems to be wound up in its own pants trying to figure out how to remain relevant in this crocodile head of a government, state and nation. Unfortunately, some of them have found themselves responding unwisely by assisting former oppressors to seek justice in a country that remains mired in seeking justice for past human rights violations. This part of civil society needs to stop being naïve. The second republik remains in a big dilemma because of a serious failure to place Zimbabwe’s ideological path on the table and to direct the country to the future.

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“Operation Restore Mugabe Legacy”: The Catholic Way

1 Dec

When Robert Mugabe, a staunch Catholic finally resigned after 37 years in power as the Head of State in Zimbabwe, it was with a sigh of relief not just for Zimbabweans but for the whole world. What has been confusing though is the way Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwean war veterans and the rest of the military in Zimbabwe have been insisting that Mugabe’s legacy needs to be kept intact. The government has reportedly proposed that Mugabe’s birthday “21 February” be declared a national holiday. In all this hullaballoo, one figure stands out so much not only for his body size but in the manner that he has been defending and sanitizing Mugabe’s resignation as a voluntary process done through Mugabe’s own volition.  It is rather interesting that this man, Father Fidelis Mukonori in interviews with the BBC and local media is telling a narrative that seeks to protect Mugabe’s legacy in a positive way when the truth is harkening him the other way. Father Mukonori noted in the interview with the BBC that “Mugabe’s face glowed and … was not weeping unless there were some angels weeping elsewhere …“ after signing the resignation papers on 21 November 2017. What could be the interests in peddling such a narrative which amounts to some sort of nonsensical religious propaganda whitewashing the fact that Robert Mugabe was forced out of office?

Self-serving interests to feed VIP status ego

First, it seems the interests for Father Fidelis Mukonori to continue peddling a narrative that Mugabe finally capitulated on his own accord is purely personal and individualistic. Fidelis Mukonori has played a prominent role in Robert Mugabe’s life as his spiritual leader having met each other in the 1970s. There is no doubt that Fidelis Mukonori is an important figure in his church and his relationship with the Mugabes makes him a Very Important Person (#VIP) in Zimbabwe and among his social circles. Not so many people knew this man until the day he was first in the pictures standing behind Mugabe. To continue denying what reportedly happened during the time Mugabe resigned keeps Fidelis Mukonori in the driving seat of this narrative. In a society full of people who want to be seen to be “important and relevant” this works well for Fidelis Mukonori. WhatsApp chats in Zimbabwe swarmed with all sorts of reverence about Fidelis Mukonori’s powers as a member of some Catholic Jesuits grouping. His participation in the Mugabe ouster negotiations only adds to this mystification and  his supposed importance.

Positioning the Catholic as a VIP Church and player in Zimbabwe politics

Second and closely linked to the individualistic reason above, this narrative being pushed by Fidelis Mukonori seemingly places the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe at the center of Zimbabwe’s difficult politics. His involvement in the negotiations whether invited or not makes the Catholic church a seemingly VeryImportantPlayer (#VIP) in Zimbabwe’s politics. As mentioned above, Zimbabwe is a society that thrives on this misguided notion of VIPs (persons or political players including the church).

The Catholic Church can try all it wants to be a VIP in Zimbabwe’s politics and is entitled to as much as any other Zimbabwean. However, it should never be forgotten that the church was also instrumental in quests for democracy battles against Mugabe for a long time. One case in mind was during the height of the economic breakdown and the Catholic faithfuls would walk out of the Roman Cathedral in Harare whenever Mugabe and his family walked into the church for Sunday Mass. Robert Mugabe reportedly ended up attending Sunday mass in his rural home, Zvimba to avoid further embarrassment. For Fidelis Mukonori to try to present a narrative that Mugabe left power voluntarily is to demean and trample on the Catholic faithfuls’ wishes who for a very long time hated and prayed for the dictators’ downfall. Fidelis Mukonori, cannot peddle the narrative that Mugabe left voluntarily innocently like that and get away with it.

Coup not a coup – serving the military narrative

Third, it is most likely that Fidelis Mukonori swore to secrecy that he would not reveal what transpired at the Blue Roof (Mugabe’s personal residence) during the takeover period. A deal might have been struck between him, the military and ZANU PF officials that he tells a certain narrative that Robert Mugabe “sighed” showing huge relief after he had signed the resignation papers. This sort of narrative serves the military and the new President, Emmerson Mnangagwa very well. The narrative that has been peddled has always been there was no coup in Zimbabwe to depose Mugabe. For Fidelis Mukonori to say anything else would go against this much-desired narrative. Thus, he sticks to his guns that Mugabe was so happy to “voluntarily step down”. That line cannot be true. The correct narrative is that Mugabe was forced out of power and he resigned kicking and screaming in a process that took almost a whole week to complete. Tweets and media interviews from Mugabe’s inner circle and his nephews show that Mugabe would not have resigned because he intended to stand for elections in 2018. If Robert Mugabe was ready to stand in 2018 why would he happily step down before the elections? Fidelis Mukonori is being economical with the truth and by doing so is trying to sell Zimbabweans and the world a narrative that is incorrect and self-serving for him, Mugabe and the new rulers in Zimbabwe.

What is the concern with father Mukonori’s narrative?

The issue is over and done with. Mugabe is now history and no longer the President of Mugabe. His true legacy is of a man who led Zimbabwe through the first few years of his reign with magnanimity after the liberation struggle, significant development in education, health etc. He is a man who can be credited for standing strong against Western imperial forces during his heydays. Robert Mugabe is a man who will always be credited with pushing for and executing the long-delayed land redistribution exercise. What happened afterwards in that process can always be questioned but that is a story for another day.

However, Fidelis Mukonori, cannot possibly say that Mugabe left power gracefully. Robert Mugabe ceased to be the people of Zimbabwe’s choice at least by 2008 or even earlier. Catholic faithfuls in Zimbabwe were among the people who wanted him to step down and the sentiments would not have changed now. Presenting a narrative that Robert Mugabe left with GRACE is a complete lie and misrepresentation of facts and history.

If no other Zimbabwean will question this narrative, the Catholics in Zimbabwe and all over the world need to question this. The same church where one goes to pray for peace cannot be seen to be protecting a broken legacy of a man who broke the spirit of a nation and his fellow Catholics in Zimbabwe.

This is not a call for personal and image attacks on Robert Mugabe or Fidelis Mukonori. However, if there is nothing else to say, the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe should probably say “NO COMMENT” when asked about Robert Mugabe. The church in Zimbabwe cannot continue to be used/abused to suppress the wishes of its faithfuls because of the need to maintain a VIP culture for individuals and religious institutions in Zimbabwe aligned to politicians and their political parties.

Robert Mugabe full immunity – so now he goes scot free?

26 Nov

The Zimbabwe “coup not a coup” came and went. Emmerson Mnangagwa is now the President of Zimbabwe taking over from Robert Mugabe who had ruled with an iron fist for 37 years. Mnangagwa has a lot to deal with: plans to secure the next election for his party and Presidency; a new Cabinet to run for the next 6 – 8 months among other key issues. The new President should be very careful how he maneuvers this period before the next election otherwise the voters will give him a shocker. In fact, he runs the risk of being the shortest ever serving President in Zimbabwe if he does not play his cards right. A more odious challenge will continue to haunt his reign: What to do with Robert Mugabe with regards his alleged crimes of human rights violations and kleptocracy. News has it that in the negotiations to secure his stepping down, Robert Mugabe was offered full immunity in Zimbabwe from prosecution for his family and himself. One sees political expediency on the part of Mnangagwa not wanting to be seen to be retributive after their Lacoste vs G40 factional wars in ZANU PF. However, this position is problematic as it seemingly does not respect Zimbabwean laws and neither the wishes of Zimbabweans who would like to see Robert Mugabe held accountable for his myriad of crimes committed during his reign.

In the interim the bigger question is on what should be done to Robert Mugabe and his cronies who plundered Zimbabwe and committed human rights violations.

Immunity – what immunity and who gave it anyway?

It is quite interesting to note that the news Robert Mugabe was given full immunity for wrongs committed during his reign is being given so much prominence in the news and elsewhere. The issue of immunity post Robert Mugabe’s Presidency has always been on the table for as long as anyone who has tried to convince Robert Mugabe to step down can remember. There are different views with regards this matter.

One can only imagine that the army and Emmerson Mnangagwa would have agreed to this deal because Robert Mugabe is one of their own. They would not want to be seen to be vindictive. More importantly, going after Robert Mugabe has the unwanted potential of unravelling issues about themselves as well with regards corruption and human rights violations (unotsvaga n’anga neinobata mai).

The question that begs answers and must be answered promptly is whether the said immunity granted to Robert Mugabe has any legal status per Zimbabwe’s laws? It cannot be morally or legally right whether for political expediency or national stability that a settlement be reached only by the army, ZANU PF represented by Mnangagwa and Robert Mugabe alone on his fate with regards such serious allegations of ill-gotten wealth and human rights violations.

This question now needs to be interpreted by the courts as well discussed by civil society groups in Zimbabwe to ascertain the legal status of such immunity. If indeed, the said immunity has any binding legal status, would it not need to be promulgated into a law consistent with Zimbabwe’s constitution.

Food for thought!

Sixes and sevens on Robert Mugabe’s immunity

Various interviews have shown opposition leaders such as Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti expressing opinions that Robert Mugabe should be left to retire in peace. While it is important that these leaders express their views on this matter, one hopes that they are personal opinions. Without a clear and transparent process of seeking the views of the people, political leaders cannot purport to give such stances on behalf of the people.

Robert Mugabe’s past is tainted with egregious records of human rights violations which were reportedly committed in his name as Head of State, Head of security services as well as ZANU PF party leader. State coffers were plundered left right and center by his officials using his name in most instances or by virtue of his perceived protection. It would be difficult for anyone to fathom a general immunity being to such a person.

Opposition forces, civil society organizations as well as the rest of Zimbabweans need to critically think about the implications of Robert Mugabe’s purported immunity. Moreover, people who were around Robert Mugabe will need to be held accountable. If as much as they implicate Robert Mugabe when they are under investigations or trial what will that mean for them being held accountable? The potential of any investigation being halted because it has encroached onto Robert Mugabe’s turf will be very real.

Who to hold accountable. Robert Mugabe the system or Robert Mugabe the person?

Robert Mugabe is old and almost senile. Chasing him will not yield much against his own person. However, it must be made clear that what needs to be held accountable is more of the system he prevailed upon. In the spirit of ubuntu it will make sense to argue that Robert Mugabe – the 93-year-old man should be left alone. However, for Robert Mugabe the corrupt and violent system, total immunity should and cannot be an option.

Civil society organizations and opposition political parties need to remain seized with this matter and take it head on. Arguments will be made that Zimbabwe needs to be rebuilt and the prevailing peace should not be derailed. One is of the opinion though that these arguments are defective and throw away principled reasoning. If ZANU PF through Emmerson Mnangagwa wants to give Robert Mugabe immunity then it should be a political party choice not a national choice that has legal implications barring the rest of the country from questioning Robert Mugabe’s past.

Infact, one would expect that by now that legal challenges would have started flowing to the courts to question the legality of this said immunity for Robert Mugabe. More importantly, those aggrieved should also even now start preparing court cases against whatever violations they have suffered because of Robert Mugabe.

Way forward

Mnangagwa did what he had to do with regards Robert Mugabe’s immunity. This should not however hold any other Zimbabwean back. The immunity granted to Robert Mugabe looks fickle and was meant only to subdue the old man Robert Mugabe, show a ruse of magnanimity to the international community and Robert Mugabe’s friends. There is no doubt that Robert Mugabe the old man needs to be allowed to rest. However, as Zimbabwe moves forward, one of the most important issues will be the question of accountability for past human rights violations including the country’s stolen wealth. It is critical that any stolen funds that Mnangagwa can lay his hands on be returned to the national vaults.

For instance, questions need to be answered about Robert Mugabe’s businesses. Have they been paying taxes to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority? Questions need to be answered about how the Robert Mugabes have secured all the money they flaunt around at home and abroad. If indeed it is genuinely theirs, then they still need to answer questions on whether they have given Zimbabwe’s Caesar her share.

This strategy should apply to the rest of the Robert Mugabe hangers on or as the “criminals around him” as coined by the military. Their activities need to be investigated. The stolen money needs to be returned to the fiscus and revive the ailing economy.

The charade cannot continue. Mnangagwa has an opportunity under very difficult circumstances to change the tide. Emmerson Mnangagwa can save his mentor Robert Mugabe’s skin for his wrongs but he can at least extract some of the money stolen by Robert Mugabe and his hangers on back into the Zimbabwe fiscus. Therein lies one path to the healing of Zimbabwe and possibly his path to being properly elected as Zimbabwe’s President in 2018.Robert-and-Grace-Mugabe-laughing

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