Sunday, December 23, 2007

Zimbabwe Update: Zuma Backs Talks; Unity Accord Revisited

Zuma backs talks

Sunday Mail Reporter

NEWLY elected African National Congress (ANC) leader Mr Jacob Zuma says South Africa’s ruling party will continue supporting talks between Zanu-PF and the MDC and will not advocate the imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe as this will not address the various challenges the country is facing.

Speaking at a media briefing after his final address to the 52nd ANC conference in Polokwane last week, Mr Zuma said his party would continue playing its part in efforts to find solutions to problems in neighbouring Zimbabwe adding that they would maintain President Thabo Mbeki’s "quiet diplomacy" approach.

He said Mr Mbeki, his predecessor as ANC leader, was not working on his own in the mediation process but was consulting the party leadership.

"Mbeki did not do his own thing. The world condemned Zimbabwe and continues to do so. We are dealing with a neighbour whose issues will spill over into South Africa. We decided to engage Zimbabwe on real issues instead of shouting from the rooftops," Mr Zuma said. He dismissed the use of sanctions as a tool to force the Zimbabwean Government to yield to some demands by the opposition.

"Instituting sanctions against Zimbabwe won't achieve anything. We are going to continue with quiet diplomacy," said Mr Zuma, who is now in a strong position to also succeed Mr Mbeki as state president in 2009. The new ANC leader’s remarks quashed speculation in some quarters that the party would change its stance on the Zimbabwe talks after Mr Mbeki failed to secure a third term as president of the ruling party.

Mr Zuma said he would continue working with Mr Mbeki revealing that the two were holding weekly consultative meetings.

"He (Mr Mbeki) has not been removed from being a leader of the ANC. He is one of the comrades that has the capacity that the ANC needs at all times," said Mr Zuma. Talks between Zanu-PF and MDC are progressing well with the two parties reported to be close to signing an agreement.

Last week, Parliament and Senate approved a number of amendments to the Public Order and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Broadcasting Services Act and Electoral Act following an agreement between Zanu-PF and MDC. The amendments now await presidential assent to become law.

Zanu-PF and MDC negotiators agreed to the legislative changes on November 20 after a series of meetings in South Africa.

The talks between Zanu-PF and MDC were initiated by Sadc leaders during an extraordinary summit held in Tanzania in March this year.

Mr Mbeki was mandated to broker the negotiations and has stated on many occasions that the talks are progressing well with a positive outcome on the horizon.

Zanu-PF and MDC have already co-sponsored the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 18 under which presidential, parliamentary and local government elections will be held simultaneously in March next year.

What the Unity Accord means

AFRICAN FOCUS By Tafataona P. Mahoso

ON the eve of Zimbabwe’s National Unity Day to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1987 Unity Accord, as the Sadc region was witnessing the conclusion to the congress of the African National Congress and its election of Cde Jacob Zuma as new party president, the forces of white fright were reorganising and taking stock on behalf of Western imperialism.

It was obvious that, to these forces, the new face of Southern Africa which showed itself clearly at the Dar es Salaam and Lusaka summits of Sadc, the new face of Southern Africa which showed itself at the just concluded congresses of the ruling parties of South Africa and Zimbabwe and the new face of the African continent which appeared at the EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon early this December indeed worried both the remaining forces of white settlerism in our region and the forces of Western imperialism.

As a result, the BBC was quick to interview on its programme Hard Talk the white leader of the Democratic Alliance of South Africa, which sees itself as the one force which will make sure that the ideology of pan-Africanism remains just an idea without substance, make sure that the Africans in South Africa never demand their land back the way those in Zimbabwe did, and make sure that any mention of apartheid after apartheid is dismissed as primitive African chauvinism and racism in reverse.

What was most striking about Helen Zille on the BBC’s Hard Talk was the depth of fear which any demonstrations of people’s power and African unity causes in all white circles, whether they call themselves liberal, conservative or socialist.

These whites are much more comfortable with the African conflicts they see in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Somalia, in Darfur, in Uganda and between Ethiopia and Eritrea than they are with what happened in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the Sadc region in 2007.

And here lies the lesson of Zimbabwe’s Unity Accord of 1987. Compared to the Government’s policy of national reconciliation pronounced in 1980, the Unity Accord stands out as a great lesson in history because it was an autonomous initiative of the people cemented symbolically by two wings of one liberation movement joining hands. It was based on the ideologies of African nationalism and pan-Africanism. It therefore contained a resonant ideological core which the reconciliation policy of 1980 did not have.

Therefore, the reconciliation policy crashed on the rock of white settler intransigence by 1992, while the Unity Accord lives on and shines as a source of pan-African inspiration. Part of the reason is the fact that Zimbabwe has survived imperialist-inspired "regime change" schemes which in other countries have precipitated genocidal conflicts. The worst examples are Somalia and Rwanda.

But a bigger part of the reason for the continuing resonance of the 1987 Unity Accord is that it led, by 1992-2000, to the achievement of one of the key objectives of pan-Africanism: the reclamation of stolen African land and its resources.

This is what frightens Hellen Zille. For the question of reparations lies at the core of pan-Africanism. But reparations have been viewed for too long as implying first the African demand to be paid in cash and development aid for the ravages of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism. The demand for monetary compensation and "aid" is a legitimate demand.

But the Zimbabwe example shows a more effective and more empowering approach to it. Instead of demanding and waiting for monetary payments and aid as reparations, which depend on external forces co-operating with the dispossessed Africans against the forces of settlerism and imperialism, Zimbabweans simply started with the land which is here, although it had been fenced off-limits as the "white Highlands". It is much easier and more effective for the people to just move on to their stolen lands than to go and plead for reparations in the form of money and aid at the UN and in foreign capitals.

But the reader may wonder what reparations have to do with the 1987 Unity Accord. The answer is simple. The question of African land reclamation is the most unifying and most consistent national question since the First Chimurenga. Land reclamation and resettlement therefore provided the first ground for unity for Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu precisely because it also united the ancestors, the elders and the youth at once. Land reclamation and redistribution provided a basis for ideological unity, a fundamental rallying point with a material core.

Proof for this conclusion comes from the following excerpts from the PF-Zapu manifesto for the 1980 elections:

"The promotion of unity of the people in a democratic state with no social, economic, religious, racial or tribal discrimination.

"The country is ours. Land belongs to the people.

"Our wealth comes from the land. The dispossession of the people and their cry for land in Zimbabwe is one of the root causes of our struggle. Zimbabwe is not free unless the people get their land back.

"A Patriotic Front government shall maintain the principle of . . . Land Belongs to the People."

Likewise, the Zanu-PF manifesto for 1980 also provides more than enough proof, that the Unity Accord of 1987 was made possible and has since been sustained by an indigenous people-centred ideology with a solid material core. Here are some excerpts:

"Zanu, as a People’s Party, believes that the people as a whole must come before individuals. This means that Zanu considers the common interest of the people before it considers the interest of individuals or groups. Zanu is a people-oriented party.

"Zanu believes that inasmuch as the country belongs to the whole of our people or to our people as a whole, the resources of our country such as land, the rivers, the minerals, the forests, the mountains, the beasts, the birds, and even insects, are ours together. They are given to us together by nature or by God and should thus belong to the people as a whole.

"Zanu believes that the common interest of the people is paramount in all efforts to exploit the country’s resources, that the productive processes must involve them as participants, in the decision-making process, in management and in control of the industries concerned, whether primary or secondary, and in the sharing of benefits in accordance with their contribution of the in-puts of labour.

"Zanu believes that education, health and other social services must aim at the general development and sustenance of the people as a whole in relation to their intellectual, physical and emotional capacities.

"Zanu believes that the principle of paramounting of the people demands that the national concept and the sense of national belonging be made a dogma that should submerge or destroy tribal, regionalistic, and racialistic animosity. The people as a nation cannot necessarily be homogenous in respect of their cultural and racial backgrounds, but this diversity of backgrounds is more a source of our cultural wealth than a cause of division and mistaken notions of groupist inferiority."

In contrast, the policy of reconciliation pronounced in 1980 was a wise tactical move which suffered from the lack of a coherent, people-centred, indigenous ideology with a solid material core. At its core there were opposing values and contradictory expectations which exploded between 1992 and 2000.

What caused the final explosion was the coming to power of Tony Blair’s New Labour Party in Britain and the Labour government’s letter of November 5 1997 which was written by Clare Short to Cde Kumbirai Kangai who was the Minister of Agriculture. Although the letter exploded in 1997, the seeds for it and the ideology behind it had always been present and known.

The British political journal Africa Confidential of June 4 1980 spelled out the imperialist as well as the white settler expectations of Zimbabwe and its new government which eventually made reconciliation impossible by 2000. The journal said:

"A key question for the future of Zimbabwe hangs over Mugabe’s ability to use the machinery of government, the technocracy and its civil service at his disposal, in order to consolidate his own power . . . This trend could provide a point of tension between the party structure, epitomised by the Central Committee, and the old civil service, on whom Western interests have been relying to implement the gradualist policies to which Mugabe has initiallycommitted himself."

In one unpublished manuscript written in December 1980, I responded to this vision of imperialism and settlerism as follows:

"This is the conceptual ladder which the British wish to thrust on Zimbabwe instead of the collective dariro of Chimurenga. Besides being a blatant example of Western imperialism, the above passage casts the goal of the Zimbabwe revolution as the transfer of executive office from colonial white hands to neo-colonial black hands. It underlines the temporarily muted conflict between Western interests and indigenous Zimbabwean interests in Zimbabwe. If Mugabe follows the policy spelled out in the above passage, he risks dividing not only Zimbabwe but his own party as well."

"Africa Conidential here suggested that the old social fabric which burst to its limits during the war must be sewn back along old seams; the vices are to be welded back by the civil service and the technocracy. Mugabe’s duty is simply to own the welders and the tailors and assume that everything they do is in the interest of the majority, even though it has been against the majority for 90 years. This is revolution through repair and co-optation. This is an imperialist and settlerist plea for ‘continuity’ in its most literal sense."

"The most frightening thing about the Western concept, the ladder for Mugabe, is that it seeks to exclude from its rungs both Mugabe’s party and the other freedom party, Zapu. It is so blind a concept that it does not even allow for the danger to the very ‘stability’ which the West wants, if the cadres of the liberation movements should be by-passed in favour of the machinery of state and the technocracy."

In that manuscript I was merely expressing the ideological core of pan-African unity which the Minister of Information and Publicity Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu clearly articulated on December 20 2007, when he said that Zanu-PF and PF Zapu represented and fulfilled the aspirations of the overwhelming majority of the people of Zimbabwe when they signed the 1987 Unity Accord.

In other words, many Zimbabweans, by December 1980, already saw a basis on which PF-Zapu and Zanu-PF would unite.

The ideological variations in their positions were not as strong as the common beliefs and interests of the constituencies they represented.

This did not mean that uniting the two would be easy.

It only meant that the leaders of the two parties would work hard to honour the wishes of the people for unity, precisely because they were true leaders.

1 comment:

Joel said...

You don't seem to know anything about Helen Zille.