Sunday, January 25, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: SADC Must Remain Consistent

Sadc must remain consistent

TOMORROW Sadc heads meet once more in Pretoria, South Africa, in an attempt to bring finality to the question involving the formation of an inclusive government. And once more the hopes of Zimbabweans shoot up anticipating that this time the September 15 power-sharing deal will see the light of day.

That this is the seventh Sadc summit to try to resolve Zimbabwe’s political impasse amply demonstrates the regional body’s genuine determination to find a solution to a member state’s problems.

These Sadc summits have invited both Zanu-PF and the MDC to attend. So whatever decisions Sadc has made, these were in the open with all the parties concerned having been given a chance to submit their views.

This is happening again at tomorrow’s summit where the regional body’s verdict will be based on the cumulative evidence that has been submitted by all the protagonists over a period of time.

This is unlike an European Union meeting that is also going to be held tomorrow which is expected to sing the same old song about sanctions. It won’t be surprising if some of the EU members present don’t even know where Zimbabwe is or even the names of the political parties involved in the dispute. They are less concerned about bringing stability to our country but more about letting the economy "scream" so that the bus might "crash and burn".

That is why Sadc stands out as the key legitimate arbiter in the endeavour to solve the country’s apparent political deadlock.

As Sadc continues with its leadership role in solving the Zimbabwean dispute, we expect the regional body to remain principled and consistent. Consistency invariably attracts trust and confidence from those dependent on any leadership.

Like it has done on numerous occasions before, Sadc is once more expected to demonstrate its quality leadership at the Pretoria Extraordinary Sum-mit tomorrow.

At Sandton in November last year Sadc resolved the dispute between Zanu-PF and the MDC-T over the distribution of ministries and called for the immediate formation of an inclusive government.

Last week in Harare at a meeting chaired by Sadc chairman Cde Kgalema Motlanthe, Sadc, true to the consistency expected from principled leaders, again tabled proposals that would have seen an inclusive government being formed without any further waste of time.

But on both these occasions the MDC-T was seen throwing spanners into the whole system. They were re-opening for discussion issues that had already been discussed and concluded.

It looks like it’s now the strategy of the MDC-T to see to it that the September 15 accord does not see the light of day without them openly pulling out of the accord. Constantly changing goalposts in a matter that involves the livelihoods of millions is a sick tactic that should not be allowed to succeed.

Predictably MDC-T will be at it again tomorrow. Sadc is expected to demonstrate once again that they provide consistent leadership that is not compromised by constantly changing positions. Sadc has dealt with the Zimbabwean question for a long time now after having been mandated to do so by the African Union in Egypt last year.

We expect when the AU meets next week, Sadc’s consistent stance on the Zimbabwe problem will guide Africa in the face of opposition from sanctions mongers, some of who don’t even know where Africa, let alone Zimbabwe, is.

Meanwhile, we hope that Mr Tsvangirai’s disease of flip-flopping will come to an end. This is especially so after he expressed his deep concern after visiting cholera victims in Budiriro. His comments should not just remain lip service.

We expect him to demonstrate this with corresponding action in Pretoria tomorrow. His choice must be between serving the interests of the suffering Zimbabweans or those of non-Zimbabweans who have a personal score to settle with President Mugabe over land redistribution.

To remain intransigent, with the problems we have with education, health, the budget and a host of others created by British-inspired sanctions is a demonstration that his concerns are mere crocodile tears.

We did not wait for inclusive gvt to fight cholera

AFRICAN FOCUS by Tafataona Mahoso

ON January 19, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T faction rejected yet another compromise position crafted by Sadc mediators in order to enable President Robert Mugabe to proceed to form an inclusive government to serve the people of Zimbabwe.

The Financial Gazette responded with a front page top story entitled "Zanu-PF in catch-22 . . . as Tsvangirai flexes muscle". The framing of the story relies on MDC-T economic advisor Eddie Cross’s theory that Tsvangirai and his Rhodesian sponsors should not join an inclusive government because the country and the liberation movement in Government (Zanu-PF) will soon perish or have already perished.

Cross used the image of a bus which is going to crash and burn with all aboard, unless Morgan Tsvangirai becomes the driver. In this case, Zanu-PF is in a "catch-22" situation because it has just two options, both of which are unacceptable: It can accept all of Tsvangirai’s demands, which amount to a total overthrow of the existing order and a total takeover of power without any further struggle; or Zanu-PF can reject Tsvangirai’s fresh demands and risk being swallowed by the imminent flames of Eddie Cross’s crashing and burning bus.

The Financial Gazette’s analysis, of course, confuses a Rhodesian metaphor with the Zimbabwean society in the first decade of the 21st century! Eddie Cross’s crashing bus and the resulting fire, just like the Financial Gazette’s muscle given to Tsvangirai, are all metaphors.

It is not surprising therefore that the same paper on Page 4 put the responsibility on Sadc to "rethink" on Zimbabwe. There is nothing for MDC-T and Tsvangirai to do, since on Page 1 it is Zanu-PF which has been trapped, according to the paper, and, on Page 4, it is Sadc which has to "rethink". Tsvangirai is clean and off the hook, according to the paper.

What is striking about the stories in the Financial Gazette of January 22 and in other papers during the same week is the failure to tell the reader that Tsvangirai’s muscle is made of latex which has been inflated by the British Labour government, the US State Department under former president George W. Bush, the European Union, Australia and other white regimes. Tsvangirai’s muscle is just like Eddie Cross’s hired "bus" which he wants to be full of mercenaries and to be driven by a hired "bus boy".

In other words, none of the reportage and the commentary has been able to outline any meaningful role for the people. Never mind that all the rhetoric is spewed in the name of democracy. There is no role for the people in the image of Tsvangirai’s inflated muscle or Eddie Cross’s hired bus.

This is not surprising because the Rhodesian bus was always "for whites only" and Tsvangirai may develop his rubber muscle to drive that bus only at the mercy of white settlerism and Euro-American imperialism, even if the North Americans themselves today have elected a African-American president as a way of demonstrating how white racism had destroyed their global interests under George W. Bush.

In MDC support media, no povo is required. The Financial Gazette cannot picture the povo’s muscle precisely because that muscle is home made and not made in Washington or London or Brussels.

But history is not made by drivers for hire. We the people make history. We the people create democracy. We the people are the source of liberative power. We the people cannot all be hired to flex artificial muscles of imported latex on a hired bus belonging to Eddie Cross and the Selous Scouts.

We the people must first understand the role of Sadc in the talks. Sadc has taken the place of the former Frontline States. The Frontline States played a role in persuading the Zimbabwean liberation movements to accept the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979. And the defects of that agreement were compensated for by the people, most of our people.

The people did not sit and wait for Lancaster. The people then understood that the Frontline States would not come to every province, to every district, to every pungwe meeting or every school and church to stop sellouts and traitors, to do our intelligence gathering for us or to re-open the schools closed on account of the Rhodesian war upon us, or to tell us how to share the little food that remained for all of us after the Rhodesian Selous Scouts and their Western mercenaries had burnt our granaries. No. The Frontline States struggled for us and with us externally while most of the people struggled on internally, telling one another: Iwe neni tine basa.

In the same way, Sadc, as the successor to the Frontline States, has already succeeded in its external use of diplomacy to shield Zimbabwe from foreign interference which is clearly intrusive, racist, criminal and destabilising. We can tell from the many cases where the hired "bus boys" of imperialism have succeeded once in making the bus crash and burn: Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Liberia and recently Palestine-Gaza.

No, Tsvangirai’s borrowed muscle of latex is not a substitute for the people, for liberation democracy. Therefore the way forward depends on the people understanding their collective role in relation to the role of Sadc.

At their March 2007 summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and the August 2007 summit in Lusaka, Zambia, Sadc heads of state recognised and condemned the illegal and racist sanctions imposed upon the people and the whole economy of Zimbabwe by Britain, the US, the EU, Australia and their allies. Sadc heads of state demanded that all the various sanctions should be lifted immediately.

In other words, the Sadc summit recognised that all the sanctions together amounted to an economic war upon the country and the people, that the sanctions were illegal and that they amounted to a white racist collective punishment upon Africans for the latter’s crime of daring to reclaim their land.

The Sadc summit refused to accept the spurious separation between so-called "targeted sanctions" and economic war, just as the world today has rejected the Israeli claim that the 21-day full-scale war waged on the captive people of Gaza only targeted "terrorist leaders of Hamas".

But what Zimbabweans did or did not do after those two Sadc summits in March and August of 2007 is important for understanding the media’s failure and our failure to explain the role of the people in our national question, which failure is directly related to the tendency by the same media to tell people that the talks are the only process left to resolve the national question; that the inter-party agreement of September 15 2008 is the last chance and the only way to save Zimbabwe.

The fact is that an inclusive government had been agreed as the preferred option for resolving the Zimbabwe national question and both Sadc and the AU had endorsed that option in the belief that it reflected the will of the people of Zimbabwe. This did not mean that the agreement was the last chance and a tripartite inclusive government the only option left.

Where there are people, other options always exist and must always be provided and pursued. There were always other options and they will be pursued on the ground by the people. An inclusive government is not made inclusive by Tsvangirai alone. If Tsvangirai now opposes and defies Zimbabwe, Sadc, the AU and the Non-Aligned Movement, then he can stand aside alone.

Therefore the role of the people is to provide the national side of the solution to the same challenges for which Sadc has provided the regional and international side. Therefore the role of the people is to organise and sustain united, committed, practical and unwavering demonstrations of solidarity, patriotism and stamina against illegal sanctions and those who asked for them; against external interference and its internal proxies; against corruption; against greed and laziness, against profiteering; against destabilisation and disunity; and against political opportunism. Sadc defeated George W. Bush and his British lapdogs who wanted to wage war on Zimbabwe before the end of Bush’s term. The people of Zimbabwe must now do their part, now that Bush is gone.

These things can be done better under an inclusive government, but doing them does not in any way require such an inclusive government. Nor should we be afraid to point out that an inclusive government may, in fact, leave out Tsvangirai.

But let us now contrast what Sadc has done for Zimbabwe with what Zimbabweans have done or failed to do for themselves.

One of our key problems is that we have tended to see as emergencies the actual end results of serious threats to out survival instead of seeing and treating the primary causes as the real threats requiring emergency measures. What we mean is that if we had declared economic sanctions to be an emergency after the Sadc summit recognised the same sanctions as an illegal economic war on the people of Zimbabwe, we would not now need to declare a cholera emergency.

In other words, the people of Zimbabwe squandered opportunities opened by the findings of the Dar es Salaam and Lusaka summits of the Sadc heads of states. We did not have to wait for Sadc to say sanctions were a collective threat to our sovereignty; but failure to use the Sadc declarations is even more astounding.

Sadc attacked the external forces of regime change diplomatically by condemning sanctions and preventing war-monger George W. Bush and his British friends from attacking Zimbabwe. But what did we do for ourselves internally? What did we do to reinforce the Sadc position?

Following the signing of the September 15 2008 inter-party agreement, Tsvangirai issued the following statement on our behalf as Zimbabweans:

"The heart of the entire world is broken by what has happened to our country (because of illegal sanctions invited by the opposition), and your bravery is praised among all peoples everywhere. The world stands ready to join us in rebuilding our nation and restoring what has been lost, once our peace and freedom are re-established."

That was Tsvangirai on July 24 2008, according to the Financial Gazette. Two months later, on September 15 2008, MDC-T chairman and Speaker of the Zimbabwe House of Assembly Honourable Lovemore Moyo repeated the same hoax, making it clear who in MDC-T thinking is meant by "the entire world" whose heart "is broken" for the sake of Zimbabwe and its people.

The Honourable Speaker attended the New Labour Party Congress in Manchester, UK, where he said:

"We look to our friends and comrades in the UK and around the (white Anglo-Saxon) world to help us rebuild our economy and institutions. We look forward to renewing links that have been broken by the liberation movement of Zimbabwe and to being welcomed back into the British Commonwealth family."

In other words, what the economic war has destroyed in 10 years can be rebuilt in months!

This is an article of faith in opposition ranks: The UK, the US under George W. Bush and the EU first help their sponsored opposition in Zimbabwe by destroying the economy through illegal sanctions; the people mistake the genocide-like effects of those sanctions for manifestations of Zanu-PF mismanagement alone and therefore vote Zanu-PF out of office or remove it from power through violence; and the same UK, US and EU mobilise the entire North Atlantic to come and install the opposition as the new government of Zimbabwe and to launch the new economic miracle upon the ashes of the devastated Mugabe economy which Eddie Cross says must burn!

People who engage in this type of miracle-mongering should travel through the Mozambican countryside 16 years after the end of Renamo’s campaign to destroy and rebuild the economy of that country. There has been no such miracle recovery. What Renamo destroyed remains unconstructed to this day. This is what the people must understand.

In other words, despite Sadc efforts on our behalf to contain the external regime change forces through engaged diplomacy, we the people for whom those efforts were being made continued to nurse and nurture the internal proxies of the same external regime change forces. We allowed media outlets we claim to be ours to continue being used to lie to people.

The media effort to misrepresent British, US and EU sanctions against Zimbabwe as just "travel bans" started in 2001 when the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act ( Zidera) was still a Bill in the US Congress.

The spokesperson for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the late Learnmore Jongwe, appeared with me on ZTV’s "Talking Business" programme where he swore that (Zidera) was just a declaration of targeted travel bans with no effect on the economy or the ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe, except insofar as it was going to help make Zimbabwe a more just and more democratic society.

The current MDC-T spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, repeated exactly the same lie seven years later on ZTV’s programme "Zimbabwe Today" on May 21 2008. Lawyer Douglas Mwonzora of the same party repeated the same lie on the same ZTV programme on June 1 2008; followed by another lawyer and MDC supporter Obert Gutu on the same ZTV programme on June 8 2008. Gutu was followed by MDC-T’s economic advisor Tapiwa Mashakada, who repeated the very same claims on the same ZTV programme on August 3 2008. So we the people allowed our media to be used to lie and to undermine Sadc efforts on our behalf!

On November 7 2008, the lie took a different turn. It was repeated on behalf of the MDC formations by the Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Sten Rylander, on ZTV’s Talking Business programme, where Rylander was the sole unchallenged guest.

I need not state that the UK Ambassador, Andrew Pocock, and former US Ambassador Christopher Dell had also been repeating the same lie over several years.

Dell did so at Africa University in 2005 and Pocock did so through his British Embassy publication in Harare throughout 2007 and 2008. This is the context within which Gideon Gono’s book called Zimbabwe’s Casino Economy emerges to join preceding statements from other sectors.

Gono is coming in as a technocrat and witness from the very same fields of finance, banking and commerce which the UK, the US and the EU have been manipulating to enforce their sanctions as instruments of regime change. And Gono’s data and analysis leave him with no choice but to declare the illegal and racist sanctions a form of war and terrorism against the population of Zimbabwe!

But Gono also celebrates the ways in which the people and their Government survived the economic terrorism and war. Back to what the people can do. At present the people of Zimbabwe, with outside help, are defeating the peculiar cholera epidemic which hit this country in October 2008.

But they are not relating the cholera to the sanctions. First, the cholera is related to sanctions because the sanctions destroyed our disease prevention capacity by cutting of credits to infrastructural development in all sectors.

Second, the cholera is related to sanctions because if we had made the sanctions an emergency in 2000-2001, we would not need to declare the cholera an emergency in 2008-2009. We would already be mobilised against any and all epidemics, including the sanctions epidemic and its internal proxies.

Third, sanctions, like cholera, can only be defeated through changes in awareness and in the small daily behaviours of each and every one of us, that is, changes in our attitudes, our public morale, our relationships with one another and our capacity to read the future, being always awake to public danger and national risk.

The failure to see sanctions as an emergency in 2000-2001 meant that Government departments, businesses, parastatals, churches, NGOs, universities and individuals continued to engage in economic, business and social activities which clearly worsened sanctions and their impact on the whole economy and on the people.

The worst of these activities was the deliberate campaign by the two MDCs and their foreign sponsors to deny that we were under sanctions, to deny the genocide-like effects of the sanctions upon the people and to allow media outlets and organisations among us, that is, to allow our own resources to be deployed in a campaign of deceit against our own people.

All this must stop now.

President should appoint capable ministers

Courtesy of the Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

WHILE I do not in any way disparage the importance of Constitutional Amendment (No. 19) Bill and its urgency, I still think that Parliament must debate another constitutional amendment: that which allows the President to appoint ministers who are not necessarily MPs. This must also be done with the same urgency.

I say so because at the moment, the President is forced constitutionally to appoint only MPs who won elections in given constituencies to the positions of ministers. Except for the few posts (five if I am not mistaken) of non-constituency MPs who the President appoints, the rest of the ministers have got to be MPs.

This position is not tenable because not every one who has won elections is capable of running a ministry. Running a ministry is supposed to be synonymous with running a business. And the reason why most of our ministries are not run properly is because the ministers appointed are not appointed on the basis of their ability and suitability to run particular ministries they are appointed to but because they have won an election. This is not correct.

Ministers must be appointed because they are capable, suitable and able to run the ministries they are appointed to.

A person may win an election because he/she has the ability to campaign but that does not make that person capable of running a ministry because running a ministry takes managerial skills and even relevant qualifications which completely have nothing to do with ability to campaign because the ability to campaign does not translate into ability to manage a business.

But the President is left with very little room to choose ministers given the present constitutional position that makes it imperative for the President to appoint to ministerial positions only from those people that have won constituency elections. This constitutional position therefore means the President only appoints to ministerial positions only those people that have won constituency elections.

This constitutional position therefore means the President leaves proper managers out of managing the affairs of Government ministries because these proper and suitable managers are not MPs.

As a matter of fact, not all of us want to be MPs even though some of us could be the best managers to run these ministries as businesses and therefore give the people value for their money.

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