Wednesday, June 26, 2013

SADC Summit: When Time Trashes Twin Twits

SADC Summit — When Time Trashes Twin Twits

Friday, 21 June 2013 23:39

I HOPE Zimbabweans are closely following the goings-on in Afghanistan. The Americans are pulling out, nose bloodied by the Talibans. A few days ago, the Americans lost four more soldiers to a remorseless insurgency. I watched a Taliban spokesman, wearing his characteristically fearsome beard.

Asked why his movement continued to kill Americans they were scheduled to meet in Qatar this week for negotiations, the bearded man was coldly correct: there is no ceasefire between us and the Americans. Indeed there isn’t, which is not to say there should not be foreplay that cultivates goodwill ahead of the talks.

But the Talibans seem to know their enemy better, and how best to motivate him for talks. America cannot take any more casualties. It has had enough of dying; it is pulling out and seeks to save its bloodied face. It needs to withdraw with honour, and how it is going about it is what passes invaluable lessons to us as Zimbabweans.

Pawning Karzai’s future

America tried to withdraw out of the fight in convoy formation. The Taliban were in hand to harass its armoured beeline, all the way to the border. And God made some countries natural fortresses, which is what Afghanistan is to an invader.

That vulnerability has forced the Americans to build an open line to the Talibans, all along an odious enemy. They have not chosen to negotiate with the Talibans; they have had to do it. Both sides decided on Qatar as the best venue. A property was quickly found, and the Talibans opened an office in that American backyard.

Then a fresh drama broke out on a new front. In no time the Taliban flag fluttered in the blue skies, gay and undiminished. Second, a loud plaque proclaiming Afghanistan as an emirate, a Taliban Emirate! That became the last straw for the Gucci-wearing Mohammed Karzai, the Afghanistan president America made and thrust on the Afghans. Karzai had insisted that talks with the Talibans be held on Afghan soil.

The Americans refused, as did the Talibans. He had insisted that the talks be between Afghans, with Americans on the sidelines.

Again the Americans refused, as too did the Talibans. The Americans are not worried about Karzai’s deportment; they worry about their departure, the speed and safety of it. The Americans don’t care about Karzai’s future after they have left; they care about their fate as they leave. A rough pawn for a bully well hurried and in hurry to retreat. That is on the one side.

When a lonesome cry eventually comes
On the other side, the Talibans want to talk Americans out, so they can tear Karzai apart before an emirate is proclaimed. They know that since the war, Afghanistan has been a nation under foreign occupation, with Karzai ornamenting that odious occupation. You don’t discuss Afghanistan’s futures with a pendant necklace; you discuss it with a war-softened occupier whose neck is now on the block, so he hands over the reins to save his life.

And the handover shall be done in faraway Qatar, away from poor Karzai! Karzai should have learnt from Nguyen of Vietnam. When America deserts the battlefield, it has no time for a slow march, still less for valedictory rituals for former allies. It bares its high hinds on erstwhile friends, all in mid-flight.

Endorgan is just seeing and learning the same in Turkey, after rendering dutiful service to the West in destroying Syria so Israel squats safely on Palestinian soil. Then the bizarre side: given yawning cracks beneath America’s occupation ground, America is unable to pull out all its war equipment.

So it will blow up all of it. That whole huge pile of expensive war equipment, all by its industrial-military complex, to back-bending tax burdens on Americans. For America a huge but bearable pyre of dishonour, indeed a smoky reminder that other people’s lands are never occupied. You will not sleep. For the Talibans, a white papal smoke symbolizing the re-founding of a country, symbolizing the anointment of a Taliban Emir.

It has been a brave fight for the Talibans, a bloody episode for America, a sorrowful lesson for poodles across the world, Zimbabwean ones included. When you team up with a foreigner, against your people, you will weep eventually, all lonesome.

Thanks a lot . . .

Amazing how even the five years in the Inclusive Government have not taught our democrats much. They still don’t know how to read Summits. Or was this a coping mechanism after a dizzying smite? We went to Maputo last Saturday, stalked by hopeful MDC formation personages. In the crowd were two twitting twins I dedicate this instalment to. Things happened, in and outside the Sadc Summit venue where leaders of nations gathered, accompanied by aping leaders of little parties.

Late afternoon, the gathering broke up, delegates beating different paths in different directions, at different times, all to different country destinations. Among them, one Robert Mugabe, who bade goodbye to the Sadc Executive Secretary, Dr Salamao. He said, “Well, we leave you to do the rest.

It has been a very good meeting. Thanks a lot.” He left before the communiqué was out. Those who know RGM enough will tell you that is his valedictory trade mark, especially the last sentence. Along the way to the car park of the Summit venue were Welshman Ncube and his pitiably small crowd, talking to ZBC in his typical drooling style.

The guy who pulled a fast one

At the Airport, Guy Scott, Zambia’s Vice President pulls a fast one on President Mugabe. He had occupied a departure lounge adjacent to that occupied by the Zimbabwean President. Could he be spared a moment for a quick ear bite, importuned the Zambian Vice President? RGM obliged, obliged with blind courtesy he is wont to give unconditionally when all is well. He went to the VP’s lounge.

Soon Mugabe realises he has been tricked: the Zambian leader wanted the President to address the Zambian press on the outcome of the Maputo Summit. Protesting feebly, he again obliges.

His response is long-winded, seemingly directionless. Again, those who have known him enough follow the build-up, so lazily done yet a harbinger to some grand finale. The gem is always in the parting shot. “Tell President Sata that although he did not come, matters went on very well, and we are very happy with the outcome. Very happy.”

The story is the mood, a playful mood all along hidden beneath folds of a brooding face, one so used to cheating the world through deceptive slumbers!

The flash of big English

Back home the little men and women in opposition finally make it, twits overflowing in their heads. Sooner the network come abuzz with vivid descriptions of events in Maputo. It is a colourful story of boastful “winners”, placid, expressionless “losers”; all made in words or in nowadays parlance, twits.

Priscilla goes wild with imagination, describing her party president’s performance in superlatives, pitying the President of Zimbabwe for a humiliating encounter, an imperiled legacy.

The unsuspecting reader does not realise the poor minister is describing presentations in the Summit, and not decisions of the Summit, which she avoids like a plague.

Summit resolutions are lost in her composition which ends up as an elegy to her party president, a professor.

The accent, the stress, had been totally lost by this otherwise genial minister. And inside the conference, Welshman’s strength had proved his weakness. He went professorial, turned the Summit into a court. He advanced beautiful arguments, all well cited, flashing with big English.

Alas, all to a yawning regional leadership!

When the world belongs to the simple
The voice that finally turned the tables was that of President Pohamba, a simple man wielding a simple, practical mind. He paid perfunctory tribute to the learned professor, but quickly cut into the heart of the matter: could Sadc ever ride roughshod over national courts? Could Sadc encourage its leaders to sidestep court decisions? Not in my country, he declared. So in whose? The grand reasoning simply crumbled, albeit in a manner not so apparent to two mating minds drunk with self-adulation.

Read against the professor’s colourful presentation of Priscilla’s delight, you wondered why so simple, so little is so lost upon such a labyrinth of vast, professorial thought. Maybe that is why the world does not belong to professors!

And Biti twits wild

And TB? Oh Biti! As always yarning things-which-are-not, to use Jonathan Swift’s phrase! On Facebook, he built his own world, using hard bricks from supple, jelly words. He invented his own resolutions, to self-delight, to self-deceit.

He even deployed peremptory language so foreign to Summits, so unlike Sadc. So Sadc never recommended; it “directed”. So Sadc never proposed; it “ordered”! He had decided to put armour on wafer, all to attain day-long glory. It taught me one thing: that the new media has the reach, enormous reach. But it has no scruples. This is why it is a platform for scoundrels who seek and cultivate evanescent glory, while spitting on truth.

And both ministers got evanescent glory, savoured it. It taught me another thing. That never fight what time takes care of, what time removes or repairs. And Zanu-PF waited for time, only paid for by mere patience and maturity. It could have dived in to rebut or challenge those twits: as words, as the two humans. It didn’t, and that took quite extraordinary equanimity in the face of outrageous lies, frontal provocation. By Monday, time was already delivering on Zanu-PF’s doorstep.

The true story of Maputo began to unfold, reclassifying early victors, early losers alike! What cures childishness in political upstarts?

I wonder.

The day numbers did not matter
President Mugabe was ready for hardballs, whether tossed to him or by him. Sadc is incredibly important to Zimbabwe, to be allowed to mislead or be misled. But he didn’t have to play hardballs. He had done enough canvassing for intended outcomes. The matter would be decided, not by numbers as those who blocked Mutambara thought.

Not by presentations as both Ncube, and Tsvangirai’s speechwriters thought. The day would be carried by practice and experiences in statecraft. Here was a practical imbroglio of governance, one to be decided by practical minds, never by ideologues or starry-eyed snobs, intellectual idealists.
And that is exactly what happened. The resolution came from men of governmental affairs, not from students of law, or those totally lacking in studentship.

The firefly that challenged the sun

I said Mugabe did not have to play hardballs. Two key things came right, and so disarmed him.

The judgment of the Zimbabwean Constitutional Court was recognised and upheld by Sadc. Secondly, the same Court’s role as the final arbiter was upheld, both by way of its earlier ruling, and in respect of future actions proposed by the Summit.

That did it. The President could afford to ruminate. Chinamasa, who should have responded to Ncube’s presentation — blow by blow — thereby showing professorial shallowness beneath well-cited, verbose pretences, was stood down by the President himself. Enough damage had already been done by the Namibian President. Enough had already been gained. So Madame Priscilla, your man shone with the brilliance of a firefly.

Well and good for as long as you pit him against other flies. But once his boast transports him to another realm, a realm where he challenges the sun to the glow, then his shine becomes something else. And these two ministers must learn one simple lesson in diplomacy: once your invisible goal is attained, speak less, and do less. It is not a sign of weakness, of defeat. Fatefully, they brought their hands together in thanks to the gods, well before the bird was in the hand.
Ball in the Zimbabwe court

The sum of it all is that Sadc pushed the matter back to Zimbabwe, itself the goal and wish of Zanu-PF. The Court to which the action is turned is in Zimbabwe. The actors, again all Zimbabweans. Meanwhile the much awaited Sadc Summit is done and is thus over, leaving the way clear for full electoral action here in Zimbabwe.

Literally, the ball is in Zimbabwe’s court, the play here at home. Not away. Zimbabwe’s sovereignty has been upheld, while attempts to drag Sadc away from its founding principles have been defeated. And check my word; no one will go back to Sadc for money.

To individual Sadc countries with stronger bilateral ties with Zimbabwe, maybe.

We have been bitten already, and once is a bite too many, too hard, too deep.

A beggar is granted no pride. And Zimbabwe’s pride is too enormous, too brittle to be bent. But something else has happened. Madame Zuma, representing a higher political court - higher to Sadc - has pronounced herself on the same matter.

Zimbabwe must respect the rule of law! This forecloses possibilities to mischief makers. Sorry.

Craving to share ignominy?

What is this noise about doing an appeal to the Constitutional Court together? Together with who? The two MDCs? Why? I thought the formations jubilated when Sadc placed that burden of approaching the Court on the Minister of Justice who is Zanu-PF? Was that not part of the victory they relished on twitter? They should let Chinamasa do his demeaning Sadc chore, surely?

Why want to share an ignominy, share the motions of defeat? The matter is very simple: Chinamasa did what was expected of him by Sadc. And when Sadc gave him that “humiliating” role, it knew he was Zanu-PF but still trusted him to do the task for Government. Achebe has a saying which fits in nicely. You give a child love embers to hand-deliver to the neighbour, telling him to hold the parcel with utmost care, what do you expect?

He handles it with the care that appropriate! Chinamasa did the correct thing. He appealed in the best manner he knew how. The resolution of Sadc was fatally flawed, and no part of it asked him to do any repair work. He carried through that inherent weakness, faithfully.

Fobbed by flashy folly

But there is another side to it. Why are Ncube and Tsvangirai’s people crying for co-authorship of the application to the Constitutional Court? Chinamasa cited them as respondents, all to allow them to bring forth their profound arguments so they can make an impression on the court, persuade it if they can. Why do they want their wisdom tucked under Chinamasa whose competence they have been lampooning?

Surely they crave for a second shine? Let them have it. Or they can mount separate action if they so wish, as indeed they should have done soon after the judgment. Today they tell the world Chinamasa’s application is weak?

Why did they not place before the same court a strong case soon after the judgment?

Suddenly they are wiser, when there is a back on which to ride? And a minister who is supposed to defend the Bench is being made to assault it?

And a lawyer whose own client has complied with a judgment is being made to note an application for an extension? What strong argument can emerge from such absurdities?

The key is to know what Sadc did, namely to fob fools by gladdening them with flashy folly.

Happy twits honourables!

Whispers in the grand alliance
Is anyone getting the same whispers reaching me on the grand coalition? That the sleek Simba Makoni has weaved his way in, to become Tsvangirai’s right hand man, much to the consternation of core MDC-T ministerial personalities? There is a rumble.

There is terror, and the talk is that MDC-T is about to be done another mavambo!

Wait and see if you have eyes; wait and hear if you have ears. The people he does not have on the ground, he makes up for in well- rounded words! Bvunzai veZanu-PF vanomuziva! Pamashoko chete, haa-a ruvava! And Dabengwa too, what does he bring kumadzakutsaku aya? A whole war veteran? A whole commander who claimed he formed Mavambo to save the liberation movement?

What now, black Russian? When did this sellout collaboration start? How do we see you now? It will not be long before the grand alliance becomes a grand headache. Many days of more laughter.


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