Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ibbotson Mandaza: Reeling in Irrelevance
August 31, 2016
My turn with Tichaona Zindoga
Zimbabwe Herald

In this column last week, we took exception at a group of ex-somebodies calling themselves Elders who wrote a letter to sadc seeking to influence the regional body into discussing Zimbabwe and foisting a “transitional authority”. We took umbrage for obvious reasons: the so-called Elders did not have locus standi to be dictating the agenda of sadc, which happens to have more wisdom than individuals such as Kofi Annan, Desmond Tutu and Graca Machel, who have not achieved anything of note except being useful western-favoured African neoliberal mascots.

Theirs seemed to be an opportunistic attempt to make themselves relevant and reaffirm their positions regarding Zimbabwe which has lately bobbed up the radar due to renewed western interference in the affairs of the country.

The idea of sadc discussing Zimbabwe’s “transitional authority” was in itself laughable for all its irrelevance in regional affairs where serious issues like the crises in Mozambique, Lesotho and to a lesser extent Zambia, are obtaining — not least such immanent issues such as fight against poverty, hunger, climate change and the need to industrialise and seek greater integration.

The busy body “Elders” would not commit these things and chose an old hobby horse on Zimbabwe — which of course — would quickly bring them to the attention of their masters in the West.

We will not belabour this point and the fact that the so-called Elders remain as ever irrelevant and pretty useless in the discourse and processes of Zimbabwe, especially if their purpose appears to be one of stroking their faded egos and being western house niggers.

In the same piece last week, we alluded to the fact that some quarters locally were pushing for the same idea of a “transitional authority” despite it being a novel, but utterly useless idea that is, where it is not illegal and unconstitutional, is unwieldy, undemocratic and in total sum dysfunctional.

Zimbabwe had a dalliance with this experiment and it wasn’t the best of marriages between Zanu-PF and the dual MDC partners.

Yet, one of the proponents of the idea, academic and unhappy politician Dr Ibbotson Day Joseph Mandaza is adamant that this is what Zimbabwe needs and he fronts an outfit called Platform for Concerned Citizens that was formed just recently to push for this tragically naïve idea.

Thus, Dr Mandaza this week felt compelled to defend his idea — and provide a riposte to last week’s piece (apparently) and the general cynicism that has met his pet idea of a national transitional authority.

He complains that “some sections of the media (. . .) have attacked both the notion of the NTA and the messengers recommending it, appear(ing) to reflect more the knee jerk reactions of a faction in a mortally-divided Zanu-PF/State apparatus than a considered analysis of the current situation in Zimbabwe.”

Yet, when he seeks to sell the idea to us again — in a piece he co-writes with another academic Tony Reeler — which he sent to various interests including the media which to date have not found space for it, he is not convincing: as ever.

He tells us that, “The current crisis in Zimbabwe is the product of outmoded and predatory politics and discriminatory economic policies, and only a radically new approach will be able to reverse the inevitable march to domestic collapse.” (Some Tendai Biti-esque high sounding nothing. Biti is taken in, remember.)

But the idea of a national transitional authority is neither new nor radical.

We have been down that road before.

And reasons given for as its lobby such as “crisis in governance”, “profound alienation of the citizens of Zimbabwe”, “need for transformative reforms that will pre-empt elections or any other elite processes or pacts, and/or succession arrangements, not underpinned by crucial reforms that prioritise the interests of the citizens”, are for the first two, utterly fatuitous and some more Biti-esque verbal flatulence often mouthed at such platforms as Dr Mandaza’s “dialogue series” talkshops.

The last reason is important in two ways: it is hypocritical and self defeating as it speaks to the necessity of the so-called transitional authority yet seeks to discourage the same, for what is this transitional authority, but an elite pact being drawn up by some of the finest political science minds?

Connected to this, and most importantly for this submission, Dr Mandaza and company fail to realise that the political world does not work in neat lines they seek to prescribe.

This is why someone invented the word “realpolitik” — a system of politics based on a country’s situation and its needs rather than on ideas about what is morally right and wrong.

Who listens to Ibbo anyway, except like-minded academics and their diplomatic hangers-on who end up fatally misinformed about the country’s politics and processes?

Being academics should be a real burden on Dr Mandaza and co.

Now they are reeling in their irrelevance (pun intended).

The reader may not know about this other fellow, Tony Reeler.

He is equally an academic and is part of an outfit called Research and Advocate Unit.

He shares the same fatal delusions with Dr Mandaza and at the tail end of the ill-fated GNU he was writing, as of December 2012, about the prospects of a GNU 2 and avoiding elections and amending the Constitution to fit the whim of an eternal GNU.

Birds of the same feather indeed!

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