Stop the talks, let the people decide

farm_workers_tractorIn light of the fact that there is agreement between the coalition partners that there are a number of issues that still wait to be resolved in the implementation of the global political agreement (GPA) it is unavoidable that (Pictured: Farm workers going to work Farm invasions have left tens of thousands of

we scrutinise the nature and character of the sticking points and examine the extent to which they interfere, impede or delay the execution of the tasks for which the unity government arrangement is in existence.

These outstanding matters must be itemised, examined and valued to prove the extent to which each one of these issues is truly of national importance and is honestly a matter of interest at the heart of every Zimbabwean.

It must be borne in mind that whilst these negotiations are about the future of democracy in Zimbabwe they are also about the future of power in our country. The element of power mongering has mischievously affected the delivery of the real business of the GPA which, if carefully understood, is to create credible electoral processes capable of delivering a peaceful, free and fair election.

GPA business

The GPA has been needlessly overshadowed by politicking about sharing government office. The main business between the parties, however, must be to re-draw the relationship between politicians and the electorate after so many years in which Zanu (PF) destroyed the integrity, fabric and character of our national politics.

The second task is to create an institution capable of running a credible election. The third challenge is to engage the security services so that their involvement in politics is not in conflict with the democratic rights of the electorate and Zimbabwean civilian masses in general.

The role for which they are paid is not to dictate leadership to the electorate. The people of Zimbabwe from which the army is drawn have an unfettered right to choose without fear whom they want to elect into parliament and government.

Judging by the recent exchanges between the MDC and its rival Zanu (PF) it is clear the two have anchored their positions and both seem incapable of further compromise. Zanu (PF) has announced that it will not make any more concessions which means there is no more purpose to the talks.

The talks are essentially about Zanu (PF) yielding to democratic change as proposed by the MDC. In what way does Zanu (PF) exonerate itself from the fact that these talks are a smart way of dismantling a dictatorship with its consent in a peaceful way?

There is no contribution to this date in which Zanu (PF) initiated a reform that willingly empowers the electorate or one that creates equal access to the media or equality of all people before the law. There is no contribution initiated by Zanu (PF) to this date rooted in the spirit to create a genuine multi party democratic system.

There is no sign that Zanu (PF) wants a Zimbabwe whose top elected officials are accountable and answerable to the people they serve through a powerful parliament or powerful independent institutions free from executive manipulation. There is no spirit for an end to corruption in Zanu (PF) which is the lifeblood of its self-serving leadership.

These talks are not about the MDC which itself is a by-product of frustration with the excesses of the centralist dictatorship under Robert Mugabe. The content of the talks has been essentially about asking Zanu (PF) to dismount from its lofty and ignorant position and treat Zimbabweans like people with rights and a right to decent livelihoods.

Zanu (PF) has not only denied the people decent lives through corruption and mismanagement. Zanu (PF) ordered the army to kill over 20 000 civilians in Zimbabwe in the 1980s. Since then many have disappeared and been killed and others have been abducted and tortured over the years.

Over 3 million people have been displaced because of Mugabes bad and corrupt rule. Many of these people are living and dying in desperation in foreign lands. That is Mugabes legacy.

Travel to Europe

Today in exchange for a peaceful election, in exchange for a right to legitimate democratically elected government, in exchange for a country in which there is equality before the law, in exchange for free media, in exchange for good health delivery, good education and action on corruption Mugabe and his henchmen demand that we ask for them to be allowed to travel to Europe and America before they can consider our petition for the items listed above.

Put differently there will be no democracy, no credible elections, no peace and no end to corruption until we are on our knees in Europe and America asking for Mugabe and his disciples to be allowed to shop, open businesses, educate their children, get treatment and stash looted wealth in these countries.

There will be no concessions until Tsvangirai goes before the westerners and asks them to ignore the atrocities committed by Mugabe in his bid to stay in power.

Tsvangirai is being pushed to run to the British and Americans and beg them to ignore that Mugabe wittingly starved his nation and destroyed its economy over the years by allowing his top officials to make a living and get rich out of corruption and greed the worst which included taking over productive commercial farms and parcelling them out to top government officials and leading party functionaries.

How many farms does Mugabe have in clear violation of his publicly declared one-man-one-farm policy?

How many of his leading ministers and party officials have just one farm in their own names? How many of those with farms are using the farms to the full potential of these farms never mind comparing the productivity to the years Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of southern Africa?

What fairness is there in starting a programme in the name of the people and then taking everything and sharing it between yourself, your children and close relatives. What sort of reaction did Mugabe expect from the westerners?

Operation Murambatsvina

What sort of reaction did Mugabe expect when the world watched with horror as bulldozers razed human shelter to the ground living vulnerable women and children in the cold at the mercy of disease, violence and destitution in an operation dubbed Murambatsvina?

What sort of reaction does Mugabe expect when the desperate people of Zimbabwe were killed by his soldiers in the trenches of Marange for trying to eke a living out of panning diamonds?

What choices did these people have in a country which offered no employment and the government has no policy of supporting those not in work?

What else does Mugabe want from the MDC besides that he and his colleagues are allowed to travel at will throughout Europe? What else does Mugabe and his henchmen want besides that they use European banks to stash their money and educate their children at European universities and be treated by well-equipped European and American surgeons.

This is what they demand in exchange for human rights, free and fair elections and the rest of what will return Zimbabwe to a normal decent state free of corruption and political patronage.

If it were not for the MDCs rather calculated and nervous approach to the issues affecting the people of Zimbabwe the main issues on the talks list would include the unconditional repossession of all farms so that these farms are properly sub-divided afresh and purpose classified.

People will be asked to submit fresh application for farms. The applications will be vetted and considered by an independent body in a means tested process to ensure that the farms are given to be used for both general resettlement and productive agriculture without any political affiliation being a matter for qualification in a one family one farm principle.

If it were not for the MDCs lack of nerve the deregulation of ZBC monopoly would be unconditional. If it were not for the MDCs confusion the question of how the attorney general is appointed would have been very prominent on the agenda.

It is one thing haggling about the person of Johannes Tomana and his suitability for the office he holds and another to be champions at changing what the office he holds stands for.

Land for all

The way in which an attorney general is appointed has a bearing on where he gets his orders and subsequently his performance. In that regard, the MDC must be calling for a new way which establishes a competent independent attorney general.

The issue of pirate radio stations would never arise if Zimbabwe media space was not shackled by despotism. The issue of sanctions would arise if Zimbabwe was not run by thugs who destroyed the backbone of our economy in the guise of correcting past wrongs when essentially what they were doing was dispossessing the white farmers to create a new elite of black idlers with the same kind of privileges and unfair advantage (as former white land owner had) over the rest of the black population.

The farms were parcelled to ministers and their cousins and that is as unacceptable as being in the hands of a few former colonialists. The land issue will be settled when both whites and blacks who need land have been accordingly allocated a piece of land suitable for their activities.

The present arrangement through which Zanu (PF) looted farms for kith and kin is a mistake waiting to be corrected. Claiming that this sham of a process is set in stone is delusional if not madness, for the sake of clarity I am very black and indigenous, and my brief is that I was denied a farm for not being Zanu (PF).

Our rights

Put differently Zanu (PF) gave little plots to its supporters and the leading officials got farms. Those of us who wanted to challenge the system applied for farms and were told a lot of stupid things about loyalty and cadreship which was inconsistent with a party that resorts to violence to coerce support from people who are generally dismayed with its lack of focus and seriousness.

Whilst Mugabes age may permit for the shallowness of his utterances and desperate scapegoating the thing is even people who wanted to give the GNU a chance have discovered that Zanu (PF) under its present leadership is a like a bus whose driver has fallen asleep on the wheel.

MDC must not ask for any more concessions given the arrogance, deafness and total breakdown of leadership in Zanu (PF). What we are asking Zanu (PF) to give us is nothing for which we lack entitlement. We have the right to choose our own leaders and we can not negotiate this right. It cannot be handed down to us for it is in us at birth and through life and only lost in death.

What we need is an election and not talks. Stop the talks and let the people decide.

Editors Note: Courage Shumba is a human rights campaigner. This article was first published by Nehanda Radio.

Post published in: News

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