I hope Morgan Tsvangirai has enough experience not to take the old scorpion across the political divide at face value. Five years of sweet talk followed by obstruction and broken agreements should have taught him something.
Zanu (PF) may be making noises that sound as if they are ready to talk, but not yet. You can't expect open and honest dealing from anyone who still refuses to hear uncomfortable truths. That is what they were doing last week; saying they are ready to talk with anyone, as long as the other never challenges the legitimacy of the 2013 election results. Peace can't be built on lies and the truth, unfortunately, is that they stole that election as they stole earlier elections including the presidential election in 2008.
And even though they had to admit the MDC won Parliament in that year, they ignored the result and pretended to be making great concessions when they signed the Global Political Agreement. Then they simply ignored both the election figures and the GPA in practice.
We heard a lot of sweet talk, but talk is cheap and theirs meant no more than the scorpion's promise to the frog. Even if there was, somewhere within that Zanu (PF) scorpion, a brain that wanted an honest and peaceful agreement, the tail didn't obey that brain; the brain could promise, but its promises were worthless because the beast could not carry them out.
So I don't waste my energy searching for reasonable elements in Zanu (PF) that democrats can deal with. What we are demanding is that the whole beast, not just some ineffectual “reasonable elements” within it, change its ways. If those reasonable elements really exist, have they the power to change the direction the beast has been following for 50 years? Anyone who has to deal with the party can't afford to forget for a moment that the beast is a scorpion.
We can only judge by its actions.
If they seriously and quickly align our laws with the new constitution, that could be a start. If they wanted to repeal AIPPA, POSA, the laws on “criminal libel” that courts have ruled unconstitutional and the Act controlling NGOs, they could do it in a week. (Any real abuses the last two were alleged to combat are already covered by civil libel laws and the financial regulations every organisation, even government, is supposed to follow.)
If that doesn't lead to action, it's all just words, which are only hot air, and pieces of paper which might as well be used to wipe your nose or the baby's bottom.
We will be nearer to meaningful action if the whole of the Global Political Agreement of 2008 is on the agenda. But remember; Zanu signed that, and continued business as usual. They could all put nicely framed copies of it on their office walls, higher than the photo of the President, and that would not mean anything.
This time the GPA needs to be a plan of action with a timetable attached to it. Decide which clause needs to be implemented first, list them all in order of priority and for each clause specify the date by which it must be implemented. For example, we could demand copies of the voters' roll by next Wednesday and a specified number of genuinely independent community radio stations to be broadcasting by Christmas. If any step is not completed on time, we go no further until it is implemented in full.
Then we might discover that there still are a few people in Zanu (PF) who could be trusted with running a chicken project.
There's still a tough time ahead, but we need to stand firm.Post published in: Opinions & Analysis