Friday, 21 December 2007

MDC: Make love, suffer pregnancy’s pangs

MDC: Make love, suffer pregnancy’s pangs

I have no difficulties with calls for a new constitution, however, mistaken such calls may be. Neither do the two political parties that are talking through President Mbeki’s mediation. One demands it; the other is prepared to suffer such a demand provided its kept within rational limits.

I have no difficulties with calls for a new constitution, however, mistaken such calls may be. Neither do the two political parties that are talking through President Mbeki’s mediation. One demands it; the other is prepared to suffer such a demand provided its kept within rational limits.

In many ways the main elements which are being proposed in the draft constitution reminds one of the old draft constitution of February 2000.

It will be recalled that the MDC, in typically thoughtless herd mentality, rejected this draft constitution, on the orders of Rhodesia’s white farming leftovers.

That referendum turned out to be such a relished victory for the MDC, so relished that to this day, the MDC and its backers are wont to licking the memories of it, the same way a child keeps licking his fingers and lips dry, longing after the evanescent sweetness of a vanished candy.

No thought is given to the fact that this so-called victory since then, has never had a repeat sale, and thus cannot sustain any political profitability for the MDC.

What is worse, none in that victory-starved formation ever wants to come to grips with the paradox of that February outcome, namely that the much vaunted "defeat" in fact secured Zanu-PF’s future, lending to it an everlasting momentum which carries it to this day. I dare say that had Zanu-PF gone to the polls under that terrible draft constitution, the outcome would have delighted the British, indeed would have forever blighted Zimbabwe as a sovereign nation. And given the interests Zanu-PF had threatened, such an outcome would have turned Zanu-PF into a Sandinista that does not come back. Liberation politics would have gone extinct, all of us hoping for another convulsive re-launch. The draft constitution was a poisoned chalice that guaranteed instant death to the Patriotic Front. It was not a document for a society hungry for social transformation. If it had carried the day on February 2000, the national question today would have been different.

Zanu (PF)’s instrument

Unwittingly, the MDC struck a blow for economic nationalism, but without realising it.

Which takes me to a point MDC people never want to acknowledge, namely that in being allowed to win the referendum with such a lasting cheer, MDC became a good instrument of Zanu-PF’s long-term calculation.

Let’s face it, Zanu-PF could easily have thwarted a vote against the new constitution.

Besides, the margin was so slender that deploying a single rural MP to mobilise, would have evened out things.

Yet Zanu-PF did not. Would not.

It is one spectacular failure of scholarship that our political scientists have not attempted to explain why Zanu-PF gave away the referendum in order to gain all from the MDC.

Zanu-PF won doubly. In the draft constitution, Zanu-PF came through as a party willing to welcome change, but without suffering the risks and consequences of any such changes.

The elaborate dance around the constitution writing, consummating in a referendum convincingly signalled a Zanu-PF that stood change, and that successfully managed it.

The rejection of that change, followed by a Zanu-PF which "humbly" accepted the outcome, suggested a party which did not fear losing, indeed one ready to submit itself to "popular will".

I happen to know that there was so much glee in the loss, never grief as MDC supporters think.

It was a good PR moment for the ruling party, all along depicted as the likely butt of modernising change. In material terms, the ruling party did not have to fight or suffer the so-called "Gorbachev factor" given that its Gorbachev, apart from being a character from without Zanu-PF, had inexplicably chosen to be a Brezhnev, that is, a preserver of the constitutional status quo.

It remains quite baffling to this day why the MDC opposed change, democratic change which had come in such huge doses, when today it hungrily gobbles minimal, and in some respects quite ambiguous change, in the inter-party dialogue.

Clause 57

Secondly, Zanu-PF gave society a safety valve. It appeased the wish for constitutional changes, but without conceding a single clause in the ruling constitution. The only clause to change that year was a clause it needed, a clause which had come straight from State House.

That clause had to do with land, clause 57 in the rejected draft constitution which placed the burden of compensating the market value of land acquired on Britain, the former colonial power. It is a clause which would colour national and international politics for a whole decade, with Zanu-PF perched at the helm, undisturbed. The result was a spectacular paradox.

Clause 57 which had roused farmers to mobilise MDC against the draft constitution, became a direct outcome of that failure. It became the only constitutional change Zanu-PF conceded that year.

Secondly, the very draft constitution which the MDC so successfully campaigned against and rejected, ironically became the opposition party’s hard-to-realise yearn, one still unrealised to this day.

A smaller outcome of that year which still needs to be pointed out relates to the methodology and agency of constitution-making. Compliant with Zanu-PF’s wish, Parliament’s role in making the supreme law was confirmed then, as it stands confirmed now. Parliament remains the route to constitution-making, and judging by recent events around the Mbeki Sadc initiative, MDC appears to have been whipped into accepting it.

When Zanu-PF can afford

So materially, the draft constitution which the two parties have been discussing is a return the February 2000 document, but only now when Zanu-PF can afford it.

It is a return to the February 2000 document only now when both MDCs can’t use or take advantage of it. Of course the MDCs are in denial.

Coltart and Cross are hoping for "the Gorbachev factor" through these changes, which means the ruling party conceding to minimal changes which end up overwhelming it. Of course the two white men would know that the Gorbachev factor they hope for is as real as the living Gorbachev: it is distant, too far away to be recalled, let alone imported into the dry, hard-knuckled politics of the savannah.

What we see instead is the Boetheus factor at work, where failed politics and politicians turn to philosophy for consolation. The two white men do know that MDC badly needs concessions on the constitution more for internal reasons than as a tool usable against Zanu-PF.

The MDCs need such a document to neutralise Madhuku, all along MDC’s "lunatic fringe" until a disenchanted Britain decided to import consequence to the NCA by pouring in resources, in the hope of a repeat of 1998 when the same NCA played precursor to the MDC.

The British want a Third Force in the opposition, which is why the ruling party had better met the two MDCs’ internal requirement for some dummy document they can call a draft constitution. Remember the real conflict is between us and the British. Whoever Britain and her allies adopt as Trojan Horse immediately becomes the enemy and the focus. Britain has to be extirpated from our body-politic by whatever means. Come to think of it, gazetting the document is not such a bad thing for both parties.

Make love, suffer the pangs.

Otherwise the two formations have no legitimate or logical argument to sway public and international opinion in respect of their strange hopes on the draft constitution. They cannot demand a draft constitution as a precondition for participation in elections. No one will hear them.

In fact, Zanu-PF will be ready to declare a deadlock on this one matter which is patently absurd. I mean, how do you proceed to demand an overhaul of a constitution you have agreed to amend? What was the rhyme or reason for Amendment Number 18? To prettify a constitution before discarding it? Nonsense! And the electoral law, the security and media laws? Again to make them handsome before annulling them through a sweeping new constitution? Fie, fie I say! Even Reg Austin would rap Welshman’s knuckles for being such an ignorant professor of law.

If a new constitution was the trophy for the two formations, then they should never have entertained the changes they gave us, and gave us with such a dizzying and ecstatic tango with Zanu-PF. No one hoped the two enemies would mate. Everyone gasped when they locked hands and other limbs in a foisonous embrace. Both were old enough to know that making love creates babies. Why lament the ensuing pregnancy? And we all got the rationale behind a patch-patch, paste-paste approach: it was to ensure a level playing field in time for March 2008. This we were loudly told in Parliament.

Losing a handy shorthand

That the MDCs appended their signatures to all the amendments means they had secured an acceptable threshold in the talks. Their participation in the March elections cannot be a new matter for discussion. It was and is implied in the extensive agreements beatified through the legislative novelty of co-sponsorship which has given us Amendment No. 18, the battery of amendments to four pieces of law, among other things.

Any change from that position would have to be explained by other reasons, never by claims based on any law of any kind or size. And Manheru will be in a hurry to supply the reasons, as indeed I do now. After this week’s last round of amendments, the MDC formations have lost a critical mobilisation shorthand, namely that summed up by its favourite phrase: draconian laws. Today the MDC formations have no option but to own all the laws which shape the electoral regime.

They co-authored those laws, co-sponsored them until they became the laws of the land.

The very laws they co-sponsored cannot be "draconian" against them, unless this is what they wished for themselves. Simply, self-immolation cannot be blamed on a third party. Manheru will simply tell his readers both formations of the MDC fear the people, fear elections.

Manheru will simply tell his readers that both formations of the MDC fear the British, their masters, which is why they hoped to push for a delayed poll. Yes, Manheru will not hesitate to tell his readers the MDCs have unresolved internal political questions to which Zimbabwe is supposed to be held hostage.

By-passing the people

I will not go into the scenarios for constitutional change which the two MDCs have vainly sought to sell to Zanu-PF. It is a waste of time as the matter does not arise in the first place. Except to say these scenarios — five in number — reveal two disturbing things about the two MDCs.

Firstly, the Zimbabwean people do not seem to matter in their vision of constitution-making. The people can be by-passed in a mad rush to promulgate a new constitution as a matter of an enormous bi-partisan conspiracy and coup against the people whose will does not matter.

It is a very strange blueprint, a double coup where the existing constitution is supposed to be ousted by four men: two from either party, and a new one inaugurated by the same gang of four! Movement for democratic change indeed!

Secondly, for the two formations, the constitution, or more accurately their sense of it, is a mere political tool for the day. It is cobbled and wielded for a general poll, a tool for trapping the ruling party to win the polls. I thought constitutions are supposed to aspire to timelessness, indeed to rise above expediency? But the MDCs want a constitution which is a campaign tool, an instrument for entrapment! This is quite disturbing for a party which makes such lofty claims about democracy. I dare the MDC to sell its scenarios to the public.

Misa, Misa on the wall

Talking about legal changes, did anyone care to read Misa’s latest fulminations on the two amendments which were fast tracked by the two political sides?

MDC is called Zanu-PF’s "ally".

Why insult the noble ruling party? But a very revealing insult. Apart from underlining the ever widening rift between the two MDCs and their political NGO allies, one pities Misa for watching so helplessly as its locus standi in Zimbabwe’s media politics simply gives in and collapses.

Without the tenuous legitimacy which the MDC gave it; which ZUJ gave it; which the NGO Forum gave it, who does it speak for? I mean Zanu-PF and the fractious MDCs carry the whole of political Zimbabwe. So if Misa enjoys the support of neither, whose freedom of expression is it agitating for? Zvino uchadeyi nhai Masunda? This is the trouble in being handled from outside. With a media council now a creature of the same law that created MIC, nay a creature of that hated MIC, what becomes of the stillborn and putrefying Media Council which Misa kept on life-support and on its back to duck the label of an arid mule?

Pocock and Sadc’s fecund peacock.

Does Dr Pocock, Britain’s man here read the signs Southern Africa continues to give to his principals? Does he get the message when Zimbabwe, a country which is supposed to be in the throes, un-wraps a brand new bio-diesel plant in partnership with South Korea? Does he read correctly the message in a Portugal which lets go of Cahora Bassa a few days before Lisboa?

Does he read correctly a Zimbabwe and Mozambique which launch a joint oil facility and development plan in Beira, just next to BP? Or an ANC which pledges to push land reforms to the tune of 30percent before 2014? Does he read this mosaic of messages which clearly points to a new Southern Africa which might never have room for haughty colonials who hunker after they days of zero sunset, days never to come back?

I notice while Cameroon was thanking the Chinese in Chongqin for scaling down on investments in "autocratic Zimbabwe", the Chinese were busy securing a controlling stake in Zisco; are busy doing something I am not ready to talk about just yet.

Grains of pollen are being broadcast on rich soils of Southern Africa.

Does Pocock see them? Time will tell. Icho!


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