Friday, 18 January 2008

New Constitution: MDC clown’s costume

New Constitution: MDC clown’s costume

Gentle reader, I know I confound your expectations. You expected more on the "wonder" draught hewn out of the dissimilar for us by the British: precisely how far this wonder formulae of locomotion took the plough, and whether any seed explodes to budding in the fallow so ungainly burrowed. I have a feeling that you think giving you anything short of that, amounts to some reckless diversion in respect of a matter so heavy to be ignored.

After all, here was a breaking story which, surely, cannot close before we see mutumbi wayo. John Simpson could not have been despatched here for nothing? Or had you not made the connection between his surreptitious entry and the need for some public relations to this stillbirth? John is not the kind of reporter who just comes, who just sees and then just goes back. His travels mark the foreign office’s footprints. He comes to herald the fall of mighty personages, which is the rise of others. His coming here then was supposed to be a marker of time in hard pregnancy, a marker of delivery time. Or so his principals thought.

A storm in a newspaper

Well trust me, dear gentle, gentlest reader. The hurly burly is gone; the battle is won or lost, depending from which vantage point you view the action. It was a false pregnancy, chimimbamutekwe! Call it a storm in a newspaper, a non-antagonistic contradiction, which is why you notice I could afford to go lisping! All the Dutch cockiness you saw last week and the week before, you read last week and the week before, has fizzled and vanished, making way to plaintive requests for audience with you-know-who. And boy, it is getting a bit comical.

Can I have shefu’s portrait? Can I have shefu’s biography? How about buying a slot for shefu on CNN? Sickening grovelling by co-conspirators who think everyone but themselves so gullible. They are deserting the cause, these lilly-livered creatures of chance and orders. The State is being informed on conspiracies, as if it did not know. So many tales, so many tellers, tales delivered with jesuitic unctuousness. Tales of mansions acquired in Nyanga and Kariba, using dirty money from the funders of this strange idea.

The State has heard of a diplomatic truck belonging to a foreign government, driven by a foreigner in service, which is now thoroughly bored of making repeated errands connecting Vainona, Belgravia and Harare’s Fear Fortress. It is a car, which if granted a mouth, would give hair-raising tales, including one of a brown envelop carrying professorial political musings. The trouble with this game is that once you enter it, you begin to sink, sink and sink so irretrievably, that your only other movement is to Chikurubi.

Or to the US or UK for easily granted asylum. But there are some delicate issues which require a bit of silence while time gives them a cooling whiff. My little warning to those comrades, or what remains of their comradely spirit, is that like the vengeful spirit of a slain newly wed, the white man’s money rises from the grave. Ingozi yemukaranga; hairipike!

Un-fermenting Biti

Now to MDC, our political pastime. Tendai Biti is at it yet again, determined at all cost to be foolish again, after extended exposure to politically redeeming company. What is so wrong with this fellow, a learned one at that? In my generation, spectacles were always symbols of depth and polish. You would just not wear them. Nor were they evidence of a sight handi-cap.

With them on your face, no one could ever visualise you doing menial jobs. Succumbing to menial chores even, including exercising the bottom part of your stomach behind a thorny shrub, before reaching out for a ward of green leaves to wipe off bad odour. Now this bespectacled man decides to mount a steaming monument, right in front of in-laws!

Haa-a, now where do we look with embarrassment? Such an abomination from one so learned? No one told him about the beauty of keeping one’s mouth shut. Society is always kind with such individuals. In the case of Biti, society would have been even more generous. From his degraded depths, he was lifted to dizzy consequence by the sheer weight of his political clients.

What the sun cannot cook

He is in the inter-party dialogue, occasioned by the SADC region’s overriding need to rid a member state of the burdensome treachery brought on it by the sheer treachery of a part of its citizenry, a part called Movement for Democratic Change. Biti should have known that this is a very strange way of securing the audience of those who govern you, a rather obscene way of making it into history.

Thanks to the need to end illegal sanctions from the West, Biti and Ncube today patronise high places, indeed access President Mugabe’s ministers at an instant. They even reach these ministers’ bended shoulders, as if these ministers are their age-mates, are their playmates. Ncube is my age, a mere year ahead of me in college. As for Biti, I look back (with a squint) in the mist of time that followed my years in college.

I cannot recognise him in the blurred throng which pops forth. He comes much, much later after my youthful days in University, well after our Independence had long lost its milk teeth, this our Biti. But today he shouts "Nicholas", shouts "Patrick" to the two ministers in the dialogue, much like he would yell at his mate running away with a badly bound paper ball in primary school grounds.

But wait a minute, Swahili provides the clue: no matter how hot the sun may be, it can never cook beans. For all his proximity to executive age and ruling ideas, there is something still unready about him, still unripe about him, something which time and experience is still to bring to him in fullness.

Good governance from failed state?

And once freed from the restraining straitjacket of high society, he becomes a dashing student so unkempt in manners, so sonorous terminology, so stout and boisterous in his language to help make a nation, let alone lead it. Soon after hitting a cul-de-sac in Pretoria, he came back to a rally at which he relapsed into student-ism.

"Our march is a statement against a failed state," he told his thoughtless interlocutors.

"It is a demand for good governance," he added, clipping his point to easy applause, thanks to his unthinking audience. But the postulate flew beyond the unthinking, and is now in the public domain, getting meticulously preened for its worth. We do not get nuggets.

We are left with questions. How on this good earth do you demand "good governance" from a "failed state"? Or does the MDC and its lawyers proffer a more merciful definition of "failed state", one which quickly resurrects to become a "passed state" once a demand is "marched" by the opposition? And in this failed state, Zanu (PF) is amazingly homogenous and sincere enough to allow a "dipping stick" into the tank of its sincerity! But beneath the humorous, there is serious stuff we need to exhume.

Old draft constitution, new need

Make no mistake, MDC is not about to break negotiations over the question of the so-called new draft constitution. No. There is nothing "new" about the draft constitution under examination. It is a very old, long forgotten, mouldy document from 1999-2000. We are talking about the same Draft Constitution which thoughtless Biti and his MDC so happily threw out in February 2000.

It has taken them eight long years to discover there was a baby in the bathwater they threw away in that fateful year. And they need a bit of assistance from the motherly Zanu (PF) to recover the crying baby.

Otherwise would it not be foolish to expect a few odd meetings, held by a mere four men, with occasional visits from facilitators, to yield the constitutional tome we have in that draft? To yield a document which the mighty British do not and cannot have to this day, indeed to yield a document which the Americans agonisingly drafted over a vast stretch of unmarked time? Agreement was so easy to reach because all that was needed was MDC’s recovery from its February 2000 folly, and Zanu (PF)’s indulgent acceptance of such a recovery. With Madhuku breathing so hard on the two MDCs, this would not be long in coming, which is why this became the first and easiest part of the negotiations.

When a child comes before father

Secondly, the MDC simply accepted that the draft constitution could not be served in the little time that remained before the March elections, which is why it pleaded for the excising of those provisions with a bearing on elections from it, to give us Amendment 18, and the subsidiary instruments subsequently made under that amendment. Welshman could not have put it any better when he told the facilitators this last Sunday in South Africa that Amendment 18 is a child of the draft constitution around which there is the present, seeming deadlock.

And of course the question that the MDC would have to answer now is a simple one. If the constitution was the real issue, why was it stayed and superseded by an Amendment which derived from it? If the Amendment is a child of the draft constitution (and I borrow the filial imagery from the MDC), why was the child born before the father? Surely such a biological baffle would only have been granted through a mutual willingness to suspend disbelief and morality? After all, when a child comes before the father, so who does the child call "father"? Put inversely, when the father comes after the child, whose son does he become? Even our faith is worn out remarkably thin when the Great Book speaks of Virgin Mary conceiving before the usual bodily encounter of opposites.

What more with this one wonder so wished by lesser beings of well-known fallibility? The whole thing is so illogical that I cannot visualise both Biti and Ncube standing up to make any point related to it.

We the people? Nonsense!

Thirdly, except for political comic relief, the modalities for introducing the old proposed constitution makes the people superfluous. And yet it starts with "We the People blah,blah blah?" How does a party which has called itself "democratic" and which so readily falls back on "mass action", suddenly dispense with the "masses" over this one question it says has always been "the epicentre of the Zimbabwean crisis?" Would the MDC win the argument at home? Would it carry its own constituency sorely needing a "broad-based, people-driven constitution"? Would they win South Africa, the mediator? Would they tap into international opinion and sympathy? Even that of their unconditional supporters, the British, the Americans, the Nordic?

Again it is quite difficult to see any MDC persons, even while granting their legendary unreasonableness, standing up to make such a proposition with a straight face. Fourthly, MDCs acceded to the March poll, which is why there was so much flurry in passing Amendment 18. In fact everything about them, including their hurried wish to re-unite, affirms knowledge of this date. But beyond their organisations, their sitting MPs who are so anxious to retain their seats are working within this deadline, even visiting their counterparts in Zanu (PF) for any information there may be on the delimitation exercise.

Do they expect a referendum between now and March, before the poll? Clearly all the four points make the present feigned deadlock a joke which needs to be correctly read. And I will attempt a reading.

March, the real story

The so-called impasse is not over the draft constitution, more accurately the timing of its promulgation. Zanu (PF) made it clear this was a burden of the winner of the March 2008 elections. MDC not only agreed to this; both factions started lobbying Zanu (PF) to please undertake to process the document after March. This was the first ever indication from both factions that the real battle in March would be for the second best position. It remains the case to this day. AS far back as the beginning of the negotiations, both MDCs ceded victory to Zanu (PF). I could reveal more about what else they conceded and was pleaded for, but I will not until these guys stretch their luck.

The present impasse is over election dates, with the issue of the draft constitution, itself long settled, being brought back as a limping spoiler. The MDC, whether as factions or as a prospect of the reunion, is not ready for March 2008. They want elections shifted to some later date, preferably to a remote 2010 which Zanu (PF) proposed some year ago. Few remember that in fact both MDCs had agreed to 2010. MDC knows it stares defeat in the face. What is more, when it gets beaten so miserably in March, the MDC will not survive the defeat. That will be the end of the MDC, as we have known it.

But young MPs are ready to defy Tsvangirai on the issue of boycott. Remember its youthful MPs who know no other job, cannot afford to lose this one and only job so easily performed by God-given tolls: jaws. In the case of Welshman’s side, these guys are clear that Zanu (PF) should not be allowed an inch into Bulawayo, their threatened base. After all, once in, Zanu (PF) cannot be ousted. This was the logic behind participation in 2005 and the subsequent senatorial elections. Ask Japhet Ncube, the mayor of Bulawayo.

Staring a second Lisboa

But there are compelling external worries which explain MDC’s present obduracy. Lisboa came to Mugabe so easily because the MDC’s behaviour on negotiations and constitutional issues in Parliament severely weakened London, both morally and politically. The reading was that Zimbabweans were not only talking but were forging ahead, thanks to South Africa and SADC. Far from being a benevolent colonial father, Britain came across as a meddlesome, amateurish imperialist bully against an innocent small people.

Today, a mere two months before the elections, it faces exactly the same embarrassing prospect, all against diminishing patience and support within the EU, its bastion in the narrow fight for its kith and kin ousted here. London badly needs an uncooperative MDC, preferably one to have opted out of the talks before then, crying a deadlock and Mugabe’s "bad faith"! And time is not on its side, what with a meeting to review illegal sanctions soon to come later this month or in early February.

The talks must collapse; the Zimbabwean authorities must be goaded into scenes that would give spectacular copy and images to Europe, ahead of the EU sanctions review meeting. Something like is happening in Kenya presently. Such a development would get Europe to extend sanctions. Or even expand existing ones to allow more time for current regime change efforts, including the recent formulae of yoking together political dissimilars.

Dipping into Biti’s tank

I am sure, gentle reader, you are beginning to put in good context Biti’s proposed "freedom" march which sought to utilise "new" POSA be

fore the presidential assent; indeed which sought to break provisions of POSA’s amendments so readily accepted by MDC’s negotiators. Both Biti and Ncube have not told their constituencies that the new law does not tolerate demonstrations on all centres and sites of power. Which means the MDC and its small horde of supporters can only demonstrate towards their own leaders’ homes and headquarters.

Nowhere else. Not even to Parliament. Under the amended POSA, the police can still outlaw demonstrations, albeit after consultations with the convenor. Which takes me to my next baffle: why is Biti out to show to his constituency how severely restricting to their principal political instrument (of demonstrations), the amendment they acceded to are? What gain would that bring to him personally, given the deep suspicion he already faces from his peers? Clearly the tank which is being dipped is his and there is much rueing to follow.

The council Putin would not take.

I found it very interesting that the new US ambassador is promising mountains of dollars from his country which is sliding into deep recession. Before then, in a non-election year, America was quite close fisted. 2008 is an election year and, yes, Uncle Sam is in a generous mood. Really? And the timing? Just after reports on the possibility of a Third Force which America’s Harare office is heavily involved with? We watch. I hope you have been following events in Russsia, dear reader.

Putin is taking no nonsense from Brown’s soft fist, the British Council. Not many associate the British Council or USIS (we have both here) with imperial goals of the British and their cousins, the Americans. They both look innocent conduits for information to grateful lesser beings. What more with the Chevening Scholarships in the case of the former, and yearly visits and tours in the case of the latter. Innocent? Unlike us, the Russians know exactly the sinews of imperial power and influence.

They have moved in swiftly to clip sinews of Brown’s soft power, in the wake of a diplomatic standoff over a Russian spy who suffered a lethal atomic bomb attack right in the heart of London. Since then, Britain has been scheming, turning to its Council for subversive counsel. The Russians would not have it, firmly telling Brown that is not the way and language with which "to talk" to the Russian people. This is what happens when Labour’s nearly man overdraw from their so-called ethical foreign policy which has just come buckling in Beijing.

Is that all, Honourable Butau?

And the Butau thing on the internet? Is that all we were waiting for? Who is in Flatwater? Who should answer questions on Flatwater? Why set the stage for Gono, his perceived enemy? I have repeatedly said these guys are empty, big but empty. It is showing so abundantly. I just hope the police will handle this one differently. This habit of suspending charges merely because the accused has run away has no precedent anywhere in this world.

When an accused runs away, charges are brought to the courts in his or her absence. The fugitive is arraigned and a default judgment secured. Such that when such persons come back home, as happened recently, they came to outstanding judgments and sentences. That is how the law is practiced and executed elsewhere in the world. Let the trail begin, and tell me who shivers. Icho!


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