Saturday, 30 August 2008

Mutambara/Ncube: A wet swab, kind balm, for salty eyes

Mutambara/Ncube: A wet swab, kind balm, for salty eyes

Poor Arthur Mutambara! Poor Welshman Ncube! Well not quite poor just yet. It all depends on what these two men are prepared to do or not to do next, does it not? Facing a political rebellion — which is what MDC-M suffered this week — need not presage disaster. What does is the absence of decisiveness.

You really needed to be mole-blind to have missed the overbearing presentment that Arthur and Welshman were not going to be able to command "their" men in Parliament for the outcome they preferred.

They were set for grief, with the forces against them rich and formidable, they only rich in convictions. As any in Zanu-PF is quick to tell you, this is no era for politics of values and ideals. Hard-headed opportunism is the watchword. Sorry guys, this is not the age of innocence and whoever pays passes!

Last week, I deliberately fell a gram shy of saying so, but still gave copious hints on what the Monday of the vote would yield. I went much further to offer presumptive advice to the two gentlemen on how I thought and still think they should have and should handle rebellion that now threatens their political careers.

The collateral of defeat

But first to Zanu-PF. Let history record the real facts. Zanu-PF did not field a candidate for Speakership. And once it did not, its members voted for the best option in the circumstances. Zanu-PF could not have been defeated therefore, much as it may have collaterally and vicariously felt the pangs of that defeat. But the truth must still be recorded for history. Zanu-PF did not field a candidate principally because it produced none.

It simply did not have a consensual figure, a deficit made worse by clear indications from both MDC-M and Jonathan Moyo they were not going to vote for John Nkomo, the outgoing Zanu-PF speaker. To that add anxieties — irrational in my view — on the future of the 1987 Unity Accord which made the selection of a candidate a little more complicated than searching and finding an acceptable candidate. Until that morning of the vote, few in Zanu-PF knew that the ruling party was not going to field a candidate, let alone that they would be required to embrace a candidate of MDC-M. What is worse, very few knew, let alone understood that the candidate would take the form, shape and name of Paul Themba Nyathi. So Zanu-PF’s support for Paul Themba Nyathi was a case of circumstantial goodwill and choice.

Dalliance with Todd’s shadow

I have a lot against Paul Nyathi, as I am sure also do many in Zanu-PF. That includes quite a few from old PF-Zapu. Apart from his unyielding views on the bloody discord that rocked the Patriotic Front in the early eighties, he is a waterproof vessel for white Rhodesian liberal politics which Judith Todd personifies. His association with those kind of politics is long and historical, making him the Zimbabwean equivalent of Democratic Alliance’s Selemani. Both after the Zimbabwe Project and after the rise of British, American, Australian and New Zealand-sponsored opposition, many know in which direction these politics have morphed and mutated.

After Tsvangirai’s pull-out from the June run-off, many also know that Nyathi’s Adelaide Acres became home to MDC-T’s political and propaganda bedlams who claimed and feigned refuge status to suggest worsening conditions for the notice of Western powers. Nyathi quarrelled with MDC-T. Nyathi differed with Zanu-PF. The former is a matter of nuances, the latter a matter of a bitter, and therefore a defining experience for him.

Nyathi’s differences with Zanu-PF, much like Dabengwa’s (he confessed it), are both historical and unbridgeable. He has a history of organising against Zanu-PF, a course and career too unattended by any modicum of victory to be appeasable. Themba Nyathi’s speakership would have been a stout curse for Zanu-PF, a sturdy embarrassment for the ruling Party. Imagine the embarrassment to Zanu-PF of a Nyathi speakership rising with Zanu-PF benediction, but turning out to be just as, or more hostile, just as, or more ill-intent than that of MDC-T’s Moyo! The defeat would have come double, creating worse complications for Zanu-PF. But as with the March election, a defeat will once again prove and turn out to be a blessing. Back to the Mutambara crew.

Shonalising the MDC?

Nothing new or surprising happened on Monday. Nothing at all. The defiant rebellion which was suffered by the MDC-M leadership only hit an apogee on that fateful day. The faction had lived with a leadership contradiction for a very long time. And this leadership contradiction was shifty, very shifty, never with permanent incarnates.

Often, Mutambara himself epitomised it, triggering charges that he was selling a Ndebelised MDC back to its larger, violent and dictatorial Shonalised equivalent led by Tsvangirai. It got worse. The Mutambara-Makoni-Tsvangirai triumvirate suggested a Manyikalisation of MDC politics. In the eyes of the easy and shallow of course, a good many of them simply reflecting their own worldview, clearly founded on a reverse tribal template!

Whilst the three men occasionally found each other, they also lost each other and one another big time. For a man who had spent so much time away from home; for a young man who sought to wade into the choppy waters of politics with the naivety of a robotics professor, it was quite natural, in fact proper, for him to seek unity of the opposition, indeed to give older players in opposition ranks the benefit of the doubt, the same way it made sense for him to make gestures to the liberation struggle and its ethos.

No dire readings needed to have been made against him. Yet the point remains that he precipitated contradictions in leadership which bred the suspicions that on congealed into a humiliating choice.

Fickle seats, illusory victory

Upon realising Makoni was a hard-sell in Matabeleland, the Mutambara faction sought to reorient its politics by dumping Makoni in their campaign messages. But it was fatally too late in Bulawayo where the volatile voter there had been outraged by the baffling decision of the Mutambara faction.

To that voter, Ncube and Mutambara had betrayed the cause by rallying behind a man they saw as a Zanu-PF Trojan Horse. The faction was just able to rescue a fraction of its rural support base in March, which is what largely yielded the ten seats they, until Monday, enjoyed in Parliament. But they were fickle seats held by men who saw and sought leadership in the other MDC. MDC-Mutambara candidates in most constituencies of Bulawayo and the two Matabeleland provinces were heavily compromised by the MDC-T which used all manner and form of inveiglements, not least among them one tremendous money inscribed: "In God we Trust". And a bit of fuel per month. Moyo, the new speaker, played no small part in this well-laced MDC-T offensive.

America’s God wreaks havoc

This dimension became even more apparent during the run-off. America’s Mephistophelian God came back, this time with greater vengeance, as also did drums of fuel. The question was whether or not sitting MPs (from March 29) should campaign for Tsvangirai in the run-off.

All but two MPs and Senators from MDC-M obliged the temptation, which is why MDC-M parliamentarians campaigned for Tsvangirai in Matabeleland, in spite of the position of their party to the contrary. So when Botswana came, there was very little effort needed. The MDC-M parliamentarians had been flown to Botswana by MDC-T; housed by it, fed by it and of course awarded stipends big enough to motivate choices of the Monday we saw. After all they had gone there without the blessing of their "leaders", in flight in fact from their leadership.

All this was known to Zanu-PF, in fact had been debated only the Saturday before the vote at the Party headquarters. To this add David Coltart’s clear unhappiness over the stance of Mutambara and Ncube post-Sandton, and you realise, as did any thinking head in Zanu-PF, that Mutambara and Ncube were pledging what they did not have. They were not in Parliament themselves to enforce their pledges anyway.

Monday and the dialogue

Zanu-PF’s decision to throw its weight behind the Mutambara candidate could not have been about wanting to secure the speakership for whose candidacy Zanu-PF itself could offer no one. It was a calculation and gesture which redounded quite remarkably. Firstly, it underscored Zanu-PF’s readiness and commitment to the principle of ceding and sharing power, the principle of collaborative politics lately in vogue.

And that the power did not go in the Mutambara direction cannot surely be blamed on Zanu-PF. Secondly, the move tested all claims to power, influence and authority, something so important to Zanu-PF as it handles the next decision it faces, that of forming Government. I elect not to elaborate on this one matter.

Thirdly, Monday was just about the face-saving victory Tsvangirai needed to get back to the agreement which many now regard as stale and uninteresting. Indeed so elated was Biti that he loudly declared: "Now we can resume the dialogue". I hope the MDC-T can. As I write, the parties are in South Africa, MDC-T clearly thinking itself re-valued, MDC-M feeling un-mandated and thus devalued, in fact shadowed by MDC-B (Bhebhe).

Whether we like it or not, Monday sealed the unofficial reunion of the hitherto riven MDCs, under Tsvangirai, leaving Mutambara and Ncube not in the cold but facing a cold prospect.

Please save my face

This convoluted, the MDC-T leader thought he could demand to see President Mbeki as he pleased. He was snubbed, painfully snubbed, hopefully to realise that his Monday victory was very much a local affair. Biti who had in fact asked for the meeting of parties did not turn up, rumoured to be seeing a doctor over an equally rumoured cause. No parties meeting took place, only consultations with the facilitator. Nothing new came from MDC, except its wish to find a face-saving pretext for appending its signature to the agreement it long agreed to. Of course it made arguments and demands, all stale and recycled, to interlocutors whose patience is past stretching.

The day Brown smiled

Fourthly and lastly, the MDC-T victory in Parliament, further sweetened by the rowdiness that followed, resonated in London and Washington. Once more the MDC had made another inch towards power, so the reasoning goes in the hallways of these citadels of manipulative politics. That means power can shift within existing structures under the auspices of Mugabe, right? The same way it shifted in March, right?

Indeed the same way it shifted yet again in June, right? You cannot agree to one and deny the other, surely? So there is that ebb and flow of power, arguably itself the litmus test of democracy, is that not so? Britain loved Monday. America loved Monday. Let us move on then.

Cabinet is coming

A small one. President Mugabe does not need the say-so of Sadc to constitute his Government. He needs the go-ahead from no one. I say this because I see the media trying to take the fatuous MDC line that the President will have torn the MOU if he were to appoint his Cabinet. If that is their view of things, let their paper baskets be on hand for the shards. Cabinet will be announced, quite soon too. Tsvangirai will do nothing about it. And when Tsvangirai refuses to sign what he has agreed to, what Sadc has endorsed, does that reinforce the paper on which the agreement is written? Grow up guys.

Often the argument gets quite silly. One writer says Sadc gave President Mugabe the nod to open Parliament but not to make Government. Is Parliament not a part of Government? And is not Parliament the source of Cabinet, in terms of our supreme law? And if Parliament is opened, it will oversee who and what?

How does a person who is anything but ignorant suggest a partitioning of processes so intertwined and mutually implying? If the President delayed opening Parliament or announcing Cabinet, it was out of sheer politeness and for the sheer expedience of ensuring he would not have to reshuffle his Government upon swearing. He was obeying no law, obeying no protocol. The MoU only holds in circumstances of good faith that binds all parties to the talks.

Who needs order in Parliament?

Another small one. Those who read and are relishing much out of MDC control of speakership, think the ruling party is in for a bad patch. Really? In their wanton delight, they start with the Tuesday heckling by those kindergartens. How thoughtless can one become? By heckling the President, MDC-T has set a precedent which it is going to rue. The man in the chair is its speaker and the people in opposition are Zanu-PF.

The last time I saw these men and women from Zanu-PF, they had enough bile, enough mouths for wild yells. Yes, they had enough songs for derisive contributions. How about that from October until the next recess. Zanu-PF could make things quite nasty for the MDC Speaker, really nasty. And it will lose nothing. So who needs O-OO-ORDER!!!?

Throwing from a glass house

I notice the new Speaker has already realised how fatal what happened on Tuesday is to his tenure. He is pleading helplessness; he is pleading mutual restraint in the House. I wish him well. But he has a point, albeit spoilt by the cynicism underpinning it. The moment the President ascends to the seat for his delivery, the Speaker ceases to be in control of the House.

Yet in terms of present arrangements, it is not clear who takes charge and thus can order the sergeant-at-arms to bash a few nutty heads in that supposedly august House. If for instance the man in the chair is the man in charge, then the President faces no hurdles at all.

Judging by the welling fury in the service chiefs, it should not be very difficult to bring in a few Military Police musculars to reign in those hooligans who are set to suggest and try pushing bad laws for my country.

There is a real lacuna in the rules and practices, a lacuna arising from the complacency I have always criticised Zanu-PF for. A few changes are sure to come in that august House. Willy-nilly for the MDC. It is about the security and dignity of the Office of the President, and there will not be inter-party palaver for that I can assure you.

Who blinks first?

I have deliberately deferred my thoughts on what Mutambara and Ncube must do to stave off a looming political tundra. My sources tell me there is fury in the camp. Sure, there should be. Who stomachs such contumely? But what is at stake calls for much more than fury. It requires decisiveness. As leaders of their faction, Ncube and Mutambara need to declare the rebel MPs outlaws.

They need to disown them through processes that should resonate in Parliament. Such as formally notifying the new Speaker about whom they have very little love, that the ten MPs crossed the floor that Monday. That immediately wipes out MDC-T’s newfound dominance by bribery.

That immediately precipitates a series of by-elections which the rebel MPs are sure to lose. Get it from me, neither MDC-T nor the rebel MPs have a stomach for by-elections just now. And of course such a development will create a new dynamic within MDC-T itself.

Can Ncube and Mutambara do it? I wonder. Or will they be pre-empted by an approach to the courts by the rebels, as is being mooted? Again, I wonder. Whichever way, speed and decisiveness is what is needed. And if the two men lack both, they might as well kiss kwaheri to politics. Or join Zanu-PF.



Thursday, 28 August 2008

A century of resistance: From Nehanda to Mugabe.

Declare April history month

By Caesar Zvayi

IF ever there is a month that deserves to be called Zimbabwe History Month, it is April as it is covered by numerous milestones stretching from the First, Second and Third Chimurenga wars.

Forty years ago, yesterday, April 27 1898 the architects of the First Chimurenga — Mbuya Chahwe, the medium of the Nehanda spirit, and Sekuru Gumboreshumba, the medium of the Kaguvi spirit also known as Murenga — were hanged by the settler regime for daring to challenge colonial dispossession. Interestingly, it was from the Kaguvi spirit, that was alternatively known as Murenga meaning "war spirit" that the name Chimurenga was derived. Sekuru Kaguvi, Mbuya Nehanda along with Zindoga, Hwata and Gutsa wrongly stood accused of murdering a brutal white native commissioner, Henry Hawkins Pollard of the British South Africa Company (BSAC) who lived near Mazowe and terrorised people in the district.

To show their contempt for these four heroes and heroine, Rhodesian legal documents classified Mbuya Nehanda modestly as a Mashona woman residing at Chitawa’s Kraal in the Mazowe District, Zindoga as a native kitchen boy residing at Nehanda’s Kraal and Hwata and Gutsa as native hunters residing at Hwata kraal. The four, along with Sekuru Kaguvi, were arraigned in the High Court of Matabeleland that sat in Salisbury on February 20 1898 and were subsequently convicted on March 2 1898 in a case entered as "The (British) Queen against Nehanda". They were sentenced to death by hanging and the execution was authorised by the (British) High Commissioner for South Africa, one A. Milner, and endorsed by the (British) Imperial Secretary on March 28 1898. The presiding judge was Judge Watermayer, with Herbert Hayton Castens Esquire as "'the acting Public Prosecutor Sovereign within the British South Africa Company territories, who prosecutes for and on behalf of her majesty". The warrant for Mbuya Nehanda’s death commanded that she be executed within the wall of the gaol of Salisbury between the hours of 6 and 10 in the forenoon. A Roman Catholic priest, one Father Richertz was assigned to convert Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi, Gutsa, Hwata and Zindoga to Christianity. It is said the hapless Catholic priest failed to make headway with Mbuya Nehanda, but managed to convert Sekuru Gumboreshumba whom he contemptuously baptised as Dismas, meaning the "good" thief. Gutsa, Hwata and Zindoga were also converted but were similarly hanged nonetheless.

According to Father Richertz’s account, Mbuya Nehanda " . . . called for her people and wanted to go back to her own country Mazoe and die there… "When I saw that nothing could be done with her, the time of the execution having arrived, I left Nehanda and went to Kaguvi who received me in good dispositions. While I was conversing with him, Nehanda was taken to the scaffold. "Her cries and resistance, when she was taken up the ladder, the screaming and yelling disturbed my conversation with Kaguvi very much, till the noisy opening of the trap door upon which she stood, followed by the heavy thud of her body as it fell, made an end to the interruption", he wrote.

Father Richertz, however, conveniently forgot to mention the other words Mbuya Chahwe said to him, as she told him that her bones would surely rise. The Catholic priest may have considered it heresy, especially from a woman who had refused to be converted to "Christianity", but he did not know that the settler regime had just killed the mediums of the Nehanda and Kaguvi spirits but the spirits proper remained to influence the war effort. Sixty-eight years later, today, Nehanda’s prophesy came true when seven of her bones rose up on April 28 1966 to fire the first shots of the Second Chimurenga. They struck just five months after Smith announced his Universal Declaration of Independence and 20 months after the Rhodesian regime banned the nationalist movements — Zapu and Zanu — in August 1964. It is not clear whether it was by design or providence that the seven cadres intended to hit on the exact date Nehanda was executed but were somehow delayed by logistical problems and did so a day later. The seven cadres — Simon Chingosha Nyandoro, Godwin Manyerenyere, Christopher Chatambudza, Arthur Maramba, Chubby Savanhu, Godfrey Dube and David Guzuzu — who entered the country from Zambia, struck near Manyame River in Chinhoyi. Their aim was to destroy electricity pylons to cut off power coming from Kariba Dam and plunge Rhodesia into darkness. This was the signal other groups of cadres that were strategically deployed in towns like Mutare, Rusape, Chegutu and Mvuma were waiting for to indicate that the war against the Smith regime had begun. Lack of proper equipment and explosives saw the cadres fail to bring down the pylons near Lions Den, the Rhodesians got wind of the operation and descended on the people who were harbouring them. But the gallant fighters, who had retreated to Golden Kopje, invited the Rhodesians to come out and fight, and the cowardly Rhodies came complete with fighter jets, helicopter gunships and all sorts of weapons to face seven men armed only with AK 47 rifles. The seven commandos gave as much as they took as the battle lasted from about 9am to around 4pm. Eyewitness accounts say four jet fighters, several helicopters and scores of Rhodesian soldiers were gunned down and littered the battlefield when the seven cadres were killed. It is important to note that the seven guerrillas were only overcome because they had inferior weapons and ran out of ammunition, whilst the enemy was armed to the teeth and had the advantage of going back to base to replenish both ammunition and manpower. The bodies of the seven cadres were never seen again after the Rhodesians took them to an unknown place. The nationalist leaders learnt a lot from the battle of Chinhoyi which they used as a blue print, and future incursions inflicted heavy losses on the Rhodesian regime that was finally brought to its knees in 1979. In the intervening period another milestone again occurred in April. On April 4 1975, Cde Robert Mugabe, who had just been released from an 11-year incarceration at the hands of the Smith regime, crossed into Mozambique in the company of Cde Edgar Tekere. Cde Mugabe had been arrested along with the late Father Zimbabwe, Dr Joshua Nkomo, and Cde Edison Zvobgo after Zapu and Zanu were banned by the Smith regime in 1964. The following is the verbatim account of the crossing that President Mugabe gave during an interview with Power FM ahead of his 82nd birthday this year. "It was on Saturday morning and we decided to leave in the afternoon of that day. Old Tangwena, late now, Chief (Rekayi) Tangwena at whose home we had slept was instructed by his wife to lead us, Mai Tangwena vaisvikirwa vakati zvanzi izvo iwe Tangwena pachako tungamirira vana ava. So he accompanied us. There we were, we had two young men carrying our bags and I think there were five of us and we decided to cross the border. "There was this big boundary road they called Bhinya. It was also called after the name of the person who was chief native commissioner . . . will think of it. "We had to cross the broad road, not tarred, but just a dirt road, gravel, not tarred because it was meant to facilitate the vigilance that the Rhodesians kept on the people. "So we crossed that, after looking at both sides of the road, we moved on and at night we had to cross rivers. There was a small river that we crossed and upon putting our shoes back, I could not distinguish the right from the left. "Ndakaita saMbuya vangu vaimbouya kuChurch vakapfeka matennis vachiti yekurudyi yoenda uku (laughs). ‘‘Ndakatozoona zuva ratobuda kuti that was the disaster that had attended my feet. "You know the Tangwena’s had been fighting for Gaerezi ranch. It was that resistance, vaivingwa from time to time vachipfurwa, ndiro chaidzo dzaiboorwa nemabullets kuti vabve. Their children were all taken away to a school somewhere but they resisted. "We got to a village where two headmen vekwaTangwena decided to get away from this problem and settled on the Mozambican side, and two headmen had remained so they were four. "We were drenched, very wet and we needed fire, so early in the morning fire was lit for us outside. I noticed that my shoes had done harm to my toes and we were prepared to continue. So we remained there for quite some time. Kwakangakusina masoja eFrelimo akawanda, so we had to relay our presence to them, and from that place word was sent ahead that we were there and we then got to a base that was close to Tete, this place was called Vam-Vam. "We were at Vam-Vam for quite some time that’s where we met vana Mao and others who had been recruited in Highfield. From there we were taken along a road in the direction of a town yaimbonzi Villaguveya, now Katandika. It was while we were at Vam-Vam that Mozambique celebrated its Independence. "We stayed at Katandika for a month or two. From Katandika we were taken to Chimoio, and there we met many more and now we were moving with other Comrades that we had met along the way. "That is where we met vanaChamu (Oppah Muchinguri) vachiri vadiki and many others. We had some students from university, vana (Zororo) Duri, vana (Christopher) Mutsvangwa, vana Gula Ndebele, vana Mayowe, who had left university; we met them there. "There were about 5 000 to 6 000 of us kuChimoio, it was a little outside the town, and then the Governor decided that some of our cadres who had been trained who were in Tete should be informed about our presence. There were about three ladies and mukuru wavo akavatora ndiMai (Joice) Mujuru, and there were about four or five male cadres. So they came and saw us and we asked them to take control because they were trained cadres. "So that was the journey, and all the while we were with Chief Tangwena, right up to the end taive naChief Tangwena, and when we came back, we came back with him also. He was quite a gallant cadre, very strong," President Mugabe said. The President was to gallantly lead the war effort from Mozambique for the next five years. He participated in all the peace initiatives up to the Lancaster House Constitutional Conference of September 10 to December 15 1979 that paved way for the first democratic elections in March 1980. It was a month later, again in April, that the new Zimbabwe was born on the 18th. This was the day that the British flag, the Union Jack, was pulled down and the Zimbabwean flag rose majestically in its place as the heir to the British throne Prince Charles and Governor Lord Soames saluted the new nation and its people. This was the day Prince Charles handed over the Constitutional instruments of Government to Cde Mugabe that defined us as a people. That was the day Prime Minister-elect, Cde Mugabe, laid out the policy of reconciliation in his maiden address much to the amazement of terrified Rhodies who thought they would be made to account for their war crimes. Many other milestones occurred in April, but can not all be highlighted here, but these four alone make this month so special as to deserve recognition on our national calendar. If not for purposes of history, then for posterity as future generations have to know where the nation came from. l Material on Mbuya Nehanda derived from the book Inside The Third Chimurenga by Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Dear Arthur Mutambara: So long a letter to MDC-M

Dear Arthur: So long a letter to MDC-M

The real shock to Arthur Mutambara and Welshman Ncube is when they find themselves on American and EU sanctions list. It will not be long. Only then will they realise that you do not need to have committed any crime. You only need to have hurt the interests of the Emperors, namely the British, the Americans and the Europeans. And for the two, the crime gets even more tenuous and baffling.

They are not in Government and thus are incapable of materially committing this great abomination against the Deity. But the punishment will be just as vicious. Their real crime is one of perforating the fig leaf that hides the Emperor’s sacred nakedness. Now the head of the Emperor’s thing has been exposed where there are people! You do not get away with that kind of embarrassment. You pay heavily. You pay double.

Democracy’s supposed votaries

Already shunned by political donors as a way of coercing them back into a violent marriage, MDC-Mutambara now faces a new threat by way of a vicious campaign to de-legitimise it as an opposition. This new dimension is real, again driving home the Manichean nature of our politics: you are either Zanu-PF or MDC; Mugabe or Tsvangirai. You cannot be a Mutambara, a Shumba, a Semwayo. You cannot be anything else, which is why Mutambara’s bid to claim the space of an arbiter which the supposedly supreme voter gave his party, is proving very dangerous and possibly politically fatal.

We do not have a national opposition; we have a Zanu-PF antipode. The culture in the opposition realm is as repressive and as intolerant as the opposition charges against Zanu-PF. Either way, the voter say has no place, which is why the voter verdict of power sharing as opposed to power transfer, is being rejected by democracy’s supposed monks. It is not the place which the voter gives you which matters; it is the veto which the fishmongers wield to defend their interests as an imperial collegiate which matters.

Against fact, numbers and the law

And the fishmongers demand power shift, power transfer and nothing less. For this goal they are prepared and able to be unreasonable. The results of March 29 polls – which results until now they were rejecting – are what they are hanging on to. And in their view, those results provide a basis for power transfer. Just how?

Well, Tsvangirai won, they declare rather viciously, well against fact and numbers. Well, the results concluded the electoral process, they again declare, this time against our law and their own practices back home. Come to think of it, many current leaders of Europe and America are by-products of run-offs, foremost Merkel and Sarkozy themselves dedicated denouncers of Zimbabwe’s electoral process. Brown does not come into the radar at all. He does not need the British vote to govern. No one elected him, that very un-handsome man. He pilfered the crown, something not quite unknown to the British, right from the Elizabethan days. But many of his peers were sired by run-offs.

So it cannot be a question of ignorance in Europe and in America. I said they are speaking against fact and numbers. Yes, they are. The total vote for the legislature comprises the upper and lower houses. When brought together, the March results give Zanu-PF a commanding lead. Plain lead, too plain to be missed by anyone who is not Tsvangirai. What is the story then? Zanu-PF controls the legislature, indeed has the popular vote.

Finalising the hung result

I do not need to talk about Presidential where the argument is plain. McGee went to drag Tsvangirai back from South Africa to participate in the run-off precisely because America knew the March result was inconclusive. Those polls gave Tsvangirai a marginal lead over President Mugabe. But it did not decide the matter. Nothing at law or in common sense justifies a hung result. Everything in law and common sense cries out for a sequel. After all, it is impossible to have a hung result, and Tsvangirai and his masters knew as much. Tsvangirai did not boycott the run-off.

He dropped off the run-off, and there is a huge difference between the two. Withholding participation in the run-off, while clearly not making legal sense, would have placed on some plinth of arguable decency the proposition which the MDC and its backers are belatedly invoking, with the wisdom of prophets of hindsight.

Then the argument would have centred on the accuracy of the March 29 result. They did not do so, could not do so, in fact. Such a stance would not wash given that, like all previous polls, the result was not just accurate; it underpinned an immaculate poll process. Additionally, so consumed were they with the sense of an irreversible voter mind shift that they saw the result from the run-off as fated to go one way, indeed as foregone. A whitewash awaited Mugabe and his Zanu-PF, they reasoned.

They never budgeted for a dramatic turnaround as indeed hit them later. The fact that Tsvangirai joined in the run-off acknowledges and underlines the inconclusive nature of March 29. And he did it at the behest of the whole Western world, including the British who sent McGee to bell the cat, in order to hide their vested interest in the whole matter.

Deserving to govern, building a nation

The fact that Tsvangirai dropped off a mere five days before the poll underlines a rare whiff of commonsense which hit him a few days before his Waterloo. He correctly read defeat and opted out. This is permissible in a democratic process, as is also the phenomenon of a loser who builds face-saving arguments as a result. Such as blaming your pull-out on violence while accepting by-election victories emanating from the same process and held under the same conditions.

That Zanu-PF agrees to mediation and a power-sharing deal after its own victory, should never be taken to indicate self-doubt with the mandate given it, or the process yielding it. The swearing-in process underlined this deep and just belief in the validity of the process, the deservedness of the responsibility to govern.

Acceptance of mediation and power sharing that followed, underlined a trait and a realisation. Through this magnanimous gesture, Zanu-PF emblazoned its trait as a nation-builder, indeed as a party able and prepared to transcend the inter-party bickering and competition upon which the notion of democracy rests. It expressed the volition to abridge, truncate and share its hard-won mandate for a higher national good.

Its name is British, American, European

Through this gesture, Zanu-PF correctly acknowledged the crisis bedevilling Zimbabwe is essentially exogenous. Its name is British. Its name is European. It is American. It is called sanctions, fundamentally premised on a dispute that has nothing to do with MDC, the ballot, March 29 or June 27. All these remain mere pretexts to what is essentially an outward conflict that seeks legitimacy in local colour. In a way, it is right to say MDC is threatened by any settlement with Zanu-PF. It is, particularly that faction of it which is un-national and externally oriented.

That is the faction which is led by Morgan Tsvangirai. The one led by Mutambara represents fitful national consciousness, but one getting increasingly more clearly defined and directional. Between Zanu-PF and any opposition which is national, there can never be a Chinese wall. But between a surrogate MDC on the one hand, Zanu-PF or any opposition party which is national in outlook on the other, there can only be a whole turbulent ocean, abutted by a reinforced Chinese wall.

Mutambara puts a lie to claims that MDC-T is made to look a puppet by Zanu-PF propaganda. Mutambara puts a lie to the British propaganda claims that nothing good or redeemable motivates Zanu-PF beyond its cynical wish to rule forever exclusively. Therein lies the challenge to Mutambara’s MDC faction.

Making a choice

In trying to carve a niche for itself, MDC-M should not hesitate to be likened to Zanu-PF on the national question, the same way it should not hesitate to be likened to MDC-T on the so-called democratisation project. Zanu-PF does not agree with MDC-M’s neo-liberal sense of democracy, never will. But it deeply respects undirected spurts of national consciousness which are so disgustingly absent in the other MDC. And Mutambara and Ncube must not fear to be likened to Zanu-PF on that one matter. In defiance of circumstances of birth, the Mutambara faction is steering away from powerful external handlers. That is formidable, as Zanu-PF will quickly attest. Yet that is what will make the opposition national and genuine.

And persecuted too. In fact, the coming weeks will force MDC-M to make a choice between Zanu-PF and MDC-T. They will have to be sworn in Parliament, which is not a challenge. They will have to decide on a position regarding the Speakership, which Zanu-PF will kill to get.

Hey, they will have to say whether or not they are ready to play a direct role in an inclusive Government. While a tripartite agreement is certainly welcome, MDC-M will decide in a political environment where it may not yet be available. Or even possible. To baulk at joining would suggest they are a junior party to MDC-T, apart from underscoring the fact that they still stand beholden to external forces whose positive rating they will be out to win.

False threat of split

They cannot worry about an internal split arising from this question. Their rebel MPs, if any do exist, would have to face a series of by-elections in which MDC-M and Zanu-PF will be collaborating against MDC-T, presumably the new home for those rebels. Not a single seat will come back to those rebels and MDC-T. MDC-T cannot face an election, any election at that.

About that I am certain. To join Government will mean MDC-M will share the fate of Zanu-PF, and that means joining the sanctions list and the unremitting censure from the West. But the argument for Zimbabwe, which is an argument against the West and its hidden interests, will have won, in the process creating a huge step forward towards an honourable resolution of the national question. While Ncube and Mutambara may be reviled by the present highly polarised politics, history will absolve them, indeed accord them a place of honour as honest and independent men who refused someone else’s drum, against the dance of their own people.

A key or keyhole?

I notice one bald writer — a something Makwanya — thinks Tsvangirai holds key. He does not. He is the hole into which the key disappears. The key is with Britain and America, a reality which was driven home at Sandton City, South Africa. What frustrated Sadc heads, apart, of course, from Tsvangirai’s all-round ignorance, was how the whole MDC-T team could never give answers on anything without asking "for time to reflect". That included on a simple question like what time of day is it, Cde MDC-T!

On any matter put to them, the team would ask for recess, which meant going back to their hotel rooms for new instructions from London and Washington. It was despicable. It was embarrassing, with one South African official quipping: "Judging by the conduct of Mr Tsvangirai, I have no doubt that Zimbabweans are a determined people!" He was referring to Tsvangirai’s obduracy, even against commonsensical positions. MDC-T has no mind of its own, which is why unexpected shifts expose them, such as the opening of Parliament.

Contradictions in the camp could not have been more glaring. As with his party, Tsvangirai has no mind of his own. He is as good as the last man or woman he spoke to, and such people make very dangerous puppets. And they cannot be the key; only poor holes where clever keys penetrate. The man is being raped in broad daylight, at the Station. British rapist.

Puffing up Morgan’s pride

So what is the game plan? It is a very simple one. Diplomatically, Zimbabwe won. Its verdict that power must be shared was upheld by Sadc. President Thabo Mbeki won. His blueprint for power sharing was adopted by the region and is now recognised by the AU. President Mugabe won on several fronts. Against a bleak backdrop, he once again has Africa behind him, all engineered from Sadc. President Kikwete made the point: the powers which Tsvangirai is getting from the deal are far above what Odinga enjoys in Kenya.

He spoke with the authority of the man who brokered the deal. Unconfirmed reports say Odinga himself told Tsvangirai as much. As also did Botswana which made a surprising U-turn at the summit. The Nigerians flew in to persuade Tsvangirai against rejecting a good deal.

Yet such ministrations gave Tsvangirai a convoluted sense of centrality in the resolution of the Zimbabwe question. The issue cannot be about how power was partitioned in the agreement.

The governance issue has fallen away, and with it, the principal grievance of both MDCs, if they are ever to be believed. What remains, and stolidly so, is the twin desire to demolish Zanu-PF and its leader as infra

structure of a liberation ethos which the West wants extirpated from highly mineralised Southern Africa. This is the outstanding matter to which Tsvangirai is a minor. Now President Mugabe can expose the real enemy, the real culprits behind the deadlock, and the Trojan horse in front of that stalemate. This is key to keep Africa behind him while ensuring a consolidated position at home. Declining support at home and a reviled profile on the continent is about it Zanu-PF requires for now. After Sandton, the propaganda image of Mugabe as a megalomania will be harder to validate, the same way the image of Tsvangirai as an incipient and possibly incompetent Jonas Savimbi will be harder to dodge. Maybe Tsvangirai has overplayed his hand.

Structures of the war ahead

But the West will play its economy card, and I notice there is a convergence of thoughts on this one matter. Even Tsvangirai makes the same point that he does not need Zimbabweans and their vote. He only needs greater sanctions from Europe and America, to engineer power transfer. Let it be so. It is important for Zimbabweans to know and understand what is really hurting them, in order to be able to fight it, whether politically or economically. And the more we stretch events is the more the West’s pretences wear thin. The British and Americans are giving Zimbabwe less than 60 days to collapse. We need Government, a strong Government, which will take bold decisions without flinching. Globally, developments pitting Russia against Nato present real opportunities. Back home, the mature realisation that the enemy within needs to be handled conclusively, will help. Structures of war – economic war – are needed and will come shortly. As will leadership. In the few months it will become apparent whether or not the revolution can or cannot defend itself. By any means necessary.

After reading Kanengoni

Oh Alexander Kanengoni! I really enjoyed your piece, including the snide reference to Manheru. You have this knack for exploring a complex question in such a plain and light-hearted way. The central plank of your thesis was that maybe the trouble between Zimbabwe and Britain is too much love and sameness (not similarity), not too much mutual hatred and differences. We are thoroughly British, are we not, you declared, forgetting though that evidence of this incurable British-ness included your very piece declaring so, again in perfect English! Soon after, I had a muscular debate with my two daughters, both in high school. I had made your piece a highly recommended read in the home, and the two daughters, faithful to instructions, obliged. "But daddy, how would we be heard by the world if we do not speak in English?" cried one, with a clear nod of approval from the other. I flung my hands in despair, prayerfully hoping that you, Alexander, were not somewhere in the eaves to watch yet another layer of British-ness in Manheru’s very home. It is terrible. Desperate to convince, I told my two unlistening daughters China which has 1,3 billion souls, speaks Mandarin, speaks broken and halting English. Why won’t you study it to get to that vast portion of humanity, I challenged them, stressing their real argument has nothing to do with the world, only with the English-speaking part of it. You talk as if speaking English is the crime, I added, again sensing the vulnerability of my argument. The trouble is thinking English, to which the English dropping so effortlessly from our twisted tongues is but a symptom. Alexander, I lost the argument in the home. I cannot win it in the world either, which is why I look elsewhere for succour. Everywhere I hear English, British English. That means the British personality will never set!

The English Department that once was

You have broached a matter that nearly split the "English Department" at UZ in the early eighties. Was it an English Department or a Department of Literature in English? We could not get it right, beginning with the very label on our foreheads, itself an identity marker. Four years later, I limped out of that Department, a perfect human specimen of that unresolved question. In between, we could not have Micere Mugo, the firebrand writer-scholar who spearheaded Kenya’s challenge to the dominance of England in literature departments across the continent. In between we fed on all English – from its old, unreadable form as in Sir Gawain and the Green Knights, right up to its deliberately subverted and broken form as is Amos Tutuola’s Palm-wine Drinkard. I ate all that book, in order to be a capped graduate from the English Department. A furious debate was detonated when someone, apparently supported by Dr Chivaura and Dr Gecau (another Kenyan!) daringly suggested Shakespeare must be scrapped from the syllabus. My goodness, what an abomination! A real desecration of literature! Was Shakespeare not the father of literature? How dare you suggest that? The liberal Dr Chennels was prepared to migrate to apartheid South Africa, all for the sake of Shakespeare!

I hope Joram Nyathi now does . . .

Until much later into adulthood and amidst this bruising fight with the British, I would not understand this whole furore. I hope Joram Nyathi of the Independent now does. (He was a year behind, a student of a BA General, with English, sorry Literature in English, as a major). The debate followed and haunted my professional phase. Two degrees with UZ. Two degrees with UNISA. One lonely degree with a British university I shall not mention. Verdict: "the British-trained Manheru"! With four degrees from Africa? Why is one more than four? Because it’s a British one? We have a long way to go.

The story of Caliban

But there are a myriad ways out of this trap of British-ness and maybe I illustrate one such, taking after British Shakespeare’s Caliban. You should know, Alexander, that Caliban stands for an archetypal native awaiting to be discovered and developed by a white "pioneer" colonialist. Such as happened to the Kanengonis when the "Pioneer" Column came into the vast, empty space that we are said to have been before 1890. So Caliban who inherits this unnamed island (does it have to have a name given the placeness of colonial assaults on the Third World?) from Sycorax, his mother, helps a shipwrecked white-man called Prospero survive the shipwreck, and to thrive afterwards. As part of this package of fatal hospitality, Caliban shows Prospero the riches of the island, in the process exciting the annexationist urge in Prospero. Sooner, Caliban not only loses control of the island; he is reduced to a chattel, and has to draw water and hew wood. One day, feeling both quite fed up and libidinous, Caliban attempts to rape Miranda, a supposed beautiful daughter of Prospero. The attempted rape is both an expression of natural human urge and of resistance. Above all, it puts Caliban on the same human plane as Prospero and Miranda, something quite odious to Prospero. Sexuality would have humanised Caliban, much against furious denial of the new white master.

Hewing tools of protest from British-ness

Expectedly, Prospero is furious at this attempted violation and he threatens Caliban with gnawing goblins which he controls through his black magic. Caliban will not be intimidated this time and stands up to Prospero, who is quick to remind him he found him a mute monster "on whose nature nurture would not stick". I even gave you a language, adds bragging Prospero. Caliban wastes no time to cut in: "And my profit is I now know how to curse you." What follows is an excellent nationalist credo, with Caliban declaring the island his by aboriginal inheritance. Alexander, that, in summary, is what I have sought to do with this column: curse the British Prospero; kiss his beautiful daughter, nay attempt to seed her, to assert my claim and humanity. You chose a different path. You went to war and shot them dead. And as you did, we as collaborators sang: "Zvamunoona vakomana bhunu rinofa/Toridze mbira dzekumatongo!" It was through dying that the Boers regained their humanity, after a near-century of self-deification that spawned frightening halo and myth of impregnability that had to be broken by fighters like you. For that I thank you and your fighting peers. But the battle is not yet won, continues to shift to more complex forms, Alexander. Albion is near, breathing heavily on us. There are many ways of fighting Alexander, including – as Chinua Achebe would remind you and me – the course taken by the tired, abused and very angry Negro after a thankless working day in a white-owned sugarcane estate. In frustration, he seized his white master’s stolen trumpet, blew it like it was never blown before, and the result was jazz! So, weep not child.


Friday, 22 August 2008

Ian Khama: More British than African?

Khama endangers regional solidarity

EDITOR — It is amazing what Lilliputian African leaders will do to insult and malign Zimbabwe just to please Western countries in order to be noted on the world stage.

Now it is President Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana, that quiet backwater which was once a British protectorate.

Protected from whom? Other Africans?

Khama is a colourless figure who became commander of the Botswana Defence Forces not through proven merit, but by virtue of being the son of Sir Seretse Khama, the founding president of Botswana and paramount chief of the Bamangwato.

He is not known to be the most erudite man of letters like President Mugabe, or even a man of great intellect. He is just another African boy of mixed race who was lucky enough to be born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

Ian was born in England in 1953 of Sir Seretse Khama and an English mother, after the British government and church had done everything to stop his father and mother’s mixed race marriage.

He became commander of the Botswana army after attending Sandhurst, the British establishment’s military academy.

He became President of Botswana after a dubious process in which he retired from the army on the same day as President Quett Masire, who then elevated him against the requirements of the constitution to the vice presidency when his deputy Festus Mogae became president.

Since Botswana’s president is chosen by members of the ruling party in parliament, a by-election in a safe constituency had to be created for Khama to enter parliament and become vice president.

When he replaced Mogae as president on April 1 (Fools’ Day), 2008, the world was so focused on Zimbabwe, a much more important country, the media hardly noticed this handover of power in Botswana.

There were only sporadic reports of his inauguration.

During his time in office, he has clashed with the Green Party over the Media Practitioners Bill, which the opposition party described as "absurd", warning that the ruling Botswana Democratic Party was "moving towards dictatorship".

In a statement in the Botswana Gazette, the Green Party said: ‘‘Instead of adding to the Constitution a charter of rights and freedoms, a Human Rights Act, as well as a Freedom of Information Act, the government chooses to move back to the dark ages of ruling by the fist.

‘‘The proposed media law is an obvious projection of President Ian Khama’s dictatorship qualities that ‘Of course, this is the kind of hyperbole opposition parties engage in. So why does this hyperbole become the basis for foreign policy in Botswana, a country that is surely not a banana republic?’’’

The party accused Khama of banning the distribution of newspapers at the Seretse Khama Military Barracks during his leadership there because they had criticised him.

It noted Khama’s many altercations with the media, which he had described as "irresponsible" yet he listens to the same media when it criticises President Mugabe.

The party notes: "In typical army style, the commander did not see eye to eye with the Press."

The party concluded: "The worst form of oppression is mental slavery, thus we should emancipate ourselves of it."

Now, completely disregarding the advice of opposition parties which strongly warned him against undue criticism of Zimbabwe, saying the country was a key trading partner "with deep friendship roots", Khama has actually had the gall to tell other Sadc leaders that he does not recognise the Presidency of Cde Mugabe.

A man who was voted into power by more than two million Zimbabweans, a figure far bigger than the population of Botswana!

Who the hell does this British-groomed neophyte and upstart think he is?

Whose interests is he serving?

The Green Party was right.

This is a man with delusions of grandeur that make Adolf Hitler look like a polite gentleman.

Ian is obviously much closer to his mother’s commoner heritage than he is to the "friendship roots" that made him a member of a royal African lineage. Does he know how much animosity his misguided actions can create between the people of Botswana and Zimbabwe?

Is he that pedestrian?

If this is the sum total of his qualities as an African and an African leader, God help Botswana.

All Zimbabwe has to do is ignore him, or play his game and finance the opposition to get rid of him. To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

I wonder how good he was at school in science in mathematics.

Phineas Mpofu.


Is this what Tsvangirai is refusing to sign?


1. Cabinet is the organ of state that carries the principal responsibility of formulating and implementing the government policies agreed to in the Global Agreement. The Executive Authority of the Inclusive Government resides in the President, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

2. The Prime Minister is a Member of the Cabinet and its Deputy Chairperson. In that regard, he carries the responsibility to oversee the formulation of policies by the Cabinet.

3. The Prime Minister must ensure all the policies formulated are implemented in accordance with the programme developed by the Ministries and agreed to in Cabinet.

4. In overseeing the implementation of the agreed policies, the Prime Minister must ensure that the state has sufficient resources and appropriate operational capacity to carry out its functions effectively. Accordingly, the Prime Minister will necessarily have to ensure that all state organs are geared towards the implementation of the policies of the inclusive government.

5. The President and the Prime Minister will agree on the allocation of Ministries between them for the purpose of day-to-day supervision.

6. The Prime Minister must ensure that the legislation necessary to enable government to carry out its functions is in place. In this regard, he carries the responsibility of conducting the business of government in Parliament.

7. The Prime Minister also advises the President on key appointments the President is required to make under and in terms of the Constitution or any Act of Parliament.

8. The Prime Minister can make recommendations on such disciplinary measures as may be necessary.

9. The Prime Minister shall serve as a member of the National Security Council and this will ensure his participation in deliberations on matters of national security and operations pertaining thereto.

10. As the work of the Inclusive Government evolves, the President or Cabinet may assign such additional functions as necessary to further enhance the work of the Inclusive Government.

11. The Prime Minister shall report regularly to the President.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Violence in Zimbabwe and the MDC and its Social Imperialist Supporters

Violence in Zimbabwe and the MDC and its Social Imperialist Supporters
Filed under: Imperialism, Zimbabwe — gowans @ 3:37 pm
By Stephen Gowans

It was MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai who said to Mugabe, “If you don’t want to go peacefully, we will remove you violently.” [1]

It was MDC faction leader Arthur Mutambara who said he was “going to remove Robert Mugabe, I promise you, with every tool at my disposal” and that “We’re not going to rule out or in anything – the sky’s the limit.” [2]

It was secretary general of Tsvangirai’s MDC faction, Tendai Biti, who warned of Kenya-style post electoral violence if Mugabe won. [3]

It was opposition principal Pius Ncube, then Archbishop of Bulawayo, who said he was “ready to lead the people, guns blazing,” to oust the Mugabe government. [4]

It was the Zimbabwe Resistance Movement that promised to take up arms against the Zanu-PF government if “the poodles who run the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,” failed to declare Tsvangirai the victor of the presidential run-off election. [5]

In light of this, is it any surprise that Zanu-PF supporters are “outraged that the Security Council that never saw the need to convene and discuss Kenya when more than 2,000 people were hacked to death over two months, at times in front of Western cameras, saw it fit to meet and discuss Zimbabwe on the back of” claims by the opposition that it was being repressed by a campaign of violence? [6]

The Social Imperialist Project

With Western media coverage on Zimbabwe monopolized by the views of the neo-liberal MDC, the US and British governments, and “independent” election monitors and human rights groups funded by the US Congress and State Department, the British government’s Westminster Foundation for Democracy, George Soros’ Open Society Institute, and the CIA- and Council on Foreign Relations-linked Freedom House, one might think it would be possible to find a measure of relief from the blanket uniformity of ruling class dominated opinion on a socialist web site. Just a tiny break.

Instead, the Socialist Project [7] served up an article on Zimbabwe, “Death Spiral in Zimbabwe: Mediation, Violence and the GNU”, by Grace Kwinjeh, a founding member of Zimbabwe’s neo-liberal MDC party and member of its executive committee. [8] The article, not surprisingly, re-iterates a view that is friendly to the party the author is a principal member of.

Kwinjeh has a habit of disguising her background, one that’s hardly irrelevant to the subject she’s writing on, by presenting herself as simply an independent journalist living in South Africa – kind of like John McCain submitting analyses on Obama’s politics while calling himself an independent journalist living in Arizona. Kwinjeh, a regular on the US propaganda arm Voice of America’ Studio 7, traveled to Washington not too long ago on George Soros’s tab to testify to the regime changers in Washington. She is neither independent, particularly interested in national self-determination, nor an opponent of neo-liberalism. [9]

One might expect the Socialist Project to offer a view from the other side, especially given its professed support for “the national self-determination of the many peoples of the world” and ostensibly implacable opposition to neo-liberalism.

Unlike Kwinjeh, I am sympathetic to Zimbabwe’s project of national self-determination, I am implacably opposed to neo-liberalism, and while many of my articles have been published in Zimbabwe’s state-owned newspaper, The Herald, (none of which I submitted or was paid for) I have no membership in any political party in Zimbabwe, disguised or otherwise, much less a relationship as a founding member.

ISO’s Latest Silliness

Here’s what wrong with the MDC, according to the Zimbabwe section of the International Socialist Organization: “The increasing domination of the party leadership by capitalist and Western elites and the marginalization of workers and radicals…will lead to its likely pursuing a neoliberal capitalist agenda if it assumes power to the detriment of the working people.” [10]

Funny that it has taken this long for the ISO to figure this out. Here’s then MDC spokesman Eddie Cross, formerly vice-chairman of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, in advance of 2000 elections – eight years ago!

“We are going to fast track privatization. All 50 government parastatals will be privatized within a two-year time-frame, but we are going to go beyond that. We are going to privatize many of the functions of government. We are going to privatize the central statistical office. We are going to privatize virtually the entire school delivery system. And you know, we have looked at the numbers and we think we can get government employment down from about 300,000 at the present time to about 75,000 in five years.” [11]

Moreover, the principal role in the formation of the party played by the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, whose patrons are former British foreign secretaries Douglas Hurd, Geoffrey Howe, Malcolm Rifkind and whose chair is Lord Renwick of Clifton, should have provided more than an inkling of what was ahead.

So now that the ISO has belatedly figured out that the MDC is dominated by “capitalist and Western elites” and will likely pursue “a neoliberal capitalist agenda,” what does it recommend radicals and working people in Zimbabwe do?

Unconditionally support Tsvangirai. Yes, that’s right. “The ISO…has now modified its position to call for unconditional but fraternally critical support to Tsvangirai.” [12]

A Canadian connection: Roger Annis and John Riddel are part of a Canadian organization called Socialist Voice, whose web site links to The International Journal of Socialist Renewal, the journal in which ISO-Zimbabwe’s latest silliness appeared. A few years ago Annis and Riddel made essentially the same analysis, but in connection with Canada’s New Democratic Party. After taking the NDP to task for acting “as a faithful defender of the capitalist order,” whose parliamentary program hews “close to the Liberal model” and whose leader “opposes or at best abstains from … mass struggles” — closing with “they are committed defenders of capitalist rule” – the two recommended that “socialists…give critical support to the NDP.” [13]

Do these guys go to the same confidence trickster school?

Morgan Tsvangirai and the New Humanitarianism

During the run-up to the predatory NATO war on Yugoslavia, groups of people who came to be known pejoratively as “cruise missile leftists” and the “new humanitarians” sought to provide a new legal basis for Western imperialism by arguing that ideas of state sovereignty were no longer valid, and that the West should be free to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries on humanitarian grounds. The elevation of the Rwandan civil war to the status of a genocide helped, for calls for interventions in numerous places could be justified by the need to “to prevent another Rwanda.”

In an article published in the British newspaper The Guardian on June 25, Morgan Tsvangirai trotted out the same argument. ”Our proposal,” he wrote, “is one that aims to remove the often debilitating barriers of state-sovereignty” to open the door for “the words of indignation from global leaders to be backed by the moral rectitude of military force.”

So the military pursuit of imperialist goals has now become the moral rectitude of the West’s military force.

Tsvangirai Speaks the Truth

In the same article, Tsvangirai opines: “The battle in Zimbabwe today is a battle between democracy and dictatorship, justice and injustice, right and wrong.”

He’s right. The battle in Zimbabwe today is between the democracy of popular land ownership and self-rule and the dictatorship of rule by outsiders working through proxies; between the justice of Zimbabweans reclaiming the land that was stolen from them and the injustice of sanctions; between the right of struggle for national independence and the wrong of neocolonial oppression.

1. BBC, September 30, 2000.
2. Times Online, March 5, 2006.
3. Herald (Zimbabwe), March 27, 2008.
4. Sunday Times (UK), July 1, 2007.
5. The Zimbabwe Times, May 31, 2008.
6. Herald (Zimbabwe) June 25, 2008.
9. You can learn more about Kwinjeh here and here
11. John Wright, “Victims of the West,” Morning Star (UK), December 18, 2007.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Welshman Ncube impatient on Tsvangirai

What is on offer now is what is practicable: Ncube

by Basildon Peta Wednesday 20 August 2008

INTERVIEW: In our quest to seek a comprehensive understanding of why the Zimbabwe dialogue remains deadlocked, Basildon Peta also interviewed Professor Welshman Ncube, the chief negotiator in the Arthur Mutambara faction of the MDC, who expressed contrary views to those held by Tsvangirai.

QUESTION: A deal to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis remains elusive despite President Thabo Mbeki and SADC’s spirited efforts. Why?

ANSWER: It is elusive because it has been impossible to get all the three parties at the negotiating table to agree on essentially what this deal is about. If you take into account the positions as they stand now, it boils down to one thing in our view; Do you have a power sharing deal or do you have a power transfer deal. In our view the deal which is on the table now, which the SADC leaders spent long hours discussing with us – is essentially a power sharing deal. Regrettably, some of the parties (the Tsvangirai formation) did not find that deal adequate because they desired a power transfer deal.

Q: The Tsvangirai formation argues that the deal on the table will leave Mugabe’s powers intact and relegate Tsvangirai to a ceremonial prime minister’s role. Many agree that it is simply unreasonable to expect Tsvangirai to play a junior role in a Mugabe government when he beat him in the March 29 elections.

A: The SADC communiqué says the deal on the table is what is an appropriate, fair and equitable power sharing deal. And this is what the SADC leaders were trying to persuade all of us to accept. Regrettably some of us (Tsvangirai formation) did not accept it. But in our view we can say that the SADC resolution is a fair reflection of the facts on the ground . . . The executive function is the function of running government, of appointing and supervising ministers, of determining the day to day operations of government, of defining policy. If you exclude the leader of one of the parties from that completely, you are rendering whomsoever you have excluded ceremonial. That is why SADC found that the demands which are on the table (from Tsvangirai) are for a power transfer. And they were unable to endorse those. Which is why they endorsed what is on the table which is power sharing. I cannot go beyond that and I cannot go on a finger pointing expedition. But I go by the resolution of SADC which is essentially that what we have is a power sharing deal. Anything else is a power transfer.

I can go further and say that if you go by the results of 29 March, no single party can argue for transfer of power to itself because no single party has the absolute majority to say we are entitled to have power transferred to us. Consider the figures, ZANU PF has 99, MDC-T 100 and we have 10. For anyone to say that power ought to be transferred to themselves alone, they ought to have 106 seats in the House of Assembly. No one has that. The fact that you might have the highest number, does not entitle you to a transfer. You still need one of the other parties to stand in your corner before you can command 106 seats. MDC-T does not have the absolute majority to claim transfer of power to itself without sharing it with one or other of the parties.

Q: But their argument is that they formed a coalition with you. And that your coalition commands a comfortable majority of 110 seats.

A: Nobody can negotiate for us. We negotiate for ourselves. We are an independent political party. In the elections we contested against ZANU PF, we contested against MDC-T. We got the seats we got and we own those seats, and our role is to ensure that we play a constructive role. Our role is to ensure that we speak for the people who voted for us against MDC-T and against ZANU PF. So we cannot and we will not annex our votes to anyone. So we cannot agree with positions, we don’t believe are right. We have not done that. We will not do that. What was done by the leadership of the MDC . . . was to back MDC-T in the run-off. But the run-off was terminated prematurely when ZANU PF unleashed violence on the people. As things stand now, each of the MDC parties are independent of each other. Anyone who wants to work with any other will have to approach the other and have a deal. As of now, there is no deal with anyone. The discussions which took place between the two elections were founded on the fact that Morgan had won the 29 March election and would win the 27 June elections. That did not happen and therefore what was agreed then does not constitute a coalition.

Q: Don’t you think that the MDC would have been much more effective if they were speaking with one voice in these negotiations? The view in the world is that MDC-Mutambara has thrown its lot with ZANU PF and is siding with Mugabe?

A: We have no desire to finger point. We have conducted the dialogue with absolute integrity . . . The position we have on the table now is the deal we negotiated in the pre-planning stages and agreed on it with MDC-T . . . When we strategised together and when we planned together at the commencement of these negotiations, we targeted this deal. And now we have got it. We have no desire to finger point.

Q: Is MDC–T therefore overplaying their hand?

A: Let them answer and determine that. Let me say that when we started this dialogue, we had three positions. The one we felt would favour the MDC most was the one that would make Mugabe a ceremonial president and effectively achieve a power transfer. But we considered the extent to which ZANU PF went by blood, by stealth to get the presidency the manner it did. It was unlikely to agree to a power transfer by rendering Mugabe a ceremonial president. We said that would be the best deal if we can achieve it. But it’s unlikely for obvious reasons. We then said the other extreme position would be for ZANU PF to say they have the presidency. They say we are inviting all of you to a government of national unity led by us (ZANU PF). Pretty much like the 1987 unity government whereby the ZANU PF government was the leading partner in any coalition arrangement. We rejected this collectively because it would not be power sharing. The Third model which was in between these two, we categorised it as the Kenyan model. Which is where an executive president has executive power and an executive prime minister has executive power and they have to share this power and they have to make decisions as between themselves. Some of them by consensus so that no one feels that they have been booted out of holding executive authority. We thus aimed for the Kenyan model and achieved that model. We even achieved more powers for the prime minister than what Raila Odinga has. Which is why SADC heads of state, 15 of them, have agreed with that and hence their strong opinion as reflected in the communiqué. We stand by that position. We have been vindicated by the SADC position. If you want transfer of power, it will not happen because you need a period of transition during which each party will feel they have a stake in what is going on.

Q: But there are not necessarily 15 heads of state because Botswana has disagreed with that position and its leader boycotted the summit.

A: I don’t want to disclose to you what was happening in the meetings we had but I can assure you that Botswana was represented in those meetings with the leaders. Botswana was there and was having positions that were consistent with the rest of SADC. That I can assure you.

Q: So you are basically happy with this deal which Tsvangirai has rejected?

A: It’s not a question of happiness. It’s a question of what is practicable and what is possible in the circumstances. In our view what is on the table now is what is practicable under the circumstances.

Q: Tsvangirai specifically wants to chair and run Cabinet but Mugabe doesn’t. Would you urge Tsvangirai to drop that position for the sake of progress?

A: Look at the documents which were initially agreed buy all the parties before others withdrew their agreement. In terms of those agreements, the president chairs Cabinet, the prime minister is the deputy chair. That was the compromise which was reached. All three parties were at one point in agreement with that position. SADC has endorsed that as a basis for moving forward.

Q: But Tsvangirai would never had an opportunity to chair Cabinet as Mugabe’s two deputies would have acted in the president’s seat whenever Mugabe is not available?

A: That’s a re-interpretation of issues. The agreement that is there says there is a chairman and a deputy chairman of cabinet. In the absence of the substantive chairman, the deputy acts. At the negotiating table the argument you now raise was never put up.

Q: But on March 29, 57 percent of Zimbabweans rejected Mugabe. Why should Tsvangirai therefore not claim executive power and the right to chair and run Cabinet?

A: You can’t remake the rules after the game. The game was that you had more than two players. One of the players had to get 50 + 1 percent for power to move to him. That did not happen . . .

Q: Is Tsvangirai therefore being unreasonable ?

A: Again it’s not for me to decide whether anyone is being unreasonable or not. If you are a party to the negotiations you must be satisfied with what is on the table for you to sign up. I cannot question anyone’s right to decide not to sign. Any of the parties has an absolute right to say no.

Q: But the implication of what you are saying is that Tsvangirai is being unreasonable and ZANU PF and your side are the right guys?

A: No I have not said anything about ZANU PF in everything I have said to you so far. I have spoken about our position. I dare not speak for ZANU PF. I cannot speak for ZANU PF . . . All I am saying is that our view is consistent with the SADC resolution. It is our view that the deal on the table forms the basis of moving forward. But we recognise the right of any party to be unhappy and to seek more. The only question is whether those with the power to give more are willing to give more.

Q: What is the implication of reconvening Parliament as urged by SADC considering that the MOU had called for a delay until negotiations are completed?

A: The implication is that SADC is saying, despite the MOU stipulation that Parliament cannot be re-convened before this process has come to an end, as far as they (SADC) are concerned, everything has been done to build an agreement. A time has therefore come to say you cannot continue to say there is a vacuum in government. It is their view that the government of the day should proceed to convene Parliament. They have therefore effectively amended the MOU by saying that after all that has been done thus far, a vacuum in the Zimbabwe government cannot be left to continue. They (SADC) are therefore saying they cannot stop ZANU PF from convening Parliament if it’s inclined to do so.

Q: Where do we go from here?

A: Frankly I don’t know. It’s up to the facilitator and to SADC. They have not communicated to us as to what they intend to do in this respect. We will await their guidance.

Q: Why do you have to wait for them. As Zimbabweams why not initiate your contacts?

A: Of course that is possible if all the parties are willing. But if you want to talk under the facilitator, you have to wait to hear from him.

Q: What about the reported threat by your MPs to walk out if you remain aligned to Mugabe in these talks?

A: We have no positions that are aligned to Mugabe. We have our positions which are in line with what our national council has decided on the issues. I do not believe there is any of our MPs who hold the positions that are different from those of the national council If there is, I will be surprised.

Q: What about the facilitation process itself.

A: A facilitator is a facilitator. He can help the parties but he cannot decide for them.

Q: If deadlock remains, and if all fails what’s next?

A: If all fails then we are back to the to the trenches. – ZimOnline

Mutambara versus a subconsciously racist Geraldine Dooge.

Geraldine Doogue: My first guest on today's program is emerging from an incredible week of a behind the scenes chess-plays and horse-trading, all of which have led to major talks that start today in South Africa, and which could determine the fate of Zimbabwe.

Arthur Mutambara, is the leader of the faction within the Movement for Democratic Change that's led by Morgan Tsvangarai. Both men, plus Robert Mugabe and South African president, Thabo Mbeke, are participating in talks that many hope might culminate in some sort of National Unity government.

Now we've spoken to the ambitious Arthur Mutambara before and he's always enlightening, highly, about his country's politics, way beyond the newspaper headlines. The question is, is he acting at the moment as a noble circuit-breaker in this long-running tragedy or more as an opportunist?

I'm delighted that he could spare some time to talk to us at the start of a very busy weekend. Professor Mutambara, welcome back to Saturday Extra.

Arthur Mutambara: Thank you very much.

Geraldine Doogue: I'm going to read you a rather difficult old summary that I read in The Guardian newspaper this week, which said that you were a 'shameless opportunist who has appeared to be currying favour with his former enemies by parroting Mr Mugabe's anti-western rhetoric'. Now I take it that you fundamentally disagree with that summary?

Arthur Mutambara: Yes we do. What we have stated, we did a press conference on Wednesday and made it very clear that this is a tripartite negotiations framework. There cannot be a bilateral agreement out of this framework. Either all three principals agree and we have a solution in our country, or if one of them doesn't agree, then there's no solution. So there's absolutely no way that our party is going to cut a deal with Mugabe to the exclusion of Morgan Tsvangarai. So that must be understood without equivocation or ambiguity. We are in here because Zimbabwe is going through a humanitarian, economic and political crisis of immense proportions and we're driven by the national interest, we're driven by the desires of the people of Zimbabwe to move from poverty, from misery, to a justiciable environment in our country, and we are saying all the leaders, all the three political leaders must put national interest before self-interest.

Geraldine Doogue: So can I ask you, why did so many papers around the world get this wrong then?

Arthur Mutambara: Because they are very stupid, they are very stupid, it's as simple as that. In the first place, technically you can't have a bilateral agreement from a three-party negotiations framework. Secondly because the negotiations are being held with confidentiality so they didn't have the information. And there is also propaganda on the part of ZANU to try to put pressure on Mr Tsvangarai by saying to the world, 'If Mr Tsvangarai doesn't agree, we're going to work with Mr Mutambara, and we're saying, No, no, no. And the foolish journalist who has the nerve to believe that Mr Mutambara can cut a deal with Mugabe in this framework is sick in the mind.

Geraldine Doogue: Okay, that's a good rebuttal. Did you agree to anything that made the negotiations advance, then?

Arthur Mutambara: Okay. What we have done is that we've agreed on all issues, the three of us, Morgan Tsvangarai, Robert Mugabe and Mutambara. We've agreed to everything, except one issue, and I'm not at liberty to discuss that one issue, but I can say there's one issue which is outstanding and Mr Tsvangarai has asked for time out to reflect and consult on that matter. And we respect that because in any negotiations we must allow our colleagues the opportunity to reflect and consult.

Geraldine Doogue: So you're not going to tell us what that is, I take it?

Arthur Mutambara: Yes. But I will say on that issue we as a party have no problem with the current position in the negotiations. And so that's where we are in agreement on that particular issue Mr Tsvangarai is on his own. I must emphasise I am not beholden to Mr Tsvangarai. I am not beholden to Robert Mugabe. I'm a separate political party, holding the balance of power in our parliament, and will use that balance of power in the national interest. I am not bound to agree with Tsvangarai all the time. When I disagree with Morgan Tsvangarai I will go against him. I am a separate political party with its own existence. However, we hope that the negotiations are going to continue, Mr Tsvangarai will reflect and will be able to come out with an agreement that will be signed by the three principals. Right now nothing has been signed. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

Geraldine Doogue: Okay. So can I ask you this, which is what the world is waiting for, that Tsvangarai is looking for the transfer of real executive power from the President's office, to someone else. Now can you tell us, from your inside knowledge, whether that is on the table?

Arthur Mutambara: Well of course, as I said before, we are not allowed as part of this framework to negotiate in the media. We are only allowed to discuss those matters that the facilitator has allowed us to discuss. What I can tell you is that we are working towards a practical and reasonable and justifiable political settlement in our country, and most of the reports that are in the media are false, and we are hoping that the Zimbabwean political leaders will come up with an agreement. What we must emphasise, you think about the west that I'm parroting Mr Mugabe's language. Let me make it very clear, we are discussing as Africans, we are discussing as Zimbabweans, and will brook no interference from patronising westerners who make the following statements. For example, saying to us, 'We will not allow, we will not accept an agreement unless it's led by a particular leader.' Who are you to tell Africans how to run their affairs? If the three leaders agree on a particular position, it's not for Britain, it's not for Australia, it's not for America to say that we are wrong. Who are you? How dare you undermine our intelligence, how dare you are so racist to the extent that you can't guarantee us and give us the respect, the vote of confidence that we can make our own decisions.

Geraldine Doogue: Well, let...

Arthur Mutambara: You are collectively stupid...

Geraldine Doogue: Let me...

Arthur Mutambara .... collective foolishness. We won't allow Australia to judge our agreement. It's none of your business.

Geraldine Doogue: Let me bring up...

Arthur Mutambara: ...of Zimbabwe.

Geraldine Doogue: Let me bring up the issue of the...

Arthur Mutambara: I haven't finished. Secondly, you've individuals in the west. So you're saying to us that Zimbabwe are not capable of making a decision. With individuals and governments in Europe and America imposing sanctions while we are talking. We must not do anything to damage your rapprochement, the spirit of discussion while people are talking. If sanctions are imposed after the failure of the talks is a different matter. But to impose sanctions while we are talking is a travesty of justice and we're saying shame on you for expressing no confidence in Morgan Tsvangarai, shame on you for expressing no confidence in Mugabe, shame on you for expressing no confidence in Mutambara. We will not brook that nonsense.

Geraldine Doogue: Is it possible—and this is what I think some people with some memories are wondering—that you or Mr Tsvangarai could be walking into a trap as Joshua Nkomo did in the '80s, where it looked like a power-sharing agreement and in fact as you know...

Arthur Mutambara: I have a question. Do you think I am stupid? When you ask that question you think we are foolish and we are very offended that you think we are that stupid. We are smarter than the Australians, we are smarter than the Americans, we went to better schools than most of these leaders in America, in Britain and in Australia. I am coming out of Oxford. None of your prime ministers can challenge me intellectually. So how do you patronise me and tell me that I'm going to be hoodwinked by Mugabe. You are doubting my intelligence. Shame on you.

Geraldine Doogue: So you are quite confident that this veritable old-stager called Robert Mugabe is not going to emerge in the same level of power as before. You're quite confident of that, are you?

Arthur Mutambara: Very confident, because we know what we are doing. We are capable Africans, we are capable Zimbabweans. We are very clever people.

Geraldine Doogue: Let me just put something else to you about a very interesting observation made by an African man actually, writing in The African Executive, that the difficulty about African politics is that ethnicity can take centre stage long after the tribal war has been won, and he was suggesting that this has been a real problem for Zimbabwe and in trying to move to a new settlement, it does bedevil a lot of your efforts, no matter how difficult the crisis. Are you confident you can rise above that?

Arthur Mutambara: That is completely nonsense, which is not even worth my comment. Next question please.

Geraldine Doogue: So this is not—we should not...

Arthur Mutambara: Complete nonsense, not worth my comment. Can we have the next question please.

Geraldine Doogue: Okay, well so you're telling me by the sound of you, Arthur, and we've spoken to you a couple of times, you are starting to feel some real confidence that these terrible times that have afflicted your country, might be coming to an end?

Arthur Mutambara: We have cautious optimism. We're not over-confident, we have cautious optimism and we hope that all the political leaders in our country will put national interest before self interest. We are very, very keen that we are driven by what's good for the country, what's good for the people of Zimbabwe. Not what's good for Morgan Tsvangarai, not what's good for Mutambara, not what's good for Mugabe, or what's good for the west, what's good for America, Britain and so on—we should be driven by the Zimbabwean national interest and we're smart enough to be able to extract a reasonable deal from these negotiations, and there will be no bilateral arrangement. It will be a threesome agreement.

Geraldine Doogue: And so will the west not like what's going to emerge?

Arthur Mutambara: It can go to hell. Who are you? Do we judge your elections in Australia? Do we judge your elections and your agreements in America and Europe? Nonsense. If Tsvangarai agrees. Who are you in Australia to judge and say Tsvangarai is wrong?

Geraldine Doogue: So what in your view is the ideal outcome of this weekend's talk, Arthur Mutambara?

Arthur Mutambara: The best outcome is to get an agreement where Mr Tsvangarai, Mr Mugabe and myself say this is a good arrangement for our country. We all agree and are going to sign this document. This is the best short term answer to extricate our country from the worst situation in which it is. And I must emphasise that whatever we agree upon this weekend or the week after, it's a short-term answer. It's not the long-term solution for our country. The long-term solution for our country is to get a new people-driven democratic constitution, create a national vision, 20-, 30-year vision to make Zimbabwe a globally competitive economy, and hence economically transforming ourselves so that in terms of the capital income GDP, business growth, entrepreneurship, financial literacy we are one of the top 20 countries in the world. We are on a long journey to the promised land.

Geraldine Doogue: Thank you very much indeed Arthur Mutambara. Good luck.

Arthur Mutambara: Thank you very much.

Geraldine Doogue: And Professor Arthur won't forget these negotiations, will you, coming up this weekend. Let's watch with interest.

Arthur Mutambara is the leader of one of the factions of the Movement for Democratic Change.

Professor Arthur Mutambara
Leader, breakaway faction of the Movement for Democratic Change

Geraldine Doogue

Story Researcher and Producer
Muditha Dias

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Sunday, 17 August 2008

West’s divisive exploits more pronounced

West’s divisive exploits more pronounced


THE Sadc summit winds up in South Africa today amid great expectations for the future. The region has just gone through one of its most trying seasons since its formation.

Perhaps the other time that it had such challenging moments was when it was called upon to defend the Democratic Republic of Congo from foreign invasion — a task that only saw Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia respond.

The months leading to the South African summit have seen the divisive exploits of the West become pronounced, using Zimbabwe’s political and economic challenges as the pretext for weakening one of the continent’s strongest regional blocs.

The former colonial masters have never been happy at any attempt to unite Africa. Regional blocs such as Sadc are also seen as the building blocks for much stronger African unity. As a result they have been systematically weakened through divide and rule tactics. Ecowas in West Africa, with so much promise, has not been able to achieve much and so have the groupings in East Africa and North Africa.

But Sadc, born out of the liberation ethos of the Frontline States, has proved to be more resilient. Its roots in liberation movements have helped it survive even after it had transformed itself into an economic and trading grouping.

Yet it is the liberation movements that are in government in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and South Africa that the West wants either removed from power or their influence diluted. African nationalism gives the West sleepless nights, hence persistent attempts to replace it with neo-liberalism.

As South African President Thabo Mbeki takes over as chairman we can expect him to strengthen the regional body, which has not fared well in the last year under the chairmanship of Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa.

The region needs a leader who cannot be bullied by the West. Mbeki has repeatedly proved his mettle as a leader who stands his ground against the arm of imperialism. It certainly has not been easy for him mediating the Zimbabwean situation, where the British and the Americans want to impose their will on the people of Zimbabwe.

Africans must continue to demonstrate their ability to find solutions to their own problems, informed by their history and their culture.

It is for this reason that the region is shocked by the un-African approach over Zimbabwe taken by the new leadership of Botswana. Botswana President Retired Lieutenant-General Seretse Khama Ian Khama is boycotting the Sadc summit protesting the presence of President Mugabe whom he says he does not recognise as President.

This is a surprising stance taken by a president who is yet to face an election yet judges those that have repeatedly subjected themselves to elections.

But what is more surprising is Khama’s departure from the African way of dealing with disagreements, opting to go the way of the Europeans. This is, however, not consistent with the behaviour of previous Botswana heads of state such as Sir Kethumile Masire and President Festus Mogae, who were subjected to similar pressure from the Americans to make Botswana their project but still held on to their African values.

In recent months, Zimbabwe has come under extreme provocation from Botswana, but has resisted attempts to draw it into an open confrontation with its neighbour. Returning from the African Union summit early last month President Mugabe pronounced himself clearly on Zimbabwe’s relations with its neighbours.

He said Zimbabwe will continue to pursue a policy of good neighbourliness and peaceful co-existence. He said: "We don’t intend to fight any neighbour. We are a peaceful country, but if there is any country itching for a fight, let them try it and they will test the salt of that fight."

Good neighbourliness and peaceful co-existence must remain the guiding principle not only of Zimbabwe but also of all the other Sadc countries. Sadc must continue to move from strength to strength.

Succumbing to American projects such as the controversial United States African Military Command (Africom), which Botswana is coveting, will only have the effect of introducing a spirit of war and plunder into the region.

Wherever the Americans have introduced their political and economic projects, peace has evaporated. The Russian-Georgian conflict is just a case in point. Commenting on this conflict, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hit the nail on the head when he remarked: "I am just about certain that it was the United States president, the imperialist George Bush, who ordered Georgia’s troops to South Ossetia, killing innocent people, and Russia acted logically."

We may as well join him in saying we are just about certain that it is the same George Bush urging Botswana to pull out of Sadc and be a launch pad for war against peaceful neighbours.

Will Botswana be Sadc’s Georgia? Only time will tell.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Tsvangirai’s U-turn: The facts

Tsvangirai’s U-turn: The facts

By Political and Features Editor

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai signed 13 agreements with Zanu-PF and the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC formation before abruptly pulling out of the South African-facilitated talks on Tuesday evening, it has emerged.

Documents seen by The Herald show that Tsvangirai’s negotiators in the inter-party dialogue — Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma — were authorised by their party leader to append their signatures to the 13 agreements as and when they were reached.

However, on Tuesday, Tsvangirai presented the other two principals — President Mugabe and Mutambara — with a fresh position paper titled "Notes on the Dialogue to Date", which appeared to repudiate all the agreements already signed and would have set back the status of the negotiations by weeks.

At the time that Tsvangirai said he could not sign the final agreement, which President Mugabe and Mutambara had already endorsed, only four issues remained on the agenda.

It is understood that President Mugabe and Mutambara subsequently agreed on these issues, paving the way for Cde Mugabe to form a new Government and for the Seventh Parliament to start sitting following elections held earlier in the year.

The parties were putting their signatures to agreements as and when they were reached, meaning that the final settlement is a compendium of documents that had been assented to by the three principals.

The main issue that Tsvangirai was not amenable to, insiders revealed, was the framework of a new Government, which is an issue that was laid on the table on July 28, 2008.

Other outstanding issues were legislative agenda priorities (tabled on July 25), and implementation mechanisms and electoral vacancies (both tabled on August 5).

Below are the agreements:

l On the 25th of July, Tsvangirai agreed that sanctions were not targeted and the Western economic embargo was hurting the nation and should be lifted as a matter of urgency.

l Part of that agreement, titled Restoration of Economic Stability and Growth, reads: "All forms of measures and sanctions against Zimbabwe (must) be lifted in order to facilitate a sustainable solution to the challenges that are currently facing Zimbabwe."

l The three principals also agreed on the same date that there was undue external interference in the country’s domestic affairs and they would not tolerate the subversion of the sovereign will of the people of Zimbabwe by outsiders with vested interests that ran contrary to national aspirations.

l "The parties reaffirm the principle of the United Nations Charter on non-interference in the internal affairs of member countries.

"The parties hereby agree that the responsibility of effecting change of Government in Zimbabwe vests exclusively in and is the sole prerogative of the people of Zimbabwe through peaceful, democratic and constitutional means," they said.

l They added that they would "reject any unlawful, violent, undemocratic and unconstitutional means of changing governments" and that "no outsiders have a right to call or campaign for regime change in Zimbabwe".

Despite this earlier agreement, it is understood that in his new position paper Tsvangirai unconstitutionally wanted the foundation of the next Government to be premised on the results of the inconclusive March 29 elections — a demand that has been the cornerstone of Western opposition to Zimbabwe’s electoral processes.

Another interesting agreement that was reached was on the issue of land reform.

l On the 25th of July, the three parties said Britain must honour its Lancaster House obligations to fund land tenure reforms in the country.

l The parties called "upon the United Kingdom government to accept primary responsibility to pay compensation for land acquired from land owners for resettlement".

l It was also agreed that the issue of multiple farm ownership and productivity on farms be dealt with as a matter of urgency by the Seventh Parliament through the institution of a holistic land audit.

l On the issue of freedom of expression and communication, in an agreement that was also signed on July 25, the parties said: "(We) call upon governments that are hosting and/or funding external radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe to cease such hosting and funding."

l Zanu-PF, MDC and MDC-T also urged those journalists working for these pirate radio stations to return to Zimbabwe, get proper accreditation and start working for the good of the country rather than for its enemies.

l Other agreements signed were on State Organs and Institutions, Rule of Law, Respect for the Constitution and Other Laws, and Free Political Activity on July 25.

l The next day the parties signed agreements on the Security of Persons and Prevention of Violence, the National Youth Training Programme, Freedom of Assembly and Association, Traditional Leaders and Humanitarian and Food Assistance.

l On August 5, the parties signed an agreement titled Promotion of Equality, National Healing, Cohesion and Unity.

The insiders said everyone had been caught unawares when on Tuesday Tsvangirai brought to the table a document that made it appear as if no agreements had been reached.

It was at this point that the other two parties, in the presence of President Thabo Mbeki, decided they could not start the negotiations all over again and would proceed with the formation of an inclusive Government and the convening of Parliament.

Tsvangirai, the insiders said, would be accommodated in the new Government when he was ready to sign.

However, according to AFP news agency, Tsvangirai yesterday issued a statement in which he said: "We knew negotiations would be difficult, but a resolution that represents anything other than the will of the Zimbabwean people would be a disaster for our country.

"We are committed to a solution that recognises that the people spoke on the 29th of March, 2008," said Tsvangirai, in reference to the harmonised elections that failed to produce a winner in the presidential poll in which he was leading.

This result was overturned in the June presidential run-off election that President Mugabe won resoundingly and Tsvangirai has not challenged that result in the courts.

Insiders said Tsvangirai was parroting the same sentiments expressed by the United States, European Union and Britain.

He also repeated the same demand that Government should unban the NGOs that were being accused of sponsoring opposition activities in the

country with Western sponsorship.

"Without further delay, we are demanding that NGOs be allowed to resume humanitarian assistance — distributing food, medicines and life-saving assistance. This destructive policy of banning humanitarian assistance can be reversed with one letter," said Tsvangirai.

On the eve of the talks on August 8, the governments of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the UK and US, and the European Commission issued a similar demand.

"The magnitude of the humanitarian crisis requires the immediate and unconditional lifting of the suspension on all NGO field operations. Harassment of NGOs must cease immediately, and protection for humanitarian workers must be guaranteed. Timing is critical. Steps must be taken now in order for food to be available to those in need in future months," said the statement.

The government has accused these NGOs of using food to campaign for the MDC-T in the rural areas, which are the traditional stronghold of the ruling Zanu-PF.