Saturday, 20 September 2008

MDC-T: Keep your demos in check

MDC-T: Keep your demos in check

AS before, the media has once again failed in their duty to inform and enlighten through well-founded interpretation of events of the week. Copies of the agreement underpinning the hopes of an inclusive government in Zimbabwe were made available to all media houses. The media, thus, have no excuse for rigging facts and dishing out harebrained interpretations.

Well, before one even gets into the substance of the agreement, one is hard put to establish where the notion of Government of National Unity came from. It is not there in the Dar Declaration. It is not there in Sadc communiqués.

It is not there in AU documents. Simply not there. What is worse, it is not there in the documents agreed to by the parties. There is a whole world of difference between a Government of National Unity, on the one hand, and an inclusive Government, which is what is being worked towards in Zimbabwe, on the other. Is it being suggested that the two MDC formations and Zanu-PF constitute Unity and the Nation?

What September can’t do

Even with the best political agreement, they cannot constitute a Government merely on the strength of what they signed on September 15. The agreement of September 15 cannot create a Government, let alone one of national unity. If anything, the agreement subordinates itself to the historical quest for national unity.

Governments are creatures of hard and cold law, creatures of statutes, never of mere dalliance between erstwhile political rivals, however that fornication is consummated. True, a political agreement could help processes that could lead to a legal position that eventually founds a government, but first things first, please. What was signed on September 15 has no legal force, has no constitutional status.

Not before Amendment 19, and the document signed by the three political parties is aware of that.

What was signed on September 15 cannot be enforced by any court of law. It merely binds the signatories to the extent they want bound. It can collapse any day, any time. And even where this agreement gets recognised by the supreme law of the land, it does not mean its application will specifically refer to the three parties involved in the agreement.

After the 1987 Unity Accord, our Constitution did not provide a pride of place for Zapu and Zanu. It merely made room for two Vice Presidents. How these were appointed and from where, became a matter of politics, never of law. Cease this needless euphoria, dear media colleagues.

When three is not total

If the thing does not create a Government — any government — what more with a problematic value called National Unity? We had the Unity Accord of 1987: a lot greater, a lot geographically expansive, a lot more legitimate in advancing the national agenda than the thing of September 15. And yet it cannot pretend to have solved, caught and pinned down this elusive ideal called National Unity.

If it did, why talk about it after the September 15 ritual? Is three the totality of parties we have in the country? Is national unity coterminous with vying organised political parties? Is national unity a political question exclusively? The whole debate in the media does not suggest enlightened reportage, let alone commentary.

Instigating unconstitutionality

And then you have this self-feeding misconception of judging the agreement by how soon it delivers ministries and ministers; by how soon it concludes allocation of ministries between parties. No one in the media is talking about the substance of Amendment 19, itself the legal wherewithal for a governmental structure to emerge from the agreement. Why should an estate which claims to hold the executive in constitutional check itself play inciter to lawless unconstitutionality?

This is very dangerous ignorance, the type that inaugurates a lawless dictatorship with a full cheer. In the absence of Amendment No. 19, there will not be a Government or Cabinet which upholds the expectations contained in the agreement, full stop. Yes, President Mugabe can make a Government any day. But it can only be a Government founded on the present law.

It does not make sense to hail the Monday agreement and agitate for a "new" government and a "new" Cabinet while leaving out an intermediate and enabling legislative stage without which the hoped-for government may never arise. Where will the Prime Minister come from? Where will the two Deputy Prime Ministers come from? And the Council of Ministers? There is already a euphoric reference to Tsvangirai as Prime Minister-elect. On the basis of what?

You could have called him that from day one of his stay on this earth, as long as there was clarity that this belongs to the never-never realm of what-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up. Why dress these men with robes they are still to borrow from a man who has not arrived, from a man whose given-ness to lending is still to be ascertained?

Reading one’s eyelid

And then you have vacuous reading of the agreement if only to validate this gratuitous euphoria. Tsvangirai is called "mukuru wehurumende". Yaani? Irikupi? Do you need Baba Ribeiro’s Zinyimotenderera — that nefarious witchdoctor in the Shona classic Muchadura — to read the obvious? Is the agreement not clear that President Mugabe heads both the State and Government? How does a Prime Minister who is Head of Government become Deputy Chairman of Cabinet, itself the principal instrument for governing?

Why does the media read what MDC wanted from the deal and not what it actually got from it? And this horribly misunderstood Council of Ministers? Why read it as supervisory to Cabinet when, in fact, it plainly implements Cabinet decisions, and is made up by all Cabinet ministers? Is an administrative arm executive and policy creating? We seem to have a problem of elementary comprehension. Or is it wilful under-understanding? Need we wonder to read headlines like "The centre has moved . . ."? Moved to where? The centre has not moved; it has merely accommodated a lost son. The MDC knows that.

The unread agreement

What this misreporting does is to create unnecessary tensions and pressures, especially in MDC-T who end up overplaying their hand to approximate the wild expectations primed by themselves and the media. The aggressive euphoria that greeted the signing of the agreement on Monday revealed a mass duping of MDC supporters by their dishonest leadership. It was as if they had won power.

Their hungry supporters who massed at the mouth of Rainbow Towers as their leaders were further swelling their already distended stomachs, all looked drunk with well contrived misapprehension. "Zizi razomera nyanga dzenhoro," they chanted, quite convinced Mugabe was out, Tsvangirai in! None had seen, let alone read, the agreement which The Herald went on to reproduce. To this day, very few have read the agreement. Yet the party goes on, and with it great expectations of a power shift which will never materialise.

There is even an expectation that all by-elections will be frozen through an agreement which is said to automatically cede vacant seats to whichever party won them in March! Plea-a-a-se! Give us a break. Democracy, which for the MDC was the acme of their agitation, suddenly takes a step back for the agreement?

Beyond the media miasma

What I like about the present discourse is how real issues are breaking through this miasma of media confusion. I followed with evident fascination Supa’s discussion with John Robertson and Ambassador Mutsvangwa. Robertson made it plain the agreement fell short in that it did not resolve the land question.

Clearly for him, resolving the land question meant ceding land back to white colonials so they go back to their vast estates of yore. It is an argument which is being played up by the British quality Press, principally the Financial Times and the Economist. Slowly, Britain and her settlers here are divesting themselves of all pretences.

They are angry that the preamble tied MDC to the Zanu-PF rhetoric on Third Chimurenga. They are not appeased even by promises of an Independent Land Audit which MDC-T has been agitating for, but whose operationalisation is sure to draw blood redder than the setting sun.

Who will be in it? Who will dare go to the countryside to start processes calculated to appease Hawkins and Robertson’s yearn for a return to settler agrarian policy? Then you will have a real war here of the kind not even America can put out.

Ousting Mugabe

The second issue relates to mining claims and mining rights. Again, the Anglo-Saxon interest is evident. As with land, this hitherto hidden interest is beginning to obtrude so insistently, betraying what has always been at the core of British intrusion into local politics here. And for me, this is exactly the value of the thing that was signed on Monday: it had removed all pretences that encrusted on the so-called political question here.

Real motives are becoming much easier to see and read and thus much easier to respond to. I made this point last week. And because of these two vital interests which have to be vindicated by the MDC, the validity of the Monday agreement rests on its capacity to oust President Mugabe who is read as the principal impediment for the reintroduction of British hegemony here. And the British establishment is pretty candid about it nowadays. Mugabe is no longer omnipotent, but still needs to be watched, cries out one. Mugabe is gone, cries another. Down but not yet out, cries yet another.

Bringing back B-MATT

A more sophisticated view is one that sees the agreement as a major step in by the MDC in its British-inspired long but unremitting campaign for Mugabe’s eventual ouster. And from a Western perspective, Mugabe is as good as the generals who keep his army. That is why Dyck and B-MATT are coming back into the discussion, seemingly with the blessing of naive "Prime Minister-elect".

That is how Gono’s sacking is coming into view. That is why security ministries, finance, information, local government, justice and women affairs must go to the MDC.

The agreement is read as a prologue to a phased putsch! And, of course, the IMF is beginning to dangle its poisoned chalice. It is ready for dialogue. So is the EU and America provided the agreement reveals where real power lies!

Even UNDP has come into the equation, stressing Zimbabwe needs huge infusions from the West, principally from Britain and America! What temerity! I hope the gentle reader is beginning to visualise the point I was at pains to convey last week. The game has started and Zanu-PF needs its most living God to get the better of this massive attempt on it.

Reading from 1987

MDC could emerge the biggest loser if it is not careful. And one does not see much sign of great care. In the first place the demos are on the negotiating table. MDC seems intent on deploying raucous yells and catcalls at the negotiating table. Except anyone can do that with even better results than tMDC can ever hope to achieve.

The rude crowd which MDC mobilised into HICC and at the entrance of Rainbow Towers will not help its case, let alone advance its interests. Judging by what I saw at this week’s Central Committee meeting, MDC is fast losing its interlocutors.

Secondly, MDC does not appear to have benefited from its recruitment of Reverend Canaan Banana, now late. A principal player in the Unity Accord of 1987, MDC should have got a few tips on such agreements from him. They did not, apparently and they seem to muddle. You do not negotiate with your eyes set on tomorrow’s headline. Or rely on little boys like Chamisa when dealing with a mature party like Zanu-PF.

Thirdly, you do not build expectations that will return to haunt you tomorrow. Zanu-PF is not about to capitulate. It will not dismantle its mandate, make no mistake about it. It will seek to accommodate, yes, work with its opponents until confidence is built.

Only then will it entrust greater responsibilities. The story of the Unity Accord is plain for all to see. And the late Joshua Nkomo was right to say: "Unity is what follows." Inclusivity is not what begins. It is the promise of it.

How not to do it

Lastly, there is something called confidence building. You do not achieve this by making demands that betray an attempt to achieve for the British what they failed to get through the ballot. Why would MDC want B-MATT here? What would MDC want a white colonel as commander of the army? Why would MDC want control of ministries that seem calculated for a retributive agenda?

Why would Tsvangirai embark on a food assessment programme apparently after a nod from the American Ambassador? Is it about food or about using the dire food need in the countryside to further his long-held political agenda? Is he Prime Minister already?

People are up to here with anger and frustration. At this rate it may not be long before tenuous cords snap. After all, the agreement is clear. It gives the President the power to allocate ministries "after consultation" with VPs, PM and DPMs. He does not have to adopt their views. The real game begins.




Anastácio Soberbo said...

Hello, I like this blog.
Sorry not write more, but my English is not good.
A hug from Portugal

Anonymous said...

You tell it like it is my man. I like your style. MDC-T should be thrown out of the Unity Government today and not tomorrow. They are making a mockery of our history, our President and our sovereignty. MDC-T travel to the UK and refuse local Zimbabweans to join some of their meetings with the British authorities. What are they discussing in private, we ask ourselves? I heard promising ACR our diamonds. The longer we keep Biti as Minister of Finance and the MDC-T, the more supporters we are losing in Zanu PF. Pasi na Tsvangirai pamberi na President Gabriel Robert Mugabe. Zanu PF should now take the Ministry of Finance and chuck the MDC-T out of Government now.