Friday, 23 January 2009

MDC: The way to handle flip-floppers

MDC: The way to handle flip-floppers


IT IS long known that Morgan Tsvangirai is handled by the worst of the West.

That cannot be news. That cannot be the latest hurt to our body-politic.
It is an abuse long introduced and administered, and thus one which cannot take us from the field play, tears in eyes, nostrils drooling and sniffing, hearts sobbing.
Equally, it is long known that Tsvangirai is the proverbial whirlwind: always turning and turning, always ever widening the gyre. You cannot tether him to any agreement, to any principle, outside what his masters endorse.
Again, that cannot be a new discovery, a basis for a fresh, bleeding complaint.
To be consistently inconsistent: that is Tsvangirai’s contribution to national politics, indeed his fate as a person who is not himself ideationally.
After all, there is a causal link between his being some "others" politically — and those others are the British and Americans — and his continued political tergiversation.
In our name, in our interest
Both the British and Americans have the problem of nursing a grievance which is patently un-edifying, illegitimate.
It has got to do with challenging a natural and therefore inalienable right of a people recognised at international law, something which if not well-corseted, damns them to colonial knavery which history long granted them.
In fact their abuse of Zimbabwe is so deep that even the defence and justification for that abuse, does abuse Zimbabwe even much further, much deeper.
We are the reason Britain is fighting us, runs the British and American justification, all the time unrestrained by the sheer absurdity and paradoxical nature of it all.
Which is why the American law whose import is a sustained assault of this nation, is paradoxically dressed in the name of the same victim-nation, is dressed in the aspirations of Zimbabwe. It has been difficult to dislodge them from this cynical argument.
Keeping the underdog running
And that this senseless and seamed argument has resonated so far and wide on the globe, often getting repeated with the thoughtless ease of a hymnal chorus, attests to both our weakened capacity for counter-messaging, and of course to the overwhelming, flattening power Europe and America wields in global communication.
All the media are Anglo-American, to adapt Tunstall’s argument.
The strategy of sustaining a fight in which you wield enormous power and influence, but contrastively wield a weak cause and sparse legitimacy, is to keep shifting grounds for placing blame, to keep inventing new reasons and circumstances for incrimination.
That way, the just underdog is kept running and running until at some point it badly negotiates a sharp turn, in the process creating a vast outrage by tossing a prized pot to pieces.
The British have been so good at it that we have spiralled out, beyond and so far away from of the original argument that many around the globe hardly remember that the basic issue remains one of challenging and rejecting colonial rights which give us a servile status in Independence.
And to beckon the world to this founding grievance — founding dispute — today sounds like delighting in the old-fashioned and hackneyed. You seem so out of place, made worse by the fact that as with many other things, the vocabulary that carries the grievances of the underdog is always sparse, short and even inexpressive.
Prerogative of a harlot
You tell the world you are fighting British imperialism, or British neo-colonialism, or fighting for full independence and sovereignty, you sound pre-1989: old, hackneyed and irrelevant.
And that is an important issue of social and political control: the ability of imperial powers to render stale and obsolete words that describe and therefore carry the grievances and causes of the underdog.
Or the obverse: to render immutably fresh and powerfully communicative words that legitimise their unjust actions against the underdog and his interests.
To place your case in the court of global opinion is not just to struggle to find a vehicle which carts it there for firm placement; it is also to invent a new language and vocabulary that expresses it. Which means struggling to demolish a whole rich and ever expanding lexicon of empire, specifically designed to de-ligitimise and indict your cause.
Tsvangirai is borrowing not just a cause and the wherewithal for fighting it; he is borrowing an ever-renewed language for defending it. It does not matter how many times he flip-flops, how many times he behaves badly.
Against the law and common-sense, he remains the winner of the Zimbabwe elections.
Against a sensible power-sharing formulae, against even his own power-sharing suggestions, he remains "a pro-democracy leader" fighting "autocratic
Mugabe who will not want to give up power". Words are the defence or condemnation, language the verdict.
He can commit all manner of outrage; there will always be a role, a language cut out for his exculpation, placing him well beyond judgement and blame, indeed beyond scrutiny.
This is the privilege, the prerogative he has wielded and enjoyed with recklessness comparable to that of a harlot over times, to paraphrase Baldwin.
Instructing Tsvangirai to opt out
I raise this whole argument against the content and tenor of the Monday meeting which reportedly yielded a dummy for Zimbabwe.
In the first place I do not agree that the meeting yielded nil result.
Quite the contrary, it gave us a momentous result, the same way Sandton did, only to a media and world too glued to a narrow, partisan expectation and result to understand, let alone accept, anything else.
The Monday meeting spoke to an African constituency, arguably the only constituency that has always mattered in this whole dispute. It committed Africa to a position which is set to be adopted this coming Monday in Pretoria, and subsequently to be recommended to the whole of Africa the following week in Addis.
And that position is simply that MDC has acquired intransigence built into its politics not so much by the sheer power of its cause, as by the awesome powers behind it, led of course by Britain and America.
After Monday, it became obvious to Africa that Zimbabwe has become a battleground between right and borrowed might.
And this unsettling equation was communicated to South Africans — right in their face — by America’s Jendayi Frazer, apparently as a haughty parting shot as she sauntered to permanent oblivion.
After Mufamadi and Nkosazana Zuma told Frazer South Africa was not about to do America’s bidding on Zimbabwe, Frazer curtly replied: "In that case we shall instruct Tsvangirai not to join the inclusive Government."
All this after the American had fervently protested her country was not running Tsvangirai.
Indeed on Monday, Tsvangirai made sure there was no inclusive Government a day later, making true this foreboding parting shot from the Republican functionary.
And the harbinger was the fact that he drove to the American embassy soon after touching down that Saturday, from months of self-exile.
Crushing and burning Zimbabwe
But the South Africans and Mozambicans saw much more.
They saw a Zanu-PF which readily agreed to the Sadc position; they met an overweening MDC abusing Mbeki and recklessly reopening matters long closed, matters long gazetted, apparently to complete their rejection of the Sadc decision made in November last year in South Africa.
It was the let-Zimbabwe-crush-and-burn-and-we-pick-up-the-pieces Rhodesian political thesis, realised through an African player-king and a dozen princes.
The Sadc mediators did not see nation-builders in the MDC; they saw earth-scorchers, insiders incited to flattening ruin of own homestead by outsiders.
It is a challenge to Sadc whose goal surely cannot be ruinous politics, but the search for a helpful, nation-building engagement. At a personal level, both heads saw an abundant show of raw contumely, sheer impudence, made worse by little education.
You do not abuse leaders of other countries to that extent, and still hope for their goodwill. Or to join them in their ranks.
The happy outcome of Monday last is that Tsvangirai helped Zanu-PF reveal who he is, indeed gave Zanu-PF a third party endorsement on what it claims Tsvangirai is.
He showed little regard for past agreements brokered by outsiders; showed little respect for regional organisation and regional leaders. Indeed, he exhibited greater regard for London and Washington as polar opposites of Tshwane and Addis.
Paying him by his own coin
The MDC is quite aware of the clear outcome of Monday and the disaster which that outcome bodes for their party.
They are in a flurry, much of it unknown to the media.
Apart from the frantic lobbying they have mounted since that day, the media are unaware of a private meeting with President Mugabe which Tsvangirai sought and got on Thursday.
He tried a useless trick, namely of playing victim of hardliners in his party he claims are opposed to the inclusive government.
He hoped to urge and persuade President Mugabe to soften on MDC demands, on grounds that in that fashion, he would be able to outflank his rivals in his party.
Correctly the President beat the same ball right back to his court by pleading similar difficulties, urging him to straightaway head for the ceremonial State House for immediate swearing-in, so he too, could outflank radicals in his own Zanu-PF party!
But it was not so much the contents of the meeting, as the fact that such a meeting was ever sought, a mere three days after Monday.
Deracinated from own people
Still much more happened. Tsvangirai sought through a briefing to African ambassadors to regain precious ground damaged by the Monday meeting.
Expectedly, he blamed Zanu-PF for the debacle, before rounding up his presentation by stating categorically that as leaders, both President Mugabe and himself owed their people a settlement, given the degree of suffering now evident around the country.
He reiterated his commitment to the September 15 Agreement.
What was significant was what followed. The British and Americans hit the roof, reading another about-turn, another flip, another flop typical of a man wont to being many things to many people, different things to different people.
To the British and to the Americans, Tsvangirai must never owe it to his people. He must owe it to them, fullstop.
The sideshow in Budiriro was part of an acknowledgment of the bad politics of both Monday, and of the three to four months of absentee leadership.
Zvese izvi zviri mumaziso eSadc, eAfrica!
Defending Zimbabwe, not Zanu-PF
I repeat that Tsvangirai is a creature of the West, a politician who rises and falls by the western wave.
That cannot be news. What is striking is why it has taken us so long, both as Zanu-PF and Zimbabwe, and as Sadc, to evolve strategies for handling him.
Surely Sadc does not benefit from chattel politics and quisling politicians.
It cannot.
Why have we dignified this charade, thereby looking to outsiders as if we are unsure of what we stand for.
The politics which Tsvangirai and his MDC pursue do not warrant a political response.
They require processes that make him and his party essentially irrelevant to the people of Zimbabwe. What brings this about are not more concessions, but a demonstration that Zimbabwe in the context of Sadc can forge ahead without cutting deals with surrogate politicians.
What is important is to show the Zimbabwean people that we can forge ahead economically without legitimising politics which undermine our sovereignty.
Frankly speaking Zanu-PF has not marshalled national resources in defence of the country’s sovereignty.
It has not even altered the parameters of governance to show it is in the middle of a nasty fight against powerful enemies who seek to overturn national independence.
Equally, Sadc has not fine-tuned its politics in such a way that it can separate the defence of a regional principle from extending Zanu-PF leadership inside Zimbabwe. The burden of ensuring the continued hegemony of Zanu-PF in national politics is Zanu-PF’s, and should never worry or cloud Sadc, much as it might worry individual parties with origins in the liberation ethos. Zanu-PF can take care of its own survival. But Sadc must recognise that it cannot blunt its anti-imperialist stance merely for fear of being labelled pro-Mugabe, pro-Zanu-PF, and this by nations and interests that opposed its emergence as an independent sub-region.
The right to freedom and continued independence of Zimbabwe and its people cannot be made less deserved by perceptions of what government presides over them. Nor can it ever be imagined that an un-free Zimbabwe can yield a democratic government for its people, anymore that an un-free opposition is made righteous by Zanu-PF’s perceived failings.
It is that lack of clarity which has delayed a solution, weakened the rise of a strong solidarity against the British and the Americans.
Nyarota’s immodest proposal
Did anyone read Geoffrey Nyarota’s piece last week in which he boisterously sought to proffer a way forward on Zimbabwe’s political impasse?
His well-canvassed view was of an interim government precluding both Tsvangirai and Mugabe, to find a new crop of leaders who have not been tarnished by past politics.
He gets very specific, and identifies Justice Wilson Sandura as head of that interim administration which must prepare for another poll, this time minded by the UN.
I have always had a dim view of Zimbabweans who look wise and clever from afar, from outside Zimbabwe, while snugly settled inside the belly of the beast.
They have been here before, wielding instruments which guided national thinking and direction, one way or another. In that respect bearing direct responsibility, therefore, for where we are and how we have got there.
I do not need to remind anyone about the role of the Nyarota-edited Daily News in launching and pepping up the British political project called the MDC. In terms of parentage, the Daily News and MDC are cognate.
Or to remind anyone about his role in the subterranean or arcane politics of the time — some of which involved Rhodesian elements — to which he has since made a grand confession. Not even his current role in sprucing up Tsvangirai’s image, including his latest trip to Gaborone.
Or his latest public relations effort in defence of Selous Scouts whose project was recently busted. For him a needless flight at the behest of Uncle Sam exculpates, washes away all sins.
I am pretty!
But all this is not my main point. My real point is the implication of Nyarota’s proposal. I boldly state that Nyarota’s piece immodestly suggests himself as part of the leadership for his never-never interim regime.
By suggesting Justice Sandura as a fitting leader of an arrangement he proposes, and all that based on the good judge’s role in the Willowvale Motor Industries Inquiry, Nyarota is implying his own appointability to this monstrous creature he proposes.
He has always regarded himself as the hero of Willowgate, much as some of us know better. He has always sought greatness built around that episode to which he did no more that play passive publicist.
The real hero of Willowvale is there and known, and in Government too, something Nyarota finds most inconvenient.
But I have another point to make. The likes of Nyarota have a very bad complex to fight. He served in a Zanu-PF Government, and grew big and influential in that capacity.
He was an important cog in the Zanu-PF wheel, and became part of a cabal of trusted cadre-editors. I will not refer to errands he ran in Matabeleland, which could be a matter for another day. Yet he finds himself immersed in new politics, with new godfathers.
Membership to these new politics, new club is exacting, demanding that he shows and dramatises enormous rheum for his erstwhile benefactors in order to belong.
It is a huge price to pay, one which seems to make him quite ridiculous. No one begrudges him for his new, sumptuous find.
But let him enjoy it in silence.

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