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Great hope and optimism for Zimbabwe

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Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 by Dewa Mavhinga

Recently I was at a function in London when, upon introducing myself as a Zimbabwean, someone ventured to ask me a question I have become very much accustomed to now, ‘so, what has changed with this new government?’ In response I explained that as far as I was concerned, there had been no fundamental change in political direction and that the levers of power remain firmly in the hands of those who wielded power in 1980 and as such, we are not really in a new political dispensation as yet. The person who asked the question was clearly unimpressed, he pointed out that in fact he had information that ‘a lot of positive changes’ had taken place in Zimbabwe and cited the so-called miracle reduction of inflation from 231 million percent to just 1.1 percent as an example some of the positive changes that are not being highlighted. He then noted that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and international media have a tendency of reporting only negative news on Zimbabwe because, he quipped, ‘good news does not sell.’ It appears this is a generally held view among some international observers which I wish to address in greater detail here.

Well, I do not see how my grandmother in Bikita would take comfort in the miraculous reduction in inflation because she still does not have access to foreign currency. The switch-over to use of foreign currency which cured inflation in one stroke may be significant to political elites but certainly makes little difference to ordinary men and women in Zimbabwe who continue to suffer. It is like focusing on improving working conditions for those who are employed when 94 percent of Zimbabweans are unemployed!

Personally, and I am confident many other Zimbabweans share this view, I desperately desire to hold great hope and optimism that Zimbabwe’s future is bright and that political change has come. I want to be able to proudly tell the world that Zimbabwe is open and ready for business. I want to tell anyone who cares to listen that my country is a beacon of democracy and persuade investors to rush to Zimbabwe and do business with my countrymen. It is my wish that l should tell the world that violence, human rights abuses, police brutality and repression belong to the past. Unfortunately, sadly, that would be untrue; I would be telling blatant lies if I were to lay claim to such things. Creating false hope and false images of change does not bring the desired change to Zimbabwe.

It appears to be that the desire to be ‘positive’ about Zimbabwe and project a positive image of Zimbabwe may have led some of our erstwhile colleagues who now occupy high political offices to massage the truth and polish the rough edges of reality in their presentation of the situation in Zimbabwe. All of a sudden, themselves victims a compromised and corrupt court system, because they are now part of government, they believe there is rule of law and that their colleagues who face various politically motivated charges must face trial by ‘impartial courts.’ One minister from the smaller MDC faction, when asked why farm violent farm invasions were continuing unabated responded, ‘government is broke, we do not have financial resources to deploy police to stop the invasions.’ Was this not precisely the same political excuse given by the police in 2000 when farm invasions began?

Clearly, but for reasons as yet unclear to me, many former advocates of rule of law and democracy who are now in government have become shameless liars quite ready and comfortable to sing from the same hymn book with those who once persecuted them.

Being frank and truthful about the minute changes that have taken place in Zimbabwe does not make one a pessimist. My great hope and optimism for Zimbabwe lies in the hope that there are many who will realize that the struggle for democracy and good governance does not end when one gets a seat at the high table; that is precisely when the struggle begins. Only the truth will set our leaders free, and, in the same vein, set us all free.

Propaganda disguised as gospel news

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Monday, June 8th, 2009 by Dewa Mavhinga

For me, nothing can be more revolting than ‘men of God’ taking the Lord’s name in vain. In Zimbabwe there is a curious breed of ‘men of God’ who are shamelessly peddling ZANU-PF propaganda in the name of God. There is a cadre of ZANU-PF activists who masquerade as Christians and purport to preach virtues of forgiveness, national healing and peace when in fact all they are doing is covertly convey ZANU-PF messages to an unsuspecting clergy. This is unfair; it is only fair that l reveal to the public, for the avoidance of doubt, that these so-called Bishops and pastors are agents of the regime.

For those familiar with Zimbabwean politics l know already you have in mind ZANU-PF activists like: the dubious but prominent churchman, Reverend Obadiah Musindo (a convicted rapist who once described Mugabe as a ‘Black Moses’ and denounced MDC in his prayers) who heads Destiny Africa Network; yet another convicted rapist and ZANU-PF supporter, Madzibaba Pastor Lawrence Katsiru of the apostolic sect who terrorized Marondera in the cause of ZANU-PF; Madzibaba Nzira, also a convicted rapist who at one time “prophesied” that Mugabe was Zimbabwe’s rightful ruler; and die-hard ZANU-PF supporter, Mugabe praise singer and war veteran, disgraced Bishop Nolbert Kunonga who was excommunicated for the Anglican Church. In August 2005 Kunonga appeared before an ecclesiastical court facing numerous charges of bringing the church into disrepute including by bringing militant ZANU-PF politics to the pulpit.

Apart from these, we have more subtle and smooth supporters of ZANU-PFs disguised as churchmen, one of whom is Bishop Trevor Manhanga, who, of late, has been actively supporting embattled Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono. At a funeral of Gono’s brother, Bishop Manhanga reportedly said there can be no national healing if people continued to call for Gono’s departure. In a recent opinion piece titled “Time to end the blame game,” claims that for Zimbabwe the real issue is not for Gono and Attorney General to go because next people will call for Augustine Chihuri, Perence Shiri, Happyton Bonyongwe and Constantine Chiwenga to go as well and finally for Mugabe to go. And according to Bishop Manhanga getting rid of these liabilities would be tragic and disastrous for Zimbabwe.

Interestingly, in a piece calling for the blame game to end, Manhanga immediately assigns blame to ‘those outside our borders,’ for orchestrating calls for Gono and Mugabe to go. And he states with finality that, ‘It will not happen.’ This ZANU-PF activist-cum-man of cloth then, in feigned piousness, lectures that now is the time for national healing and declares that it is time for all of us to be magnanimous.

My direct response to Bishop Manhanga is that for Zimbabwe, the past is the future. There can be no going forward without addressing the sins of the past and without holding to account those in ZANU-PF who have killed and maimed hundreds in Zimbabwe. What national healing is possible without justice? If Manhanga and his handlers think that Zimbabweans will forget how they were butchered and persecuted merely for expressing a different political view then he is in for a rude awakening. If Manhanga thinks that Zimbabweans will not see that under his church robes his is putting on a ZANU-PF t-shirt then he will be shocked to discover that his true identity and relationship to ZANU-PF is not so secret.

It feels me with outrage to read utter rubbish about national healing and moving forward from a so-called Bishop who did not lift a finger when human rights and MDC activists were being abducted and tortured in broad daylight. Talk of hypocrisy. Which Bible is Manhanga reading? Does the Bible not say in Amos 5:24 ‘Let Justice run down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream?’ And did Jesus Christ not condemn his kind when he said, ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.’(Matthew 7:15).

Bishop Trevor Manhanga, please, do not insult the collective intelligence of Zimbabweans by propagating ZANU-PF propaganda disguised as gospel news and thinking we will be fooled. That will not happen. The tribe of political activists abusing the church pulpit must know that we will unmask them and engage them as they truly are, that is, ZANU-PF puppets and stooges.

Now is the time for patriotic Zimbabweans to come together and demand justice and accountability from those who hold political office. Now is the time to demand that the inclusive government delivers justice and bread to the people. We do not eat the presence of MDC in government, what we want are results on the table. We do not give flaming flamingos if MDC has a minister in charge of home affairs, what we want is change in the conduct of the police and tangible evidence that they now respect people’s rights. Otherwise of what use is it that Giles Mutseyekwa of MDC is co-minister in Home Affairs but MDC and human rights activists are being tortured, persecuted and harassed by police?

In Service to My Conscience and My Country . . .

So this is Sovereignty?

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Friday, April 3rd, 2009 by Dewa Mavhinga

I recall how President Mugabe and ZANU-PF invoked national sovereignty at every rally and in every campaign message and managed to retrieve the phrase from relative obscurity to national prominence. Virtually the entire nation had heard about sovereignty, albeit, without necessarily knowing what it meant. Sovereignty was indeed ZANU-PF’s mantra.  It was the magic word that would instantly send supporters into frenzy. ZANU-PF repeatedly warned the electorate to use their votes to defend Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and make sure that ‘Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.’

By sovereignty President Mugabe and ZANU-PF probably meant the right to be left to do as they please with Zimbabwe without the international community being able to say or do anything. On a number of occasions President Mugabe publicly declared something along these lines, “Blair, keep your England and l will keep my Zimbabwe.” And recently, President Mugabe (at some function during the worst cholera crisis in Zimbabwe’s history) simply and matter-of-factly declared, “Zimbabwe is mine…”

Now it appears all this talk about national sovereignty was disingenuous; meant only to hoodwink the (quite often) gullible electorate. At present all talk about sovereignty has suddenly become irrelevant and has been replaced by pleas for international assistance to fund Zimbabwe’s economic recovery program. A country that elevates and celebrates sovereignty now has to rely on international aid to pay its security forces and diplomatic missions (along with everything else). Government coffers are empty and l am reliably informed that Zimbabwe’s diplomats and diplomatic staff have not been paid a cent in ages!  Money to pay the diplomats, soldiers, police, prison officers and CIO is expected to come from international aid! The so-called defenders of Zimbabwe’s sovereignty will get their salaries from international donors. At least ZANU-PF has finally realized that people do not eat sovereignty. Or maybe this is a new form of national sovereignty?

The security forces must now realize that in a globalised world, there is no such thing as absolute sovereignty where a country can do as it pleases without some action from the international community. They must also realize that, since the international community is paying their salaries, they have a legitimate reason to expect the forces to conduct themselves in a professional manner. Zimbabwe has a responsibility to act responsibly and the international community expects each State to do its duty. Without a serious commitment to a respect for human rights by Zimbabwe, the international community runs the risk of being accomplices in human rights abuses in Zimbabwe when they pay those who perpetrate a reign of terror.

And finally, to the Honourable Prime Minister, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, please do not prematurely declare that Zimbabwe has reformed before there is evidence in hand. I hope your attitude to ZANU-PF is not in any way being influenced by the saying: “if you can’t beat them, join them.” The struggle for democracy, freedom and human rights did not end with the consummation of the inclusive government, it is just beginning. And so the struggle continues unabated.

Unpacking Zimbabwe’s plea for SADC Aid

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Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 by Dewa Mavhinga

On Monday, 30 March 2009, SADC leaders converged at Lozitha Royal Palace in Mbabane, Swaziland to consider a US$10billion economic recovery aid package for Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was represented at the extraordinary summit by President Robert Mugabe of ZANU-PF and Finance Minister Tendai Biti of the MDC.

On the face of it, this was a very unusual meeting; the size of the aid needed and the targeted potential donor (SADC) made the whole affair strange. Firstly, Zimbabwe needs about US$10 billion in its begging bowl; SADC simply does not have that kind of money to throw around. Mozambique, like several other SADC countries, relies on donor funds for more than 80% of its own national budget needs. Most of the SADC member states themselves are beggars to whom another beggar, Zimbabwe was now turning. The only country with some financial muscle to speak of is South Africa. However, at the end of the meeting South Africa pledged just US$30 million to be disbursed in batches of $10 million over the next 3 months.

The extraordinary summit, as expected, failed to come up with the much needed aid. Instead, the summit did three highly significant things. First, it pledged support for Zimbabwe’s fundraising efforts. Second, the summit ‘urged the developed countries to lift all forms of sanctions against Zimbabwe as these sanctions will undermine the country’s and SADC efforts to normalise the situation in that Member State’. And, finally, the summit ‘established a Committee of Ministers of Finance comprising South Africa, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Botswana, Zimbabwe as well as the Executive Secretary of SADC to coordinate SADC support to the Zimbabwe recovery process.’

It was clear from the outset that SADC would not have the kind of money Zimbabwe was asking for, so that could not have been the main objective of the extraordinary summit. This was, l submit, not just another fundraising summit. It was a carefully planned manoeuvre by President Mugabe and ZANU-PF to neutralise the MDC and steal the limelight. It was a desperate attempt on the part of ZANU-PF to revive its propaganda and disguise it as a SADC position. Such a revelation would explain why President Mugabe travelled to Swaziland in person. How, one might ask, would a SADC summit that fails to give aid neutralise MDC?

We need to understand that the inclusive government in Zimbabwe is made up of rival political parties that are already looking to the next elections and scheming accordingly. Zimbabwe’s economy is in the intensive care unit and urgently needs to be revived. The only way to revive the economy is to get aid from external sources. The party that secures aid, and therefore revives the economy will get the credit in the eyes of the electorate. It is common cause that MDC is widely viewed as having friends in the international aid community and that ZANU-PF has burnt all bridges with the international donor community. Therefore, ZANU-PF’s political challenge would be how to secure aid without giving credit to MDC. And this is where the SADC Summit comes in.

The SADC Summit’s true purpose was to get SADC to collectively accept and endorse ZANNU-PF’s rhetoric and propaganda that Zimbabwe’s economy was destroyed by the ‘cruel sanctions of developed nations’ and that continuation of such ‘sanctions’ would undermine any efforts by Zimbabwe and SADC to normalise the situation in Zimbabwe. The SADC Communiqué at the end of the Summit embraced this view and by so doing achieved two things; it explained both the past failure of Zimbabwe’s economy and the potential future failure to revive the economy as a direct consequence of sanctions. We all know very well that this is nonsense. The so-called sanctions that exist are travel restrictions targeting ZANU-PF politicians that were put in place for reasons not yet addressed; reasons such as absence of rule of law, wanton human rights abuses and bad governance.

The SADC Summit Communiqué further proclaimed support for Zimbabwe’s fundraising efforts and immediately set up a ‘Committee of Ministers of Finance comprising South Africa, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Botswana, Zimbabwe as well as the Executive Secretary of SADC to coordinate SADC support to the Zimbabwe recovery process.’ This is a classical diplomatic coup that ZANU-PF pulled. It means MDC is no longer responsible for fundraising for Zimbabwe, but instead, SADC has that mandate, and necessarily, MDC cannot claim to have rescued the country and brought it back from the brink of collapse. Looking to elections ahead, l can predict ZANU-PF will be quick to dismiss the contribution of MDC and give all credit to ZANU-PF and the SADC Coordination Committee tasked with fundraising in Europe and the United States. The mandate of the SADC Coordination Committee is to ‘visit major capitals in Europe, Asia and America as well as major financial institutions to mobilise support for Zimbabwe’s economic recovery programme.’

The other purpose that the SADC Summit serves for ZANU-PF is that it gives ZANU-PF opportunity to save face and justifies going to the west to beg under some twisted logic that in fact ZANU-PF has not changed its stance, but rather, it is the west merely lifting sanctions. It would be interesting to find out from ZANU-PF what became of their glorified ‘Look East Policy.’ One would have expected China to be the knight in shining armour riding to Zimbabwe’s rescue. The problem with President Mugabe and ZANU-PF is that they are in denial. They are in denial about the huge role they both played in destroying the economy through mismanagement, cronyism, corruption and use of knee-jerk reaction policies such as the ill-fated look east policy. They are in denial that they have failed to deliver and as such must necessarily step aside and allow fresh brains and fresh blood to try new policies. Therefore, the driver who refused to take directions from anyone and landed us in this ditch, still insists on (ostensibly) driving us out of the ditch, and again, believes he knows the right direction! God have mercy on us.

The unfortunate part of it all is that for the past ten years of struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe, ZANU-PF has managed to run circles around SADC with the result that SADC has become a mere appendage of ZANU-PF unable to independently and objectively come to the aid of the people of Zimbabwe. Quite ironically, the same SADC, in the same Summit Communiqué, had quite strong language for Madagascar where a military coup took place two weeks ago. SADC leaders said they, ‘condemned in the strongest terms, the unconstitutional actions that have led to the illegal ousting of the democratically elected Government of Madagascar and called for an immediate restoration of constitutional order in the country’. SADC suspended Madagascar, with immediate effect, from participating in any of its organs until it returns to normalcy. Talk of double standards!

A new kind of politics

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Saturday, March 28th, 2009 by Dewa Mavhinga

I have had a small privilege of living in, and closely observing the politics of a number of countries outside Zimbabwe. It is that exposure that brings me to my present reflections on Zimbabwean politics. Having been born and bred in Zimbabwe, where politicians are literally worshipped and elevated to  levels of sanctimony and divinity, l was pleasantly surprised to observe that in some jurisdictions politicians are treated as (and actually behave like) ordinary people. I believe Zimbabwe needs a new kind of politics. I present this appeal to MDC to bring a breath of fresh air on the national political scene and break free of ZANU-PF politics that have characterized Zimbabwe for the past three decades. The following could points for MDC leaders to reflect on:

Political leaders must be accessible to the people. In order to effectively represent the people, the leader must ensure that people have clear ways of reaching him or her with their problems. The culture we had become accustomed to in the past 30 years is of leaders who only become visible and accessible during election time but quickly vanish once they have gotten the vote. MDC leaders must take care not to make this mistake of taking the electorate for granted. Some political leaders make the common mistake of thinking that forever pretending to be busy enhances one’s importance in the eyes of the community and that accessibility makes one too common. Of what use is a leader who is not available to deal with the problems and concerns of the electorate?

A belief widely held is that perhaps the quickest way to riches is via politics. Instead of serving the people, the preoccupation is accumulation of wealth through abuse of political office. In 2005, the then ZANU-PF provincial Chairman for Mashonaland West, Philip Chiyangwa is reported to have said, “Do you want to get rich? Then join ZANU-PF.” For many MDC leaders, due to the obvious vulnerability arising from rather unfortunate financial circumstances, keeping on the high ground may prove to be a challenge of note. It is encouraging and worth celebrating, if true, that MDC Senator David Coltart did not accept the government ministerial Mercedes Benz car offered to him. To refuse the conventional ‘symbol of power’ is indeed a symbol of principle. It sends a powerful message that one is not in a position of leadership for the financial benefits that may come with it. Our political leaders are urged to learn the virtues of a simple life of selfless service to truth and justice.

MDC leaders have a challenge to demonstrate that it is possible to be a politician and an honest person at the same time. After decades of being taken for granted, being lied to and a litany of broken promises, the people of Zimbabwe, l believe, are looking for honest political leaders who deliver on their promises. Politics is not about making promises that one cannot deliver; it is about being honest, truthful and frank about the situation. An anecdote is often told of a politician who believed that politics was all about making promises, no matter how irrelevant to the circumstances. At one rally the politician promised to build a bridge for the community. When it was pointed out that there is no river in the area he went on to promise to build a river first! In the same vein of keep promises, l ought to mention it here that there is a tendency in Zimbabwe for people generally and political leaders particularly, not to value time. Almost invariably, my meetings with political leaders in Zimbabwe tend to be well after time of appointment. And yet this does not seem to bother them. This attitude of not placing value on time at present permeates most government departments. People wait for hours to be served, not because there is a reason for the delay, but simply because people have become accustomed to that casual approach to work and time.

For those who learnt their politics at the feet of ZANU-PF, humility is anathema. For them the mark of leadership is arrogance and aloofness. Without humility it is impossible to accept criticism as a legitimate and essential aspect of democracy. Within ZANU-PF no criticism is tolerated. Those who sought to criticize the leadership soon discovered that there was a high price to pay. Edgar Tekere, Eddison Zvobgo, Dzikamai Mavhaire and Jonathan Moyo are but examples of people victimized merely for criticizing ZANU-PF. The war mentality that views criticism as betrayal must be eradicated. We must feel free to openly disagree and criticize our political leaders without feeling that we have instantly become enemies or that we need to look over the shoulder all the time as a result. Many of those still practicing the politics of yesteryear have become completely cut off from the people and have, as a result, lost the common touch. I remember, at the height of the cholera crisis, l engaged in animated debate with a colleague over whether President Robert Mugabe, ensconced at State House, really had any idea what ordinary people were going through in their daily lives. We wait to find out if our erstwhile colleagues in MDC will keep the communication lines open to listen and engage. Some political leaders have perfected the art of pretense; of listening without really listening. Such an art has no place when leaders see it is as their duty to genuinely engage with the people. Only when politicians begin to genuinely listen to the electorate can they begin to look beyond their personal interests to those of the community at large.

Political leaders ought always to use the kind of language that promotes national healing and nation building. Surely we have had enough of the kind of venomous verbiage that Nathaniel Manheru spewed and splattered every Saturday. Even political slogans of chanting, ‘Down with so and so!’ should be a thing of the past.

The MDC must quickly move to enhance genuine participation of women in reconstruction, national healing and nation building and move away from the ZANU-PF approach of mere tokenism. If one considers ZANU-PF’s national heroes as a measure of participation in national political life, one would note that of the 75 people today buried at the National Heroes Acre Shrine, only 4 are women (Sally Mugabe, Julia Zvobgo, Ruth Chinamano and Mama MaFuyana Nkomo). And all these 4 women are there primarily as spouses. There is need to alter the political terrain and environment and make it conducive for women’s unfettered participation. One way of achieving this is to physical political violence as well as use of violent and uncouth language in politics. Women need not be thick-skinned first before they can venture into political life. It must not be a calling with a high price to pay for women simply because they are women.

If our leaders hold dear to all these values then in no time the whole nation will be seized with this new attitude fueled by the fervent pursuit of a new kind of politics. Like ripples, the waves of goodwill will gently spread to every nook and cranny of the country. To my mind, this of change of mindset, among other things, may be just the needed catalyst to prompt Zimbabwe, like the legendary phoenix, to rise from the ashes to become yet again the paradise of Africa.

ZANU-PF’s body language holds the key

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Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 by Dewa Mavhinga

These are interesting times in Zimbabwe. Political analysts are battling to make sense of recent pronouncements by President Robert Mugabe and other members of ZANU-PF’s inner sanctum. A case in point is Mugabe’s condolence message to ‘the Honourable Prime Minister’, Morgan Tsvangirai on the tragic loss of his wife. Another perplexing statement came from ZANU-PF Home Affairs Minister calling for an end to violence. But perhaps most perplexing of all is Mugabe’s plea for aid. These statements, to the uninitiated, may be a reflection of a changed and reformed ZANU-PF. Taken in isolation and at face value, a call for an end to violence by a ZANU-PF Minister paints a picture of a party ready to start afresh and make the necessary amends leading to the restoration of the rule of law, human rights and democracy. However, l urge dear readers not to put much emphasis on the words uttered by ZANU-PF leaders, but instead, to look at ZANU-PF’s body language for clues on where they really stand.

That talk is cheap cannot be over-emphasized. If indeed, the President cares so much about the MDC and its Prime Minister, does his conduct towards the MDC bear testimony to such concern? A close look at the treatment of the political prisoners, comprising civil society and MDC activists at the hands of the police and prison officers who answer only to ZANU-PF will reveal a different story of brutality, torture, and untold suffering. Shadreck Manyere, the photo journalist abductee still being held at Chikurubi Prison has a totally different understanding of ZANU-PF, based on his continued persecution under the guise of lawful prosecution.

Taking Mugabe’s plea for the international community to loosen purse strings and bail out Zimbabwe, one may believe that ZANU-PF has reformed. But when one considers the conduct of ZANU-PF a different story emerges. While Mugabe is calling for international aid at the Rainbow Towers, hundreds of ZANU-PF supporters are busy invading the farms of the last remaining white farmers. And the invaders are not just small fish in ZANU-PF, some of then hold very senior posts in ZANU-PF and in government. Not a word from ZANU-PF leadership condemning such an affront to property rights and other fundamental freedoms. Instead of taking steps to guarantee and protect property rights and by so doing boost international investor confidence, ZANU-PF’s body language betrays stubbornness and an unwillingness to change that never ceases to amaze me.

By carefully studying ZANU-PF’s body language l have arrived at the inescapable conclusion that ZANU-PF wishes to ‘have its cake and eat it,’ or to have it both ways. It is quite conceivable that President Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF have made one huge mistake which is this: they assumed that MDC is the silver bullet needed to unlock international aid and that by merely having the MDC as part of an inclusive government then the international community would scramble to blindly pour in the much needed aid. Proceeding with this logic, ZANU-PF pressured and pestered the MDC to join the inclusive government. As soon as MDC was on board, ZANU-PF quickly called for aid to be given, pointing to the government of national unity as evidence of change.

At the same time, ZANU-PF firmly resisted any attempts at genuine reform. All the repressive and oppressive media laws are still firmly in place and functional. There has been no move to address openly political violence, to arrest perpetrators of political violence and ensure justice for victims of political violence. Instead, Kembo Mohadi, ZANU-PF Home Affairs Minister recently said to the nation, “Let bygones be bygones and let us focus on nation building.” What genuine, long lasting, and sustainable nation building can be done when victims are forced to forget about their wounds and pain and are denied access to justice? What national healing is possible when those who unleashed a reign of terror during the 2008 general and presidential elections walk free? What guarantees are there that, come the next parliamentary or presidential elections, the same thugs will not again unleash violence?

It is not enough for political leaders to talk about change without taking firm steps to implement that change. Change is not about having MDC as a partner in the inclusive government. Change is not about giving MDC ministers Mercedes benz cars and other so-called ‘symbols of power’. Change is about opening up political space and expanding the freedoms of all people who live within the borders of Zimbabwe. Change is about letting victims of political violence speak and listening to them and ensuring that they feel that justice has been done. Change is about bringing perpetrators of human rights violations to account in an impartial way. Change is about making sure that political leaders in Zimbabwe, as in all other respectable democracies, are accountable to the people.

While the international community demands accountability from the government of Zimbabwe, we, the citizens of Zimbabwe, also demand transparency and accountability on the part of our government. At the moment ZANU-PF’s body language is speaking loudly and clearly that genuine and wholesome change is not nigh. It appears the international community is also intently studying ZANU-PF’s body language to gauge levels of sincerity and commitment to change. This time, the proof of the pudding is required before eating. The body language of most Zimbabweans scattered across the globe with regards inclusive government developments has been quite telling; not many have been stirred to break camp and return home. As a patriotic Zimbabwean who firmly believes in the audacity of hope, l continue to look for signs of hope and life. I desperately want to give ZANU-PF the benefit of the doubt; however, a careful study of events on the ground cautions me against rush and misplaced optimism. I therefore reconcile myself to the sad and yet very real possibility that this inclusive government may disappoint absolutely.