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Desperately seeking: A bold, new approach

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I’ve been thinking about this “inclusive government,” and about the notion that that MDC had no choice – that it couldn’t risk “defying SADC,” that it had to agree to the terms of the 27 January SADC Communiqué.

One problem with that whole theory is that it gives to SADC an authority that I don’t think it deserves. Granted, some heads of certain SADC countries respect the rule of law, treat their citizens fairly and promote justice at home. But since when has SADC been an honest, reliable broker when it comes to Zimbabwe? It’s always had a bias – as evidenced by the very fact that the Zimbabwe crisis has stretched out as long as it has. And it feels like Mugabe has a case of selective sovereignty. Mr You keep your Britain and I’ll keep my Zimbabwe suddenly cares what other countries think about what he does at home? Yeah, right.

It also comes back to this question of desperation. The MDC say they’re weren’t desperate to be in government, but their actions tell a different story.

Along these lines, Dale Doré sent in these comments recently which resonated with me:

In September 2008 the MDC was pressured by Mbeki into a deeply flawed agreement. For all Mugabe’s loathing and contempt for the MDC and its leaders, there are those in the opposition who still believe that a deal with Mugabe is their only option. Instead of believing in themselves, they believe in Mugabe’s omnipotence. Instead of sticking to their democratic principles as the route to legitimate political power, they believe that power can be shared with Mugabe. Instead of believing themselves to be the true heirs of democratically-won political power, they fear that Mugabe will form a government without them. Until and unless the MDC believe in themselves and move boldly to capture the high moral and political ground – nothing will change.

Even after Mugabe illegitimately grabbed the lion’s share of power, SADC has still put their trust in him to negotiate in good faith when implementing the power-sharing agreement. Instead of fair and unbiased arbitration, Mbeki and the SADC leaders have now placed the MDC in a lose-lose situation. If the MDC pulls out of the agreement, they will look like the spoilers. If they enter the agreement, they will be completely dominated by the very forces they oppose and make them complicit in Mugabe’s dictatorship. However, our first responsibility is not to Thabo Mbeki or leaders of other countries.

We must not sign any agreement to appease Mugabe, Mbeki or SADC. Our responsibility is first and foremost to the people of Zimbabwe. Having tried our utmost, but having failed to reach agreement, we must now put aside any kind of power-sharing deal, including that which SADC has put on the table. A bold, new approach is needed.

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One comment to “Desperately seeking: A bold, new approach”

  1. Comment by Sally D:

    I understand this position, and think it is both right and wrong at the same time. Emotionally and morally, it is right; but pragmatically, it is wrong.

    Zimbabwe is not like other countries that have fought for democracy and justice: because too few have actually fought. Too few have actually loved their country fiercely enough to put themselves on the line. The MDC and the NCA have tried so hard over the years, to mobilise the people of Zimbabwe to rise up – and got nowhere. Never more than a handful of people would turn up and face down the riot police. Strikes were called; they never happened until the jobs were in any case gone and people STILL turned up to earn non-existent salaries.

    Intead, Zimbabweans who were educated, competent, healthy and strong simply walked away, in their millions. Leaving even fewer to stand up to Mugabe.

    Without some level of mass domestic protest, it is not possible for international bodies – be it UN, AU or SADC to put pressure on Mugabe. Yes, he stole the election – but can you imagine what would have happened here in South Africa if (for instance) the apartheid Government had tried blatantly to rig the whites-only Referendum that set them on course to leaving power? The entire country would have been in flames within hours. It nearly was, when Chris Hani died; and while Morgan Tsvangirai is no charismatic leader in the Hani mould, for whom people would gladly lay down their lives, he is a personally courageous man for all his faults and he was, somehow, the only one that was there, standing up to Mugabe as a rival leader.

    On the surface and in the world inhabited by multi-lateral agencies like SADC, ZANU-PF has substantial popular support and given that situation, the MDC really does have no choice at this stage. To say this is not to blame any Zimbabwean for not wanting to be killed, disappeared, tortured, beaten or sent to rot in a filthy, disease ridden jail. But facts are facts and it’s surely more important, now, to keep up the pressure on Mugabe’s corrupt officials, give a clear lead to international allies of democracy, and make sure that the MDC representatives in Government are given the opportunity to make a difference. Most importantly, to make sure that no election is ever stolen again in Zimbabwe.