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Locating and defending the People’s role in Zimbabwe’s future

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Today Zimbabwe has an inclusive government.

A compromise arrangement between the three political principals of Zimbabwean politics. Not even the most imaginative mind would have placed Zimbabwe in this scenario twenty years ago. An embarrassing and sad scenario for a country that fought a bitter war for majority-rule to find itself being steered by an unelected executive. And it so happens to be the best, considering!

I was a fierce critic of this idea when it was first proposed. Viewing it as AU’s lazy short-cut out of a leadership crisis of Kenyan roots set to be a litmus test to AU’s mandate, relevancy, policies, stamina and legacy.  But as the Zimbabwean political and economic tale continued on an unpredictable and painful path, most progressive individuals within and without Zimbabwe (my little self included) started buying into the inclusive government idea as the better short term solution out of the Zimbabwean crisis. The merits of this are no longer here or there. The dhiri government is now upon us. A reality whose best we have to find, and make do with.

It is in this imperfect arrangement that the whole nation’s hopes today lie. But unlike the euphoria of 1980, even the most optimistic persons are embracing this dhiri government with extreme caution. The bitter experiences of post-1980 haunt many. And the life lesson from it that politicians can never be trusted is well-learned. The question that I am asked everyday by even those I think should be answering it is, will this inclusive government work? Thus meet the people’s expectations and needs. I hope and pray it does, for everyone’s sake.

So what are the imperatives, basic key elements necessary for this inclusive government to succeed? For me we first need to agree on what we want IT to achieve, but more so, how far we want IT to work. This dhiri needs to act the role of a foundation for a Zimbabwe all Zimbabweans want, not to be reduced to a stage for politicians to outmaneuver or outshine each other settling old scores as in the case of BITI/GONO saga. We need to go back to the basics and craft a truly inclusive national reconstruction agenda. This might sound like the vocabulary of yesterday as the ship is already in motion. Well apparently the ship is sailing without the basics of a destination, compass and its passengers. Should we let it sail away? The number one basic is people ownership and tangible participation in the revival process. We have seen how the people’s exclusion and resultant withdrawal/non-participation from the previous regime’s programs escalated the crisis more than the public looting of state resources by state officials and the sanctions. Without the people rallying behind the previous regime, the centre gave in. It would be tragic for this country if the people continue on the sidelines. Like now.

The mistake politicians are making is because they know what the people did not like prior to this, anything which is not it is therefore what the people want. Armed with this they are unilaterally deciding on behalf of the people. This explains why the dhiri was pushed for by a handful of politicians and crafted by an equally smaller number with the assistance and guarantee of foreigners. Politicians having eaten on behalf of the people for a long time see no reason why they should not think and act on our behalf too. But in this haste to put things in order and fast, the current government risks personalizing the Zimbabwean crisis, its solutions and its pending failure. As we speak right now the only communication to the man in the street has been to be patient and ready to sacrifice more. A far too familiar demand from politicians while they eat. And herein lies our first pothole. The remote participation of the major shareholder – the people. Yet broken and divided as we are, we need the contribution of everyone as a unifying element and as a resource. I bet you people will take the proposed us$100 per month if they know why and exactly how long they are going to sacrifice especially when MPs are set to receive us$27 000+ per year. Most Zimbabweans aware of this brazen disdain by politicians are leaving en mass to democracies where governments respect its citizens. Among these are the few skilled workers required to oil the revival agenda.

But of course politicians do not care. Government, through The Herald, will order them back!

I agree our situation is complex and urgent. But that doesn’t automatically mean we have to urgently employ complex secretive and excluding solutions. We have seen how technocrats failed to solve our crisis at a time the crisis was less complex as it is today. The complex learned-excuses that previous learned-ministers have forwarded failed to deliver. We are done complex, haste and people exclusion. The chef/povo we-are-government syndrome if not destroyed now, will destroy us.

So are the people the main protagonists in this venture or the audience to the politicians’ mystical national revival show? By people, reference extends beyond the joint MDC and ZANU PF supporters. For it is an unsaid truth that these supporters collectively are by far fewer than Zimbabweans outside politics erroneously termed voter-apathy, unregistered voter or ineligible voters who also have a legitimate stake in this country.  Again I probe, is the nation on the same page on where we are, where we want to be, how we want to do this. Who or what might get in the way? Who needs to do what? Who and what is on our side? What is the tangible pay-off? How and what can we put in place in defense of this ideal Zimbabwe so that it can outlast political doctrines? Timelines? These are not your very educated questions, but crucial mass questions ignored at owners risk. For if these are not shared and addressed by us all, we risk achieving nothing.

I will submit that our nation has experienced the crisis in different degrees as such cannot all be on the same page on where we are today as a people. Within the same breath, as divided as we are, our desired tomorrow is not necessarily the same. Yet we have to be one from the word go lest we continue to hear zvinhu zvavo varume ava zvinobuda here izvozvi? Haameno, ngavaite tione.

Finding each other should go beyond politicians. In fact, it should be the recurring theme for the dhiri government. Genuine national unity, not a united front for politicians aboard the dhiri’s gravy train. Otherwise the unfortunate beatings of ZANU PF supporters by MDC supporters recently witnessed in Mutoko and Bindura will spread as the people begin to misinterpret the dhiri mainly due to lack of information. The people’s anger continues to boil around the country and without clear guidance and information – its set to be like that for a very long time.

These seemingly little but key basics ought to be clear to all Zimbabweans at this teething period of the dhiri government. ALL OF US regardless of education, political and economic status, for when the hut starts burning as we have experienced before – even the smallest rat faces the torch. All of us making sure our collective hope for a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe is not again betrayed through arrogance, avoidable negligence, short-sightedness and most dangerously, exclusion.

What we are not seeing is a government or individual party outreach programs in explaining the dhiri and its direction as a matter of urgency. Gathering the people’s input. The people are running around pathetically scrounging for information (newspapers are now expensive) about this dhiri creature that is steering their lives. Already we have started to witness a familiar gap growing between politicians and the people. The people treated it as a blessing, glimpses of their MPs on TV ever since the elections when they converged to rubber stamp the 19th Amendment and Security Bills! Elected people’s representatives must talk to the people they represent. Its that simple! They are some who will say we have consulted. Well consultation should go beyond your bedrooms, drinking clubs, executive meetings and internet blogs.

It now appears politicians from all parties took a secrecy oath against the people. And just why is this? We know. Politicians find it easy to short-change and maintain a diabolic hold on the masses when the people are in the dark. The poverty of information, respect, food . . . is ammunition for politicians to escape accountability. Empowered by the people’s desperation politicians are running around town acting as if they are the people. This disrespect of the people is now endemic. The now impoverished Zimbabweans have been stripped of their deserved respect and worth. Our crisis and needs go beyond sadza. The people want and deserve respect and joint ownership of this country and its destiny.

Am I being too forward and not giving the dhiri a chance? My reply is a question – when should we start monitoring, critiquing and contributing to the dhiri (and post-dhiri)? When it starts failing and we have a bigger crisis? Have we as a nation got so used to reacting to crisis? This reactive and scatter brain type of doing things must have no room in our new way of doing things. It is high time we stop it.

We ought to have a plan together, and work on making the plan work, now! Tisumukirane.

Again I probe, do we have a plan to heal the nation? Who has it and when do they think they can bless us with it? How are we going to unite feuding neighbors split by politicians who are now eating and wining together? How do we plan to heal the scars of June violence and before? Or it is a given the people must unite because the leaders united? Can an aggrieved ordinary person get re-dress from JOMIC or it is a preserve for politicians only? Even more critical is how we make sure this embarrassing dhiri government episode will never visit us ever again. These are key national concerns.

A shared national vision I believe will assist us in making make sure we know what is broken and to what extent, so that we do not blindly build on top of the ruins when building afresh. This shared vision will make us stop seeing the crisis from within blindly and react blindly. Again I maintain practical and not lip-service national healing and revival of the economy must together anchor that plan. A people driven Constitution is only but one of the key tools to shape this. However we must do this with a third eye on when can craft mechanisms to defend the same Constitution from political abuse by not so nice political characters as in the past.

Already our MPS have gone into mute mode – that is when they are not rubber stamping Bills in Parliament. So, the time for all pro-democratic, pro-people forces to start working hard is now. Fighting for the placement of the people at the centre of their nation’s welfare and affairs. To put sustained tangible pressure on politicians making sure we deny them room to destroy our nation ever again  through negligence or the current disrespect for citizens. To build people power so that it becomes mightier than politicians. To make state business, except for those issues to do with state security, very open so there is no room for corrupt characters. Having put these basics in place, the insincerity that everyone is so worried about on the part of politicians in this dhiri will be exposed there and then should it manifest. Kufemera muhuro tirinavo nemumvura nemumvura.Kuvagara chasi!

Having brought the people to the centre of rebuilding their nation/lives, the other process that should be running concurrently to this, is securing the state from local and external threats. Local thieves and foreign thieves who pretend to like us while busy looting our heritage. Making a rich country like ours unable to feed such a manageable population. This ends now! The time is now. Every one must start demanding a role in the rebuilding of our country which is their future. For some of us we have already allocated ourselves roles. After all, it is “the only country I know and have”.

4 comments to “Locating and defending the People’s role in Zimbabwe’s future”

  1. Comment by Kubatana.net speaks out from Zimbabwe » Blog Archive » Calm the rage of betrayals:

    [...] and see”. The thing is, the majority of Zimbabweans have never stopped working hard, but as Leonard Matsa points out, the politicians care very little for the man and woman on the [...]

  2. Comment by Kubatana.net speaks out from Zimbabwe » Blog Archive » Questions and answers:

    [...] I come back to Leonard Mutsa’s recent blog in which he asks, where and when do our politicians welcome and encourage the views and input of [...]

  3. Comment by Kubatana.net speaks out from Zimbabwe » Blog Archive » Holding to account:

    [...] Leonard Matsa, I have my misgivings about this deal and its new government. One of the challenges will be how to [...]

  4. Comment by Silas Matenda:

    I agree with Leornard’s assertion that there seems to be very little information to the people about what exactly should we expect from this so called unity government nor does there seem to be any room for people’s involment in shaping the future of their country. However I have a feeling that it is not a transitional unity arrangement that it appears to be. Rather its just that the two parties, MDC M and ZANU PF have taken their fight to a different platform. I am not quite sure about the genuineness of MDC M in this battle but what I am quite sure about is that on the part of ZANU PF, Mugabe continues to fight his dogmatic ideological warfare against an imagined neo colonialist agenda by the west while his corrupt fatcats in the party take this chance to make their final loot of the country’s resources.In the meantime we have been tricked to adopt a wait and see approach.It is now apparent that Mugabe is winning his ideological warfare with the west at the expenses of the people that he claims to have liberated. The hands of the west seem tied when it comes to openly assisting the MDC for fear that Mugabe will say, Look we have always said it. MDC is a puppet of the west.Recently Mugabe made very irresponsible utterances at his bithday celebration in Chinhoyi telling people that remaining white farmers should vacate thier farms. This just to prove to Africa that he is the revolutionary leader who successfully fought the chimurenga in the bush and also managed to totally defeat the white man in as far as restoring land to the black man is concerned such that Africa will never be a colony again.He is trying in vain to leave somekind of legacy that no-one in his right mind would be proud of in a country where 4 000 people die of cholera in as many months and inflation is probably the third highest ever experienced anywhere in the world while its citizens can barely afford one decent meal a day. MDC should at this stage not lose sight of its promises to the people. They should know that the fight is not yet over with these thugs whose combined personal stolen wealth from our resources might be enough to revive this economy without the need for any foreign aid. They will not easily give up. MDC should remain resolute and focused in this fight. They should not, at the same time detach themselves from the people who they are representing and lose their democratic values. GOOD shall prevail over evil.All the dirty work and corrupt activities by Zanu Pf have been exposed. They can not sustain their evil deeds as they are too exposed now.