Power sharing versus power transfer

THE political leaders who negotiated the Lancaster House agreement were clear on what was at stake and the change they sought to effect.

A few of the signers of the agreement from the liberation movements had extensive political experience in colonial and state government. Equally the majority were financially challenged with financial resources that ranged from nothing to poor. On the whole they were less wealthy than the colonial incumbents.The founding fathers had strong educational backgrounds and some had largely been self-taught while in detention. Others had attended or graduated from college in the West. For the most part, the delegates were a well-educated group. Religion played a critical role in moulding the consciousness of the founding fathers’ concept of national morality.The majority of the founding fathers did not trust the market system as a rational mechanism for allocating resources, if anything; they believed that they through the state had a central role to directing the change agenda. It was clear at Lancaster that any change that would have resulted in anyone sympathetic to the Rhodesia Front’s worldview would not be believable. In framing the issues for discussion at Lancaster , it was clear that power transfer was the fundamental objective irrespective of the outcome of the elections.Zimbabwe needed to turn a new leaf in 1980 and executive power in the post colonial state had to be placed in the hands of the founding fathers not least because anything short of that would have been credible but it represented the will of the people.The values, principles and approach to nation building of the founding fathers were diametrically opposed to those held by the incumbents.The transfer of power was effected in 1980 and the delegates who attended the Lancaster House Conference represented a cross-section of Zimbabwean leadership and almost all of them were well-educated. To the extent that many of the founding fathers were prominent in national affairs, there was a rational expectation that the future was brighter. Regrettably there was nothing specific in terms of what lay ahead.The 29 March election was supposed to be a referendum on President Mugabe’s reign and after five months with the help of SADC it has now turned into a referendum on Tsvangirai. The elections were held against a background of an unprecedented economic and social crisis whose root cause continues to be a contentious subject with Zanu PF maintaining that it was a child of sanctions imposed by the West to effect a regime change. When Zimbabwe ’s post-colonial history is properly analysed it would be obvious that the ideological foundation of the post colonial state was faulty. The real question is whether President Mugabe has the capacity to lead Zimbabwe in a better and prosperous direction. The focus of the negotiations as communicated to the public has been on power sharing or power transfer rather than on the kind of changes that the country requires. However, the real stakes are less to do with President Mugabe or Tsvangirai but what kind of future they can offer to Zimbabweans. The kind of politics represented by the two politicians ought to be the subject of discussion. President Mugabe has been at the helm for 28 years and yet his political thinking has not changed in the face of a failed state.One would have expected President Mugabe to change or review his thinking on how an economy should be managed. It is important to ask whether President Mugabe is sufficiently worried about the future of the country to compel him to change.Even after the collapse of the negotiations last weekend, President Mugabe has not changed his thinking and there can be no better expression of the dangers of him continuing to hold executive powers than what he said on Friday, 22 August 2008 when he addressed pilots at a ceremony at Thornhill Air Base in Gweru. President Mugabe applauded the Air Force of Zimbabwe for its endeavour and determination to achieve self-sufficiency in manpower development on the road to achieving "Total Empowerment" in the servicing and operation of aircraft. He said: “The defence of our motherland cannot be delegated to any other people as it is our own responsibility. Thankfully, our people now know the real enemy of our progress and we should regard the challenges we are facing as a passing phase."President Mugabe is not convinced that the real enemy are wrong policies and programs rather than external parties. It is already evident that there was never a basis to negotiate an arrangement for either power sharing or power transfer given the ideological differences between the contesting parties. With one government and principally two parties sharing a different value set, it was never going to be easy to negotiate a way forward.Charamba in his weekly column published by the Herald on Saturday, 23 August 2008, had this to say: “We need Government, a strong Government, which will take bold decisions without flinching. Globally, developments pitting Russia against Nato present real opportunities. Back home, the mature realisation that the enemy within needs to be handled conclusively, will help. Structures of war – economic war – are needed and will come shortly. As will leadership. In the few months it will become apparent whether or not the revolution can or cannot defend itself. By any means necessary.”The role of the state in nation building ought to have been a central feature of the negotiations but regrettably the actions of the RBZ on the eve of the opening of a hung parliament suggests that President Mugabe and Gono have no intention of changing their modus operandi. On Friday, 22 August 2008, RBZ Governor, Dr. G. Gono announced the increase of the producer price of maize from Z$8.2 to Z$4,500 per tonne as part of a dubious grain mop up programme. One has to ask whether President Mugabe is serious about the future of the country.

The continued role of the RBZ in the economy undermines the democratic constitutional order. If Tsvangirai were to agree to be absorbed into a framework in which the RBZ continues to act as a substitute of the executive branch of the state. (www.mmawere.com)