Although I am not a member of any party, I believe that as a Zimbabwean national, I have every right to lobby your members for the good of our country. Rather than ask what Zimbabwe should do for us, I think we should ask what we can do for our country. The urgency in finding a lasting and viable solution to Zimbabwe’s problems cannot be over-emphasised, neither should it be left to partisanship while our country is the only one with a coalition government in the sub-region.
In the Declaration of Dar-es-Salaam, the former President of Tanzania, the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere said:
‘Man can only liberate himself or develop himself. He cannot be liberated or developed by another. For Man makes himself. It is his ability to act deliberately, for a self-determined purpose, which distinguishes him from the other animals. The expansion of his own consciousness, and therefore of his power over himself, his environment, and his society, must therefore ultimately be what we mean by development” (infed.org, accessed 15/12/10).
Some may ask, “What are you talking about? Are we not already liberated? Liberate ourselves from what?” The obvious answer is liberate ourselves from under-development. It’s no longer colonialism or even the rhetorical neo-colonialism. An empirical frame of reference is Zimbabwe’s profile on the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) showing trends from 1980 to present (hdrstats.undp.org accessed 15/12/10).
Human development denotes both the process of widening people’s choices and improving their well-being. According to the UNDP, the most critical dimensions of human development are: a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living. Additional concerns include ‘social and political freedoms’ (Ibid).
While Zimbabwe’s HDR 2010 Report was poorly received in some circles, it frankly shows that between 1980 and 2010 Zimbabwe’s HDI declined by -1.8% annually from 0.241 to 0.140 today which gives the country a rank of 169 out of 169 countries with comparable data. Another point of concern is that the HDI of Sub-Saharan Africa as a region increased from 0.293 in 1980 to 0.389 today, placing Zimbabwe below the regional average. The UN contends that the HDI trends tell an important story both at the national and regional level and highlight the very large gaps in well-being and life chances that continue to divide our interconnected world.
We don’t need an outsider to tell us what is holding Zimbabwe back. It’s not targeted sanctions either, because they are not on the country but individuals, contrary to deafening propaganda. Reports that Dumiso Dabengwa and Thenjiwe Lesabe have been de-listed by the United States Government shows that the travel bans have nothing to do with the country. Some sanctions targeted certain state corporations like the Zimbabwe Minerals Marketing Corporation, Zimbabwe Defence Industries and so on which were allegedly propping up a repressive system. The reinsurance corporation was de-listed.
There is nothing treasonous in calling for the retention of EU and US targeted sanctions because that is the only way of making certain individuals accountable for their actions which impact on good governance. Furthermore, Zimbabwe is not at war with the UK, USA or the EU, therefore there is no question of treason as if one is dealing with an enemy state.
Zimbabwe still has diplomatic relations with the UK, USA and the EU, and it is legitimate to engage their diplomats where necessary contrary to the impression given by those who are seeking to get seats on the politburo as they create the impression that we are at war, therefore whoever talks to their representatives is a sell-out. Not at all.
Despite relative economic and political stability since the formation of the coalition government in February 2009, Zimbabwe remains at the mercy of a politically charged environment that threatens to devour its children if people dare want to exercise their democratic right to vote. Ironically, we fought for one man one vote but now people are afraid to vote.
The country is gripped with tension amidst a lot of political posturing and grandstanding, militarization, intolerance and corruption. This can be summed up in one phrase ‘a scotched earth policy’- a military or operational strategy which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area (wikipedia.org). That is not very different from farm and business seizures some of which now lie idle in the name of indigenisation.
Unimpressed investors have voted with their feet because of uncertainty due to the indigenisation law albeit suspended and the unresolved Zanu-pf succession issue. Tourists and donors are taking a wait-and see attitude as they study the high political temperature prevailing in the country. Similarly, the economy is witnessing stagnation and capital flight while the politicians squabble ad infinitum.
Meanwhile a massive 95 percent unemployment rate is feared to be a fertile recruitment ground for ‘coup plotters or warlords’ apart from prospective border jumpers. Zimbabwe is sitting on a time bomb.
Mr Chairman, this conference should be a platform to reflect on these challenges and chart the way forward as a nation and not in isolation or partisan basis because the barriers which are holding our country back are of our own making. However, they are not insurmountable as long as we make a paradigm shift. We need to be honest with ourselves and stop passing the buck.
Our leaders should not be shy to say ‘sorry’ where necessary. This is the moment of truth as the country awaits constructive dialogue and resolutions meant from your conference to take Zimbabwe to a peaceful and prosperous future and not Operation Headless Chicken or all the mayhem being bandied about.
Mr Chairman, the underlying problems which are holding our country back which the Zanu-pf national conference should urgently address include: bad governance, political and security sector reforms, rampant corruption, lack of a road map for the 2011 elections, human rights abuses, flouting of the rule of law, denial of basic freedoms e.g. of assembly, expression or the media and so on. For a start, Zanu-pf should abolish the notorious AIPPA and POSA laws which have resulted in human rights abuses.
It has been a long time since Zimbabweans experienced the 8 characteristics of good governance in full, namely: participation, rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, consensus oriented, equity and inclusiveness, effectiveness and efficiency as well as accountability as defined by the United Nations. These principles can be facilitated by political reforms which are long overdue such as conclusion of the new constitution, organising and conducting of a referendum on the new or alternative constitutions, leading to a clear road map to elections 2011. If Kenya did it, why can’t we do it?
Mr Chairman, the people of Zimbabwe are afraid of elections because of politically motivated violence by those who view regime change as evil whereas our constitution provides for change of government through elections. People would like to be assured that they will be safe before, during and after the hopefully internationally supervised, free and fair elections. The whole world also needs assurances that election monitors from the EU, UN, AU and SADC will soon be invited to ensure a legitimate outcome.
The Zanu-pf 2010 national conference needs also to squarely address the issue of security sector reform and set the ball rolling. People are anxiously waiting for the service chiefs to unlock development by bravely addressing the nation simply saying:
‘We, the members of the Joint Operations Command do hereby express our deepest regret for the pain and anguish we have caused the country during a time of madness since Operations Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, Hakudzokwi, Makavhotera Papi and others. We are really sorry and ask for forgiveness to all the people of Zimbabwe regardless of race, colour, creed, gender, tribe, ability, origin or political affiliation.
We are asking to be spared any retribution whether domestically or internationally for our past mistakes in return for our recognition of and loyalty to the democratically elected Government of Zimbabwe of the day regardless of political persuasion.
We are willing to step down and allow for a peaceful transition to a new dispensation with the assistance of the United Nations and undertake not to engage in any political or insurgent activities.”
Such a courageous move would electrify the atmosphere in Zimbabwe and definitely usher in a new democratic and peaceful era characterised by national healing and genuine reconciliation supported by a truth and reconciliation commission and state compensation for victims of political violence. Such a bold statement of regret, apology and loyalty by the service chiefs should be made in public e.g. televised as an unequivocal demonstration of sincere contrition and remorse while they will also get assurances of no retribution. That will also ensure transparency and the need to move on.
Only then can Zimbabwe witness an anticipated huge injection of donor aid for reconstruction and development. The economy would also grow exponentially as soon as an internationally recognised and accountable government is in office conducting a transparent land audit and ensuring that the Marange diamonds are clean of any rights abuses. Zimbabwe would then return to normalcy by reclaiming its membership of the Commonwealth and attract investment. Exiles would most likely flock home with jubilation. Even targeted sanctions would become unnecessary.
Mr Chairman, if any of these ideas could influence the outcome of your conference, it would have delivered a memorable and invaluable Christmas present to the 12 million Zimbabweans. I hope, I am not the only one who continues to be inspired by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s wisdom and admission of errors in nation building and development where necessary.
I wish you successful deliberations.
Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, London, email@example.com