Only the fatally optimistic forget that Jacob Zuma of South Africa went out of his way to ‘sell his soul for Mugabe’ while in London last year prompting a South African columnist to write:
‘For Zuma’s information, there are no sanctions against Zimbabwe. There are targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his closet ministers and business inner circle. These are the people who have laundered Mugabe’s wealth and maintain his foreign accounts", (Timeslive, 07/03/10).
Impeach Robert Mugabe
With the Speaker issue now resolved at least until Jonathan Moyo turns the tables again, the MDC-T should now canvass support among Zanu-pf and MDC-Ncube/Mutambara MPs to impeach Robert Mugabe through a vote of no confidence in Parliament. It is possible and it is legal in terms of Zimbabwe’s constitution. It is not treasonous either. This is the only way of averting a Tunisia or Egypt style revolution in Zimbabwe. Zanu-pf and MDC-N/M MPs hold the key to a peaceful end to the stalemate in the GPA if they switch sides because their votes will boost those of the MDC-T to carry the day.
Despite the regime’s attempts to deplete MDC-T’s parliamentary majority through the selective incarceration of MPs with Mangoma appearing in court cuffed and in leg irons for maximum humiliation and the alleged attempts to bribe some MPs with $25 000, Lovemore Moyo of MDC-T got 105 votes against 93 votes for Simon Khaya Moyo of Zanu-pf . Therefore, the MDC-T should not lose the momentum.
However the bereaved state propagandists could not conceal their pain of losing the Speaker’s post with the State owned Herald, 29/03/11 moaning: "The loss will come as a reminder to Zanu-pf of the kind of disharmony that cost the party in the 2008 harmonised elections."
Norma Kriger, author of Guerrilla Veterans in Post-war Zimbabwe: Symbolic and Violent Politics, 1980-1987) Cambridge, 2003 made a very pertinent observation in 2008 when she said: "Some commentators predicted that the MDC and the independents would win a large enough number of seats in the parliamentary election to either impeach Mugabe, or should he die in office, to elect his successor as provided for in constitutional amendment No.18"(http://csis.org/blog/understanding-zimbabwe%E2%80%99s-election).
While Kriger described the impeachment scenario as "far-fetched" then, there is now growing optimism that it is a possibility given Zanu-pf’s on going ‘silent rebellion’ as well as concerns that Mugabe’s health allegedly costs the Zimbabwe government US$12m in 4 months (The Zimbabwean, 23/03/11). How such a massive expenditure on an 87 year old dictator can be justified when life expectancy is now 44 after to declining to 34 in 2006 thanks to HiV Aids defies logic.
Zimbabwe mass grave
Furthermore, apart from advancing age and poor health, Mugabe’s grip on power has come under the spotlight in the face of growing intolerance and political repression. There are fears of a big cover up of atrocities and questions are being asked such as ‘Who filled Zimbabwe mass grave?’ (Timeslive.co.za 31/03/11). As Zanu-pf has turned to real skeletons for electioneering, it may have opened a can of worms because pathologists are asking why some of the Chibondo remains still have skin, hair and body fluids if they were killed over 30 years ago. There are no easy answers short of a full forensic audit.
More significantly, Maryna Steyn, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Pretoria in South Africa reportedly said human remains should not retain a strong stench after 30 years (Timeslive, 31/03/11).
Zanu-pf MPs and indeed the securocrats should be aware that there are prospects of investigations by the International Criminal Court into massacres such as Gukurahundi and the Chibondo mine shaft remains in view of the bloody election violence of 2008 and rights abuses during farm seizures. Crossing the floor or an impeachment vote would be the only logical thing to do now and help elect a transitional president pending UN supervised elections after a referendum.
Better than a jasmine revolution
Because such a vote will be secret, MDC-Ncube and Zanu-pf MPs would be assured of confidentiality and that impeachment is better than a jasmine revolution in Zimbabwe given the potential for a bloodbath. Furthermore, by voting with the MDC-T for regime change, the MPs would be helping solve the Zimbabwe crisis peacefully and much more quickly than watch the country slide into chaos because of fixation with SADC.
The MDC-T should also seize the opportunity and make inroads into Zanu-pf by trying to lure the regime’s MPs to defect on condition they don’t get automatic posts and no foreign exile because we need their impeachment votes in Parliament. Similarly, securocrats should be encouraged to defect to the MDC-T in order to hasten the departure of the dictatorship. Each case should be treated on its merits without giving blanket amnesty for their rights abuses against the people of Zimbabwe.
Zanu-pf MPs should know that it is better to defect or cross the floor now than to be expelled by Robert Mugabe as they may be regarded as ‘suspect packages’ if they wait until it is too late. There is also the possibility of a purge after the witch hunt of the dissidents.
People don’t trust Zanu-pf
According to a survey of public opinion conducted by Freedom House and the Mass Public Opinion Institute in 2010, 34% of the 1200 respondents said they don’t trust Zanu-pf while only 9% said the same about the MDC-T. Notably 32% said they support MDC-T ‘a lot’ while 16% said the same about Zanu-pf.
How do you help people defect? Well there are many ways. There is no ‘one size fits all’ in diplomacy. Like all change management scenarios, there will be resistance in a fear society like we have in Zimbabwe and genuine concerns about coping mechanisms.
There are also what Natan Sharansky described as ‘double thinkers’.
"In any place where dissent is banned, society fractures into three groups. One group is composed of those who remain committed to the prevailing order because they agree withy it – the true believers. Another group is made up of those who are willing to defy the prevailing order despite the risk of punishment – the dissidents. For members of these two groups, there will be little or no gap between their private thoughts and public statements. Unlike true believers and dissidents, members of the third group do not say what they think. Thus group is composed of people who no longer believe in the prevailing ideology, but who are afraid to accept the risks associated with dissent. They are the ‘doublethinkers’" (The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to overcome tyranny and terror, New York, 2004:43-44).
People need to know why change is necessary and become part of it than choose to be obstacles if not legitimate ‘targets’.
The truth is that there is discontent within Zanu-pf and there is a Shona saying that ‘Simbi inorohwa ichapisa – an iron rod is easier to beat into shape when it’s still hot!’
Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, London, email@example.com