COLUMN: MARY REVESAI
It's not MDC's job to bail Zanu PF out
Alas, this is analogous to how the two factions of the main opposition party in Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, are being treated in the mediation initiative being led by South African President, Thabo Mbeki.
The South African
leader, who was appointed by the Southern Africa Development Community
to broker dialogue between the warring parties in the Zimbabwean crisis,
announced recently that he had made a breathrough in the
It was announced in the press recently that Mbeki had, against daunting odds, managed to persuade the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition camp to agree to an agenda in preparation for dialogue designed to find a solution to the political tensions in Zimbabwe.
I have always been skeptical of Mbeki's breakthroughs because of his track record of raising false hopes.
During his first stint as peace broker between 2000 and 2004, his efforts floundered at the altar of his "quiet diplomacy" approach under which he was accused of having a soft spot for the Harare regime. Current developments seem to show that nothing has changed.
Any optimism I had as a suffering Zimbabwean that our plight would at last be eased through the SADC initiative quickly evaporated when I read the pre-conditions Zanu PF has set for its engagement in any talks with the opposition. The intransigent ruling party listed these demands in response to a call by the mediator on both sides to make submissions on the most important issues on their minds.
Zanu PF's document is nothing but a long list of demands designed to subjugate the other side even before the talks begin, which serves to confirm the ruling party's notoriety as a political monster only interested in "swallowing" other stakeholders whenever negotiations are called to resolve national issues.
Zanu PF seems as
determined to use the prevailing national crisis to silence any opposition
to its tyranny as it was when it emasculated the late Joshua
History is repeating itself. Zanu PF is responsible for the political and social disintegration that has brought Zimbabwe to its knees and caused untold suffering among the people but it is behaving like the wronged party in the dispute by making unreasonable demands upon the opposition. Following persistent allegations of electoral fraud and rigging of elections on which Zanu PF has never come clean to the satisfaction of all Zimbabweans cheated out of their right to choose a government or throw out one that has ceased to serve their interests, the ruling party now seeks to bulldoze its way to gain legitimacy.
It has demanded that as a pre-condition to the proposed talks the opposition should "declare its acceptance of the president and government's legitimacy and act accordingly in both language and action". The opposition will have to be extremely alert to these Zanu PF ploys to use the Mbeki mission to wriggle out of the tight spots it has put itself into and over which it has tortured and killed hundreds of innocent opposition activists. It should not be allowed to claim legitimacy through the backdoor of the talks agenda. It should submit to scrutiny through free and fair elections, which should be one of the outcomes of the Mbeki initiative if it is handled fairly and transparently.
Another of the Mugabe regime's dishonest demands is a call on the opposition to call for the lifting of the targeted sanctions under which Mugabe and his henchmen are languishing and fuming.The regime has gone to desperate lengths to claim that these sanctions, which were imposed because of the regime's dismal human rights and governance record are the root cause of the economic rot that everyone knows is the result of the ruling party's reckless policies, corruption and outright pillaging of national resources and looting of the fiscus that has continued for the last 27 years of Mugabe's rule. Why should the opposition be expected to extricate Zanu PF from problems it brought upon itself?
Zanu PF , which through its ridiculous demands unwittingly concedes that the opposition rather than the discredited Mugabe regime, is the respected voice of reason in Zimbabwe, expects the MDC to take over the function of promoting foreign relations. The regime expects the MDC and non-governmental organisations which it has persecuted relentlessly, to "act in unison and call upon the British government and its allies to honour the Lancaster House compensation obligations, lift all forms of sanctions and stop forthwith the campaign to effect regime change in Zimbabwe."
Why should the opposition be required to bail out the government when it is stuffed with ministers and bureaucrats paid by the taxpayer to perform all the normal duties of a functioning government? Moreover, Zanu PF is only prepared to allow the opposition the freedom to speak on these issues to make things comfortable for itself. It thwarts the opposition's attempts at every turn when it tries to speak on behalf of the oppressed people of Zimbabwe.
The clearest sign that the Zanu PF leopard will never change its spots is its demand that the MDC should not refer to draconian pieces of legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) as being repressive but simply as security legislation!
In other words, the people of Zimbabwe, who bear the brunt of the Mugabe regime's tyranny and know where the shoe pinches, must not even be allowed to describe their plight as they see it. Mbeki's mission will be another monumental failure and a waste of time and resources if he legitimises this Zanu PF madness and arrogance by accepting these unreasonable and self-serving demands as part of the agenda.
Mary Revesai is a New Zimbabwe.com columnist and writes from Harare. Her column will appear here every Tuesday
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