By Freeman Chari
What I am going to write here is not new. It is common knowledge. It claimed the life of Hebert Chitepo and Josiah Tongogara. Rugare Gumbo, Henry Hamadziripi and Dzinashe Machingura spent close to 3 years in a dugout prison in Mozambique because of it.
Joshua Nkomo spent years in exile because of it. It is not new. What I am going to do is just remind you. To make you remember that the same jeans we are calling new-age fashion today were here even before we were born. This is not new!
When Nkomo confronted Mugabe about the highest decision-making body in government what did Mugabe say to him? “ZANU PF politburo!” It’s there in The Story of My Life by Joshua Nkomo.
In December 1997, after a ZANU PF congress without any fiscal consultation Mugabe declared that War Veterans be issued compensation amounting to a lump sum of $50000 and a monthly payment of $2000 for life. There are many decisions that ZANU PF has made on behalf of the nation either in politburo meetings or congress that have made it virtually impossible to distinguish between ZANU PF and Zimbabwe.
In 1990, Patrick Kombayi stood against Simon Muzenda in Gweru. These were the days of ZUM. He was shot and permanently paralysed by CIO operatives Elias Kanengoni and Kizito Chivamba who mercilessly pumped seven bullets into him. Both were convicted and sentenced to seven years in jail.
Before they could even serve their sentence Mugabe pardoned them. Today Kanengoni is Deputy Director – Internal of the CIO. That’s what happens if you are a ZANU PF thug – you get rewarded for your ruthlessness.
In 2000, MDC won 57 of the parliamentary seats despite the violence that claimed the lives of people like Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya. How many of you remember the Bikita West by-election? Yet Claudius Makova was sworn in despite the trail of blood that election had.
In 2002 exactly 10 years ago, we bore witness to a clear message from General Zvinavashe, that the office of the President was a straight-jacket , which people like Morgan Tsvangirai were not fit to occupy. This rendered elections just academic. Indeed they were!
In 2008, we saw the army and other state arms unleashed on the people by the same people who claim to protect them. It was clear that, ZANU PF was going to lose the run-off and so despite the wish of the majority we were cornered and squeezed until we accepted them as our rulers.
Today Zimbabwe is talking of a new constitution. What constitution? Whose constitution? ZANU PF only uses the clauses in situations that favour them and ignore it when they want to flout it. Doesn’t the current constitution protect the rights of its citizens? Yet every day, in the presence of that sacred document we are persecuted. Let me remind you of what happened in Botswana.
When Festus Mogae was president, every Motswana would boast that theirs was the best constitution. When Ian Khama became president and began to use the loopholes in the constitution to persecute people like Motswaledi , they began crying for a new constitution.
The truth though is that the character and moral standing of people in positions of authority coupled with the culture of transparency and tolerance in society elevates a constitution to its sanctity. In short, we are wasting precious time and scarce resources on a futile exercise.
ZANU PF needs power. They are even ready to run an election alone and win. In actual fact, this is what is going to happen. There is no way that ZANU PF would want to run against MDC at this juncture, not because MDC itself is in any better position but simply because people are fed up.
I have heard people talking about SADC; do your math. Khama is busy trying to deal with the political crisis in his own country, Dos Santos, Kabila and Bingu are Mugabe’s buddies. Sata is closer to ZANU PF than MDC. Zuma has muscles that can only be flexed up to Limpopo.
History has taught us that ZANU PF has a daring inclination towards the unthinkable, like what happened with the Commonwealth or even the SADC tribunal. If we are to free ourselves then we should be able to amass a force that is able to compel ZANU PF to cede power.
I know that the first idea that crosses your mind is having an alternative army. That is actually a last resort but should never be ruled out. Elections in Zimbabwe should be held under the auspices of an international force. It won’t be the first time it has happened in our country. It happened in 1980. That is the only way ZANU PF can ever accept defeat.
MDC should immediately leave the GNU. They have failed to influence the course of government, and thus it is imperative they leave this GNU and concentrate on putting pressure on ZANU PF to accept an international force into Zimbabwe.
There is nothing that MDC has achieved that needs protection except its reputation. Gideon Gono is still Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Tobaiwa Mudede is still the Registrar General and is clear that the voters’ roll is in good shape, Johannes Tomana is still the Attorney General.
The Police force does not listen to Theresa Makone. Tendai Biti only holds a small percentage of the national purse. So why is MDC still in government?
Finally, I hear Munyaradzi Gwisai and crew were found guilty for watching videos about the Egyptian uprising. This is a ploy to keep all of us anxious. Whether they are jailed or not it will impact the case of Solomon Madzore (MDC-T Youth Assembly Chairperson) and other comrades in custody.
It’s just a clear message about who is in power and what happens to anybody bent on changing the status quo. My only hope is that the trials and tribulations of Gwisai, Gumbo et al spur the activists more than it will the fund-mongers.
Freeman Chari is a former student leader