By Hopewell Chin’ono
Yesterday morning we woke up to a picture with some of the 2018 Presidential candidates meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the name of dialogue, it was published in the Herald newspaper.
I posted the picture on my social media platforms and chose to take the comical route because I think that the current dialogue pursuit and structure is a big political joke and I will explain why.
Hanging out with Brian Mteki and MaKhupe is a total waste of time for President Emmerson Mnangagwa and indeed for anyone with an interest in seeing Zimbabwe’s problems resolved.
It is also an open insult to the reasonable citizens of this country and a total waste of taxpayer’s tea and biscuits and of course our tax dollars.
Zimbabwe’s problems are political and they have become economic and deeply so because of the political inertia and an inability by successive ZANUPF governments to put country first and worry less about their personal enrichment schemes!
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stopped advancing us balance of payments 20 years ago in 1999, long before we even had sanctions imposed on us by the Europeans and the U.S.
These Bretton Woods institutions (World Bank and IMF) stopped assisting us because we had also stopped servicing our debts, and we were overspending on unbudgeted political projects like the war in the Congo.
When a bank stops lending you money because you have stopped servicing your debts, it is nothing but simply good banking practice.
The President meeting with Sekuru Mteki and Lovemore Madhuku can’t resolve that, our deep problems actually need a genuine and well thought out political and economic reform program.
These political travelers like Madhuku hold no agency for the electorate and they are there at State House representing their own personal interests and we should all tell them so.
This is a dialogue if at all that should start with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa, it should start on the basis of honesty and not deceitfully contrived arrangements meant to scaffold either of them and their narrow party political interests.
So it is delusional to imagine that Zimbabwe’s problems will be resolved by comical meetings with eighteen 2018 Presidential candidates.
Here is the joke if you haven’t gotten it yet, anyone reading this article including yourself who had an extra thousand dollars to spare last year to register as a Presidential candidate, would have been invited by President Mnangagwa to sit in the dialogue meeting on Friday.
Now what does that say about the President’s seriousness to unlocking a solution to Zimbabwe’s biting political and economic problems that are claiming innocent lives daily in our hospitals and villages across the country?
This for me is extremely disappointing because President Mnangagwa got a lot of support and goodwill on the back of messaging from his camp that he meant business and that he would not be playing political games as his predecessor Robert Mugabe did during his “reign”.
A huge amount of well meaning business people who had thrown their lot with the President feel thoroughly deflated today, because they see a playbook similar to Robert Mugabe’s style.
The only missing accessories in President Mnangagwa’s playbook are Mugabe’s political sophistry and eloquence of the spoken word.
That political playbook and style of governance will not take Zimbabwe anywhere, any sane and serious Zimbabwean would know and understand that, unless if they are in pursuit of self-interest and individual crude wealth accumulation.
In 1978 Ian Smith came up with an internal settlement that gave birth to the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia government led by Bishop Abel Muzorewa.
Liberation icons like the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole were party to it, but it spectacularly faltered because among other things, ZANU and ZAPU insisted that it was a bogus convenient political arrangement meant to give Ian Smith breathing space, and they were right in saying so.
We can’t even equate Brian Mteki, Lovemore Madhuku, Thokozani Khupe, Elton Mangoma and many unknowns in that “dialogue” room to people like Ndabaningi Sithole, they hold no such political gravitas.
Sithole had bona fide liberation credentials and like Muzorewa, he had fought against the colonial regime of Ian Smith, but because they joined a dishonest political arrangement, they became irrelevant and were rightly condemned by history for it.
The same will also happen to the lot that is meeting President Mnangagwa and pretending to be key players to unlocking our problems, they are nothing but opportunistic charlatans who are pursuing this route for jobs and money.
They know it very well just as much as we do, that this country is in a mess because of such silly political games that they are playing.
These self-centered games have for decades literally taken the lives of suffering Zimbabweans who are dying everyday for lack of basic medicines in public clinics and hospitals across the country.
The President knows what to do in order to take this country where it should be, and his newfound opportunistic friends know it too, but they are choosing a deceitful route in pursuit of their own selfish gains.
They have endorsed the suffering of our people by not demanding that we have the basic foundation laid down before any well-meaning national dialogue and they know it too well.
I can’t blame the President for having found willing puppets to help him evade the correct political dialogue route, but I blame him for failing us by not implementing what he promised this country during his election campaign.
There is completely NOTHING that this country is asking from him that he did not promise us when he came into office in November of 2017, and subsequently during the election campaign trail.
Every little bit that we are asking him to do was in his election promises, what does it say of the man’s political sincerity if he is not implementing what he promised?
Now the President appointed a 26 member advisory council to help him steer the course, is this what they are advising the President to do?
That advisory council will be equally culpable for this comical play out unless they speak or resign if they are not in agreement with what any reasonable Zimbabwean can see for what it is, a tragic joke.
They can however stay in their chairs if they have no root of decency in themselves, this country is bleeding and people are dying daily due to this political and economic crisis.
It would therefore take a real selfish person to justify the current political games at play, we need leadership, this country needs real leadership!
This Zimbabwe-Rhodesia type of dialogue will not provide any such lasting solutions that would give us a fighting chance to become normal again, we need leadership!
The President can talk all he likes to the Mtekis and Khupes of this world, but until he realizes like Ian Smith did that a lasting solution can only happen when you talk to the leaders with the real people, he is wasting his time.
So are his loyalist cheerleaders and the band of journalists who comically attempt to spin the reality before us, just like what has happened before, history too will judge them accordingly.
It always does!
Hopewell Chin’ono is an award winning Zimbabwean international Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker. He is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and a CNN African Journalist of the year.
He is also a Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Africa Leadership Institute.
Hopewell has a new documentary film looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe called State of Mind, which was launched to critical acclaim.
The recently departed music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi wrote the sound track for State of Mind.
It was recently nominated for a big award at the Festival International du Film Pan-Africain de Cannes in France and in the UK at the Heart of England International Film Festival. You can watch the documentary trailer below.