Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

‘History teaches but it has no pupils’

By Tim Mutsekwa

Greetings to you all. l trust life has been kind and you are in reasonable shape. As you might have guessed, it is curtains to another eventful week.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa inspects Russian honour guards during a welcoming ceremony upon his arrival at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport on January 14, 2019. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP)

Emmerson Mnangagwa is shredding the Constitution barely seven years after it was adopted further reducing democratic space in the country. Mnangagwa is using changes to the Constitution to entrench his rule.

According to the amendments approved by Cabinet, Mnangagwa will directly appoint his deputies, the prosecutor general, a public protector and control the promotion of judges.

Zanu PF Secretary for Administration Obert Mpofu at the party’s youth convention in Kadoma is on record as saying that Mnangagwa could go beyond two presidential terms because Zanu PF had the power to change the supreme law.

“We can change the laws … there is nothing that we want that cannot be done because we command two-thirds majority in parliament,” Mnangagwa replied.

Considering his current age l certainly hope this is not the case. If this comes to pass it will be one of the most tragic episodes in Zimbabwe’s troubled history.

Zimbabwe’s constitution, adopted by a 95 per cent majority in the 2013 referendum, enjoys the will of the people; Zanu PF should be told unequivocally that moves to dilute the democratic provisions in the constitution will be met by continued international isolation.

HISTORY TEACHES BUT IT HAS NO PUPILS

Zanu PFs last annual conference virtually served as a vehicle for the party to further close the democratic space in the country through numerous resolutions aimed at entrenching the party and consolidating power.

In key resolutions during the party’s 18th conference held in Goromonzi , Zanu PF stated its intention to stay in power by any means necessary, even if it meant defying electoral outcomes.

It also declared that its leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was the chosen head of state against whose faltering leadership no dissent shall be tolerated.

President Nelson Chamisa was described as a malcontent by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga during the conference.

In its resolutions, the party kept emphasising that it was superior to the government.Reading out resolutions of the committee on the state of the party, political commissar Victor Matemadanda said Zanu PF would not be removed from power and will deploy any means necessary to close out other political parties.

“This is a revolutionary party that liberated this country, and the only one that can defend the revolution; therefore, we will fight to defend that course by any means necessary,” he said.

“Every election is a process to defend the revolution against Western imperial powers working in cahoots with local puppets. We will use any means necessary to defend the revolution.”

Zanu PF also passed a resolution directing the government to jail any person who goes outside the country and speaks ill of Zimbabwe or lobbies for sanctions to be jailed for life.

The party intends to do this through a law that will be crafted via parliament where it has a majority. This would be a blatant denial of the fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms, particularly the freedom of speech.

MORBID SYMPTOMS

The junta is trying to stifle criticism of its misrule and human rights abuses, the very actions which led to the United States and other countries imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe at the turn of the millennium.

These political activities have virtually orphaned the economy with scant attention being paid to addressing the ever-deteriorating economic situation.

This untenable state of affairs demands innovative leadership that inspires and galvanises the nation towards a new thinking to rescue the country from the current socio-economic and political doldrums.

It is time the pre-independence generation accepts that the war came, was successfully executed and is now more of a historical reference point.

Zimbabwe has become a hostage to political die-hards. How do we re-build the nation-state and restore to the people of Zimbabwe the value of justice, compassion, human dignity, national unity, respect for human rights, economic prosperity and inclusive but sustainable development.

Will Zimbabwe’s future be even worse than its terrible past? Can its neighbours bang some heads together to create a “transitional authority” of some sort?

Mnangagwa has never seemed entirely at ease as President. He cuts a dreary, uninspiring figure, with the heavy-lidded eyes of a somnambulist.

Zimbabwe’s economy is spiralling downwards, fuelled by gathering hyperinflation. But don’t waste your time waiting for Zanu-PF to be booted out at the ballot box. As Stalin was wont to say, it’s not who votes that counts, it’s who counts the votes. And previous electoral rigging by Zanu-PF has shown just that.

This is all part of the structural reality of southern African history. The guerrilla groups who fought settler-colonial powers for independence lack the political DNA for true democracy. Not one of them has succumbed to the ballot box.

In the meantime, Zimbabwe continues to skitter along the bottom, except for the tiny, ruling elite who are buoyed by their looting. And its most talented sons and daughters will continue haemorrhaging into the diaspora.

The size of a country’s tragedy should be measured against its potential. Zimbabwe, by rights one of the wealthiest and most educated countries in Africa, is cementing its record as a tragedy of great proportion.

Not only has Mnangagwa’s regime failed all the tests he set out but the situation has reached breaking point. It has squandered the hope and the goodwill of Zimbabweans. It has run out of excuses. Beyond the sponsored Zanu-PF cheerleaders, no one believes sanctions are responsible for the latest economic destruction.

Can Mnangagwa stop the country veering towards the cliff’s edge? It’s most unlikely. Nearly 80 years old, Mnangagwa will leave a legacy of misery and repression.

The best way out for Mnangagwa would involve direct negotiations with President Chamisa, preferably mediated by a credible regional politician, to address the national crisis.

Some in the regime want to exploit chaos to cling on to power. The only conceivable beneficiaries from that would be the people with guns. Not the fat cat generals, air marshals and spymasters but the angry young officers who have seen this predatory elite steal their country and their futures. Their revenge for the ruling elite’s crass betrayal of the liberation cause could turn into Zimbabwe’s ugliest moment yet.

I leave you with a quote from the genius that is Antonio Gramsci [(23 January 1891 – 27 April 1937) an Italian writer, politician and political theorist. Prison Notebooks Volume II, Notebook 3, 1930.

‘’The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.’’

Have a wonderful week till next time.

Tim Mutsekwa (Political Science and International Relations [University of Greenwich], Secretary for Party Business & Investments [MDC UK & Ireland], Twitter : @tsumekwa

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