BY: Wilbert Mukori
It has been a hard slog just to reach a consensus that Zimbabwe is facing a serious economic and political crisis. There is a mountain of evidence to prove the crisis but even that has not helped since we live in a country where denials and falsehoods are common currency on par with truth and facts.
The Zimbabwe economy has been in total meltdown as evidenced by the unemployment rate that has soared to dizzying height of 90%. According to a 2019 World Bank report, 34% of the people in Zimbabwe were living in “extreme poverty”. Meaning they could not afford one decent meal a day much less the other basic necessities such as education for the children, health care, etc.
The corona virus outbreak has made the health and economic situation in Zimbabwe much worse as the country did not have the economic resources to deal with the pandemic and its health care service had all but collapsed before the outbreak. The number of Zimbabweans living in extreme poverty has soared way above the 34% and the corona virus is taking a heavy toll.
Zimbabwe’s corona virus cases and deaths are very low compared to SA for example but this is because the Zanu PF regime has done 20% per capita test to those of SA. The regime is in denial of the worsening economic crisis and the ordinary people, who enduring the economic hardships, are getting restless and demanding change.
Zanu PF’s response to the people’s demand for change is to ramp up the political oppression and hence cometh the political crisis.
It has been a slog just to reach the consensus that Zimbabwe is facing a serious economic and political crisis, Mnangagwa and his cronies have not concede the point and never will, but we must move on.The next challenge is to explore what is the root cause of the crisis and then what must be done to end it.
“At the risk of being the bearer of bad news, the ANC delegation that arrives in Harare today will not achieve any meaningful outcome. This is because what is widely described as a crisis, means different things to the stakeholders. The conversation starts at cross purposes.” Said Dr Godfrey Gandawa, Former Deputy minister of Higher Education and Professor Jonathan Moyo’s deputy, starting us off on the quest.
As far as Dr Gandawa is concerned three stakeholders who are at cross purpose:
“The MDC believes that the crisis is a bilateral dispute between itself and Zanu PF, which can only be resolved by Zanu PF surrendering power to the legitimate winner of the 2018 election. Over the past two years, this has found expression as the ‘crisis of legitimacy’.
“Meanwhile, the so-called G40 believes that the crisis arises from the 2017 coup which ushered in the Mnangagwa regime. The 2017 coup is viewed as the genesis of military interference and state capture. To fix Zimbabwe, the coup must be cured.
“Unfortunately, the South African government does not accept any of these arguments. It recognises Mnangagwa as the legitimate president elected in 2018 and affirmed by the Constitutional Court decision rejecting the challenge to his victory. That matter is settled.”
The fundamental flaw with Dr Gandawa’s contribution is that he should have started by establishing what the REAL cause of the crisis is before considering what the various stakeholders say.
The country is in economic ruins because of 40 years of gross mismanagement, rampant corruption and rank lawlessness that has made Zimbabwe a pariah state. It is near impossible to do business in a pariah state.
If Zimbabwe was a healthy and functioning democratic country the people would have removed the corrupt and incompetent Zanu PF regime from office years ago. Zimbabwe is a de facto one-party state and Zanu PF has rigged elections all these last 4 decades.
The root cause of Zimbabwe’s economic and political crisis is the country’s failure to hold free, fair and credible elections.
The solution to end the crisis is self evident: implement the democratic reforms to stop the curse of rigged elections. The only reason why the reforms have not been implemented is the lack of vision and/or political will.
Beside the three stakeholders name by Dr Gandawa above, there are two more Mnangagwa and his Lacoste Zanu PF faction in government and the ordinary Zimbabweans, the voiceless majority. The following is the position of the five composite groups as regards the true root cause of the crisis and the implementation of the democratic reforms to end the crisis:
Zanu PF created the de facto one-party dictatorship by instigating the Gukurahundi massacre and has shed more innocent blood to retain the dictatorship. The dictatorship has given the party carte blanche dictatorial powers including the power to rig elections. Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF cronies have rigged elections for the last 40 years including the July 2018 elections. Zanu PF will never reform itself out of office. The only way to get the reforms implemented and thus end the crisis is for Zanu PF to step down to allow the reforms to be implemented.
Nelson Chamisa’s choice to reduced the Zimbabwe crisis into a Mnangagwa legitimacy crisis is both flawed and dishonest and must be dismissed with the contempt it rightly deserves. The primary task of 2008 to 2013 GNU was to implement the democratic reforms everyone agreed, if implemented, would have ended the curse of rigged elections. The task to implement the reforms then fell to the MDC leaders and they failed to get even one reform implemented. Zanu PF rigged the 2013 and the 2018 elections precisely because Chamisa and company sold-out by failing to implement the reforms. In condemning the July 2018 presidential result only as flawed and illegal, Chamisa is cherry picking. Chamisa’s proposed solution is for Zanu PF to agree to a power sharing arrangement where Chamisa and a few other MDC A leaders will be assigned cabinet positions. A parliament with 2/3 Zanu PF majority will never ever implement the reforms taking away the party’s dictatorial power including the power to rig elections.
It is not surprising that the Zanu PF G40 faction members should consider the November 2017 military coup as the sum total of the Zimbabwe crisis. Until the coup, they were one with the Lacoste faction that seized power. And if they were to return back into power they would fight to retain the same dictatorial powers they had before the coup. Some of the G40 leaders, like Professor Jonathan Moyo, Dr Gandawa’s former boss, have aligned themselves with Nelson Chamisa’s MDC A and will argue for military reforms and nothing more. What we want is the raft of democratic reforms to end the dictatorial powers to be implemented.
Dr Gandawa is right, President Ramaphosa, SA, SADC and AU have all endorsed Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections as acceptable and Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF regime as the legitimate. This is the exact opposite of the position SADC and the AU took following the 2008 elections; they condemned the elections and so were able to arm twist Mugabe to agree to the raft of the democratic reforms in 2008 Global Political Agreement. It is hard to see how President Ramaphosa can force Mnangagwa to implement any meaningful democratic reforms if the July 2018 elections are accepted as free and fair; much less get Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF regime to step down!
The ordinary Zimbabweans are the most important stakeholders in this whole Zimbabwe crisis debate and yet Dr Gandawa did not even mention them. The explanation is obvious – the de facto one-party dictatorship has usurped the ordinary people’s freedoms and basic human rights including the right to a meaningful say in the governance of the country and even the right to life itself. The only solution worth the spit to Zimbabwe’s economic and political crisis must restore the people’s freedoms, human rights and dignity. What Zimbabwe needs is men and women with the vision and the political will to get Zanu PF to step down so the country can implement the democratic reforms to restore the freedoms and rights of all Zimbabweans including the right to free, fair and credible elections. The worst thing President Ramaphosa and his envoys can do is impose a Zanu PF led GNU to save the selfish interest of the ruling elite at the expense of the long suffering Zimbabwean populous!