Fact Finding Mission That Never Was. WE ARE BACK TO SQUARE ONE!
16 September 2020
It took six months for Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) to release the official 2008 election results with Patrick Chinamasa then Legal and Justice Minister insisting that they were correcting ‘anomalies’ which were in the database.
According to ZEC insiders, the late icon and MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai had polled over 75% of the popular vote, and there was apparently no need for a second round of polls. It took Thabo Mbeki, the then South African President, to fly to Zimbabwe to play a mediation role between the warring parties.
Mugabe deployed the military and ‘thugs’ throughout the country, to assist Zanu PF to retain the presidency by any means necessary on June 27, 2008. Tsvangirai pulled out of that ‘sham’ run-off against Mugabe citing many irregularities which include among others spates of arbitrary arrests, intimidation, torture and government-organized violence against all suspected MDC supporters.
His decision followed a campaign of unimaginable brutality in which independent human rights group and MDC estimated 153 MDC supporters were killed and thousands were displaced and had their homes burnt down by suspected ZANU arsonists and neds.
Mugabe, after orchestrating state-sponsored violence then went ahead uncontested and ‘won’ an eerie election with only one candidate. He faced serious resistance at AU meeting following his re-election where he was embarrassed in full view of the whole world after failing to justify to the international journalists the uncanny one man race and his subsequent inauguration. Both SADC and AU forced Mugabe to accept mediation between his Zanu PF party and Movement for Democratic Change led by Tsvangirai.
Thabo Mbeki flew to Harare to talk to the two leaders, Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe and they came up with Global Political Agreement (GPA) which brought about the Government of National Unity (GNU), an Inclusive arrangement. The arrangement lasted for only five years and recorded some positive results. Mbeki flew back to his own country where he was crucified few days after brokering a short-lived resolution to Zimbabwe’s crisis.
The SADC facilitated talks which were mediated by Mbeki resulted in officials drawing hefty allowances from the bankrupt government with meetings being held in Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia.
However Zimbabwe was back to square one after disputed 2013 elections
After all these costly meetings, mediations, talks, jaunts, we are back to square one and it has dawned on us that these so called conciliators are just creating ‘ghost envoys’ and trips to fatten their pockets.
Following 1 August 2018 shootings where seven innocent civilians were gunned down by soldiers in broad day light in Harare CBD as a result of yet another disputed poll, President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed a Commission of inquiry which was led by former South Africa Kgalema Motlantte.
The Commission’s work was marred by horrible fiction and embarrassing episodes with some senior military officials making unbridled gaffes which left the whole country almost dumbfounded and irate. The Commission’s mission failed to yield meaningful results but left citizens more divided than ever amid high political temperatures.
Late last year Cyril Ramaphosa, the current South African President dispatched an envoy led by Thabo Mbeki whose mediation in Zimbabwe remains unclear. Mbeki secretively visited Harare on 16 December 2019 and met both President Mnangagwa and MDC Alliance President Nelson Chamisa. Nothing tangible emerged from both meetings.
Few weeks ago, Ramaphosa dispatched another delegation led by Mbete and other few respected ANC officials. The delegation managed to meet President Mnangagwa and ZANU PF only and left the country in less than 24 hours. To date, nobody knows what happened and what the delegation’s mission was. Were these officials on a fact finding mission? If so, why didn’t they meet other stakeholders? Who is funding all fruitless jaunts, luncheons and dinners?
We have gone back to square one.
Recently, #zimbabwelivesmatter was introduced as citizens registered their displeasure following a spate of human rights violations by the ruling ZANU PF party. High profile arrests and detentions without trials were recorded. To make matters worse, journalists and democracy activists were allegedly abducted and tortured. The behavior by the ruling party received wide condemnation in Zimbabwe, Africa and beyond with various organizations calling for the ‘thugs’ to cease human rights violations.
Owing to pressure in and outside South Africa, the same Ramaphosa dispatched another ANC delegation to Zimbabwe. Surprisingly, the delegation went straight to Zanu PF Headquarters, and met senior Zanu PF officials. Zimbabweans are not aware of what transpired inside ZANU PF HQ building. The ANC delegation, which no one ever reposes their hope in, said it will come back soon to meet other stakeholders.
We actually back to square one
Zimbabwe is fractured with many unresolved problems and our position as Zimbabwe Institute of Strategic Thinking (ZIST) is we are not supposed to waste a lot of resources hunting for costly solutions outside the country. We need home-grown solutions which will scaffold the nation for growth and stability. ZIST’s role is to facilitate honest talks among Zimbabweans and we will make sure Mnangagwa and Chamisa meet without involving external forces.
We precious minerals which include gold, chrome, copper and we are the second largest platinum producer in the world and diamonds worthy over 60 billion United States Dollars but we are starving. Our own diamonds are being polished in Dubai with our own people and we are losing both human resources and natural resources. What is really our problem? Definitely we have leadership crisis. Foreign mediation projects are yielding nothing and I strongly believe if we stick to home-grown solutions we will take the country out of quagmire it finds itself in.
With all the envoys, commissions, we have over 6 million people who are food insecure. Our nation is divided and people no longer debate maturely on key platforms. The nation is torn with hatred and we have people who believe in juju to solve problems. We have deep rooted corruption in both private and public sectors. Civic are being arrested and the envoys have failed to resolve a single problem.
We are back to square one
Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo is the Head of Zimbabwe Institute of Strategic Thinking – ZIST, and he can be contacted at [email protected]