It is undeniable that our nation needs fresh thinking to move forward and that requires a dialogue that must draw from the vision of all Zimbabweans at all levels and across the world – not just the military such as proposed by Tendai Biti. Interestingly, Vice President Chiwenga and Tshinga Dube have joined the dialogue movement but have not proposed their intended stakeholders – this must concern and balance Zimbabweans.
I am very anxious to see Zimbabweans coming up with new initiatives to move forward – indeed, we need positive thinking. For too long we have been trapped in a quagmire of discouragement and skepticism and it has been very difficult for anyone to come up with a new idea without having it beaten down by their peers. So, by expressing my apprehension at the proposal to involve the army in a future dialogue, I will try to offer some alternative thoughts in a spirit of positive contribution.
My observation is that our failure as Zimbabweans to address the nature of the state is largely to blame for our lack of political and economic progress in recent years. The definition of the state is an essential component of national development and, moreover, the definition of the role of the political party is a crucial part of this discussion. We have deteriorated from a narrow definition of the party as the vanguard of the people, to the party as a ram to enter the realm of power and privilege, and as a fortress to keep others out of it.
The only reason I respond to Biti’s statements is because of my many years of advocating for a Sovereign Zimbabwe National Conference (SNC) where all stakeholders, not those preferred by political parties, but all stakeholders would be represented. There will be church leaders; Zimbabwe Women Rise Up (WOZA); The teachers ‘union, the students’ union and other professional bodies, as well as the leaders of civic groups – in short, civil society. Their voices also need to be heard as the collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy is affecting them as well. The SNC widens the scope of participation. It is no longer between MDC and ZANU (PF). The ZANU (PF) was prepared or set up to “face” the MDC. Now he has to face a much larger group. In addition, the CNS offloads the burden of resolution from the shoulders of Mnangagwa or Chamisa. If I were Chamisa, this is the strategy I would pursue.
The only challenge I have faced with the SNC initiative is that it is only suitable in the case of a failed state or under conditions where a new state is being established. As much as we might point out the failures of our current government to meet the expectations for which it was originally elected, Zimbabwe is not a failed state.
While it is difficult to stand up and oppose a “negotiated settlement”, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) should not repeat the mistakes of the past by becoming a facilitator or facilitator of torture, beatings, horrific deaths endured by opposition supporters at the hands. of a brutal diet. The whole world knows that this “negotiated settlement” bet is a FARCE. So why activate it? The opposition falls directly into the same trap that Morgan Tsvangirai fell into; this is what ZANU PF wanted from the start and now they will find a perfect way and time to play MDC snooker. The regulations will be dictated to the MDC for them to sign and soon after, they will find themselves in the dustbins of political history. Mnangagwa, not the MDC, has full control over the option of a “negotiated settlement”.
Realizing this, I see no valid way for Zimbabweans to collectively shape the state outside of constitutional processes. We cannot relinquish the supremacy of the current Constitution and set up an alternative process that would have sovereign status over the state structures that are safeguarded by the Constitution. Such a move would create an unnecessary power vacuum that would inevitably lead to chaos in today’s volatile environment.
The proposed dialogue should take into consideration the current climate and emerging trends in democratic debate and decision-making in Zimbabwe. The new exemption of 2018 should indeed bring a new vision of the contract between the State and the citizens. The question is: what form of national dialogue will the majority of Zimbabweans have buy-in to become a unifying process, and when is the most productive time for this to take place?
Looking back at the referendum that brought about the 2013 Constitution, there was considerable debate about the nature of the state, its responsibilities and its limits, but this debate was too confined to a select group of “parties”. stakeholders ”identified by 3 political parties. . Citizens in general did not have much confidence in the narrow 3-party process that they included their views, nor did they have the opportunity to directly participate in the debate because the prescribed mechanisms for the doing was too tightly controlled from above. Nothing more open and productive than that was impossible, given the nervous conditions created by the mistrust between the parties. The Constitution that emerged from this flawed process was accepted in a national referendum because Zimbabweans wanted progress. But the slowness with which key articles are enacted and the fact that just 4 years after its adoption there have been proposals to start making amendments is an indication that the process we used to produce this Constitution was insufficient to capture the allegiance of key groups in the nation. This event is rich in lessons for the proposed dialogue.
Representative democracy has so disappointed Zimbabweans that most people dismiss their local councilors as incapable by corrupt structures and dismiss their members of Parliament and the Senate as having little or no dedication to the needs of their constituents. When it comes to a serious challenge, the public often has more confidence in the capacity of traditional or church leaders than their elected officials to understand and support them. Until that changes, the more popular style of direct democracy will remain a pipe dream.