8 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Tanonoka Joseph Whande - MDC Must Stop Zanu-PF Violence or Get Out of the Way


Political parties, mediators, civil society and those who should know better are talking about elections as if that is the solution to our problems.

Indeed, elections would be welcome if only to rid ourselves of parasites in this bloated malfunctioning government. We need one political party in office but there are a lot of issues that have to be dealt with before we can talk about elections in Zimbabwe.

President Robert Mugabe recently declared that he wants elections to be held in March next year to which his coalition partners in government responded with statements claiming that the date was not acceptable.

But Mugabe still insists that elections be held in March.

Last Thursday, South Africa's minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, stated that Zimbabwe must hold elections by June 2013 "once conditions on the ground are ripe for a fair contest".

I fail to understand how South Africa and SADC, which empowered it, can bother with the issue of fixing election dates when they are doing absolutely nothing about bringing about those conditions that would make the holding of elections possible.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic change, of course, rejected the month mentioned by Mugabe.

"The issue with the MDC is not so much about the date for elections but the circumstances under which these elections will be held," Douglas Mwonzora, MDC spokesperson, said in response. "We want free and fair elections, therefore key reforms must be met before elections and one of that is a new constitution, security sector realignment and equal access to media by all parties."

And there is a variety of other issues that need to be addressed apart from the few that the MDC mentioned. I do not understand why the MDC is so lukewarm when it comes to the issue of violence perpetrated on its own supporters.

Since its formation, MDC supporters have always been victims of ZANU-PF violence. Its followers still get killed and beaten up. Its members, including cabinet ministers, are always harassed and arrested.

In rural areas, MDC supporters are at the mercy of the military while in urban areas, vigilante groups are mushrooming and attack MDC supporters at will. But all this appears to be the least of the MDC leadership's worries. They don't arm twist ZANU-PF, South African President Jacob Zuma and SADC the way ZANU-PF does.

I feel saddened that the MDC views violence against the people as expected and normal in our country. They will need to do more than say a few words after the brutalising of their followers. They have to twist arms, offer quid pro quos to make their opponents sit up and take notice.

Twenty nine of their supporters have been in detention for well over a year and the MDC has not succeeded in assisting them to get released, except for token statements.

And just this past week, the MDC-T Treasurer for Midlands North, John Kinnaird, and his wife Jackie were brutally attacked in a manner and barbarism that taint the government and nation of Zimbabwe. Certainly not something we expected a few days after Mugabe preached peace and supposedly urged people to be peaceful, as he has meaninglessly done over the years.

Mugabe need not say all this to the nation; he should address his supporters, not the nation. He should tell his thugs to stop attacking people. Why should he preach peace to the victims instead of sitting down his supporters and tell them to stop the bull?

And what is SADC and South Africa doing about this violence before the elections? Nothing, they are concerned about setting the date for the election.

Before SADC and South Africa start getting excited by elections in Zimbabwe, they might want to remember what happened to us in 2008. Today, the same scenario of violence is already unfolding yet they do not actively seek to intervene.

Reporters are being subjected to arrests, threats, imprisonment and attacks but both South Africa and SADC have no time to intervene or to just wag a finger at ZANU-PF.

A few weeks ago, Baby Hitler Julius Malema went into Zimbabwe to show solidarity with ZANU-PF goons and actually had some reporters roughed up by his bodyguards. How typical! I wish such human waste could flow towards the sea instead of going up stream.

What is SADC and Zuma doing about the draft constitution? They all watched as the re-writing of the draft was used to attack and threaten the people. They watched as so-called drafters were bullied into producing a bastard of a draft constitution that carried very little of what people wanted in their constitution.

It beats me why even so-called mediators overlook the basics in situations where chronology is as important as the intended result.

It is bad enough that even if elections were to be held today, they will be held under a disputed Constitution. Having set to use a constitution that is not people driven, why can't we at least try to travel the remainder of the road on the correct side?

There is no doubt that whether we use the current or new constitution, Zimbabwe is once again being set on the wrong rails that will undoubtedly lead to chaos.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has already declared that once the elections are over and they win the elections, they will set out to repeal some sections of the constitution, the same constitution that they are campaigning for people to accept as of now. What kind of strategy is it to use a faulty constitution to attain the position of president then immediately undo the same constitution? Why should we write and adopt a faulty constitution with the intention of re-writing it immediately after?

How phony can we get; we don't even seem serious ourselves.

We cannot have a situation like this and Zimbabwean politicians have adopted a dangerous attitude from the South Africans who find fun in playing around with a nation that is cannibalising itself while South African business is providing the forks and knives for this sad political jamboree.

Shouldn't SADC, which appointed Zuma as mediator to Zimbabwe's political negotiations, be heavily influential in the country's politics because it brokered and guaranteed the power sharing Global Political Agreement?

But South Africa and SADC are cowards who have neither the mandate, power, know-how nor a speck of an idea of how to solve problems in the region. Where has SADC ever shown its teeth and succeeded?

They have remained silent as journalists are killed and abused in the region. They have remained silent as people are killed and abused in Zimbabwe. To hell with SADC and this mediator Zuma.

What both SADC and Zuma should be telling Mugabe is that there shall not be any elections until all outstanding issues are met; until people's safety is guaranteed; until oppressive laws are repealed and until the media is freed.

After that, they should themselves be active in Zimbabwe to make sure that all conditions for holding elections are met.

The heart of the matter is that the only campaigning that should be taking place in Zimbabwe is that of the MDC criss-crossing the country and the continent raising awareness over the violence and skewed atmosphere that cannot entertain any semblance of a democratic election.

The MDC must draw the line and save people from unnecessary violence and avoid plunging the nation into further chaos that would be legitimised by the elections held under unfair conditions.

The MDC must tell both SADC and Zuma to actively and physically make a presence in Zimbabwe to monitor the installation of conditions that can pave way for free and fair elections instead of just running around the globe on useless junkets pretending to be a ruling party when they cannot even protect their staunchest supporters.

First things first. The MDC must stop ZANU-PF violence or get out of the way.

Until it does that, the MDC should leave the people alone and not lure them into the death trap of the polling stations.

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