11 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Let's Get Started

opinion

Evidence on the ground shows the hardening of positions in the inclusive government and worsening economic sentiment which does not augur well for 2013.

With the life of the inclusive government nearing its end, the battle lines are now clearly marked between ZANU-PF and its rivals whereupon President Robert Mugabe's party is showing no signs of giving in to reforms contained in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) while the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations are hell-bent on resisting polls until the political playing field has been levelled.

While President Robert Mugabe declared last year that Zimbabweans will go to the polls in March, not many people, including those in his party - ZANU-PF - seem to take him seriously because of the many hurdles partners in the unity government must go past in order to create the conditions that would allow credible elections to take place.

A bright future for Zimbabwe is dependent on the conduct of free and fair elections - there is no doubt about that. Anything short of that would only benefit a few individuals who thrive on chaos while prolonging the suffering among the majority of people.

In his Christmas message, Prime Minister (PM) Morgan Tsvangirai hit the nail on the head when he described 2013 as being a year with a clear potential to define the destiny for Zimbabwe and leaving an indelible signpost for transformation and holistic progress for all.

But the year can only offer a breakthrough from the torturous past if the premier and his rival, President Mugabe bring down the barriers that have prevented them from implementing the GPA since September 2008 when they, along with Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara appended their signatures on it.

The difficult questions on everyone's lips are: When is the country likely to stage elections to bring the curtains down on the hopeless inclusive government? Can industry, which has been haemorrhaging for more than a decade outlive another gruelling year in which the cash crunch could snuff life out of the surviving companies?

The fact that there hasn't been a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis since September 2008 shows that the country's leadership is clueless about the way forward. But there is no price for guessing that the economy and the generality of the population would emerge out of the current year battered and bruised.

It is difficult to see the economy regaining its balance, regardless of whether elections are held or not, in the absence of political will to address the root cause of the crisis, which is an uneven political playing field.

PM Tsvangirai and President Mugabe are not oblivious to what needs to be done to get out of this quagmire. They have simply let down their fellow countrymen by remaining deeply entrenched in self-serving party positions in total disregard of what they agreed on when they appended their signatures to the GPA four years ago. As a result, none of the milestones they had envisaged in September 2008 have been implemented.

Hopefully something would give this year to offer respite to the economy and the people of Zimbabwe.

It is the stuff of legends that captains of industry have held on for this long despite the liquidity crisis frustrating their efforts. In Bulawayo and other regions, the situation reached crisis levels long back but every other solution has been torpedoed by the political wrangling in the inclusive government.

The resilience on the part of Zimbabweans has also been amazing.

Zimbabwe can easily transform itself into a land of plenty provided there is political will to re-ignite its potential. The country has fertile agricultural land and is endowed with a wide range of minerals numbering over 60. The country also boasts of the highest literacy rates on the continent.

What has been lacking is the political will to get the country out of the woods. The country has been bleeding profusely from self-inflicted political injuries and now it has become a laughing stock across the globe.

Also in his Christmas message, PM Tsvangirai alluded to the challenges that lie ahead: The conclusion of the constitution-making process; the national referendum; a watershed election and the hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly. He said these landmarks require a combined national resolve to make it possible for Zimbabwe to maintain its pole position as a resilient and vibrant player in the Southern African Development Community and in Africa.

"The manner in which we shall conduct ourselves shall be instructive to the future by laying a solid foundation for transformation in a nation once on the wrench of an internal conflict, for many decades," he said.

Regarding the constitution-making process, he said the country's leadership has a historical obligation to seed a firm, humane and democratic political culture by making this initial step a success.

But for 2013 to make a positive difference in the lives of Zimbabweans, the leadership must practice what they preach. It is not good enough to talk non-violence when violence is flaring up in the countryside every day; it is not good enough talking about elections when nothing is being done to prepare for those elections; it is not good enough to speak good when you do not act in good faith.

The current year must therefore be a year of action. If the political leadership fails Zimbabweans on this score, they shall surely be forced to act by circumstances way beyond their control one day. It is therefore wise to get started before it is too late.

This is not the time for political brinkmanship; it is time for employment creation and growing the economic cake. This is not the time to dwell on history; it is time to make history. Zimbabweans must never live their lives on history's terms but on their own terms. It is however, political brinkmanship that is preventing them from savouring the moment.

Zimbabweans have suffered the most and all they need now is respite that comes from leadership and they need it now. They can only be able to harness what the future holds for them only if there is political rapprochement.

God bless Zimbabwe.

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