The Herald (Harare)

6 May 2014

Zimbabwe: Ending the Culture of Lying

editorial

It is known that politicians will do anything to gain mileage and project relevance. For many of them, no claim is too base, no lie too lurid and no act too treacherous in the pursuit of power. It matters not what the broader consequences are, so long as the politician with vaulting ambition is unhindered by the thinnest of moral fabrics imaginable. We have seen this in Zimbabwe over the past 14 years in which quisling political parties have pushed sponsored agendas without paying any regard to the national interest or the welfare of the people.

We saw it when Mr Morgan Tsvangirai pleaded with South Africa to cut electricity and transport links with Zimbabwe. As if he were resident in South Africa. We saw it again when Mr Tsvangirai gleefully accepted cheques from white farmers who wanted his party to protect them from land reforms and thus deny the black majority ownership of their own land. As if he was a white a farmer.

And then we saw it once more in his vocal opposition to the indigenisation and economic empowerment policy in defence of foreign investment. As if he was a bringer of FDI.

All too often, Mr Tsvangirai has stood in solidarity with alien interests against the broader national interest. It is part of his deeper opposition DNA which seems to instinctively drive him to say "no" to anything that does not serve the interests of sponsors. But now the sponsors have gone.

They have left him broke and alone and now the opposition can say that which they could not say in years gone by.

In recent weeks, we have had MDC-T secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti stating unequivocally that their party lost in the 2013 elections because; firstly, they were politically and ideologically naïve and poorly organised, and secondly because Zanu-PF had practical programmes that the people could relate to and had better co-ordination. A senior party official, Mr Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, more recently also admitted to the same things in essence.

And now Chatham House, a key establishment think-tank in Britain whose "reports" and "studies" over the years have incestuously fed off MDC-T's sponsored claims, now concedes which political party the majority of the people of Zimbabwe support.

So what is the significance of all this? Indeed, why should it matter to Zimbabweans, many of whom have long distrusted the opposition anyway? For starters, and most obviously, it is refreshing -- and a relief -- to know that the opposition and its erstwhile sponsors do not actually believe the lies they have been perpetuating about Zimbabwe's elections.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there has been an attempt to keep the entire nation bogged down in a non-argument of electoral legitimacy instead of focusing on more important issues to do with our development and overcoming the present economic and social challenges.

Mr Tsvangirai and company have for close to a year now tried to project a relevance that they all but lost on July 31, 2013 by trying to keep the nation talking about an electoral process that is not only long-past, but was also given a clean bill of health by numerous progressive international observers.

With the admissions now coming out, what we need to see next is recognition of the status quo, which will breed the kind mutual respect that can only take us forward as a politically mature nation. This is in relation to internal recognition and respect by all political players, and then the same process on the international scene, particularly with regards to Zimbabwe-West engagement.

We all know the reasons related to land reform that led to the Zimbabwe-West fallout, and there is no need to rehash them here.

What is hoped is that the Chatham House report and the admissions by opposition leaders will signal a first tentative step towards establishment of mutually beneficial relations.

Again locally, it is hoped that political players will now discard the culture of lying and instead advance the national interest.

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