In the name of the people

IT is five years since Zimbabwe came under an inclusive Government made up of the country’s top three political parties, and each day that passes comes with a greater deal of cynicism about what politics can deliver — thanks to the insanity of the 2008 election.

From the time Tendai Biti was announced as the inclusive Government’s Finance Minister many people thought the vociferous maverick was going to forcefully transform the economy with his bare hands — and those who believe in aid driven development thought Biti would make Western donors inundate the Zimbabwean community like bees to a hive.

For five years Biti has become better known for his annual filibusterous budgetary announcements he makes on the overrated so-called national budget day — a time Biti has used to exercise his jaws exciting the excitable with high sounding financial rhetoric purely meant more to impress the listener, and less to transform the economy.

The inclusive Government was formed with a central theme to reconstruct the political system of the country, and it was the hope of many that the future of Zimbabwe was going to be brighter with the country’s politicians coming together. Never in the history of the country has the national leadership been so pathetic.

We are in an election year, and elections by their very nature are supposed to usher in a new political arrangement, not to ratify the continuity of the status quo — especially the preposterousness we have seen through this inclusive Government.

The glamorous attraction of liberal democracy is indisputable, and the MDC in particular has always fashioned its politics on the rhetoric of the nobility of democracy. But there is always a huge problem with parliamentary or representative democracy — the electoral oligarchy presented to us by politicians as democracy. This is essentially a system trusted most by politicians when they want to pursue selfish interests in the name of the people.

In 1997, this writer was part of a team of Zimbabweans that gathered at the University of Zimbabwe to launch a campaign for a new constitution for the country — a campaign that led to the formation of the National Constitutional Assembly. It was a gathering of a handful of intellectuals, journalists and political activists, and as it were the group immediately elevated itself to a “national assembly,” and from that day on the NCA has ostensibly done numerous things in the name of the people.

While the need to have a people-driven constitution has never really been a contestable issue, it must be made clear that the imperativeness of the issue has often been abused for illicit motives, especially as a fund-raiser for notorious donor mongers like the melodramatic Lovemore Madhuku.

The tawdry posturing by ill-intended politicians can be really disgusting, but we must overcome our overwhelming emotions if we are going to expose in full the evil done by a few in the name of the majority.

Madhuku says Zimbabweans have no idea what the recently endorsed draft constitution is all about. There is no good reason whatsoever to believe the people know what is in this draft constitution, and neither is there any evidence that the same people have an idea who Madhuku is, or what it is he says he stands for.

In fact there is hardly anything done in the name of representative democracy that people fully know anything about. Liberal democracy is often sanitised by emphasising how people-centred it is.

Now that the NCA has been rendered useless by the advent of the new constitution — Madhuku is trying a relevance reincarnation through the formation of a political party. He has openly mourned the desertion of his necropolised organisation by Western donors — and many times he has publicly scolded his erstwhile allies in the MDC-T for siding with Zanu-PF in supporting the ushering in of a new constitution without the Madhuku factor.

He uses his tag as an expert constitutional lawyer to vent out his frustrations on those that spoiled the sweet sliding of his NCA gravy train.
When the MDC was formed in 1999 there was so much pontificating about how so badly the people of Zimbabwe needed change. In the name of the workers Morgan Tsvangirai and Gibson Sibanda elevated themselves to firebrand puppet politicians, albeit significantly popular.

Job Sikhala, Learnmore Jongwe, Tafadzwa Musekiwa and Nelson Chamisa successfully entered the national political realm in the name of students, and others like Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube masqueraded as respectable representatives of the intellectual community — all in the name of representing our wanting people.

The party entered the political scene chanting the meretricious slogan “Chinja!” and Zanu-PF realised in no time that it no longer had monopoly over pretending to be a povo’s party — periodically posturing as revolutionaries at election times before hibernating back to Harare; back to the corrupt corridors of political power for another five or so years.

It was time for something to be done by the people as opposed to the usual pretensions of politicians who often claim to be doing everything in the name of the people.
Using its incumbency in government Zanu-PF allowed the people to take part in determining their own destiny probably for the first time in the twenty years Zimbabwe had been independent.

Land that was still colonially occupied by white commercialised was rightfully and justifiably forcefully occupied by the masses at the initiative of veterans of the liberation war — and government gave the proletariat the rare nod — more for opportunistic political survival and less for the quest for social justice.

After the successful occupation of white-held farmlands the elites then came in the name of organised land redistribution to parcel unto themselves what they classified as A1 farms — pushing the proletariat to fight for smaller plots dubbed A2 in their great numbers. The fruit of the impressive land revolution was almost immediately transformed into a capitalist class project — stratifying a people’s project according social prominence.

While some elites made good use of the huge tracts of land they acquired by virtue of their social standing, others simply left the land idle — all the time laying claim to it while the masses continued to quarrel over whatever little had been availed to them under their class’ scheme.

What started as popular action by the people was slowly but surely turned into a capitalist class enterprise — all in the name of the people.
The ousted white commercial farmers committedly and vigorously opposed their otherwise deserved ousting by claiming they were fighting for the rights of their thousands of farm labourers — another “in the name of the people” campaign that attracted massive support from London and almost every other Western capital.

The slave labourers that used to work for next to nothing were elevated to this image of decent workers at the mercy of lunatic and lawless land-invading masses. Just about every ousted white commercial farmer interviewed by the media went on and on about his very “decent and hard-working” workers had been thrown out of employment by “Mugabe’s land grab.”

Many of them openly campaigned for intervention by “the international community” — all in the name of the plight of supposedly victimised poor workers, never ever in the name of lost super profits.

In the name of our own people Western countries expelled Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth — that post-colonial club of former British colonies curiously formed under Britain and not against it. The farmers and their Western sympathisers immediately embarked on a massive political investment project —throwing in a rather unaccounted manner heaps and heaps of moneybags at the MDC — all in the hope the financial onslaught would help topple President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF from power.

In the name of fighting for the rights of Zimbabweans, 32 Western countries illegally imposed sanctions against the country in violation of whatever the UN Charter stands for, and in total disregard to international trade law. From the year 2000 up to about 2010 Zimbabwe was inundated with donations directed not at its sanctioned and strangulated suffering masses, but at vociferous pockets of pliant civic activists like Lovemore Madhuku — a treacherous lot that amassed so much for selfish gain in the name of fighting for people’s democratic rights.

Essentially Zimbabwe became a war zone for the elites — a trading off of power blows between the State and Western-sponsored Zimbabwean elites. It was never a war that involved the people — never was it a war for the cause of the people. It was a war about power politics — and as it stands in 2013 it appears Zanu-PF finally won that war — and the West now realises the need to work with the revolutionary party if ever economic interests that seem to be fast going China’s way are to be re-secured.

Now we are told of all sorts of face-saving benchmarks and conditionalities from various spokespeople from the West. The usual by line preceding each of these statements is something like “We stand with the people of Zimbabwe in their quest for a democratic society,” — followed by the usual rhetoric about the need for “credible elections” and so on and so forth.

In fact the West has been audacious enough to strangulate the people of Zimbabwe in the name of helping them — bludgeoning the people in the name of punishing its leadership.

The economic sanctions against Zimbabwe are essentially all about punishing the people in order to get at their rulers — a devious strategy of trying to set up the government against the wrath of its own people. Sadly the rented crowds never managed to muster wrath enormous enough to unseat a government.

No-one from the West wants to admit that the current re-engagement efforts with Zanu-PF are all about securing lost privileges to do with economic interests related to Zimbabwe’s vast resources. Rather it is all about love for the people of Zimbabwe.

One can be forgiven for thinking every single Zimbabwean is share bound or is already a shareholder in one business enterprise or another; if the rhetoric about the economic empowerment is anything to go by. The much publicised community share scheme can easily create the misimpression that villagers and foreign investors have finally become thriving business partners in Zimbabwe.

While the principle of localising ownership of the means of production is a sound policy that every African economy worth the name should emulate, it is quite concerning to hear so much of this populist prattling about mass ownership of the means of production — particularly for sectors like mining and commercial agriculture. We cannot allow profligacy to hijack the noble cause of indigenisation.

We need to learn our lessons from the wasteful lot that took up farms in 2000, only to turn them into picnic resorts for weekend outings with mistresses from the cities.
Business is about production and profit more than it is about its ownership, and those who wish to benefit from the indigenisation programme must always remember that they are undertaking a responsibility for growing the national economy.

Election 2013 has become the pre-occupation of every political mind in Zimbabwe, and this is precisely why Tsvangirai’s quibbling-over electoral reforms finds no takers in and outside Zimbabwe at the moment, especially after the credible constitutional referendum.

A lot will be said and done in the name of the people in the run up to this year’s election, and it is incumbent upon every single Zimbabwean voter to turn this election into an economic ballot.

The political ballot of 2008 delivered to us political mediocrity, corrupt politicians, a pervert prime minister, bankrupt urban councils and so on and so forth.
It would be a great national disservice if ever Zimbabweans were to have a repeat of the 2008 vote – an election that ratified the entry of the insane into parliament and senate.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!!

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in Sydney, Australia.

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