EDITORIAL COMMENT: Partners ED can do without Mr Chamisa

IN the next few days, most likely next week, President Mnangagwa will announce his new Cabinet. This will follow the swearing-in of members of the National Assembly on Wednesday. Advice has been coming fast and furious, much of it reflective of the views of those who have been at war with Zanu-PF for the past 20 years, and the bitterness of losing the recent elections by MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.

Two issues have featured prominently in the Cabinet debate: that it should be mostly young and that it should be politically-inclusive.

At the heart of calls for youths to be appointed to Cabinet are claims of competency, agility and being technocrats. It is argued that some ministers have been in Government since 1980.

On the surface this is reasonable enough. We expect young people to come up with new ideas, to bring new ways of doing things, to rejuvenate the bureaucracy. We indeed believe that there are millions of young Zimbabweans the world over with skills and the goodwill to help their country prosper.

President Mnangagwa has already pledged to be inclusive, both technically and politically, in his selection of Cabinet. There is need for new blood and institutional memory.

We have a caveat though. Being young and new doesn’t necessarily translate into performance and hard work. It doesn’t translate into personal integrity, professionalism and being honest. We have witnessed over the years the catastrophic failure of MDC-led urban councils to deliver basic services such as clean water, refuse collection and road maintenance. Government has had to intervene to repair a number of roads in Harare which had become impassable, with attendant costs to motorists in frequent vehicle repairs.

Some of the councillors were voted in on the basis of party affiliation, without a clue of what is expected of a councillor. Once they had the opportunity, from being lodgers they became multiple stand owners in five years. Today some of them are the so-called land barons. Nobody can trace the source of their riches.

Being young alone can, in fact, be a national liability. Chamisa’s reaction to his loss in the July 30 elections is living testimony of a young man who fails to temper his political ambitions with the lived reality. He has lied to himself and his supporters and is prepared to cost human lives, every time feigning to be religious and to be speaking on behalf of the whole nation. He is a demagogue who has damaged the youth brand. He has failed the test of responsible leadership from the youths.

That last point puts President Mnangagwa in an invidious position about political inclusivity. If Chamisa had been reasonable in loss, there was an accommodating father in Mnangagwa who has been very tolerant and gracious in victory against a churlish loser.

From day one of his electoral victory, ED called on Zimbabweans to bury their political differences and focus on rebuilding the economy. This was crudely rejected by Chamisa. He went to the Constitutional Court. He lost badly. He is still in denial. Worse, his motivation is not economic rationality but a naked quest for power. Still, after his Concourt loss ED invited him for an embrace as a son of Zimbabwe. This was again turned down.

Unfortunately, commentators and analysts have not helped Chamisa come to his senses. They have tended to indulge his every claim, in the process insinuating it is ED who should go on his knees to beg Chamisa. In short, they have been deceitful, searching in every nook and cranny for a technicality to prove that Chamisa could have won the elections.

We are trying to drive home a few points for those dreaming of another GNU. It requires goodwill. In the circumstances, Chamisa and his people have declared they can’t work with Zanu-PF “murderers”. With all the best intentions, how does President Mnangagwa form a partnership with people with such a negative attitude? How do you imbue harmony in such a Cabinet?

To be a Cabinet minister means sharing in Government secrets of a serious security nature. But in the opposition we have Zimbabweans who are sworn to working with foreign enemies. The risks are incalculable even for someone as magnanimous as President Mnangagwa. He has a Constitution to defend, at the very least.

Two, Chamisa and his MDC Alliance seem to be confused. While attacking ED claiming the courts don’t confer legitimacy but the people, they are all over the courts hoping to be declared the legitimate winners of the July 30 plebiscite.

Three, the alliance still lives in the past, believing they alone can confer legitimacy on ED’s Government. The world has seen through their charade and is ready to work with the new Government. They have seen the reforms taking place on the one hand, and the skulduggery that Chamisa and his alliance are capable of.

We conclude that forming a politically-inclusive Cabinet, while desirable for Zimbabwe to reduce polarisation, is being made almost impossible by Chamisa’s intransigence and brinksmanship. Such an arrangement requires a meeting of the minds, otherwise you risk a dysfunctional Cabinet where you work with people you can’t trust to keep State secrets. That’s the dilemma ED                                                                                                                                          faces.

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