CONVERSATIONS WITH MAWERE
"Invest in the change you want to see"
- Mutumwa Mawere -
The Zimbabwe We Want: A conversation with Mr. Roy Bennett
Posted on February 23th 2008
Zimbabwe was born out of the womb of a brutal, unjust and unconstitutional colonial system. Regrettably, no serious foundational and construction issues of the post colonial state occupied the minds of not only the founding fathers of Zimbabwe but citizens in general to the extent that no serious attempt has been made to create a consensus on the kind of ideology, values and morality that should underpin the post colonial state.
At 28, the country has come of age and yet the political discourse even at this eleventh hour of change suggests that more effort needs to be exerted to locate the change agenda in broader context than the political actors that may be on stage.
Zimbabweans will make a choice about who should become their President for the next five years on 29 March 2008. However, it is evident that an investment is urgently required to improve political literacy of not only the registered voters but all interested parties who must and should play a part in helping shape the destiny of the country.
Over the last 8 years, the political landscape of Zimbabwe has been dominated by two major political groupings i.e. MDC and ZANU-PF. ZANU-PF inherited the colonial state and it is evident that the members of MDC would not be satisfied with any post-Mugabe construction in which they will play second fiddle to anyone. At independence, the attitude of ZANU-PF was not dissimilar to the attitude of MDC and it is not farfetched to suggest that is ZANU did not win the 1980 elections; the liberation struggle was going to continue.
Although the liberation struggle was prosecuted with the sole objective of restoring sovereignty to the people, it is instructive that only ZANU was advanced as the only authentic custodian of such sovereignty. In such an environment, elections do not really matter and yet Zimbabwe finds itself in 2008 at the crossroads and painful choices have to be made. Fatigue is evident but hope is missing in action.
When a new beginning is about to come it is normally evident as it was after the Lancaster House constitutional talks were successfully completed. What is different about 2008 is that the two political actors President Mugabe and Tsvangirai who have dominated the political scene for the last 8 years are not prepared to accept the inevitable that Zimbabwe needs to turn a new leaf. The country's future has regrettably now been reduced to the fate of these two individuals.
Rationality has now been subordinated to political expediency. President Mugabe cannot imagine a day in which he would call Tsvangirai his commander-in-chief and at the same time, Tsvangirai regards President Mugabe as illegitimate. The MDC has accepted that the outcome of the forthcoming elections has been predetermined and yet no consensus exists on how to respond. The polarisation of the Zimbabwean politics is largely a reflection of the architecture of the colonial state where no democratic avenue existed for change.
President Mugabe has not accepted that there is no better Zimbabwean than him to preside over the state and equally Tsvangirai has made the point that real change must situate him in the statehouse. The Rhodesian economy is on its knees and President Mugabe is not convinced that he may be a liability rather he genuinely believes that the future of Zimbabwe is brighter under his watch. On the other hand, Tsvangirai is convinced that he has paid his school fees and the scars that have been inflicted on his body must be rewarded with a new address at statehouse.
Whether the people of Zimbabwe are tired of this kind of political bickering is no longer an issue for the two opposition parties. Until recently, the two individuals were the only principal political actors but this has changed with the emergence of Simba Makoni as a candidate. Many have associated the world view of President Mugabe with his political party and yet the reality may suggest that ZANU-PF has failed to establish itself as a party of principles and a shared political morality. President Mugabe has dominated the party for too long to the extent that his personality has now become part of what many people perceive to be ZANU-PF. What President Mugabe thinks usually becomes the order of the day.
At independence, Zimbabweans adopted a Republican constitution underpinned by a shared desire to create a new society founded on republican values. Although the colonial state was founded on the premise that it was irresponsible to give natives civil rights, it is not evident after 28 years of independence that Zimbabweans notwithstanding the election rituals are any more free to shape and define their destinies than at independence.
The Movement for Democratic Change was expected to introduce a new culture in Zimbabwean politics and on the eve of the forthcoming defining elections it is significant that Mr. Roy Bennett, Treasurer of the party, shared his insights on the kind of Zimbabwe he and his party wants to see. Mr. Bennett was a beneficiary of the colonial system that Mugabe fought against and yet at independence, Mugabe was magnanimous enough to embrace his former adversaries.
Having carefully read Mr. Bennett's interview with Ms. Violet Gonda of SW Radio Africa, I thought it is important to capture some of the significant issues that he addressed so as to enhance the quality of conversations that are taking place among not only Zimbabweans who have a direct interest in the outcome of the elections but friends of Zimbabwe who may have an indirect or remote interest in the future of the country.
Although the interview covered a whole range of critical issues that help define the kind of thinking that informs the MDC, I thought it is important to locate Mr. Bennett's thinking in a broader context of key construction and foundational principles that I feel were overlooked by all concerned in the enterprise of post colonial nation building.
Article 28 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides as follows in relation to the qualification and election of the President:
(1) A person shall be qualified for election as President if-
(a) he is a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth or by descent; and
(b) he has attained the age of forty years; and
(c) he is ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe.
(2) The President shall be elected by voters registered on the common roll.
(Subsection as amended by s.2 of Act 15 of 1990 - Amdmt No.10).
(3) An election to the office of President shall take place within ninety days-
(a) before the term of office of the President expires in terms of section 29; or
(b) after the office of President becomes vacant by reason of his death or his resignation or removal from office in terms of this Constitution;
as the case may be.
It is evident that there is nothing in the constitution of Zimbabwe that says that an interested citizen must belong to a political party for him/her to be eligible for the highest office in the land. Any democrat who believes in the supremacy of the constitution would find it hard to criticise any Zimbabwean who registers and whose nomination is accepted by the Court to run for the office of President.
However, nomination of Simba Makoni has exposed not only ZANU-PF but MDC's lip service commitment to the constitutional order that ought to have informed the post colonial democratic regime. President Mugabe has already made his comments about Makoni preferring to label him as a prostitute only because he chose to offer himself as an independent candidate after being dismissed from the party following his decision to offer himself as available for nomination as a candidate for the post of state President.
If America was Zimbabwe, it is not difficult to imagine how Obama would have been treated for imagining that the Zimbabwean promise included satisfying his aspiration to lead his people to a new destination. There is nothing that would have stopped Makoni from being nominated as a candidate for the state Presidency under the ZANU-PF ticket because for anyone to be eligible for the post, the Nomination Court has the final say. There is no provision in the constitution that a candidate has to be the President of a political party to be eligible for nomination.
The involvement of political parties in the nomination process has tended to undermine the constitutional order in that the process used has been fraught with problems to the extent that in the case of both MDC and ZANU-PF, there is no consensus on the candidates nominated. It is unlikely that the test used for Makoni will be applied to all the parliamentary candidates who elected to challenge the parties and proceeded to get their names nominated as party candidates outside the party list.
To the extent that President Mugabe purports to be a democrat, it is ironic that he would have a problem in Makoni exercising his democratic right to offer his name to be considered by the people. The President took an oath to respect and uphold the constitution of the country and yet he is the first person to criticise Makoni for doing what the constitution entitles him to do. If the President's views are contrary to the provisions of the constitution as they appear to be, then surely he has disqualified himself from being the head of state.
There must be something about Simba Makoni that would make President Mugabe and Tsvangirai agree. He has been condemned by both parties and what is ironic is that even Bennett finds the participation of Makoni as treacherous leading to many observers asking the question about what kind of Zimbabwe; people who support Tsvangirai want to see.
In the afore-mentioned interview, the exchange between Violet and Bennett on the Makoni factor went as follows:
Violet: In your view who is the Diplomatic Community trying to impose?
Bennett: They are trying to impose Simba Makoni right now.
While it is accepted that only Zimbabweans are eligible to nominate a citizen who qualifies for the post of President, it is significant that Bennett presumably representing his party has come to the same conclusion that Mugabe came to when Tsvangirai also decided to throw his name in the ring before that for anyone to even imagine of being a President that person must necessarily be a puppet of the west.
Yesterday, it was argued that Tsvangirai was a puppet of the West and now Bennett, a person who purports to be a democrat is now arguing that Simba Makoni is not a principal rather is a creation of the diplomatic community.
It is significant that Bennett fails to expose the names of the culprits but it is evident that the USA, EU, Australia, Canada and New Zealand not forgetting the Nordic countries would be on top of the list.
After 8 years of struggle for change in Zimbabwe, one would have expected a person like Bennett to appreciate the need for more players to enter the political space so that voters can have more choices rather than seek to condemn the country into the politics of division and acrimony.
Violet: Can you talk a bit more about that? What is your assessment on the emergence of Simba Makoni, and what makes you say that the Diplomatic Community is supporting him?
Bennett: Well basically all you have to do is to look at the chattering class, look at the internet that is not available to the average people and listen to the Diplomats and pick up on their communications between each other that's very, very easy to see. What people don't realize Violet is that everybody wants a solution to Zimbabwe and they want a quick solution and they want a solution that they believe will happen and that ZANU PF will have to be part of that solution. It's not going to happen. The people of Zimbabwe want change, they want rid and gone of ZANU PF and they will settle for nothing else.
Again it was the same with the entrance of Arthur Mutambara into the whole issue of the President of the MDC. How and where in the world does someone parachute into a Presidential position never having addressed a branch meeting in the rural areas? And right now as we watch Simba Makoni, we see Simba Makoni walking with three people from his house into a room and making press statements. He tells us he is not alone, we've seen nobody else come up and stand next to him. There are rumours of that person and this person but at this stage how can we take him seriously? Have we seen him standing in front of a gathering of people, have we seen him addressing a branch? He throws a manifesto and puts out a manifesto without a political party.
Just say by some fluke chance he gets elected into government and you've got the MDC with so many seats and ZANU PF have so many seats, one obviously being in the majority of the other, we have got a Westminster system of government, so how now do you form a government? He has to go back to that party and ask them to form a government. What does this manifesto stand for if he is going to either go to one of them to form a government? Surely it's their manifesto that is going to count. We have to look a lot deeper into this to understand the dynamics of what is happening. And will not settle for a stooge to be pushed forward to be given a soft landing for the very people who have committed atrocities right across the lengths and breadths of Zimbabwe.
Mr. Bennett believes that ZANU-PF is not going to be part of the solution. If President Mugabe had taken the same choice at independence that Bennett is proposing now that all white settlers should be rid of and nothing short of this was going to be satisfactory, I do not believe that he would be relevant today in the affairs of Zimbabwe. Bennett is of the view that: "The people of Zimbabwe want change, they want rid and gone of ZANU-PF and they will not settle for anything else." When Bennett talks of the people of Zimbabwe it is not clear who he is referring to. Does he speak for all the people of Zimbabwe? How did he come to establish that the people of Zimbabwe have reached this conclusion and yet accept that elections are important for Zimbabweans to decide on who should govern them?
When Bennett says that the people of Zimbabwe want ZANU-PF to be eliminated what precisely does he mean? Does it mean that ZANU-PF as a body corporate will be de-registered or banned under the Tsvangirai era in as much as ZANU and other parties were banned during the colonial state? Does it mean that a victory by MDC will return Zimbabwe to its colonial past where participation in political activities was criminalised?
If Mugabe could accept that the Rhodesia Front was as Zimbabwean as ZANU at independence, what are we to make of Bennett's views? Is it the case that when the MDC is talking of change it means that only Tsvangirai and his colleagues' views will be the gospel in the new Zimbabwe? It is important that Mr. Tsvangirai clarifies his position on this defining nation building issue.
Again Bennett like Mugabe believes that it is wrong for Makoni to have entered the race as an independent when he said: "How and where in the world does someone parachute into a Presidential position never having addressed a branch meeting in the rural areas? Was it the intention of the founding fathers of Zimbabwe that for any citizen to be eligible for nomination to the post of President they need to belong to political clubs? If this was the case, then surely the constitution should have provided for this. Bennett finds it wrong for Makoni to have a small circle of friends and supporters and then uses this to suggest that he should not be taken seriously. I would have thought that a person who purports to be a democrat would find no offence in Makoni becoming a candidate in an open race. It should be left to the voters to make their choices but it is evident that there are some Zimbabweans who believe that the constitution was written for a select few. On this point, it appears that President Mugabe's views are not entirely different from those of Bennett suggesting that the kind of change that the MDC may be seeking for may be more dangerous than what is prevailing now.
It is true that Makoni like Mugabe and Tsvangirai have been nominated in a similar manner and it would be wrong for anyone to suggest that Makoni should have been disqualified in violation of the constitution necessarily because he has not addressed a rally. We should tell Bennett and President Mugabe that the constitution is clear and deliberate on the question of the qualification of the President. To my knowledge the four candidates whose nominations have been accepted by the Court are equal before the law and should be treated as such. It would be contemptuous to then suggest that there should be another litmus test that MDC and ZANU-PF should impose outside the constitution.
Like Bill Clinton who referred to Obama's foray into Presidential politics as a fairy tale, Bennett has the audacity to say: "Just say by some fluke chance he gets elected into government and you've got the MDC with so many seats and ZANU PF have so many seats, one obviously being in the majority of the other, we have got a Westminster system of government, so how now do you form a government?
Bennett is wrong to suggest that Zimbabwe has a Westminster system of government. The constitution of Zimbabwe has no provision for a monarchy rather the head of state is elected directly by the people. It may be the case that the President and the majority of the members of Parliament come from the same party but the constitution of Zimbabwe contemplates a situation where a President could be an independent and yet still have a parliament dominated by people from different parties. The Zanufication of Zimbabwean politics may have distorted Bennett's understanding of the constitutional order obtaining in the country.
The President has a different mandate under the Zimbabwean constitution from that of the legislature and will have to select his cabinet from among the elected parliamentarians thanks to the Constitutional Amendment No. 18 that now makes it difficult for a President to select his cabinet from outside Parliament. In fact, this amendment may make it difficult for a President to find suitable cabinet members if parliament is dominated by people who may not have much to offer to any government. It does not necessarily mean that being elected as a parliamentarian necessarily makes one a suitable candidate for the executive branch of the government. However, the same system applies in the case of the UK but it is significant that the President is directly elected rather than coming from the majority party.
Bennett then makes a number of factual errors on construction issues like suggesting that if Makoni won the elections he would need to go back to the party and ask them to form a government. The constitution of Zimbabwe does not impose such obligations on a President. All Makoni would need to do is simply to identify parliamentarians who may wish to be considered for appointment to cabinet. The cabinet will have to reflect the choice of the President rather than the choice expressed in an election. I have no doubt that if Makoni were to emerge as a President, then all the parliamentarians who like the majority of Zimbabweans have been yearning for change would be prepared to bury the past and join forces to advance the interests of Zimbabwe.
What is worrying is that people like Bennett who purport to be change agents would rather have President Mugabe and ZANU-PF remain in power rather than open their minds to another alternative that may involve ZANU-PF and MDC parliamentarians. While it is acceptable that Bennett like many South Africans have invested heavily in one individual, Tsvangirai and President Mandela, respectively, it should not be the case that if Tsvangirai were to lose the election and Makoni were to win then Zimbabweans reject the outcome when it is common cause that the real agenda for change is to get someone other than President Mugabe in statehouse.
I would like to believe that the people who support Makoni's candidature are as patriotic as the people who have supported Tsvangirai and continue to do so. However, it would be wrong for the post-Mugabe era to be reserved for only the MDC as was the colonial state reserved for settlers with no respect for the rule of law and property rights. Zimbabwe needs a new beginning and it is evident that Bennett and his principals are not ready for the new Zimbabwe electing to remain locked in the politics of yesterday.
Bennett makes the case that MDC will not settle for a stooge while not accepting the ZANU-PF position that it equally will not settle for a stooge. It is evident that the stalemate will continue while the people of Zimbabwe will continue to be condemned to poverty. ZANU-PF members are convinced that Tsvangirai is a stooge in as much as Bennett believes that Makoni is a stooge so the circus will go on. What a shame that people like Bennett do not have better judgment.
The views of Bennett confirm the widely held view that the new Zimbabwe under the MDC may take Zimbabwe back to Rhodesia. Bennett makes the statement that people who have committed atrocities right across the lengths and breadths of Zimbabwe should not be given a soft landing as if to suggest that all the white settlers should be subjected to the same standard for similar transgressions. Given the history of Zimbabwe, Bennett of all people should be the last person to hold such views particularly in view of the fact that like Makoni, Tsvangirai and many others he was also a member of ZANU-PF. President Mandela has been credited for putting South Africa above his personal injuries and it is regrettable that people like Bennett would want a new Zimbabwe that is divisive and less tolerant.
Imagine Mugabe reading about Bennett's interview and what would go through his mind?
Violet: So what do you think are the implications of Makoni's candidature?
Bennett: Well I think when I give it some deep thought and look into the whole issue, I can only think of one thing, Violet. I can think that having no party, standing as an independent President, he is going to have to form a government. Should, and he is only banking on ZANU PF because he is a ZANU PF man he's banking that ZANU PF will win the highest number of seats within parliament. Mugabe will be very, very embarrassed because they have won the highest number of seats and he will have been defeated as President. So he will have to stand down or they will have to have a vote of no confidence and remove him, in which case they will call a congress and then appoint Simba Makoni as the President and therefore he can take off as President of Zimbabwe.
Is it the case that Makoni is a ZANU-PF man? If so, what would stop people calling Bennett a racist only because he was part of the colonial system that excluded the majority from political and economic participation? This raises the question about the key constructional issues of the post colonial state. If it was founded on principles of forgiveness then surely that must be evident in the language of the political actors. Is it ironic in the case of the US that in as much as there may be disagreement among the various political actors about the reasons for going into Iraq, there is no suggestion that after a new President is elected his mission would be to eliminate Republicans from America and also seek to disqualify any republican from running for office.
President Mugabe has been nominated and he is a candidate like Tsvangirai and Makoni and, therefore, he has no choice but to abide to the will of the people. Zimbabwe's sovereignty resides in the people and it should be left to the owners of Zimbabwe to pronounce their opinion on who should govern the country.
Violet: What I also don't understand and maybe you can give us your thoughts on this. Many people say that Makoni is just an extension of ZANU PF and that if the goal is to keep the regime in power, so why not just have Makoni stand as the ZANU PF candidate instead of him becoming and independent candidate?
Bennett: Well for exactly the same reasons as what happened in our split. A minority decides that they want to be President and it's not being endorsed by the majority. So they connive and make plans to defeat the majority in order to achieve their goals. He was defeated at the presidency of ZANU PF, but now he has come in, and he said that he has people behind him and he is hoping to pick up votes across the board because he is an opportunist and right now it's ripe for the picking in Zimbabwe because as I said to you earlier an incumbent loses an election and an opposition never wins an election.
An incumbent loses the election by his policies. Every man and his dog today in Zimbabwe want change. Why do they want change, they want change because of their life and difficulties that they face on a day-today basis. There is not a single person who cannot see the failure of ZANU PF and they have lived under the violence and distraction for the last 28 years so they want change. Simba Makoni through his cohorts realized this so they have like opportunists tried to jump in to take advantage of that change in order to then go back to ZANU PF when he is the President and install himself as the President of ZANU PF, and for those that are with him to protect the ill gotten gains, to protect the human rights abuses and not to face the people of Zimbabwe. That's the way I see it and that's the way I believe it Violet.
It is not accurate for Bennett to state as fact that Makoni was defeated at the Presidency of ZANU-PF. My understanding is that President Mugabe's terms as President of the Party is due to expire in 2009 and the national elections just happen to occur when he is still the head of the party. Accordingly, as head of the party, he was endorsed as a candidate at the December special congress. No elections were held or called for otherwise all the other office bearers of the party would have been recalled.
Whether Makoni has people behind him or not is irrelevant as the voters will be the jury. I should like to believe that even the so-called ZANU-PF political heavyweights have not been given more than one vote each. If this is the case, then the people who can tell Makoni that his time is not now are the people in Zimbabwe.
Bennett then labels Makoni an opportunist while accepting that it is highly unlikely that the opposition will win. If Bennett concedes that victory is remote should he not be open-minded instead of pre-empting what may emerge as a surprise for the people of Zimbabwe. If change is the primary agenda for the opposition then surely the MDC must be the first to embrace Makoni for taking the courage to run as an independent. While it is unjustified to call Makoni an opportunist, I am sure that Bennett would take kindly labelled as such.
It is a historical fact that Bennett and his fellow settlers were allowed to protect their gains acquired through non-market forces during the colonial era and now would want to suggest that the same policies applicable to beneficiaries of the colonial state be restricted only to ZANU-PF. He wants ZANU-PF to face the people of Zimbabwe instead of all perpetrators of injustice to face the people of Zimbabwe without favour or prejudice.
Violet: What about the fact that Mutambara MDC is waiting to throw its support behind Simba Makoni?
Bennett: I think that clearly explains that the split in our MDC and that is the way it always has been. They are going home, they are joining ZANU PF where they belong.
The fact that Mutambara elected not to offer himself for the Presidency was his personal choice based on his own assessment about his chances of success. It is not correct for Bennett to allege that Mutambara played any part in the October 12 split of the MDC. What would be helpful is for Bennett to record historical events accurately rather than to opportunistically seek to shade the truth for political expediency. The leadership challenges that MDC faced were as natural as the challenges facing many political organisations. ZANU-PF has its own history of such challenges and, therefore, the maturity of any movement is measured by its ability to resolve such challenges. However, it has become a habit for the opposition to blame ZANU-PF even for personal differences that occur between party members.
To allege that Mutambara is ZANU-PF is political mischief at its best. I do not think that Bennett is fair to seek to undermine Mutambara who was invited by senior members of the MDC who sought to assert their rights in a party they genuinely believed was betraying the democratic values on which it was founded. I would like to believe that Mutambara has played his part and history will be kind to him. His input was useful in the Mbeki-led initiative and credit must go to Tsvangirai for accepting the fact that there were two formations of the MDC and the opposition parliamentarians had divided loyalties.
It would be wrong to suggest that the parliamentarians and members of the MDC who chose Mutambara to be their leader are fools. Surely, if change is the motive behind Bennett's activism then respect of the choices made by others must be the starting point. Mutambara has never been a creature of ZANU-PF and his record speaks for itself. It is always easy to criticise other people but it is important to imagine how different the history of Zimbabwe would be if Mutambara had not accepted to lead the leaderless formation that had chosen to differ with Tsvangirai. It is also important to imagine what would have happened if Tsvangirai had been elected President and the differences of opinion had emerged while he was in office. Would Tsvangirai have accepted and respected the right of Ncube, Sibanda and others to differ with him without using the state machinery to discipline them?
The manner in which the MDC has resolved the differences between its members should be a cause for concern especially given the propensity of Africans to abuse state power when they seize it. I can appreciate Bennett's views on power given his colonial heritage and it may well be the case that Mugabe also inherited the strategies and tactics used by the colonial state to handle his opponents.
To the extent that Bennett is a senior member of the MDC one has to carefully evaluate his comments because they may have a bearing on key foundational principles of the post-Mugabe era. Anyone with interests in the future of Zimbabwe like me has to factor the Bennett equation in the construction of a new Zimbabwe and implications thereof on the rule of law and black property rights.
Could it be the case that Bennett supports Tsvangirai because a deal on property rights has been cut? Why would Bennett not be open to allow Zimbabweans to make their own choice in an electoral process without prejudging the outcome? Even if Makoni were to win, it appears that Bennett will still find a reason to manufacture conspiracy theories forgetting that in 1980 the incumbent Muzorewa/Smith lost to ZANU. Equally, ANC won in 1994 in an election where the balance was tilted in favour of the status quo.
Zimbabwe deserves a new chapter and it is evident that Bennett would rather take the country back and lock it into the polarisation that transformed the Zimbabwean promise into a nightmare.
Violet: But wasn't the ethos of the Mutambara camp - wasn't it to destroy ZANU PF from within and that included working with reformers within ZANU PF. There are some who believe that Makoni is a moderate and that he could help weaken the Mugabe regime. So if the Tsvangirai MDC is calling for all progressive forces to fight Robert Mugabe, why not form an alliance with him to do so, if that is the case?
Bennett: We understand, that's why I said, we haven't seen it yet but we believe from the press and the chattering class and what is thrown at us that Solomon Majuro is backing Simba Makoni. Now, the properties that Solomon Majuro has stolen, the wealth that he has stolen through corrupt practices, do you really think that after the suffering we've had in the last eight, nine years by standing up for democracy and challenging the system of ZANU PF of corruption, of murder, of rape and of blunder; do you really think that we could get into bed with him now and call that an alliance of all democracies or an alliance of all democratic forces to defeat the dictators? Why don't we just join up with Mugabe and say we are all one and let's just go ahead.
Bennett states as fact that Mujuru has stolen some properties without naming the victims. He also makes allegations that Mujuru has acquired his wealth corruptly without naming the corruptor. He then makes the point that reconciliation is not acceptable in the new Zimbabwe as if to suggest that Mugabe was wrong in forgiving the beneficiaries of the colonial state. I know that Bennett would also find it easy to label me a thief because it is common cause that the colonial state had zero tolerance on black economic empowerment. Whatever Bennett acquired during the colonial state must be accepted as legitimate while any capital accumulation that has been acquired in the post colonial state is easily defined as proceeds of crime.
The criminalisation of the beneficiaries of the post colonial state is regrettably not a monopoly of the MDC. Even President Mugabe has accepted the notion that black progress necessarily represents corruption. The state machinery has been targeted at blacks on the premise that the objective of a post colonial state was not to advance the careers of the previously disadvantaged rather to entrench the wealth primitively acquired during colonialism.
It is significant that Bennett and his colleagues have invested in a new reality where corruption has taken a black face. Anyone associated with ZANU-PF is then easily labelled corrupt. To the extent that Bennett now wishes to revisit historical injuries it is important that we all join in this conversation so that we can comprehensively deal with the reasons why poverty in Zimbabwe like many African countries has a black face. I am acutely aware that in as much as I may be angry at the loss of my assets to the government of Zimbabwe, I would not have acquired any such assets if the colonial state had been under settler control.
I would not be surprised if Bennett finds the expropriation of my assets justifiable. What is ironic is that in Tsvangirai, Bennett may have found a leader who has also accepted that whites are not corrupt. It would be interesting for Bennett to give us any names of white ZANU-PF cronies and suggest how they should be treated in the post-Mugabe era.
Bennett has made his choice about who should be welcome in his new Zimbabwe in which Tsvangirai would be his superintendent. The language of Bennett exposes the naivety of some of the most ardent supporters of change in Zimbabwe. They genuinely believe that we are all idiots and for some reason they have more rights than they wish to confer on others.
Violet: Your critics say this issue of people coming from ZANU PF should not really be a factor because a lot of MDC leaders were members of ZANU PF. They say that Mr Tsvangirai was a member of ZANU PF until the late 80s and said nothing during Gukurahundi and that you almost stood as a ZANU PF candidate in 2000. How would you answer them?
Bennett: Very, very simply, Violet. We listen to the call of the people and they told us that ZANU PF was rotten and the policies of ZANU PF were wrong so we formed the opposition. We have welcomed and continued to welcome with absolute open arms anybody who rejects ZANU PF and joins change. We will never accept a lukewarm change within inside ZANU PF and Simba Makoni has come out categorically and said on many, many occasions, he is ZANU PF, he believes in ZANU PF and ZANU PF is his party. So therefore it's not a case of ZANU PF people leaving ZANU PF coming to join the opposition and fight against everything that's destroyed our country.
They are saying to us that Morgan Tsvangirai should stand down and we should come under ZANU PF to form this wonderful new country of democracy. Where they have sat on the Politburo, they have sat and stood by very silently and watched every act that has been perpetrated against our country and against the people of our country. So I don't know Violet whether people think the people of Zimbabwe are fools, whether they think because they are rural devastated populations through the policies of the government, 85% unemployed, can't get any medical help, can't eat, whether they think that has affected their brains, I don't know.
The people of Zimbabwe know what they want. They have stood up for change they have stood behind our President Morgan Tsvangirai a man they can trust, its all about trust. Can I trust Simba Makoni? I very much doubt it. I can trust Morgan Tsvangirai, he's never ever backtracked on what he stood for, and he has never changed on his quest to stand for the people of Zimbabwe to bring them a better life and a new beginning. That's where we are Violet, nothing and nobody is going to change us and we are going to get there even if not this time, next time we will keep going, we will keep trying, and we will get there.
Bennett alleges that ZANU-PF is rotten and hence the formation of the opposition. He then makes the conclusion that anyone who is a member of ZANU-PF is not capable of embracing change. With a population of about 13 million, not all Zimbabweans are members of political organisations and yet in Bennett's mind, there are people who can easily be identified as ZANU-PF. It is accurate to say that less than 10% of Zimbabweans are members of political organisations and, therefore, the proposition that change can be located in political parties only is wrong.
It is common cause that Makoni was a member of ZANU-PF until he was dismissed. Under the constitution of Zimbabwe, Makoni's choice to be a member of ZANU-PF must be respected in as much as Bennett's choice to join the MDC. Surely, any new dispensation must entrench the rights of citizens to make their own choices about who they should associate with. The suggestion made by Bennett is that ZANU-PF is culpable for the economic meltdown and political crisis when it may well be the case that both the ruling and opposition parties should be held culpable for sacrificing national interest to advance their selfish interests.
Mr. David Smith sat on Ian Smith's cabinet and yet President Mugabe appointed him as Minister of Finance. What is striking is that Bennett is suggesting that any person associated with ZANU-PF should necessarily be disqualified from serving in the new Zimbabwe. This kind of arrogance cannot be good for any nation building enterprise. Bennett is entitled to trust Tsvangirai in as much as other people are entitled to trust Makoni let alone Mugabe. Surely, the foundational principles of the post colonial state ought to be the basis on which people should locate their own principles. What is evident is that in a post-Mugabe era in which Tsvangirai/Bennett is in charge, citizen rights may be permanently impaired in the name of change.
The term change has been abused more so in the last 8 years where the agents of past injustices appear now to be angels of change. It is not too late for Zimbabweans to take note of what is at stake for the enemies of real change may not necessarily be restricted to what has been simplistically labelled as ZANU-PF.