CONVERSATIONS WITH MAWERE
"Invest in the change you want to see"
- Mutumwa Mawere -
Zimbabwe 2008 – The politics of change – the Makoni Factor
Posted on February 08th 2008
An election marks a defining stage in any nation but 29 March 2008 represents not only a landmark day but also a significant turning point in the history of post-colonial Zimbabwe.
If one accepts that no change is change one can easily appreciate why President Mugabe's name is on the ballot. Even his most ardent and diminishing supporters would agree that Zimbabwe is at the crossroads and a better day is awaiting it.
The last 8 years have failed to produce the kind of change that the country required to lift it up instead the political and economic crisis has worsened. It is generally agreed that the political stalemate of the last 8 years is a reflection of a leadership deficit that is characteristic of many post colonial states in which fear is the optimal currency used to regulate and manage political behaviour under the guise of consensus and nation building.
Two political parties, the MDC and ZANU-PF led by Morgan Tsvangirai and President Mugabe, respectively, have dominated the political scene over the last 8 years and it is generally accepted that national interest has been sacrificed for political expediency and as a result the frontiers of poverty and hopelessness have increased and not diminished.
I have no doubt that both President Mugabe and Tsvangirai would agree that Zimbabwe deserves better than the kind of leadership they have provided over the last 8 years. While it is arguable whether it would be fair to compare Tsvangirai with President Mugabe given that the former has sought courageously to put his life on the line to bring the language of change at the forefront of political discourse, it must be accepted that the MDC has dismally failed to provide an alternative to the ZANU-PF way of doing things.
It would be grossly unfair if the history of Zimbabwe failed to acknowledge the efforts of MDC and its divided factions in helping expose the policy and leadership bankruptcy of ZANU-PF. However, it must be acknowledged also that rightly Zimbabweans feel let down by the amateurish prosecution of the change agenda and the obvious lack of cohesion and sense of purpose displayed by the leaders of the change project.
The urgency of change cannot be overstated, as is the need to find a viable vehicle for delivering such transformation. Zimbabwe is pregnant and it is obvious that ZANU-PF has also invested in change in so far as it has failed to deliver on the Zimbabwean promise and its leader, President Mugabe, must be held culpable for failing to lift the country to new a destination of opportunity and hope.
Due to the fact that Zimbabwe has not known of any other leader than President Mugabe, one has to start a review of his administration from 1980. When one looks back at the journey, one cannot overlook the manmade disasters and policy confusion, corruption, mismanagement and above all the arrogance of absolute power.
There are many who believe in the face of the most debilitating crisis and exodus of the country's brain trust that they can bury their heads in the comfort of ZANU-PF desert sand ignoring that the future of the entire population is at stake and time for games is over. Equally, there is a belief in the opposition that only the actors on stage have the monopoly of reason and have what it takes to remove the cancer.
The election date is now known and thanks to SADC, MDC and ZANU-PF were reunited into co-sponsoring the constitutional and legal changes that were deemed to be problematic for any transition and electoral legitimacy. The election date is real and so are the choices available to Zimbabweans.
It is significant that President Mugabe sought and obtained a democratic endorsement from his party and not many of his adversaries can claim the same. What is refreshing is that a new factor has emerged in the form of Dr. Simba Makoni who has been persuaded to throw his name in the ring.
The timing of his entrance into the political theatre is significant not only because he waited to allow the MDC factions to come to an inescapable conclusion that they have no consensus leader but also after ZANU-PF had failed to find a leader that can look Zimbabweans in the eye and proclaim that he is offering change that citizens can believe in.
Makoni did not choose the easy rode of enveloping himself into political parties and then finding himself behaving undemocratically like many opposition parties who wanted to cut a deal to protect their incumbency ahead of the people of Zimbabwe as well as change the constitution under the cover of SADC mediated talks. Surely, it would be unfair to conclude that MDC was not party to the legislation passed during the last 8 years that many find rightly draconian and abhorrent to the extent that President Mbeki had to intervene to make the parliament of Zimbabwe work again.
Makoni has made the right decision to stand as an independent because Zimbabwe urgently needs a new direction and if anything, the last 28 years have demonstrated that the fate of a country can be manipulated by one individual even when the institutional framework exists for a democratic constitutional order. One cannot argue that the parliament of Zimbabwe has been effective in protecting the interests of the country and, if anything, no change will be meaningful if such change does not result in a change of the head of state.
Gono has already exposed that Zimbabwe can no longer claim to have a constitutional order in that the budget under his stewardship of the RBZ is no longer a vehicle for allocating national resources. Even the opposition who have been a constant feature of the state as parliamentarians must accept the responsibility for creating a situation where the state has become privatised.
Ordinarily, if all the current members of parliament loved Zimbabwe they would not have offered themselves for re-election after failing the people of Zimbabwe in providing the critical role of oversight. Many have accepted the existence of corruption in Zimbabwe and yet the parliament of Zimbabwe has failed to expose the true nature of corruption and, if anything, many of them have already been accommodated in the gravy train presenting a challenge for any post-Mugabe leader.
Some have argued that Makoni is not a principal but for him to succeed; he necessarily needs the protection of ZANU-PF heavyweights while accepting that such so-called heavyweights have failed to provide the kind of leadership required to lift up Zimbabwe. Does Makoni really need such so-called heavyweights? Do Zimbabweans need a new face to symbolise the kind of change they want to see? Does Makoni represent the face of change?
Makoni's patience must be acknowledged and it just goes to demonstrate that he has thought long and hard about the challenge before Zimbabwe. He needs and deserves the support of all the people of Zimbabwe who rightly have been disillusioned by the many messengers of hope who have turned out to be no better than the people they purported to be fighting against.
Does Zimbabwe need five more years of political bickering? The political environment in polarised and will remain so if this is left to President Mugabe and his long time rivalries. The macroeconomic regression will continue unabated so will the future of Zimbabwe be condemned into a cul de sac. The challenge of restoring legitimacy is before Zimbabwe and I am not convinced that either President Mugabe or Tsvangirai will be able to deliver the kind of economic revival, national reconciliation, regional stability and more importantly remove the country from its pariah status.
At some stage, I had underestimated Makoni's courage to subject himself to the rough and tumble of Zimbabwean politics of recriminations but I must give it to him for taking Zimbabwe first in his agenda. We can only support such courage and I do hope that anyone who wants to see change in Zimbabwe will take Makoni as his project.
Ibbo Mandaza has earned my respect for having the courage and vision of standing up while we all chose to be arm-chair revolutionaries. I have no doubt that Mandaza played a key part in helping convince Makoni to offer himself for abuse. Some will ask legitimately about who is behind Makoni. Please count me in for in him I see hope and it would be naïve for me to expect him to make hope possible while I choose to pontificate about my role in making tomorrow a brighter day.
No change will come out of its own. I have been impressed by Obama's ability to communicate the urgency of now in the context of America and help make the most improbable thing in American history become probable. Can you imagine that in one month his campaign raised US$32 million from ordinary people hungry for change? I have no doubt that Zimbabweans will rise up to the challenge and dig deep into their pockets to invest in the kind of change they want to see in Zimbabwe. Makoni does not need any political heavyweight but needs the financial support and above all the vote on 29 March 2008.
Can you imagine if every Zimbabwean in the diaspora and anyone interested in seeing a different Zimbabwe were to sacrifice one meal for change in Zimbabwe, what a difference it will make to the Makoni candidature. It is never too late to make the investment. I will start with my own R1,000 rand and all I need is to find a bank that will take the money to Zimbabwe for Makoni and the many prospective parliamentarians who stand for a new Zimbabwe.
Together we can make a difference and construct a new garment of change fortressed by a common thread of hope. Anyone interested in this project, please indicate your appetite for change by registering your voice on my website: http://www.mmawere.com/.