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Thursday, March 6, 2008

"Makoni hijacking struggle" says Lovemore Madhuku and Mutumwa Mawere's response!

THE emergence of the Simba Makoni “initiative/project” has raised justifiable questions about the direction of the continuing quest by Zimbabweans to end the dictatorship of the ZANU-PF regime and usher in a genuinely democratic dispensation.

One such question is: how should civic society relate to the initiative? More fundamentally, should it be the business of civic society organisations to pronounce their preferences among contesting presidential aspirants?
I have decided to take a few hours from my activist work and put pen to paper to address some of the pertinent issues arising from the Makoni “initiative/project”.
In doing this, I am neither wearing the hat of an academic nor putting on the spectacles of the proverbial analyst. I am here articulating the views of a civic society activist who, since 1997, has been part of a movement that has certain beliefs, values and principles.
Accordingly, the views and positions expressed herein are partisan in that they are controlled by the beliefs, values and principles for which I have been an activist in the past 10 years.
The starting point is to put my cards on the table. Based on the values and beliefs of the movement I belong to, the Makoni “initiative/project” is fundamentally misconceived. It will fail. It has no grassroots support. It misunderstands the nature of the responses required to address our deepening political crisis.
The founding stone of the initiative is the March 29 harmonised election. The planners believe that on March 29, Makoni will capture power from President Robert Mugabe through an electoral process presided over by none other than the President himself.
To them, the reason why President Mugabe is still in power is because those who have challenged him in previous elections did it prematurely and lacked the requisite credentials, support and strategies.
The time has now come, a person with the requisite credentials has been found and the support from appropriate circles is also available. According to them, President Mugabe is a democrat who respects electoral processes and will hand power to whoever is elected on March 29.
Makoni and his backers believe that peaceful street protests, stay aways and grassroots meetings advocating fundamental reforms such as a new, democratic and people driven constitution are inappropriate and misguided. All that matters is a carefully planned electoral strategy that “ambushes” (President) Mugabe and takes power away from him through the ballot.
The response to this approach is simple: the March 29, elections are being conducted under a defective constitution whose raison d’etre is to preserve the status quo. Elections under the current constitution cannot deliver change whatever the credentials of the contestants and however sophisticated their strategies.
Until Zimbabweans put their energies together and push the current regime to embrace a genuine and people-driven reform process that leads to a democratic constitution, power will not change hands through a mere election. Participation in the elections on March 29 cannot be for the purpose of winning power. It can only be for any other good reasons.
This brings me to the question of the day: if power cannot change hands under the current constitution, why are all major civic groups, including the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), urging people to go and vote on March 29?
Different civic groups may have different reasons for urging people to go and vote. For the NCA, March 29 will not deliver a new President but it provides a platform for Zimbabweans to make a statement against the Mugabe regime’s sins, which include being the author of the suffering of the people and above all, its refusal to embrace democratic reforms.
Casting a vote against (President) Mugabe on March 29 is a peaceful protest against dictatorship and a key step in the post election agenda of confronting that dictatorship and advocating for genuine democratic reforms. But the vote on March 29 is not just against (President) Mugabe. It must be a statement in support of a set of values, beliefs and principles, which guide our post-election struggle for change in Zimbabwe.
It is in this context that the presidential candidature of Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) gains a windfall.
The MDC was launched in September 1999 as a result of the deliberations of a Working People’s Convention of February 1999. That Convention was convened by the ZCTU and was attended by most civic groups.
The NCA played a key role at the Convention. At its launch in September 1999, the MDC had two main parents: the labour movement and the constitutional reform movement.
The MDC was formed as a political wing of these two movements to pursue, as a political party, the values and principles that these two movements represented. For example, the ZCTU would expect the MDC, as a political party, to fight for labour friendly policies. Similarly, the NCA expects the MDC to advocate for a new, democratic and people-driven constitution.
Thus, since 1999, there has existed a family: the labour movement, the constitutional reform movement and the political party mothered by these two movements. Each member of the family is a separate entity and independent from the others. The MDC is partisan.
The other movements are non-partisan. Like every other family, certain core family values are shared. In this particular family, the most important value is that Zimbabwe’s political system must be transformed through people-driven processes and that a new, democratic and people driven constitution must anchor that transformation. The family is convinced that a “reformed ZANU-PF” is not the answer because it does not seek transformation.
The family has had its own problems. The MDC has not been consistent in defending family values. On many occasions, it has disappointed the family. There are two most recent disappointments. The first is its support for Amendment 18. It is common knowledge that the other family members were outraged by that misguided endorsement of piecemeal constitutional reforms. The second disappointment is the MDC’s participation in this election under a defective constitution. The family’s preference is “No elections without a new, democratic and people-driven constitution”.
However, notwithstanding these disappointments, the family is agreed on the bigger picture of transforming Zimbabwe through people-driven processes. Whatever his weaknesses, Tsvangirai’s presidential candidature symbolizes the founding values of our movement. Elections on March 29, being held under the current constitutional arrangements, will not make anyone other than (President) Mugabe, the president.
Accordingly, a vote for either Morgan Tsvangirai or Simba Makoni can only be for other good reasons. For our family, our good reason is to support our kind of politics. It is to demonstrate that our kind of politics has the greatest support in the country and must therefore be vigorously pursued in the post-election period.
Our good reason is to use March 29 to set the agenda for the post-election period. As these elections cannot deliver a change of government, the competition between Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni is, to be blunt, “for No. 2 position.” President Mugabe’s “No. 1 position” is secured by the absence of a free and fair election. He has no genuine support.
However, the competition for the “No. 2 position” is serious business. Making a choice between Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai is a big political statement, reflecting one’s position as to the way forward in the current crisis. Morgan Tsvangirai represents the route we have been following since 1997. He is, as a person, not the answer. He represents the answer and must be supported.
A vote for Tsvangirai’s presidential bid is a statement against a “reformed ZANU-PF” agenda. It is important that this statement be made against Simba Makoni and his group because their set of beliefs distorts our post-election agenda of a total assault against the system. This group does not believe in transformation – all they want is to replace (President) Mugabe. These ZANU-PF reformists have no post election agenda because they only have one plan: to win and govern. They are irrelevant in a post-election setting focusing on transformation. They do not believe in our methods. Fortunately, because of our grassroots presence, March 29 will show that the overwhelming majority of Zimbabweans support a total transformation of the system presided over by (President) Mugabe and not a mere tinkering with it
They will reject the Simba Makoni initiative. Makoni will be a distant third in the presidential race. The situation will remain what it is today with one solution – pushing for a genuine people-driven transformation and free and fair elections under a new democratic constitution.

Lovemore Madhuku is the NCA chairman.


Change cannot wait for Madhuku's post-election ambitions

By Mutumwa D. Mawere



LOVEMORE Madhuku, presumably on behalf of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), has attempted to justify why Simba Makoni poses a more significant risk to the change agenda than the removal of President Robert Mugabe.
While accepting that in the current Zimbabwean constitutional order there is nothing to disable Makoni, like Tsvangirai, from participating as Presidential candidates, he makes the case that Makoni should not benefit from the same constitution that allows Mugabe and Tsvangirai to enter the race as individuals seeking a direct mandate from the people of Zimbabwe.
The construction of Madhuku’s argument, published in the Financial Gazette last week under the title “Makoni hijacking the struggle”, raises a number of troubling questions about not only the agenda of the NCA but about his understanding of the existing constitution as it relates to the office of the President and the basis on which such a person is legally created.
The hypothesis presented by Madhuku is that the change agenda is about ending the dictatorship of an ill-defined Zanu PF regime by ushering what he describes as a “genuinely democratic dispensation”. To the extent that Makoni is historically associated with Zanu PF, he then argues that he is a fake and anyone who dares support him is necessarily an enemy of change.
It surprising that Madhuku’s construction of the change agenda resonates with Mugabe’s own construction in so far as the participation of Makoni in the race. They both believe that any credible Presidential candidate has to be pre-qualified by a political party fully knowing that there is no constitutional impediment on Makoni running as an independent.
Madhuku rightly poses the question: how should civic society relate to the Makoni initiative? He chooses to call it an initiative and not an exercise of Makoni’s constitutional right. He then raises the question whether it should be the business of civic society organisations to pronounce their preferences among contesting presidential aspirants?
What is evident from Madhuku’s analysis is that he genuinely believes that his participation in the constitutional movement has uniquely endowed him with extra constitutional rights to know better what is in the national interest.
He makes the case, like Mugabe, that based on his superior values, beliefs and principles, Makoni’s decision to participate as an independent Presidential candidate is fundamentally misconceived. He then proceeds to conclude that the so-called initiative has no grassroots support as if to suggest that the only way to become a President of Zimbabwe, contrary to the provisions of the constitution, is to seek an endorsement from civic society organisations (CSOs) who now have arrogated to themselves the rights ordinarily reserved for citizens in any constitutional democracy.
If Madhuku cannot respect the current Bill of Rights enshrined in the constitution of Zimbabwe, then what are we to expect from the so-called people-driven constitution that he has been advocating? Who are the people in Madhuku’s world? Could it be the case that people like Makoni would be stripped of rights under his proposed new order?
A case is also made by Madhuku that the so-called Makoni initiative misunderstands the nature of the responses required to address Zimbabwe’s deepening political crisis. It is not clear from Madhuku’s analysis how and why Makoni’s candidature alone will necessarily compromise what he describes as a fatally defective electoral process.
If the sole purpose of the election is to preserve the status quo, then why would Madhuku find it acceptable for Tsvangirai to participate and not Makoni, and for that matter anyone else?
He then makes the conclusion that: “Elections under the current constitution cannot deliver change whatever the credentials of the contestants and however sophisticated their strategies. Until Zimbabweans put their energies together and push the current regime to embrace a genuine and people-driven reform process that leads to a democratic constitution, power will not change hands through a mere election. Participation in the elections on March 29 cannot be for the purpose of winning power. It can only be for any other good reasons.”
Based on the above construction, he then argues that power will not change hands under the current constitution but finds it acceptable to urge people to go and vote not for change but only for a particular party and Presidential candidate.
While purporting to accept that the elections are a farce he makes the case that it does provide a platform for Zimbabweans to make a statement against the Mugabe regime's sins and sees it as a stepping stone to a new phase in the struggle for change.
In order to justify his political bias, he strangely makes the case that the election must be a statement in support of a set of values, beliefs and principles, which guide his version of post-election struggle for change in Zimbabwe. While accepting that Tsvangirai’s leadership may not be what Zimbabwe requires, he nevertheless concludes that to the extent that he symbolises the founding values of the movement, he deserves support. Surprisingly, he does not attempt to give Mugabe and Makoni the same benefit of the doubt.
Having gone to a great lengths to justify why Tsvangirai and not Makoni should be supported, Madhuku makes the case that a vote for either Morgan Tsvangirai or Simba Makoni can only be for other good reasons. He exposes his agenda in supporting Tsvangirai that this election will seal his fate, opening a window for new leadership of the change agenda. In other words, Madhuku needs Tsvangirai to fail so that he can have new currency in the post election period.
There is nothing in Madhuku’s analysis to suggest that he is motivated by a genuine desire for change or more fundamentally a new constitution, rather, it is evident that his kind of politics is about partisanship instead of principle, and the past instead of the future.
It is remarkable that Madhuku has the audacity to make the argument that this election should be about the "No. 2 position" and not about removing President Mugabe from office. He concedes that the vote will not count but he nevertheless needs the election to justify a post election agenda that he strongly feels will be distorted by any force of reason emanating from Makoni’s intervention. He appears to be making the case that Tsvangirai has been a reliable partner in the politics of confusion and endless bickering.
While one can appreciate the role the MDC has played over the last eight years in breathing life into many non-state actors including the NCA, it is extremely irresponsible for Madhuku to attempt to recommend the continued suffering of the Zimbabwean people for what appears to be self serving reasons.
On Tsvangirai’s viability as President of Zimbabwe, this is what Madhuku had to say: “Tsvangirai represents the route we have been following since 1997. He is, as a person, not the answer. He represents the answer and must be supported. A vote for Tsvangirai's presidential bid is a statement against a "reformed Zanu PF" agenda. It is important that this statement be made against Simba Makoni and his group because their set of beliefs distorts our post-election agenda of a total assault against the system.”
Madhuku appears to be preoccupied by the post election construction than by the prospect of the election yielding the kind of change Zimbabweans have been yearning for and deserve. It is evident that he is constructively working for Mugabe to win so that his broader agenda can have a new lease of life.
Instead of focusing on removing the stumbling block to Zimbabwean progress, Madhuku is now arguing that Mugabe is not the real problem but Makoni and Tsvangirai. He makes the case that Makoni is so naïve that he would enter a race whose outcome is genuinely predetermined. If anything, Makoni’s participation has helped in confusing Mugabe to the extent that he does not seem to have a coherent message anymore.
The 2000 draft constitution presented an improvement but through the efforts of people like Madhuku, it never saw the light of day. And now, on the eve of a historic election, we find Madhuku again on the side of Mugabe arguing that chaos can replace the ballot as a change mechanism. If Zimbabweans were inclined to follow Madhuku’s suicidal politics of using the so-called grassroots people to replace institutions of government, then surely the last eight years could have demonstrated otherwise.
Who will benefit from the post election economic and political trauma? It is important that Zimbabweans reflect on what is at stake on 29 March and proceed to constructively work to ensure this election be a decisive one. Surely, if Zimbabwe at the minimum has a new leader, that will mark a new chapter in the history of the country.
The country needs a new leader and the only constant thing since independence is President Mugabe and there can be no doubt that a new leader will open new possibilities for the country. It is never too late to convert Madhuku to a genuine democrat who can rise above personal interests. Zimbabwe is too important to be converted into a football that can be kicked around for political expediency.
Mutumwa Mawere's weekly column is published on New every Monday. You can contact him at:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Dear Friends

The recent developments in Zimbabwe generally and on the political landscape have raised a lot of moral , ethical,and ideological challenges for me and I guess many others like me. First there is the issue of Simba(which in Zulu means trash and in Kiswahili ironic?).

Indeed there are many who would happily go along with the Zulu meaning of the man's name and yet many others who would rather believe that the LION that will defeat Bona's son has finally come out of hiding? As we oft said in the years past , IMF....(meaning It is Mugabe's Fault).

Second there seems to be some confusion regarding what change in Zimbabwe should or would look like? As though that is not enough, there is profound confusion regarding the appropriate process and vehicle of change?

Rather there is frightening ambiguity viz the outcomes of the anticipated change. I need not restate my refusal to be dragged into the politics of name calling or beauty contests to determine who is politically more handsome or palatable between ....or is it amongst the aspirants. I have further openly refused to dismiss Simba Makoni on account of his historical .....or is it present association with Zanu PF. I have equally insisted that there are essentially only two candidates going to the polls on the 29th March, namely those for change and those pro the status quo. I am- like all other Zimbabweans saddened by the fact that oppositional forces have failed to build alliances-even tenuous ones- for the purposes of ensuring that there is an electoral leadership succession and not merely a ritual whereby the incumbent names his successor.

In short ,I have openly urged the opposition to remember that Simba Makoni is not yet their opponent in the strictest sense of the word. What I have conveyed privately to the Makonites is my impression that it is senseless arrogance to imagine that they can ignore out of hand the historic contributions of the MDC and civil society towards the project of democratizing Zimbabwe. Rather ,it is offensive for any of them to suggest that they do not need alliances with anyone. They certainly can not and should not use the offensive .....we do not want to alienate our supporters in Zanu PF line as though that minority of supporters is worth more to the project of contesting Mugabe's leadership than the broad mass of voters who have braved Mugabe's brutal rule and supported the main opposition formations for close to a decade now. I certainly hope that good sense will prevail and the Makonites will come to a stage where they realize that history is much larger than an individual....even a very brilliant one for that matter!

In fact that our present decay is the result of a whole nation being held at ransom by a clique of co-conspirators and accomplices. At the moment the Makonites are enjoying a wave of support born out of frustrations amongst some pockets of the citizenry with the status quo (in Zanu PF and in MDC).Indeed very few people are raising the critical questions about the contributions of Makoni's economic policy prescriptions to the sorry state of Zimbabwe's working peoples. These glitches in Simba's history are no less daunting than the MDC's asociation with intra-party feuding and allegations of un-democratic conduct(Zanufication).

My point is ......that there are no saints as we approach the March 29 election. Further, just in case we might have forgotten the MDC Economic policy blue-print at one-time read like the flip side of Simba Makoni's 2001 budget policy statement. MDC -through Eddie Cross- also wanted to privatize critical basic services and all parastatals. In other words, the opposition did not pretend to offer any heterodox economic prescriptions to take us out of the economic abys that we are in.

So ....if Simba and Morgan's parties are not that substantially different in economic policy orientation ...............what are they different at or in? What is the basis beyond their policies for judging one more preferable than the other? Is it length of time spent in Zanu PF? Is it amount of suffering endured at the hands of Zanu PF? Is it likely competence to implement neo-liberal economic prescriptions from the IMF/WB?

If one were to get deeper into this matter .....we would even do a character analysis of their top leadership as well their democratic credentials. Which one of them is more inclusive in their style of leadership? Should we judge them on their position on and practice of women's rights? Or should we look at their integrity and how they have acquired their personal assets? Would you rather we looked at which one them would be amenable to manipulation from the West ? From Zanu PF? From big Corporations? On what basis are judging the aspirants to the forthcoming election? Is it on the basis of looks ? Experience in running institutions? Ability to administer an economy? Level of education ? Or is sensitivity to and connection to the interests and aspirations of common Zimbabweans?

I was tempted as I began to write this email to give some answers to this myriad of questions, but I would rather learn from your collective wisdom and insight. I value your intelligence no doubt many other Zimbabweans do ? What change are we looking for? What process will realistically bring that change? He is a small reality check though.......if Tsvangirayi and Makoni split votes Mugabe might win. If they split the parliamentary vote ......Mugabe's people will have some thin majority in parliament and they will look to form alliances across the floor of the house. In the event that either Makoni or Tsvangirayi win .....the other might form an alliance with a residual Zanu PF. Or better still ....the winning candidate might need the other oppositional candidate to formn a coalition government?

Why am I even raising these issues? Is it because of the Zanu PF old guard coming out in support of Makoni? No it is because ....I realize that our questions might be easier resolved by doing a scenario reflection on the day the results are announced and the period after? The crowds at the Tsvangirayi and Makoni rallies as well Zanu PF's history of winning elections that they would have lost compel me to ask ....what is the plan B ....And C.....And maybe D ?

I foresee a constitutional crisis of sorts should everyone get the votes that they are expected to. I suspect that Zanu PF might actually engineer a splitting of urban votes and a cooking of rural votes to neutralize the leading contenders in this election. I am aware that in the minds of most Zimbabweans , Makoni is a response to the resurgence of the Munangagwa factor in Zanu PF's succession battle. But who do we suppose the Munangagwa camp is alligning with in the opposition? Whose rent are they paying ? Who are they buying fancy new cars, houses and expensive trinkets? Who has been bought over to their side within the oppositional formations?

That is if we are correct in assessing Simba as a counter force to the Munangagwa factor? If Simba is indeed a Mujuru man and his opponent in Zanu PF is Munangagwa.....then what does this mean for change politics in Zimbabwe? Has the game and the rules of the game changed whilst we were sleeping? Has the language of change been hijacked? Will the word change become a dirty word in our political vocabulary after March 29? Why has the MDC become so ecclectic ,unpredictable and in some measure un-democratic?

Why does the MDC now respond to criticism with such vitriol and Zanu-like language? Is there something that we are missing as we carry on our email discussions and eat our processed foods? I wonder ! What will we say the morning after? Will we say that Change has truly come ? Or in Zulu we will say SIMBA not in celebration but regret ? Or will we say SIMBA in Kiswahili as a sign of relief and triumph?

Will we sing the Morgan praise song ? Or will we say DAI TAKAZIVA ? Help me ,my comrades.....I want to recognize the change that we are hoping for when I meet it on the streets of Zimbabwe after March 29th .



Tuesday, February 19, 2008



(Letter by Roy Bennett, MDC Treasurer, to the Editor of The Cape Argus)

UNFORTUNATELY, when (foreign correspondent) Peta Thornycroft allows her personal animosity towards my political party and its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to completely distort objective comment, the valued integrity of the Independent Group of Newspapers is jeopardized.

On Sunday February 10 this lack of objectivity was there for all to see. Pointedly in The Sunday Times a sober, unemotional assessment of the current crisis in Zimbabwe was presented in a brilliantly balanced article written by a brave group of Zimbabwean non-aligned activists.

The Independent Paper Group by contrast, thrust forward the discredited notion that our party should throw in the towel in favour of Simba Makoni and abdicate our responsibility to our supporters.

By your own admission Makoni has been a loyal and long-standing member of Zanu-PF's politburo. His record is there for all who care to see. He was silent at the time of Gukurahundi and his overall backers are all the key perpetrators of that massacre. He was complicit and silent at the time rampaging mobs ran through our High Court rendering the rule of law obsolete. He was silent when The Daily News was shut down and the owners and employees were hounded and humiliated.

Makoni even sat in on political discussions and never once raised his voice when defenceless Zimbabweans were rendered homeless, in that shameless act of cruelty Operation Murambatsvina. He was silent when business leaders were assaulted and small businesses bankrupted through price controls.

The time for opportunism is not now. The MDC and their people have suffered the brunt of the same regime that through a “defend power” project of which Makoni was part of, have made the environment ripe for the pickings, as every man and his dog wants change.

Makoni and his own are seeking a soft landing for ill-gotten gains and human rights abuses, and are now attempting to believe in a need for change.

Our party has one message for Zimbabweans. They know very well which political party’s leaders have suffered with the people in our quest to rid Zimbabwe of Zanu-PF. They have full knowledge of the marginalisation and victimisation and the need for a national integration where one day we can all say an Ndebele can be president. The MDC and its leaders have been murdered, tortured and imprisoned and yet would still win the support of the majority of Zimbabweans in a genuinely free vote. If that is not self-evident, and Zanu-PF/ Makoni are confident of victory why do they refuse to implement the SADC, Mauritian declaration, of norms and standards?

Why do Zanu-PF/ Makoni refuse to allow me to return to Zimbabwe, when everyone knows that a prerequisite for the resolution of the South African political crisis was amnesty for a range of politicians such as the late Joe Slovo, Chris Hani etc? Rigged elections remain rigged elections.

The Zimbabwe crisis will only be resolved when genuinely free and fair elections are held. Rigged elections remain rigged elections. The Zimbabwe crisis will only be resolved when genuinely free and fair elections are held and are confirmed as such by a credible body of international observers.

Roy Bennett
Treasurer General, Movement for Democratic Change

Monday, February 18, 2008

"It’s not too late for a Makoni, Tsvangirai deal" Mutumwa Mawere

Zimbabwe’s population is now estimated at about 12.3 million after taking into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS and poverty.
To say that the forthcoming elections represent a defining moment in the history of post-colonial Zimbabwe would be an understatement.
The combined elections will give the eligible and registered voters an opportunity to decide at four levels how Zimbabwe should be governed in the next five years.
The first level is the Presidential election in which citizens have to make a choice between the four candidates that have been successfully nominated.
Two of the candidates, President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, were the two dominant players during the last presidential election held in 2002. The other two are Dr Simba Makoni and Mr Langton Towungana.
To the extent that Mugabe who has monopolised the political space since independence is also a candidate, it is important now that the choices are known for Zimbabweans to think seriously about the future of the country.
The political space in Zimbabwe was dominated by ZANU and ZAPU during the first seven years of independence and thereafter through to 1999, the space was dominated by ZANU-PF.
However, during the last eight years, Mugabe and Tsvangirai have dominated the political space.
Both ZANU-PF and MDC representatives were elected to Parliament during the 2000 and 2005 elections and the successful candidates have managed to co-exist under the same House of Assembly.
Consequently, they share the burden of governance as they have been involved in the day to day legislative agenda, which recently resulted in them agreeing to Constitutional Amendment number 18.
Prior to the emergence of the MDC as a political actor, the civic society organisations (CSO) from which the founding members of the party were drawn were agitating for a new constitution.
The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) was one such institution advocating for a people driven constitution arguing that the parliament of Zimbabwe could not be trusted to deliver a democratic constitution.
Understandably, the NCA then rejected the CA 18 agreed to by both ZANU- PF and the two MDC formations.
At the core of the argument for constitutional reform debate, was the issue of process power and the role of the President particularly given the generally held view that Mugabe had manipulated ZANU-PF and the people of Zimbabwe into agreeing through their parliamentary representatives to amend the Lancaster House Constitution in a manner that has created an Imperial Presidency in which he has been able to run the country as if it was a kingdom.

The quest for a new constitutional order was successfully thwarted through the use of a Constitution Commission that was mandated to draft a new constitution.
The credibility test for the draft constitution was primarily the manner in which the office of the President was treated.

When the constitution was sold to the Zimbabwean public, it was naturally rejected by even the most ardent advocates of the new constitution because it failed to deal decisively with the incumbent President.I am only bringing this historical record in order to put my thoughts, on the points that the registered voters participating in the forthcoming elections have to think seriously about, into some context.

The attempt to remove Mugabe through constitutional reforms failed so as the attempt to remove him through elections as well as subsequently through ZANU-PF.
The presence of Mugabe’s name alone on the political menu raises its own issues about the credibility and transparency of the forthcoming elections.
Mugabe has credited his government of holding free, frequent and fair elections in which his party has always ‘won’.

As American author and historian, Henry Brooks Adams, said over a hundred years ago: “No man, however, strong can serve ten years as school master, priest, or senator, and remain fit for anything else,” it has been observed that Mugabe notwithstanding the fact that he may not know what to do to lift Zimbabwe up again fits into the category of persons who look to politics as a career rather than as a service platform.

A dilemma Zimbabwe’s opposition is also faced with; imagine the fate of many after say they lose their parliamentary seats in the March elections? Or what would become of Tsvangirai should he cease to be leader of the opposition?
The post-election intentions of Mugabe are not known but it has been speculated that he will relinquish power to a successor who would then have to be elected by parliament.

However, there are no guarantees and people are genuinely sceptical and cynical about the future to the extent that they have surrendered their future to only four men.

It is now too late for Zimbabweans to think of a President beyond the four men that have qualified as candidates. If President Mugabe were to win, the other three contenders will predictably challenge the results.

It is generally agreed that Mugabe does not offer anything new but if he does win, very few of his critics outside Zimbabwe will accept the results, prolonging the country’s pariah status.

The country is on its knees and yet the conversations at this late hour between Zimbabweans and among the three competitors for the top post excluding Mugabe suggests that some Zimbabweans are not ready to break with the past.
Given the gravity of the economic situation, one would have expected Tsvangirai, Makoni and Towungana to share a common vision for Zimbabwe and a consensus on what the defining hour should deliver.

While Makoni and Tsvangirai may disagree about the context of change they ought to agree that they are brothers in prosecuting the struggle to usher Zimbabwe into a new era.

It cannot be said that it is not healthy for Makoni to have entered the Presidential race not only because it has allowed people to expand the menu of choices beyond the two bitter enemies, Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

Indeed, the entry of Makoni has given voters an opportunity to pronounce their opinion on whether they wish to continue to be spectators and victims while the stalemate continues.

It is not clear whether Mugabe would accept Tsvangirai’s victory and vice versa. A new dawn is urgently required in Zimbabwean politics and Makoni may emerge to be the only available option.

One cannot accept a proposition that the entry of Makoni has denied anyone a right to participate in the elections given that the same old culprits are still on the ballot paper.

It is expected that Makoni’s participation will help energise the Zimbabwean electorate to participate rather than fall victim to the MDC strategy of participating in a race while openly acknowledging that the vote will be stolen.
This will have had the effect of discouraging voters from participating in the elections if Makoni had not entered the race.

A Zanu PF culture runs through the veins of even the most ardent critics of Mugabe’s policies.

Although I hold no brief for Makoni, I think that it would be undemocratic for even any of his competitors to characterise him as a surrogate of someone else when it now takes courage in an atmosphere of fear for anyone to offer his name as an independent.

I am not sure whether the critics of Makoni’s eleventh hour entry into the race would have been satisfied if the contest was between Mugabe and Tsvangirai only.
Strangely, many of them had dismissed this election as having been won by the incumbent Mugabe.

One Dr Lovemore Madhuku even went as far as to give an exclusive interview to the state run Herald that the opposition would be walloped in this election, a position he reiterated at a public meeting in Harare and was supported by the majority there.

It may be the case that many of the CSOs are encouraging Tsvangirai to participate fully convinced that he will lose so that they can extend their lives.
The NGO sector in Zimbabwe would rather have the stalemate continue and the elections inclusive because of the inherent financial benefits to the actors.

Ever since I pronounced my personal opinion on what kind of change I would like to see in Zimbabwe, I have been encouraged by my critics who have proceeded to allege that my support for Makoni was motivated by an underlying ZANU-PF agenda.
It did not surprise me to receive mixed messages about Makoni because it demonstrates that Zimbabweans are thinking about the future of the country.
Some have accepted that the future will not be complete if their preferred candidate does not win the election ignoring that what is at stake is not the fate of the four candidates but the country.

However, one needs to unpack the logic behind my being defined as ZANU-PF or Makoni for that matter, I want to posit here that ZANU-PF is not only an institution but a culture that permeates every aspect of our society, including the home, the church and the so called alternative politics.

Zimbabwean national politics is so diluted that many in the opposition camp including parliamentarians, for instance, are funded and sustained in their livelihoods by the RBZ and other state institutions, militating against any argument that may be advanced that anyone in the MDC is fresh faced and pure as it may have been at its formation eight years ago.

If Zimbabwe was a person, what would he/she say about the four candidates? Anyone who cares about the future of the country is compelled to think deeply about legacy issues.

The people privileged to vote in this defining election have to think beyond the confines of their own personal preferences but for all the millions in the Diaspora as well as future generations who will no doubt look back and ask the right questions.

Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai have been at each other’s throat for the past eight years and the country has continued to deteriorate under their watch.

They have both claimed to be victims with Mugabe alleging that Tsvangirai is nothing but an agent of third parties while Tsvangirai maintains that he is the de facto President of Zimbabwe on the back of a widely held view that he won the 2002 elections.

Tsvangirai disputes that the MDC is a puppet of the West and yet ironically, he now wants to argue that Makoni is not a principal in his own right who genuinely believes like him that Zimbabwe’s brighter day is yet to come and he has a stake in it.

There is a classic Zimbabwean disease that seems to have afflicted many to see beyond what is before them. Zimbabweans have to choose from the four men who are the political beauty pageants.

Like beauty queens the judges are the registered voters who have to make the choice based on their subjective evaluation of what each candidate brings to the table.
What does Mugabe bring to the table? This question is equally applicable to the other three contestants.

However, instead of waiting for the contestants to promise what they cannot deliver it is important for everyone interested in the future of the country to pose and think about what they want to see and work constructively in the remaining days to make sure that they are the change they want to see.

It is naïve for anyone concerned about the future of Zimbabwe to think that it is someone else’s responsibility to bring the change they want to see. Mugabe has the African continent as well as the majority of the developing countries while Tsvangirai has enjoyed the support of the West.

Over the last eight years, I have not seen any major drive to increase MDC party membership let alone to get people to register as voters.

It has been reported that following Makoni’s announcement to enter the race, the registration of voters increased suggesting that Zimbabweans do respond to changes in the choices available.

Notwithstanding, excitement and vibrant debate has been generated as a direct consequence of Makoni’s entry into the Presidential race in a manner that has dramatically transformed an increasingly apathetic population.

What the above seems to suggest is that Zimbabweans in general do not see value in participating in the affairs of their country through political organisations.
Many who support either Mugabe or Tsvangirai are not even members of ZANU-PF or the MDC, respectively.

If citizens have surrendered their future to political actors then the change they expect to see may not necessarily be what they want to see irrespective of who is elected.

If ZANU-PF, MDC and other Zimbabwean political organisations unlike religious institutions have failed to capture the imagination of citizens then the problem that Zimbabwe faces may be more fundamental.

I am not convinced that the people who have been nominated to represent MDC and ZANU-PF necessarily share a common vision with their leaders.

Many are however trapped in this partisan politics and it becomes clear that many in ZANU-PF actually may be against Mugabe’s candidature while those in the Tsvangirai formation may not necessarily be at one with him.

Not discounting the disillusioned in both formations that claim to have been elbowed out of the race for political reasons and are now standing as independent candidates.

Assuming I am correct in suggesting that the political labels that people put on Makoni, Mugabe and Tsvangirai have no real meaning because in real life it is difficult to locate a person who is ZANU-PF or MDC but what is more realistic is that there may be a convergence of thought between Makoni/Tsvangirai/Towungana about the need for change.

For Mugabe the change that he wants to see would allow him to be President and the same applies to his competitors. Zimbabweans would then need to makes choices discounting the political labels because they ultimately may have no bearing in the manner in which the government will operate.

I am also not convinced that ZANU-PF members are satisfied about the manner in which Mugabe’s government has conducted its affairs, thus the noticeable fears within the party ranks of Makoni’s challenge to Mugabe.

It would not make sense to believe that the dismal economic performance and the lack of political and economic direction that Zimbabweans have been subjected to have only been transmitted on partisan grounds.

I should like to believe that if there is no electricity or water in an area, one would not see only ZANU-PF houses being privileged with supplies. The problems affect all and the current government has to shoulder the responsibility.
Outside the contestations for political office, there appears to be no life in many of the political organisations in Zimbabwe suggesting that the real agenda is to seize the state power and not necessarily to advance any national interest.
If it is national interest that motivates people to seek political office then it should not matter who is ZANU-PF or MDC because these are mere labels seeking to divide and not unite people.

Makoni has rightly chosen to wear no political label. I believe that it is important that Zimbabweans rise above the cheap politics of defining and characterising others as currency for advancing their political careers.

What do people of Zimbabwe really expect from their government? Who really should own the government of Zimbabwe?

If citizens are ready to reclaim their heritage then they have to think beyond the labels because whoever becomes President has to be accountable to the people of Zimbabwe and not to the parties that select them.

Only two candidates for the Presidency will not have the baggage of political organisations that are faction ridden, with questionable democratic credentials and maybe there is a chance that the people of Zimbabwe will come to a realisation that they are the true owners of the republic and not ZANU-PF or MDC.

Consequently, Zimbabweans in choosing their leader in the next election will judge both the MDC and ZANU-PF on performance over the past eight years for the former and the past 28 years for the latter.

The MDC cannot continue to plead innocence and play victim when it has been involved in the process of governance together with ZANU-PF, it also has to shoulder responsibility for the disillusionment in its ranks arising from a myriad of problematic issues that are a matter of public record.

To put it crudely, MDC legislators have enjoyed perks of being in parliament just as ZANU-PF MP’s have, they have equally contributed to the legislative agenda.
To make matters worse, it is significant to note that the reason that caused the two MDC factions to split appears to have been forgotten as both formations have fielded candidates for the Senate.

And so one can safely argue that Makoni’s rise and popularity is as much a result of ZANU-PF’s inability to deliver positive change to its members as much as the MDC’s similar inability to deliver to its own members.

ZANU-PF and MDC like any political parties are nothing but associations of people who may share a common purpose but it does not mean that the institutions own the members.

Zimbabwe needs to turn a new leaf and invest in creating a new environment, with a progressive political culture that can operate above the partisan one that sections of the country have now come to accept as normal.The person elected to be President of the country must discharge his responsibilities in the national interest.

Questions have been raised whether an independent Presidential candidate will have any chance of winning if he does not have a political party behind him forgetting that all that the citizens will be asked to do is to elect one of four men.
Makoni is contesting in one big constituency called Zimbabwe, by the look of things he appears to appeal to a diverse group of Zimbabweans regardless of political affiliation.

Thus the fears and the vitriolic attacks from hardliners in both the MDC and ZANU-PF, begs the question of what they fear if they have a satisfied support base.
The constitution of Zimbabwe does not require a President to belong to a political party.

What it will mean if any of the two independent candidates wins the Presidential election, is he will have to appoint a candidate from the pool of successful parliamentarians.

Given the configuration of the players in the various elections, it is evident that only an independent President has any prospect of creating a government with a cabinet drawn from the various political parties.

If the objective of Zimbabweans is to move away from largely despotic partisan politics then it occurs to me that this can only be achieved by an independent President.

I am not convinced that either Mugabe or Tsvangirai would have any appetite for embracing MPs from either party given the attitude already in evidence against Makoni’s candidature, including the inability of the two MDC formations to agree to a coalition before the elections.

My observation is that the real injury that Zimbabweans feel is at the Presidential level and for people to be convinced that there is change they can believe in there must be a new President.

It is not too late for Tsvangirai and Makoni to come up with a joint election winning strategy for the nation’s sake.

If that is the position, then the onus is on both Tsvangirai and Makoni to ensure that they communicate to their supporters clearly that they vote for whomever you may wish at the local, parliamentary and senatorial levels but vote against Mugabe.
This is the ideal situation which unfortunately the polarised political ground no longer allows.

Given the already publicised candidates lists, it is already confusing the long suffering people of Zimbabwe when the opposition seem to be failing to identify who is on which side.

I would have thought that both Tsvangirai and Makoni would target the Presidency using the infrastructure available to make the voters know what is at stake.
It is to the favour of the already fractured MDC as much as it is to Makoni that a combined election strategy that wins against the incumbent President Mugabe is adopted.

Future generations will judge both Makoni and Tsvangirai on the basis of their actions during this hour of need and not whether they were ever active members of ZANU-PF before.


* Mutumwa Mawere is a Zimbabwean-born South African businessman

We must be careful what we wish for!

The currency attached to the idea that the people backing Simba
Makoni are noble reformists creates a democracy deficit which renders
Zimbabwe a de facto one party Bantustan.

Collective amnesia by the gullible Zimbabwean electorate allows the
transmutation of yesteryear's fraudsters, murderers, and enablers of
tyranny into today's senators, parliamentarians, and presidential

Who is the change agent? Makoni has declared his irrevocable
allegiance to ZANU (PF)'s archaic Maoist and Marxist-Leninist
policies, violent traditions, and its agenda for looting national
assets. We now have a fox watching the henhouse. Change happens from
the grassroots up and not from the top down.

The internal power struggles and fissures within ZANU (PF) should not
be allowed to influence the national political discourse. Theirs is a
mere village succession process in which the subjects are trying to
choose a headman (sabhuku). Let them fight and challenge their pre-
historic party constitution and presidential election procedures
without involving the rest of society. ZANU (PF) is not Zimbabwe and
Zimbabwe is not ZANU (PF)'s private fiefdom.

Makoni is part of the furniture in ZANU (PF) and is equally
responsible for the demise of our currency and the economic
hemorrhaging that occurred under his watch. Black mambas do not
provide the antidote for their own venom. How Makoni can profess to
have solutions for rebuilding the country's future when he was part
of its destruction defies logic.

"First let me confirm that I share the agony and anguish of all
citizens, over the extreme hardships that we have all endured for nearly ten
years now. I also share the widely held view that these hardships are a
result of failure of national leadership and that change at that level is a pre-
requisite for change at other levels of national endeavour," said

For the past 10 years Makoni has been sitting in on every ZANU (PF)
Politburo meeting as the party's Secretary for Finance and voting for
the policies that are now responsible for what he now terms "extreme

"One does not test the depth of a river with both feet." The space
that Makoni and his secretive backers now occupy was created by
ordinary Zimbabweans who challenged ZANU (PF) through organizations
such as the NCA and the MDC. Ordinary citizens are brutalised by
people dressed in Seville Row suits by day and uniforms of brutality
by night, the likes of Simba Makoni, who sat and crafted "Operation
Murambatsvina, " at politburo meetings. The election rigging apparatus
that has ensured Makoni's cabinet post for the past 28 years is
intact and some of the architects and operatives now form part of his
bloc. What has Simba Makoni delivered to the nation since
independence? Twenty years in government and all he has to show for
it is his "Mr. Nice" image.
"ZANU (PF) ndeye ropa," – this ominous slogan – "ZANU (PF) spills
blood," is entrenched in the psyche of the ruling party of which
Makoni espouses to represent. ZANU (PF) is the African continent's
franchise holder for political dirty tricks, the intellectual
property rights owners for political violence.

Makoni said, "Let me affirm here, my faith in, and loyalty to the
Party. I would very much have wished to stand as its official

As a conservative African democrat, I find it unpalatable to support
a political project consisting of an elitist clique whose financial
backers are the godfathers of private property seizures, sleaze and
bloodshed. "Ukadziya moto wembavha, newewo uri mbavha." - "Call
kinship with a hyena and all hyenas are your friends." My umbilical
attachment to my country Zimbabwe and its core cultural, human
values, coupled with the tenets of democracy and the rule of law, is
genetic and forbids my moral fibre from supporting enablers of
tyranny, their surrogates, and leaders. Dr Makoni is equally culpable
for ZANU (PF)'s evil deeds.

Men who have accumulated obscene wealth and opulence through
patronage and pillaging the national treasury, the "nouve riche,"
feel threatened by a new political dispensation. They are now funding
a political project that will maintain the status quo and ensure the
retention of their ill- gotten wealth. Makoni permitted state
sanctioned fraud and embezzlement.

The politically connected individuals seized farms under the guise of
decongesting communal areas and redressing a colonial imbalance. They
have carved these very farms into private residential plots and sold
them for forex to ordinary Zimbabweans in the Diaspora who were meant
to be the beneficiaries of land reform in the first place.

In the process these ZANU (PF) reformists, "indigenous
entrepreneurs, " accumulate massive profits in illegal foreign
currency for themselves and ultimately for their principals. This
money is then used to fund unlawful diamond sales, fuel, and other
criminal black-market activities. The immense earnings undermine
democracy through subsidising tyranny and the creation of a coalition
of the elite. Makoni is a closet dictator who has willingly coalesced
evil individuals for his support network, a who is who of Zimbabwe's
overt pillagers.

"A Frankenstein can never be reformed it must be destroyed."

Zimbabwe has produced a plethora of intellectuals, academics and
technocrats who have occupied cabinet posts and senior government
positions since independence. Below are a few notable examples:
Dr Simba Makoni, (Zoology), PhD (Chemistry) –Minister of Finance,
when inflationary economics became entrenched; Minister of Industry
and Energy, when Zimbabwe experienced its first fuel shortages in
the 80's.
Dr Jonathan Moyo, PhD (Political Science) – Minister of Information,
declared a war on the independent media, crafted and introduced
draconian legislation before proclaiming that title deeds should be
worth less than toilet paper.
Dr Joseph Made, PhD (Agriculture) – CEO –ARDA, Minister of
Agriculture, blamed monkeys for sabotaging the country's sole
fertiliser plant and formulated a ludicrous idea of trying to grow
winter maize in 2002.
Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, (Medical Doctor) – Minister of Defence,
responsible for sending 1256 Zimbabweans to their death in the DRC
War and appeared barefoot inspecting hillsides in Chinhoyi for diesel
oozing from rocky outcrops produced by a clairvoyant.
Dr Dzingayi Mutumbuka ( Chemistry) - Minister of Education, barred
the construction of private universities in the early 80's and became
one of the Ministers nabbed by the Sandura Commission for corruption
over the Willowgate motor vehicle scandal .
Dr Gideon Gono – (Honorary) - Governor of the RBZ, the godfather of
cash barons, has predicted the mother of all harvests. His poverty
stricken housemaid found a stash of illegal foreign currency under
his bed and converted it to her own use. The charges were dropped
against her.
Dr Simon Muzenda – (Honorary)-Life Vice President, "Chero tikakupayi
gudo kuti murivhotere muZANU (PF) munotorivhotera. "(2000
parliamentary elections) "Even if we nominate a baboon for you, you
have to vote for it, that's the ZANU way". His security details shot
Mr. Kombayi (Mayor of Gweru) in the gentilia in his presence in Gweru
during parliamentary elections in the 90's.
Dr Fay Chung (Education) – Minister of Education, "I think, to say
that as many as 20 000 people were killed during Gukurahundi is not
true. I think it is a few hundred."
Dr Eddison Zvobgo- PhD (Law) - Minister without Portfolio, the
architect of the 1987-1990 constitutional amendments that created
Mugabe's powerful position.

Other intellectuals that have been part of the ZANU (PF) machinery
since independence include;
Dr Naomi Nhiwatiwa, Dr Bernard Chidzero, Dr Felix Muchemwa, Prof
Walter Kamba, Dr Robbie Mupawose, Dr Ibbo Mandaza, Dr Nkosana Moyo,
Dr Nthuli Ncube, Dr Julius Makoni, Dr Chenjerai Hunzvi, Dr Sam Moyo,
Dr Herbet Murerwa, Dr Utete, Dr Taka Mutunhu, Dr Ignatius Chombo, Dr
Samuel Udenge, Dr Tafataona Mahoso, Dr Samuel Mumbengegwi, Dr
Sikhanyiso Ndhlovu, Dr Nathan Shamuyarira, Dr Stan Mudenge, Dr Kombo
Moyana, Dr Liberty Mhlanga etc.

The only visible monument the above-mentioned collective
intellegencia has left on our landscape is a gleaming cemetery (the
National Hero's Acre). What did the country get in return?
Hyperinflation, the world's fastest shrinking economy, the world's
lowest life expectancy, irreversible land degradation, international
isolation, inferior Chinese factory rejects and shortages of
everything from electricity to toilet paper.

"Tisarove imbwa takaviga mupini – lets call a spade a spade." At
independence in 1980, ZANU (PF) inherited an economy and
infrastructure that had been built by farmers. 60% of the Rhodesian
government cabinet and indeed its leader were farmers. To the
contrary 70% of the ZANU (PF) government ministers are doctors,
academics, intellectuals and its leader holds a Masters in Economics
and various other degrees in violence. In other words it has taken
educated people twenty-eight years to dismantle an economy which
rebel settler farmers, albeit using cheap black labour, built over
one hundred years.

One does not need to be a nuclear physicist or molecular biologist in
order to lead a nation. Common sense, principled African values,
universal norms, tolerance, and the rudimentary understanding of
sadza and gravy issues, must be the hallmarks of our next leader.

"The agricultural sector faces a decline of 24.6 percent," Makoni
told the
House in July, 2002 when seeking approval for a $52.97 billion
supplementary budget for food imports and farming inputs for farmers
resettled under the government's land reforms. The same year he
allocated $4 billion to Minister Elliot Manyika and his permanent
secretary Dr Thompson Tsodzo, PhD, for the establishment of youth
militias training camps at the former 2 Brigade Army Barracks in
Mount Darwin.
On 1 August, 2000 Dr Makoni announced a 24% devaluation of the
Zimbabwe dollar against the US greenback, taking it down from its
pegged level of 38:1 to 50:1. On August, 3, 2000 in his address to
parliament Dr Makoni announced that Zimbabwe's total revenues were
Z$87.2 billion with total expenditures of Z$141.9 billion, a budget
deficit as a percentage of GDP of 14.9% with an average annual
inflation of 59%.
Zimbabwe is now endowed with, amongst others, presidential aspirants
who are qualified to fly unmanned drones to outer space, interpret
the sexual behavior of monkeys, theoretical reasoning in the
application of quantum chemistry and yet have failed to perform the
simple task of creating a national balance sheet for communal
farmers. Men, who cannot even address rural folks back home in the
vernacular, now derive visible support from aloof, desperate Diaspora
citizens who do not vote.
Dr Simba Makoni has been hunting with the hounds and now he wants to
run with the hares. He now enjoys the support of all the service
chiefs, from the CIO, ZRP to the Zimbabwe National Army - the
gravitational force that supports the regime and ensures it remains
in its political orbit. Makoni is riding on the vapour of the valor
of men who constantly visit danger. He has been conveniently tucked
way in the bosom of the beast as it committed infanticide, only to
reappear on the eleventh hour as the saviour of the beast's surviving
We must be careful what we wish for. Cautious pragmatism must prevail
and Zimbabweans must interrogate the issues at hand before making
another monumental mistake. If we do not change direction we will get
to where we are going.

(Author to be revealed later!)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

" Why Simba Makoni is not my ideal presidential candidate"

by Tanonoka Joseph Whande

If there is one thing that has always irked me, it is the Zimbabwean people's penchant to inflict political wounds and paralysing handicaps on ourselves.
From soccer administration to running trade union affiliates, we have this propensity to regurgitate and recycle proven failures. Nothing illustrates this more than soccer administration in Zimbabwe . The same old failures are always brought back to run clubs and to administer soccer in the country.

In politics, it is worse.

Zimbabweans are unintelligently too tolerant. Our tolerance borders on masochism, as successive white regimes in the land may care to confirm, even from beyond their graves.

Today it is Mugabe's turn. No one has ever run even their personal farms in a manner that Mugabe has run Zimbabwe .

'Leadership qualities' is something that distinguishes exceptional individuals from others and yet we do not seem to care to look around for a choice of our own but trust the same old abusers to think for us.

ZANU-PF thwarted the emergence of young brilliant potential leaders as it propelled useless, tired baggage into the forefront.

The Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) has dominated Zimbabwean politics since just before independence and has messed up miserably.

Today, the nation of Zimbabwe, like its own regurgitated vomit at ZIFA, wants us to continue to frolic in a pool filled with an endless string of tried, tired and useless leaders who are no longer relevant to our situation today.

True to its communist roots, ZANU-PF stifled any potential appearance of what others might call 'young Turks.' The result was that people started to wonder if ever there is an individual who can ably lead Zimbabwe other than Mugabe.

Today, four names are repeated over and over again and I am just not impressed.

Edgar Tekere is a respectable man. I think he is respected for having been the first to 'challenge' Mugabe for the presidency. Thirst for a change, I voted for him when he made his futile presidential bid.

But Tekere waited too long and supported Mugabe just a little bit too much. Even today, I am not sure whether his departure from ZANU-PF was caused by differences of principles or was necessitated by other circumstances. He seems to have been able to avoid the known ZANU-PF abuse and actually appears to have been left well alone for someone who put up a spirited effort to humiliate Mugabe. Others who did less against Mugabe were thoroughly dealt with.

I applauded Mr Tekere's statements several years ago that he was retiring from politics and was just going to be a commentator. I urge him to keep on that course.
Zimbabweans no longer need leadership recommendations from former ZANU-PF stalwarts. Tekere did his undisputed part for Zimbabwe and that is as far as it goes.


Enter one Enos Mzombi Nkala.

Like Tekere, Nkala was one of the closest to Mugabe, members of the original inner circle. And, like Tekere, he loved ZANU-PF and the party took good care of him.
When people in his Matabeleland area rejected him at the polls, ZANU-PF rammed him down the throats of the people of Kariba.

Mugabe gave Nkala several high profile cabinet posts among which were Finance, Defense and Home Affairs. But typical ZANU-PF greed saw him being the first to be ensnared in the widely publicised Willowvale Motor scandal.

About four months ago, Nkala told reporters that he was getting back into active politics so as "to frustrate Robert Mugabe's bid to stand for re-election next year."

And to achieve that Nkala choose as his vehicle, the Patriotic Union of Matabeleland, a regional nonsense that advocates for the autonomy of Matabeleland .
Desperation and oblivion can cloud up people's minds. Nkala, founder member of ZANU-PF and with hardly any constituency at all, now believes because Mugabe turned into a fiend, people will listen to him. It is so sad. It is truly pathetic.

Nkala benefited from ZANU-PF as ministerial portfolios given him testify. He was instrumental in the horrific massacres in Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces. To his credit, he has apologised and admitted his fault. But now, left with no choice, he is denouncing Mugabe and ZANU-PF.

To him, I say: "Mr Nkala, Zimbabwe gave you the chance and you abused us.

You threaten to "spill the beans" on Mugabe but you don't realise you are just as much to blame. Spill the beans and give us the evidence to incarcerate you too because you did those things together.

Secondly, you are a damn coward since you want your 'book' to be published after you are dead. Publish it now so we can flock to you for clarification and authenticating. You want to throw Zimbabwe into perpetual chaos with unproven announcements. When politically dead people start publishing after they are physically dead, I get mighty suspicious because our country has gone through hell because of ZANU-PF political dinosaurs. If it's true, why wait till you are dead, Mr Nkala? Zimbabwe needs help now.
However, I hear that you are fronting for some silly obscure 'party' that champions for autonomy of ' Matabeleland .'

Mr Nkala, please understand that not an inch of Zimbabwean land is ever going to be parcelled out to any tribe for any reason. You want to cause unnecessary chaos and deaths because you, like your benefactor Mugabe, are failures. Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe . There was never any MashonaLAND or MatabeleLAND or ManicaLAND, just Zimbabwe .

Do not fool anyone in your part of the country into thinking there is ever going to be a separate state or a federal nation or something so atrocious. Zimbabwe does not belong to a tribe and no part of it ever will. I am sorry, Mr Nkala, just relax in peace, please, okay?"

I have heard about one Joice Mujuru. She is not a contender for the presidency. Mugabe used her to cause confusion and almost succeeded.

Then there is the third twin, Simba Makoni. So much is being said about him and his potential to be president of Zimbabwe . He is the real "Mr Teflon", squeaky clean as Mr Min might say.

Sadly, no one in ZANU-PF is clean.

I concede that Makoni entices me with his mind, demeanour and a seeming "appearance" of political cleanliness. But clarifications first, okay?

Makoni is a member of ZANU-PF. That alone is a fault that even the heavens cannot correct. He was Mugabe's blue-eyed boy who was, like all the others after him, discarded when he had performed for the master. When he ran out of luck, like Kamuzu Banda's Aleke Banda, he started mumbling negatives about his benefactor. I concede that is neither here nor there, like they say.

But Makoni has no constituency. I cannot recall an election he won in his own name. He appears to have been fired from all the public jobs he was appointed to. So why is his name always being pushed forward?

The two camps trying to offer a successor to Mugabe are courting him.

"Makoni," says, "is likely to align himself with the small Manyika sub-clan, most of whose important officials - including Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made - are supporting Emmerson Mnangagwa's bid for the presidency."

Apart from the revolting tribal card, how can Zimbabweans really feel they have a new decent president who is known to be in the "pocket" of people like Didymus Mutasa and Chinamasa? Will he be our president or theirs?

The same site also reported that "powerful retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru has ditched his wife, Vice President Joice Mujuru, as his ideal successor and is now opting for former finance minister Simba Makoni." He is said to have no presidential ambitions of his own but would like to be "the power behind the throne." In other words, he wants to be Puppet Master.

Why are all the ZANU-PF malcontents who have a lot to answer for vying for Makoni? Will Makoni be our president or theirs? Will he be, as former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi said of Uhuru Kenyatta, "(easily) guided"? I am afraid Makoni will not be ours and his deep roots in ZANU-PF make him very suspect to me.

But there are thousands of young men and women in and outside ZANU-PF who are more deserving than 'compromise candidates' who might not execute their responsibilities fully as puppet masters will be pulling the strings. Zimbabwe , be careful: make your choice well. Anyone with IOUs to ZANU-PF 'stalwarts' can easily be worse than Mugabe.

What will he offer them as quid pro quo?

Immunity from prosecution?

Don't say I didn't warn you.

*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean journalist.

Makoni must come clean on crucial credentials!

By Mary Revesai


LIKE many other developments in Zimbabwe today, the emergence of Simba Makoni to challenge Robert Mugabe for the leadership of the country after almost 28 years of the incumbent’s one-man rule has elicited conflicting reactions and raised more questions than answers among ordinary people weary from being constantly beaten down.

The former finance minister’s announcement on Tuesday last week that he was offering himself to the nation as a presidential candidate at first sounded like manna from heaven for a nation that was already resigned to the fact that President Mugabe and Zanu PF would rig the elections and strut back into power after next month’s polls.
The signs that this would be the most likely scenario were there for all to see. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was, as usual at such crucial junctures, in disarray with the two factions failing to re-unite after bickering over the selection of candidates and allocation of “safe seats”.

Reports of Zanu PF’s usual dirty tricks were already rife when Makoni did the unthinkable and stepped forward to announce his intention to challenge the un-yielding incumbent. The dirty tactics included the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s partisan handling of the delimitation exercise to favour the ruling party, impediments placed in the path of prospective voters wishing to register and the use of food and other dispensations to buy votes in the rural areas.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN) which identified some of these abuses reported that in some rural areas, peasants who allocated agricultural implements and inputs were already being threatened with dire consequences if the ruling party lost after they had benefited so much from government largesse.
And as happens in the build-up to all elections, traditional chiefs who had recently been inundated with vehicles and other benefits were already declaring their areas to be off limits for the MDC.
Amid these imponderables and more, enter Makoni. It seemed almost too good to be true but battle weary Zimbabweans were ready to clutch at any straws and at first Makoni’s move seemed to give a ray of hope that change could at last be possible. Then Makoni seemed to dampen hopes by insisting he was still loyal to the ruling party. Although it was announced that Makoni had been expelled from Zanu PF and he has been cannon fodder in the state media since his announcement, doubts about what he represents are growing by the day.

The former Finance Minister has gone to great trouble to prove that he is his own man and that there are “great many” in the ruling party who are disillusioned with the way the country is being led. As an admittedly cynical Zimbabwean, I have waited a week for concrete proof of Makoni’s utterances and I have not seen any.
Where are the “great many” like-minded people in the ruling party who were supposed to stand with Makoni? Knowing the kind of rival he is up against, Makoni and his group should know that it is best to strike while the iron is hot. Last week’s announcement would have had more credence if all those said to be standing with former Finance Minister had openly declared their intentions on that day or had done so since then.
In the absence of any further developments to maintain the momentum of Makoni’s announcement, speculation of all kinds is creeping in and taking hold. One version is that although Makoni initially had the backing of some influential members of President Mugabe’s government, these have subsequently been called to the carpet by the foxy old man and asked individually to say where they stand.
Even without believing Margaret Dongo’s observation that most people in Zanu PF are “Mugabe’s wives”, it is difficult to imagine that many of these people would stand their ground once put on the spot by their benefactor and dispenser of patronage.

Makoni himself was reportedly summoned by President Mugabe after the press had published reports about his plans to break ranks with the ruling party and challenge Mugabe in the presidential race.
The subsequent lack of momentum and clarity after Makoni’s seemingly bold move has given rise to suggestions that he too buckled under pressure and threats when he came face to face with the Dear Leader and agreed to be a decoy to split the MDC urban vote in return for appointment to a high position after the elections.
These rumours may seem unfounded and untrue, but in the absence of convincing explanations and rebuttals in the face of scepticism sparked by the apparent lack of consolidation of Makoni’s position, with just over a month to go before the elections, ordinary people cannot decide what to make of the aspiring president.

Some people say it is difficult to imagine Makoni being used but they only need to recall how the appointment of Joice Mujuru was proclaimed from the rooftops as a victory for women and as proof of the government’s commitment to gender equality. But it has subsequently turned out that Mujuru was used in 2004 to defuse a situation that would have been more threatening to Mugabe’s throne.
I refer here to the Tsholotsho group under Emmerson Mnangagwa that had won the support of a majority of provinces for Mnangagwa to succeed the late Simon Muzenda as vice president. He would then have only been a breath away from the top job. Mugabe was prepared to use Mujuru and subsequently Mnangagwa himself when Mujuru lost favour for aspiring to ascend to the presidency of Zimbabwe. With political survival his only concern, nothing is impossible with Zimbabwe’s ruler of the last 28 years.

Street talk is rife in Harare that Makoni may be doing what he is doing at Mugabe’s behest after being promised the presidency when Mugabe retires. Far-fetched that theory may be, but not exactly out of the realms of possibility given Mugabe’s Machiavellian survival antics
What Makoni needs to do to keep the goodwill that he initially won among the masses because of his courageous move is to come clean about who his allies in Zanu PF are and how his initiative proposes to proceed. His supposed allies must be prepared to stand up and be counted.
Makoni has not explained publicly why after seeing the light, he needs to maintain ties with the discredited and unpopular Zanu PF whose repressive policies have robbed ordinary people of their freedoms and entitlement to economic prosperity and security.

He has not explained why the party that has brought the country to its knees and pauperized the masses deserves his continuing loyalty and allegiance.
Both leaders of the two MDC factions, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, have said they do not believe there can such a thing as a reformed wing of a party that has caused such destruction and misery across the board.

Makoni must respond to questions being raised about his candidature splitting the opposition vote and defeating the objective of dislodging Mugabe. The longer he remains cagey on these crucial matters, the more he is likely to lose and be seen as a spoiler. He cannot have it both ways: breaking ranks with the ruling party and yearning to remain part of it.

Mary Revesai is a New columnist and writes from Harare