“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word “crisis”. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger …. But recognize the opportunity,” said John F Kennedy, USA President.
President Kennedy certain was no stranger to crisis; no student of history will ever forget the thirteen days in October 1962 when the world waited — seemingly on the brink of all out and guaranteed mutual annihilation nuclear war — and hoped for a peaceful resolution to the Cuban Missile Crisis. He certainly saw the danger but also the opportunity and thus steered the right course to peacefully end the crisis.
Zimbabweans too know what a crisis is for the country has latched from one crisis to another.
In 2008 Zimbabwe reached its first economic and political crisis peaks. The Zimbabwe economy was in total meltdown inflation soared to 500 billion per cent, unemployment was 90%, there was no food in the shops, etc. On the political front Mugabe was resorting to some of the most barbaric political tactics including wanton violence against his political opponents in a desperate effort to hold on to power. Millions of Zimbabweans were flooding into South Africa, other countries in the region and beyond as political and/or economic refugees.
It was only a cynic like Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, then President of South Africa, who pretend there was nothing amiss in Zimbabwe. “Crisis; what crisis?” he mimicked. Today the Zimbabwe political and economic crisis is even worse than it was in 2008; not even Mbeki would deny we have a serious crisis in our hands.
But to go back to President Kennedy’s insightful words; Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis has taken 35 years to evolve and grow; if we recognize the danger it presented each step of the way then we certainly failed to recognize the opportunities to end the crisis.
“I will prepare and someday my chance will come,” said Abraham Lincoln, another great USA President.
We had many opportunities in the last 35 years to end this corrupt and murderous Mugabe dictatorship; we were not prepared for it and missed our chance time and time again. Next time we must be prepared and the best way to ensure we are prepared is for us to recognize the danger and the opportunity of the crisis.
The danger is our crisis came in the form of brutal denial of freedoms and basic human rights oppression. Mugabe has certainly ruled Zimbabwe with a clenched iron fist, brandished in Zanu PF’s sloganeering rituals, and an AK47 rifle in the other hand. He has boosted of holding “several degrees in violence,” and has inflicted suffering and deaths in many innocent Zimbabwe proving this was no empty threat.
The Zanu PF dictatorship has turned out to be corrupt and incompetent turning the country’s once prosperous economy into a complete failure. As a result millions are out of work and are now living in abject poverty and hopeless despair.
But putting the threats and killings aside; there have been many opportunities in the last 35 years to end the Zanu PF dictatorship; sadly, we failed to make the most of all these chances. By far the best chance to end the Zanu PF dictatorship was during the GNU when MDC had to do was implement the GPA reforms SADC had already managed to arm-twist Mugabe to sign onto. SADC Heads had not reckoned on Mugabe bribing Tsvangirai and his MDC friends so they do not implement even one GPA reform and thus let him off the hook.
SADC Heads complained of MDC leaders “enjoying their time in the GNU and forgetting why they were there” in sheer frustration that not even one reform had been implemented in five years of the GNU. SADC Heads could not believe MDC leaders could be so breathtakingly corrupt, incompetent and blatant sell-outs!
Last year Mugabe rigged Zanu PF’s own electoral process to stop Joice Mujuru being elected VP so he can continue to appoint leaders who then remain beholden to him and no one else. To do it he ended up purged 150 senior party members, many of who had been in government with him for decades. This has so much division and mistrust within the party; the party is imploding!
The infighting tiring Zanu PF to pieces and the country’s worsening economic meltdown due to the decades of misrule by the regime are the pincer action that are softening Mugabe and his hardliner Zanu PF cronies and will ultimately force them to accept the need for political reforms. This will be the nation’s next great opportunity to ensure all the 2008 GPA reforms are finally implemented. We must be careful not to waste this opportunity implementing the wishy-washy electoral law reforms the breathtakingly corrupt and incompetent Tsvangirai has been wittering about.
Zimbabweans have waited for 35 years for the freedoms and basic human rights including the right to free, fair and credible elections; if we seize the opportunity created by this Zanu PF implosion to implement the GPA reforms our wait will be over! We have been denied regime change for years now we can finally have that too!