I have just read Obert Chaurura Gutu’s paper, “Is the transition authority the solution”, presented at the Mass Public Opinion Institute (New Zimbabwe). The failure by the MDC-T spokesman to grasp the important challenges ahead left me in no doubt that we need the collimating transition authority.
“Never in the history of the country have political, economic and social crises converged with such devastating consequences for the generality of the population,” started Gutu.
That is nonsense; of course, the nation remembers the economic and political chaos of 2000 to 2008 which concluded with inflation soaring to 500 billion per cent, empty shops, the worst election violence in the country’s history, etc. The GNU that followed those elections was supposed to implement a raft of democratic reforms designed to dismantle the Zanu PF dictatorship and usher a healthy and functional democratic system of government. Sadly not even one reform was implemented in five years of the GNU allowing Zanu PF to rig the elections and thus drag the nation back to the chaos of 2000 to 2008.
Today Zimbabwe is in exactly the same position the country was in 2006 with the economy in a mess and facing the prospect of fresh elections in two years’ time in the people are determined to see meaningful political change as the only way to end the economic suffering. And Zanu PF, for its part is determined to stay in power at all cost! The recent street protests are proof of the public’s anger and iron resolve to have meaningful political change.
The scene is therefore set for the clash of the unstoppable force of public anger against the immovable Zanu PF dictatorship. Unless something is done to make sure the 2018 elections are free, fair and credible then the country is set for yet another violent election process, a repeat of 2008 or worse!
“A group of prominent Zimbabweans calling themselves “concerned citizens” have proposed a non-political National Transitional Authority (NTA) to take over the running of the country from the current government until ‘’ free and fair” elections can be held. The concerned citizens are of the opinion that no election in the current political climate, can resolve the deep structural deficits in the country. In the context of the above, Zimbabwe needs a soft landing to avoid a catastrophe,” acknowledged Gutu.
He then went on to reject the NTA for the most stupid reasons one can imagine;
a) “The notion of a National Transitional Authority is not provided for in the Constitution of Zimbabwe. …. It would then call for an amendment of the Constitution itself in order to make the issue of the transitional government constitutional. …. This would prove to be practically difficult.”
Gutu is a lawyer and was a Deputy Minister in the 2008 to 2013 GNU. He should know the GNU was not provided for in the Lancaster House constitution either; the latter was amended to cater for it. Whatever these difficulties maybe they are clearly nothing compared to the nightmare of repeating of the wanton violence of 2008 and the unknown consequences.
b) “The other challenge would be that of the composition or make – up of the transitional government. Questions would arise as to how the members of the NTA would be selected. Would they be selected by the political parties, or by other civic groups? …. This interest may stir up further conflict and unrest.”
The most important task the NTA must perform is implementing the democratic reforms designed to deliver free, fair and credible elections. No reasonable person would not want anyone involved in the 2008 to 2013 GNU involved in the NTA for the simple reason that they failed to get even one reform implemented during the GNU it would be naïve to think they would do so now.
It is not beyond Zanu PF to organize its thugs to resist an change that will undermine its strangle hold on power. What must be made very clear to Zanu PF here and now is that the economic meltdown has rendered its continued rule impossible. As the economic meltdown gets worse and worse the people’s resolve to end the Zanu PF rule will harden. Just as the international community refused to grant Zanu PF election victory and legitimacy because of the wanton violence in 2008 the world will do the same again in 2018.
MDC-T cannot hold the nation to ransom; its supporters are stupid but not that stupid to be protesting that MDC leaders must be included in the NTA; so they can sell-out again as they did during the GNU!
c) “The other issue which tends to be a major challenge is that the Zanu PF government is both the de facto and de jure constitutionally elected government; notwithstanding the apparent rigging of the harmonised elections that took place on July 31,2013. The fact of the matter is that the Zanu PF government led by President Robert Mugabe is, according to both constitutional and public international law, the lawful governing authority of the Republic of Zimbabwe.”
So since the regime is able to rig the next elections it will still be the de facto elected government after the next elections, and the elections after that, etc.
SADC and the most countries accepted Zanu PF’s 2013 election victory because they had no choice. Zimbabweans had been given the chance to stop Zanu PF rigging future elections by implementing the reforms but wasted that chance. If SADC thought that Zimbabwe will find a way out; now they know they were wrong. SADC should have rejected the rigged July 2013 elections.
Even if the July 2013 elections had been free, fair and credible there is every sign that the 2018 elections will not be free and fair and the NTA is being formed to ensure free and fair elections. The world does not need to wait for the repeat of the wanton of violence of 2008 before stepping in and demanding free and fair elections.
d) “The best way forward would be to have other methods of safe transition such as engaging various International Human Rights Groups and international election observers which will arrive at least a year before elections and then depart six months after the elections to ensure and enforce a safe environment pre and post elections.”
Whilst election observers may help stop the blatant election violence they will not stop the more subtle intimidation. We need to implement substantive democratic reforms to stop Zanu PF looted billions of dollars from Marange and then use the money to bankroll its vote rigging schemes, to stop a partisan ZEC tampering with the voters roll to deny hundreds of thousands of people a vote, etc.
It is high time people stopped appeasing Mugabe and Zanu PF and think of the millions of Zimbabweans whose lives are now a living hell; they want a solution to this saga and they want it now!
e) “The other alternative is dialogue between civic society, opposition parties as well as the government in order to map the way forward and create a level playing field in preparation for the elections other than playing a blame game!”
The only way Zimbabwe is going to get out of this economic and political hell-hole is by holding free, fair and credible elections. Since both Zanu PF and MDC-T have failed to create the political environment for free and fair elections it makes sense that someone else should be given a chance to do so. NTA or some such body should be given a chance to do so.