Saturday, 3 September 2016

National Transition Authority is required to stop the election violence of 2008 happening again. By Patrick Guramatunhu

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.    


Zimbabwe Light said...

SADC and the world will help Zimbabwe get out of this hell-hole but that is not to say they will get us out of the hell-hole whilst we sit back and do nothing much less do so against our will. By doing nothing to implement the democratic reforms during the GNU Zimbabweans send out a clear and loud message to the world that we are happy with the dictatorship and did not want to change.

As a Zimbabwean I know that millions of Zimbabweans out there did not have a clue what these reforms were and how they were to be implemented. They had all joined in the scream the usual slogan "Chinja!" "Change!" but with no clue what they wanted to change. Millions of them still have no clue what democratic changes are required to end the dictatorship. Many Zimbabweans now believe that removing Mugabe is all the change the country needs! They are so cock-sure of that they even call themselves "Tajamuka!" meaning "We are enlightened!" We are wiser than the wise-men from the East!"

“Nemo censeturignorare legem,” (Nobody is thought to be ignorant of the law) said Aristotle. In this case no Zimbabwean should be ignorant of the corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF dictatorship, not after all these years of living under the regime and being dragged into the abyss this deep!

The important point here is that understanding the evil of the dictatorship is NOT rocket science but common sense. Anyone can see they are being short change when they are made to go through an election process in which time and time again their vote is discarded one way or the other.

You need only to have your eyes open to see that the hospitals and clinics across the land are not fit for purpose meanwhile the ruling elite are spending billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money flying overseas for all their health care needs. You do not need a University degree to see the injustice of denying the most basic the health needs of millions in order to finance the over the top health needs of a few.

Zimbabweans have to admit that they are either too lazy to learn and understand what is wrong with the country’s failed system of governance or they are mentally challenged and therefore incapable of learning and mastering even the most rudimental tenets of self-government. Either way Zimbabweans must know that the world will stand back and not lift a finger to help; they will only hope that suffering will jolt us out of this comatose state. What else can they do? You can take the horse to the river but you cannot make him drink!

We have all the information and history to know all we need to know about dictatorships, free elections, etc. We have failed to end the Zanu PF dictatorship for 36 years because we cannot be bothered!

Zimbabwe Light said...

@ Stobart
No one would disagree with your point that MDC should have refused to the GNU arrangement given the brutality Zanu PF had inflicted on the people and how MDC was clearly a very junior partner in the arrangement. But putting that all aside, was there any scope for MDC to implement meaningful democratic reforms? The answer is yes.

It is clear that you and many others just like you have failed to understand what the reforms are and how they should have been implemented during the GNU. Even now with the benefit of hindsight, you still have no clue what we are talking about. However, just because you do not understand what was going on during the GNU does not in any way change the historic fact that MDC did not waste a golden opportunity to end the dictatorship.

I agree that Zanu PF is on the "brink" of collapse but do not fool yourself by thinking this is as the result of the street protest. It is the economic meltdown that is the real prime-mover here. The people are on the streets because they cannot endure the economic hardships. Zanu PF itself is imploding because party members are fighting to the death for the little wealth left to escape poverty. Mai Mujuru and many of her supporters lost the fight two years ago and already many have died "of stress related illness", she told us. What brought on the stress? Poverty!

Actually it does not really matter what has brought Zanu PF to the "brink", I say it is the economic meltdown you say it is the street protests; what matters most here is what do we want to happen next?

What Patrick is saying here is that we should demand the implementation of the democratic reforms to ensure free, fair and credible elections. He, unlike you my friend clearly understands why the GNU failed to get even one reform implemented that is why he has said none of the leaders involved in the GNU should be in the NTA. For you to say the NTA will be no different from the GNU only shows you have not understood what the NTA is.

You want everyone to join the street protest and force Zanu PF go into "dialogue on the way forward", as Gutu suggested? This is just a vicious circle because in defining the way forward we will have to talk about reforms, who will implement the reforms, no doubt Zanu PF and MDC would want to do it, we cannot ignore that they failed to do so during the GNU, suggest NTA, both Zanu PF and MDC will rejected NTA and so we go back to "dialogue on the way forward"!

It Zimbabweans go to the next elections without implementing the democratic reforms fully then the best the nation can expect is to remove the dictator Mugabe; the constitution framework that allowed Mugabe to assume dictatorial powers will still be there ready for the next State President to use to make himself/ herself a dictator.

The NTA will make sure all the democratic reforms are implemented before the next elections and thus completely dismantle the constitutional framework on which the dictatorship is build and not have to hope that the next leader will do it. If the street protests must be a means to an end and that end must be making sure ALL the democratic reforms are fully implemented. In this case the street protest should be demanding that both Zanu PF and MDC must not hold the nation to ransom and end this carry-on of promising free elections but never deliver. The street protest should be demanding the NTA as the only set up with a realistic chance of implementing the reforms and delivering free, fair and credible elections.