In his article “Biti’s NTA a pointless idea for a fruitless exercise” Whitlaw Mugwiji has made an attempt to convince the readers on why he thinks the NTA is a “fruitless exercise” as he stated in the title. Sadly the whole article was a litany of wrong assumptions, misreading the historic facts and realities, etc. leading to the inevitable wrong conclusions.
Let me start by stating that the primary purpose of the NTA is to implement ALL the democratic reforms to ensure Zimbabwe’s next elections are free, fair and credible. But given Zimbabwe’s serious economic hardships and the collapse of basic services such as health and education, the need for clean water, etc. the NTA will have no choice but to take on some economic stabilization duties too during the transition period.
Mugwiji told us why, he believed, we needed the NTA.
“Biti and a few other intellectuals are saying that Zanu PF cannot be defeated through elections under the current conditions. They also think that the opposition is too weak to demand electoral reforms or to mount a credible challenge against Zanu PF in 2018,” he wrote.
If these were the true reasons why we needed the NTA then I too would agree 100% with why Mugabe and Zanu PF will never agree to any meaningful political reforms that will result in free, fair and credible elections. Mugabe and everyone in Zanu PF know they will never win free, fair and credible elections so, naturally, they will resist any moves likely to lead to them losing their iron grip on power.
There are four reasons why we need the NTA and each feeds back on the other in a closed loop each reinforcing the other:
a) Like it or not Zimbabwe is stuck in a dangerous economic meltdown fuelled by decades of gross mismanagement, rampant corruption and lawlessness that has made it near impossible to carry out any lawful economic activity. Unemployment has soared to 90% plus; government cannot even raise enough revenue to pay civil servants’ wages let alone everything else; Looting has reached nauseating heights of $15 billion with no one arrested; we will have bond notes soon bringing back the days of the hyperinflation; etc.; etc. Zimbabwe’s economic situation is economically, socially and politically unsustainable.
b) When Zanu PF rigged the 2013 elections the party thought it would rig economic recovery too with its $27 billion ZimAsset plan. No one, not even the Chinese, would bankroll the plan they all knew that without meaningful reforms end the three cancers state in a) above. The only meaningful reforms to cure the nation of the mismanagement, corruption and lawlessness will have to be wide ranging democratic reforms and the ultimate proof the reforms were carried out properly is the nation holding free, fair and credible elections.
c) The ordinary people of Zimbabwe have right to a decent job, health services, clean running water, etc. and to a government that is responsive to their needs and expectations. In other words, the people’s increasing demand for economic rights is dove-tailing with their demands for free, fair and credible elections.
It is clear that this Zanu PF regime will want to go into the next elections without even one reform implemented for various reasons which I would not go into. What matters here is that Zanu PF will face the same challenge of having to rig economic recovery or be damned – exactly the same situation it faced after rigging the 2013 elections only the economic situation will be even worse and even Mugabe will know that no one will want to hear about ZimAsset Mark2!
The key point to note in b) above is that Zanu PF cannot implement the democratic reforms that will culminate in free, fair and credible elections and thus its political demise as noted above; this should be obvious and go without saying. And yet this has been one of the point completely missed and/or misunderstood by many, many people about the 2008 GPA and the GNU.“Expecting the AU and SADC to play a significant role in the NTA is contrary to reason. I thought Tendai Biti at least learned something during the GPA negotiation which were facilitated by AU,” wrote Mugwiji.
“Let me put it bluntly, the AU and SADC are neither interested in democracy nor in regime change. Their philosophy is plain and simple ‘they believe in the sovereignty of each individual state and in the case of conflict within the state they believe in peace at whatever cost’.” Wrong!
SADC leaders had their faults and made many mistakes but the one thing the regional body was committed in was making sure Zimbabwe had meaningful democratic change resulting in free, fair and credible elections and avoid a repeat of rigged and violent elections of 2008. The 2008 GPA gave a list of democratic reforms plus drafting a new democratic constitution the as prerequisite for free, fair and credible elections. The Zimbabwe partners in the GNU were tasked to implemented the reforms and draft the new constitution.
Of the three partners in the GNU, SADC was never under any illusions that Mugabe and his Zanu PF cronies would much prefer to have not even one democratic reform implemented during the GNU and as for the new constitution Mugabe would prefer a new constitution giving him dictatorial powers. SADC leaders expected the two MDC factions in the GNU to implement the reforms and draft a democratic constitution.
It is a matter of historic record that SADC leaders reminded Tsvangirai and his MDC friends on many occasion during the GNU to implement the democratic reforms but were ignored. SADC leaders pleaded with MDC leaders not to take part in the 2013 elections with no reform in place but again their warning was ignored. A number of MDC leaders like Samuel Sipepa Nkomo have admitted MDC was warned.
As for the new constitution, Zanu PF PM, Paul Mangwana, has boasted that Mugabe “dictated” the document. Tsvangirai claimed the new constitution was an “MDC Child” and that it would deliver free, fair and credible elections. Even he admitted the 2013 elections were rigged!
We would not need the NTA if MDC had implemented the reforms during the GNU when they had the support of SADC, as the guarantor of the GPA.
The complete failure by even people like Whitlaw Mugwiji, well-read intellectuals and opinion-makers, to grasp the basic idea that it was MDC leaders’ responsibility to implement the reforms during the GNU and that they failed because they are corrupt and incompetent is a complete mystery. Even with the benefit of hindsight and three years of knocking at the door; there is still not a flicker of brain cell activity!
“If the opposition is serious in its quest to remove Mugabe and Zanu PF from power, then it must come together without fail,” concluded Mugwiji. “They must sign a MOU with one another and start organising protests, demanding clearly stated electoral reforms. Blur, blur, blur!”
Physical Mugwiji is awake but mentally he is fast asleep. If he was awake then he would have long realised most of the opposition leaders he talking about already have a proven track record as corrupt and incompetent. Of course it is an exercise in futility to elect and once again entrust someone like of Tsvangirai to implement the same reforms when he has already failed to get even one reform implemented during the GNU.
Zanu PF will probably rig the next elections but that will only delay the end of the regime by a few more months making the end much more torturous for the regime and the people alike. But be rest assured regime change is coming!
The opposition, such as it is, squabble noisily amount themselves over nothing. Come election many of them will take part and fight over the few seats Zanu PF always throws at them to keep them interested. They will be harassed, beaten, etc. (I only wish these Zanu PF thugs would target opposition members only and leave the innocent people out of it) and they will complain and moan, the usual stuff.
The fourth and, without doubt, most important reason why we need the NTA:
d) The NTA will create the political space and time to allow ordinary people to recover from the decades of brainwashing and political tyranny, create the necessary environment for freedom of expression, free debate and democratic competition. Out of this fertile democratic, free and dynamic society quality leaders will emerge who can then assume leadership position and carry the nation forward.
It is in SADC’s interest to see a stable and democratic Zimbabwe, the worsen economic meltdown and political chaos is slowing down development and destabilizing the whole region. The only reason SADC have not step in since the 2013 elections is because they did not see any credible opposition leaders they could work with. They would not want to be harnessed with Tsvangirai again, not after the GNU nightmare!
The pressure for Zanu PF to accept change is from the worsen economic situation. “It is the economy, stupid!” as President Billl Clinton once said!
Regime change, the dreaded phrase in Zanu PF circles, is now as certain as a ripe mango falling!