The people have the answers

Thursday, October 18th, 2012.

In a reaction after the unwarranted arrest and subsequent release of MDC-T cabinet minister Elton Mangoma last week, the MDC put out a statement to the effect that the MDC “is fighting to restore justice, rule of law and security of every citizen”.

“This arbitrary arrest of innocent citizens has to stop forthwith,” said the MDC, adding that currently, 29 innocent MDC activists have been languishing in prison for over 500 days on a trumped up murder charge.

It is all very well for them to say that because one of the big men in the party had been taken for a precariously dangerous joy ride and later released, unlike hundreds of other MDC supporters who are always arrested and never released, with some never to be seen or heard from again.

What, may I ask, has the MDC done about the situation, which has been dogging us since the MDC was formed thirteen years ago? They have been in government for four years now and their supporters continue to be harassed, beaten up, arrested and killed but I still have to come across evidence of a genuine effort to seek redress for this national shame…until one of the so-called big fish is arrested and released, such as happened with Mangoma.

Next time, Mangoma, like many others, might not be so lucky.

I was, therefore, offended by the MDC’s statement, which makes it look like concern should only be raised when one of them is targeted by ZANU-PF.

The MDC further said that the “selective application of the law is a major cause for concern” as if they did not know about this before, during and after the MDC was formed. Or are they just realising it now after 13 years of existence?

Where has the MDC been all along and what have they done to protect its supporters other than issuing press statements that never console the people.

After Mangoma’s experience last week, the MDC called “on all Zimbabweans to hold on in the face of injustice by overzealous Zanu PF functionaries in the security sector, for real change is just an election away”.

Really? Just an election away?

Yet their supporters can be held for 500 days and the MDC is unable to do anything about it?

Yet ZANU-PF vigilante groups are sprouting all over the country and the MDC is unable to intervene on behalf of its own supporters, the very same people being targeted.

And what has the MDC done about the abuse of people at Chiadzwa diamond fields? How has the MDC ever tried to protect its supporters?

Every day, MDC supporters make headlines, not because of what they are doing but because of what is being done to them by ZANU-PF, a partner to the MDC in government.

When ZANU-PF created enemies for itself and people started walking away from them, it started urging the masses to “be vigilant”. Why did we need to be vigilant when we had done nothing wrong? Those who had committed crimes are the ones who had to be vigilant as they attempt to escape the law.

Today, the MDC-T is asking all Zimbabweans to hold on in the face of injustice, telling us that they “salute all Zimbabweans who are yearning for a new democratic country”.

They are calling it the last mile yet people have been running away from their own government since before so-called independence.

How long is a mile? How many years does a mile last?

I find the MDC’s attitude towards its supporters to be very patronising and as selective as ZANU-PF’s application of the law. This attitude has to be changed because they are doing to the people the very same things that ZANU-PF has been doing to us.

Is the MDC serious when it says real change is just an election away? Did they not say the same during the 2008 elections? And has the MDC earned any redress for our 200 compatriots who were killed because of their affiliation with the MDC?

Why does the MDC believe change is just an election away when all that is necessary for a free and fair election remain untouched, unexplored and with nobody fighting for those changes.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s naivety seems to be growing like moulds around him. Unless he revises his attitude towards the real need for people’s emancipation, Tsvangirai is headed for the dustbin of history and might cruelly be shamed by history itself.

He has to distinguish himself from the rest; Tsvangirai has to show us some vision not reaction. We want leadership; we want a party that thinks on behalf of the people while taking orders from the people. Does Tsvangirai still believe, like he himself said, that Mugabe is part of the solution?

Mugabe is not part of any solution even if he has his grip on the party and the institutions of state. Mugabe is the problem.

When a person is being electrocuted, you take a piece of wood and become cruel enough to hit the victim to separate the person from the live wire. You don’t coax the electricity to stop flowing through the victim.

You got to be cruel to be kind; to save someone from death. Mugabe has killed too many of our compatriots yet we have a plethora of political parties that have no spine but love to have photo opportunities, looking important and stately while the people are suffering and being killed by their own government.

I am scared by the naivety being shown by Mr Tsvangirai, made worse by the fact that people believed he and his party were their only hope for salvation.

Tsvangirai joined this government of national unity with the hope that all the outstanding terms of the agreement would be implemented on time so as to move forward.

It’s been four years now, which ones have been fulfilled by ZANU-PF and what is the MDC saying about it? Do they see how the outstanding terms were quietly changed to something about a roadmap? Whatever happened to a “people driven Constitution”? Is this draft constitution a people-driven draft constitution?

Like hell it is! And where is the MDC?

The heart of the matter is that I see no evidence on the part of Tsvangirai and his party to do any more for the nation and for the people, particularly those important and necessary issues that would allow for indisputable elections. What are they up to?

I am worried that the fight is being given up at a time when our destination could be nearer than the point we originated from.

The MDC has strayed dangerously and it is my hope that the very same people who put them where they are will knock some sense into them.

The reforms that the MDC should have fought for from the very beginning of the unity government are still missing and, with talk of referendum and elections in a few months, time is running out.

The MDC says things like “no reforms, no election”. As a colleague said, “if that’s the case, then unless we fool ourselves into thinking that ZanuPF will reform, there will never be elections because ZanuPF will never implement these reforms. It would be suicidal (for ZANU-PF) to do so.”  It’s nothing but a carefully crafted vicious cycle.

Populist talk won’t do much for the people.

Proper consultation with the people, listening to the people and unapologetic action are what we need.

The MDC got its encouragement and support from the people, just like one Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF did once upon a time.

Mugabe’s problems worsened when he ditched his close associates and advisors, wanting to take all the credit for himself. He failed dismally and gave an opportunity to a trade unionist, one Morgan Tsvangirai, to bounce into politics.

Tsvangirai has no excuse to fail.

Being a partner in government with Mugabe, all Tsvangirai needs to do is look at Mugabe and ZANU-PF and he will know how not to run a country.

“The bucket of logic has been tipped upside down. There seems to be a drought of common sense. A change of direction is now imperative. If ever there was a need for real leadership, now is the hour.”

The people have the answers, Mr Tsvangirai! Ask them; listen to them!

I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Thursday, October 18th, 2012.

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