Tanonoka Joseph Whande
Monday, May 6th, 2013
Slowly, African leaders are beginning to see the needlessness of wars and conflicts in their countries. As African governments awaken to the pointless loss of life accompanying elections and politics in general, there are calls from amongst themselves to curtail such excesses and ensure that countries that have gone through unnecessary civil wars try to prevent the same from happening elsewhere on the continent.
Statements made by Daniel Kablan Duncan, the Prime minister of Cote d ‘Ivoire, during his meeting with Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai over the weekend must not only be taken seriously but must be acted upon by all African governments.
Cote d ‘Ivoire was plunged into a crisis that quickly became a brutal civil war after current President Alassane Ouattara won a December 2010 election but then incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power, leading to a conflict that killed some 3 000 people.
After getting a briefing from Tsvangirai about the situation in Zimbabwe and the planned watershed elections this year, Duncan was well aware of the violence that also rocked Zimbabwe before, during and after the 2008 elections in which 200 Tsvangirai supporters were slaughtered after Robert Mugabe connived with his faithful to defeat the people’s electoral voice.
“Africa cannot afford another Cote d ‘Ivoire experience,” Duncan stated simply but the chilling reminder in those few words cannot be taken lightly.
As elections approach, the behaviour and language by politicians are indicators to the fact that there are some people who think very little of the outcome of these coming elections.
ZANU-PF is heavily polarised and the two major factions both boast of support in the military, in the police and in the civil service which is a very dangerous situation in terms of weapons available for each faction to hijack the elections because ZANU-PF’s instability and paranoia will end up affecting the nation as ZANU-PF engages itself in a mini civil war.
Duncan is also well aware of the behaviour of the Army Generals in Zimbabwe who have made themselves protectors of ZANU-PF, whether or not that party wins or loses the election. The Generals’ wading into politics while in army fatigues is a much too familiar sight for Duncan and the man knows, so does everyone else, what Cote d ‘Ivoire went through when a sitting president used the army to avoid vacating the presidency after losing at the polls.
Last Saturday, General Constantine Chiwenga described Tsvangirai as “a psychiatric patient and a sell-out”, and, once again, added that he will never meet him, let alone salute him.
This came a few days after Zimbabwe’s Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri had referred to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as “a confused malcontent”.
Senior army and police officers are openly in support of ZANU-PF and see themselves as protectors of those who fought in the liberation war.
This, of course, is nonsense and dangerous.
Tsvangirai, ever too slow to react, waited until the last minute to push African leaders on Zimbabwe’s forthcoming elections. His diplomatic offensive comes after he and his party all but ignored the fact that Mugabe resisted implementing some of the key elements of the Global Political Agreement, which also included security sector reforms. Now, with elections imminent, he is running around chatting up African leaders about what to do in case of this or that.
I am one of many people who are not amused by MDC-T’s patronising attitude towards those who perished in the last elections and it, therefore, is my hope that this party takes seriously the danger we might find ourselves in during and after the coming elections.
The MDC-T did not dwell on these issues enough and are only now trying to make up for lost time because they want the votes not because they care more.
Having gone through what it did, Cote d ‘Ivoire sits in the Chairmanship of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) with stories to tell Africa. We hope their tales find a place to settle and bring African leaders to attention on the issue of violence, or of causing violence, against their own people.
The signs of danger in Zimbabwe have been there for a long time and those in a position to do something about it don’t seem interested.
I am not amused that Tsvangirai launches a “diplomatic offensive” to guarantee his post election survival when he could have gone on several of these diplomatic offensives to bring to the attention of the same leaders the dangers lurking in Zimbabwe.
As we talk, political opponents are still being harassed and arrested on flimsy charges based on outdated and repressive laws that should have been repealed to allow for free and earnest political discourse in preparation for elections.
The MDC-T ignored issues of paramount importance and is now running around trying to involve external leaders whose call for the implementation of outstanding issues the MDC ignored.
The MDC did not even sustain pressure on most of these outstanding issues, including the proper updating of the voters’ roll, now there is chaos and little time for all the outstanding issues to be dealt with.
The heart of the matter is that the MDC’s so-called diplomatic offensive seeks not national safeguards but personal ones for the MDC hierarchy; it is nothing more than a search for protectors and godfathers in case things go wrong for the MDC politicians.
The MDC is booking for attention in advance so that they are not forgotten after the elections. It is more of personal crusades to safeguard their political existence and wellbeing than seeking genuine intervention should ZANU-PF steal the elections again.
And while we are talking about ECOWAS, may we also point out to that hive of functionally dead technocrats at SADC to send their Secretary General and his highest ranking underperforming underlings for an internship course at ECOWAS head office to see and learn how to handle regional issues and errant member states instead of spending their time bootlicking SADC Heads Of State while governments violate all SADC protocols.
SADC should try and redeem its non-existent record and make a difference in Zimbabwe. Surely, SADC can’t just exist to sing accolades at leaders who are abusing their citizens?
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Monday, May 6th, 2013.
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