Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Open Letter to Zimbabwean Minister of Foreign Affairs Mumbengengwi: Act urgently on Eastern DRC Conflict, Call for Extraordinary SADC and EAC Summit.

The Committee of the People's Charter (CPC) notes with great trepidation and misgiving the long standing conflict in the Eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This is particularly so with the recent escalation of the conflict and the displacement of innocent and unarmed civilians in the regional capital of Goma.

While the CPC is aware of the ongoing efforts of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force (MONUSC) as well as the initiative of the neighbouring states through their 12 August 2012 Great Lakes Region International Summit, we are of the firm view that the Zimbabwean government has an obligation to call for greater urgency in seeking a ceasefire and an end to the internal displacement of innocent civilians in this conflict.
This is not only because the DRC is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) but also because Zimbabwe has long standing ties with the DRC that, in the final analysis, make it obligatory for us to support and seek peaceful solutions to that conflict.

The CPC has also observed that it is a general trend of the Zimbabwean government and components of civil society to seek regional and international solidarity primarily on the basis of our internal problems at home and rarely do we seek or act in solidarity and support for peoples of Africa and elsewhere in the world that are in conflict situations.
It is therefore of utmost importance that Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, formally requests SADC to act with urgency on the matter. This would include action that should lead to the calling of a joint Extraordinary Summit on the DRC conflict involving SADC and the East African Community (EAC) in order to resolve the conflict and with African Union and United Nations support. 

Saturday, 17 November 2012

CPC response to the 2013 National Budget presented by Finance Minister Tendai Biti

16 November 2012

The Committee of the Peoples Charter (CPC), having read the 2013 budget presentation, notes that it is a budget that is intended at continuity in relation to the inclusive government’s work programme at least six months prior to elections being held in March next year.

It is this intended continuity with its attendant business as usual approach that points to the fact that the inclusive government might not be taking elections scheduled for 2013 as seriously as would be expected. This is with regards to both the inadequate budgetary allocation for elections and the referendum, as well as in the assumption that the inclusive government’s work programme will be undertaken by the next government of Zimbabwe.

It is therefore the CPC’s initial observation that the inclusive government, through its budget is not taking the nationally important issue of elections as seriously as is necessary. This is even more tacit where consideration is given to the fact that the inclusive government is a compromise arrangement and to seek a repeat of the same through inadequate resourcing of elections is unfortunate.

The CPC notes that in the same framework of seeking continuity to its policy ambiguities, the inclusive government has not allocated any resources for a wholesale review of its performance either for each line ministry or as Cabinet. Because of this, there is the claim that for example, the Distressed Industrial and Marginalized area Fund (DIMAF) was not exhausted in the current financial year (2012), yet it was a fund that was established on the basis of urgency.

 It therefore becomes disheartening to assess that the recurrence of the same urgent challenges facing the people of Zimbabwe in all of the last four national budget presentations by the Minister of Finance is indicative of limited or poor performance by the ministers in the inclusive government.

In relation to social welfare or what the budget has termed ‘Social Services and Social Safety Nets,’ there is no new approach to the challenges faced therein. The template that the government seeks to use is that which has continued to bedevil the social services, particularly health and education since the first full budget of the inclusive government.

It would have been preferable had health and education at primary level be made free at all government institutions with the intention of ensuring access for all young children and primary school pupils. This would be a mitigatory measure against commercialization of these services where only the few get the best of them and our political leaders seek health treatment as well as send their children to expensive schools. And where international donors have been assisting in funding our health delivery system, it would be preferable that the government negotiate from that premise.

The reference that the budget makes to youth is however of significance in that indeed youth unemployment is a 'time-bomb' in Zimbabwe. In our view the reasons for this are not because, contrary to the budgets assertion of a fear of a youth uprising similar to the 'Arab spring'. it is more because the inclusive government has failed to address youth unemployment holistically and has unfortunately sought to purchase support of young Zimbabweans through unclear youth funds that have eventually mainly benefited those with proximity to political power. Where the 2013 budget emphasizes 'vocational training' for youths it accords them no particular role in the contemporary economy, particularly via public work programmes such as the much vaunted Plumtree-Mutare highway or even proposed rehabilitation of hospitals and other state institutions.

In conclusion, the CPC, being aware that budgets are not singular panaceas for societal development, it is the progress that they make and provide for that leads towards better and democratic distribution of the national cake. The 2013 budget however is not a major departure from what has been obtaining since 2009 where the template that informs it remains to the greater extent over reliant on resources and knowledge support from the IMF and the World Bank, institutions that were at the lead of implementing economic structural adjustment programmes in the 90s.

It is unfortunate that in contemporary times, the inclusive government continues to inadequately address the contextual economic problems that Zimbabwe faces through similarly arrived at templates.

Monday, 29 October 2012


The Honorable Tendai Biti (MP)
Minister of Finance
New Government Complex
29 October 2012

Dear Minister Biti


The above matter refers:  

On the 13th of October 2011, the Committee of the Peoples Charter presented submissions to your good office for on what we considered to be key priority areas for the 2012 Annual National Budget.

We noted that our submissions were not replied to nor evidently put into consideration by the inclusive government.

We therefore humbly re-submit the same document with some changes mindful of the fact that the concerns that we raised in October 2011 remain valid for consideration in the 2013 budget.

In the interest of public transparency, we have also copied this letter and the attached submissions to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion.  We have also copied the same  to civil society organisations.

We therefore hope that these submissions will be considered in the 2013 national budget.

Kind regards,

Blessing Vava

Secretary to the CPC

The Prime Minister’s Office, The Speakers Office, The Public Accounts Portfolio Committee, The  Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations,  The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, The National Constitutional Assembly, Bulawayo Agenda, the National Aids Council, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, the Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe Chapter, the Zimbabwe, The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the Youth Forum, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, The Zimbabwe National Students Union, Youth Forum

THEME: A New Social Democratic and Social Welfarist Deal for Zimbabwe.
SUBMITTED TO: The Ministry of Finance, Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe
 Monday 29  OCTOBER 2012

Contact Details: 348 Herbert Chitepo Harare, Zimbabwe,

A. Introduction
(i)This is our considered input for consideration by the Ministry of Finance as it prepares the projected national budget for the year 2013.  It is important at the onset to make it apparent that in presenting this alternative peoples budget framework the Committee of the Peoples Charter (CPC) submissions are not made out of particular economic or financial expertise but commitment to our country and commitment to democratic people centered government. And in  so doing, we wish to make it clearly understood that these submissions are premised on our intention to see the government prioritize the establishment of a Social Democratic ideological underpinning to the state, and a Social Welfare oriented national economy.
(ii) We are also persuaded that any Zimbabwean annual national budget should fundamentally serve the citizens of this country. This makes such a policy document one that must have the approval of the people of Zimbabwe, must talk to their collective national and individual aspirations, address matters related to the livelihoods of contemporary and future generations of the country and above all, seek to promote democratic, people centered and accountable government within a Social Democratic and Social Welfare framework.
(iii)  Furthermore, in the three years that have lapsed since the formation of the inclusive government, it is publicly acknowledged and recognized that the inclusive government, through the Ministry of Finance has, to its credit, sought to ensure that there is public consultation over and around the formulation of key performance priorities of the national budget. It is such an approach to the national budget that has prompted the Committee of the Peoples Charter (CPC) to make its input to the Ministry of Finance on this important national issue. The CPC, in the interest of public transparency has also copied these submissions to all the relevant portfolio committees of the Parliament of Zimbabwe and civil society organizations with the intention of appraising fellow Zimbabweans on our views on matters related to the 2013 national budget.
B. Founding Premise of our Submissions.
(i)The CPC  is formed from the processes that led to the establishment of the Zimbabwe People’s Charter that was penned by civil society organizations in February 2008 at the Peoples Convention held in Harare, Zimbabwe. Over 3500 representatives of civil society organizations attended this meeting with the express intention of bringing to the attention of national political leaders, in particular those that had been involved in the SADC mediated negotiations in the run-up to the March 2008 elections, the priorities that any Zimbabwean government should consider henceforth.  The character of the output of this convention was Social Democratic as well as keenly focused on the deliverance of a state that is a Social Welfare state. This is as outlined in the 7 key tenets of the Zimbabwe Peoples Charter which cover the political environment, the national economy and social welfare, the constitutional reform process, the youth, women and gender, elections and our national value system. [1]
(ii) With the passage of three years since the formation of the inclusive government we are firmly aware that the ideals enunciated in the Zimbabwe Peoples Charter have not been met for reasons that include political contestations in the inclusive government; the overwhelming of the initial signatory civil society organizations by the politics of the inclusive government either by way of cooptation into government programmes or through  the continued lack of enjoyment of their and fellow citizens fundamental human rights to assemble or express themselves. 
(iii) Regardless of these developments over the last three years, the CPC has remained committed to the Peoples Charter in so far as it provides a Zimbabwean Social Democratic and Social Welfarist standard of measurement of the performance of the inclusive government or any other Zimbabwean government of the past or of the future.
(iv) This standard, as outlined in the Charter is premised on the history of our struggle for liberation and our post independence struggles  for full democratization.  Both eras of struggle hold and still hold it dear that all human beings are created equal, have the right to life and a life of dignity,  must be accorded the full enjoyment of political and economic freedoms in any bill of rights as well as universal suffrage and social and economic justice .
C. The Attendant Principles and Ten National Guiding Points and Actions That Should Inform Our National Budget.
(i) We realize that the inclusive government is contested policy terrain given the different ideological backgrounds of the three political parties that comprise it.  This has meant that the national budget has been characterized by politicized contestations as to how to reform and revitalize the national economy. These contestations have also been characterized by an unfortunate political party grandstanding at laying claim to the incremental improvements that have been evident in the supply of goods and services in the country.
(ii) In our view, it is therefore imperative that the inclusive government considers re-thinking the national budget in a different light. While it is accepted that the member parties of the inclusive government are strange bedfellows and the workings of government are generally informed by the politics of party positioning, the inclusive government is failing to demonstrate the requisite ‘common ground’ that led to its formation. And it is this ‘common ground’ with particular regards to the section of the preamble to the GPA that states, “committing ourselves to putting our people and our country first by arresting the fall in living standards and reversing the decline of our economy[2] that the CPC wishes to draw to the attention of the Ministry of Finance and the entirety of the inclusive government.
 It is also in the following Section D of our submissions that we emphasize that the inclusive government  must of historical necessity take into account the imperative that the national budget must be Social Democratic and Social Welfarist in intent, purpose and practice.

D. Defining ‘Common Ground’ In The National Economy.
(i) It is generally held as important that national budgets should seek to address in a holistic manner, the livelihoods and aspirations of all citizens in a given country. This includes the responsibility of the government to provide health, shelter, education, general welfare, employment, opportunity to be inventive  and public transport for all,  while at the same time providing for the necessary expansion of the national economy to not only meet these needs but also compete regionally and globally to be a developed and democratic people centered state.
(ii) Because of our country’s history of the liberation war and the continuing post independence struggle for full democratization, both in relation to the full realization of envisioned political freedoms and the realization of a people-centered national economy, we hold it imperative that the inclusive government actively seek national ‘common  ground’ on the national economy.  This is because where we have analysed the politics of the liberation struggle and those of the struggle for full democratization of the state as led by the labour unions in the 1990s, there are threads that are common to both struggle epochs. The values of the liberation war movements remain in tandem with those of the post independence struggles for full democratization with particular emphasis on all players having initially sought differing versions of a social democratic ideological thrust to the state, upon independence or upon attainment of full democratization.
(iii) Evidence to the latter point resides in the public knowledge that the main protagonists in the inclusive government have generally referred to important national matters such as land reform or indigenization as issues that they agree to in principle but differ in the area of the methodology of implementation. It is our considered view that the necessary compromise and in any event, the historically determined common ground is that of having a national budget presented within the context of social democratic ideals.
(iv) This would preferably be termed and themed,   A New Social Democratic and Social Welfare Deal for Zimbabwe and would be characterized by the following 10 (ten) national principles:
1. A re-affirmation of the liberation struggle and post independence struggles for full democratization ideals based on the aspirations enunciated in these same struggles which were and are primarily aimed at achieving universal suffrage, democracy, political and economic freedoms, social welfare and gender equality for all Zimbabweans.
2. A commitment to upholding the democratic truth that in the formulation of a national budget, a sitting government of the day must ensure that there is full declaration of the country’s assets, its actual revenue and its potential revenue together with the sources of the same.
3. A continued commitment to seeking Zimbabwean solutions to Zimbabwean problems within the context of a globalised World. This would take into account the fact that it remains Zimbabwe’s national prerogative to negotiate with the World in what is democratically held to be in the country and citizen’s best social democratic interests.
4. A commitment to the re-establishment and improvement of a social welfare state. That is, a state that understands and implements the provision of health; education for all;  public transport;  basic nutrition for children according to UNICEF standards; access to water; employment creation; social welfare grants for the unemployed; specific social welfare grants for  women;   and natural or human made disaster support for all its citizens.
5. A commitment to the full enjoyment of universally accepted and acknowledged human rights;  the rule of law and the separation of powers that are expected in a democratic state.
6. An understanding that it is obligatory upon the state to ensure equitable just and accountable re-distribution of the land for the benefit of the majority rural and urban poor in order to guarantee their food security. This would entail that the state establish an independent Land Commission
7. A commitment to the democratic imperative that all national wealth acquired from our natural minerals must be harnessed primarily to provide resource support for the social welfare needs of the country’s citizens i.e education, health, public transport, access to water and basic nutrition. In tandem with this commitment that the government must commit itself to public disclosure as to the amount of revenue it has acquired and will acquire from all of our national mineral wealth for the full knowledge of the public.
8. A re-commitment and pledge to gender equality in all spheres of Zimbabwean society  and the active promotion of women’s rights as well as the protection of the rights of young females. This includes giving preferential treatment to young females in the arenas of health, education (both basic and tertiary), and in employment. It also includes ensuring a special social welfare grant be given to all women headed households and disadvantaged women in general.
9. A re-commitment and pledge to ensure that all young people of Zimbabwe have access to free and quality education up to tertiary level, access to health, access to employment and access to social welfare grants where they are economically disadvantaged.
10. A re-commitment to solidarity with the peoples in the Zimbabwean Diaspora, the peoples of Southern Africa and the African continent premised on accepting the ideals and principles of democratic governance grounded in a firm understanding of our shared struggle histories and our continued struggles for the assertion of African identity, unity and solidarity with the rest of the world. This understanding will also reaffirm our commitment to the United Nations Charter as well as the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights with its attendant Conventions.
E.The Pragmatic Urgency of the 2013 Budget Minus Political Expediency.
(i) We are aware of the urgency of the 2013 budget in relation to our ongoing national economic crises wherein our social service provision has remained low, unemployment levels remain high and our industries are yet to regain the momentum that was lost in the last 15 years.
(ii) We are also cognizant of the political decisions that will inform the allocation of resources for a national Constitutional Referendum and a General Election.
(iii) It is however our considered view that the national budget should not be beholden to these two processes without addressing the nine principles enunciated above.
(iv) To ensure that this does not happen we strongly recommend a clear demarcation in the national budget to matters related to the functional components of the national economy from the political ones that have been pre-determined by the GPA. This is to say, where the government has budgeted for the political processes of referendum and elections, the political implementation matrix unlike in the last two financial years, should not evidently cause unnecessary stagnation in the provision of the social welfare needs of the people of Zimbabwe.
(v) It is therefore our considered proposal that the Ministry of Finance makes the following distinction in the national budget:
1.The ‘Common Ground’ Functional Economic Provisions: these budgetary provisions would take into account what we have highlighted as the ‘common ground’ that the budget must address. These provisions essentially point to matters that should not be directly beholden to any decision by the three principals in the inclusive government post their agreement to these same said ‘common ground’  principles. For emphasis, these provisions should also include budgetary allocations for the enjoyment of our human rights and political freedoms as well as the rule of law and be firmly grounded in Social democratic and Social Welfarist ideals.
2.The Contingent GPA Provisions: These provisions will be set aside to ensure that political contestations via democratic elections are provided for without undermining the national economic ‘common ground’. This would mean where and when the three principals to the GPA decide to call for elections, these political processes should not stop the functioning of the state in relation to its ability to provide essential services as occurred in the contestations between 2000 and 2008.
3.It’s Our Country too. Such provisions will make it clear to the people of Zimbabwe that whereas the politics of our national leaders remains important in relation to who is in charge of our government, in the event that they disagree as they have done in the last two and a half years, our country should not be permitted to collapse on that basis alone. It is the prerogative and duty of all citizens to remain committed to the Zimbabwean state, hold it to account on broader and non partisan values that assert our collective humanity and where possible, avoid the proverbial circumstance of ‘when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers’.
F. The Proposed Priorities for the 2013  Budget.
(i) For emphasis and with due consideration of the economic circumstances that the country is facing we humbly propose that the inclusive government prioritizes the following in its 2013 Budget:
(ii) ‘Common Ground Provisions’
1.Restoration of full functionality and professionalism at all major referral government and local government hospitals in Zimbabwe inclusive of free treatment and medication for the majority poor; free and guaranteed access to electricity for all of these hospitals, fair remuneration for all medical personnel and the re-launch of a health for all nationwide awareness campaign.
2.Provision for free primary school education for all, subsidization of all government secondary school budgets, restoration of the student loan schemes for tertiary education in collaboration with university and college administrations and the establishment of a national education policy that is much more sensitive to the aspirations of Zimbabwe’s Generation Next.
3.Provision for Parliament that relate more to its oversight role than it does to the remuneration of Members of Parliament without being over-reliant on donor funding. This will serve to guarantee its independence.
4.Provision for a fully functional Judiciary, with permission for greater decentralization of its functions for the full implementation of the rule of law and guarantees to its independence.
5.Provision for the land reform programmes hitherto, with access to agricultural inputs and infrastructural  developments remaining a priority; the land audit becoming a reality; the establishment and full functioning of an independent land commission as well as compensation for those who unjustly lost their livelihoods during the various phases of the land reform programmes after independence.
6.Provision for the revival of a electricity, road/ rail  and telecommunications systems in order to improve public transport and communications. This would entail an revised incorporation of the National Railways of Zimbabwe and its national rail network with particular emphasis on urban passenger services as well as urban-rural passenger services; a revitalization of our fixed telephone networks to intergrate them with our mobile telephony for greater communication between citizens and the urgent refurbishment of outstanding power stations.
7.Provisions for the utilization of revenue from the entirety of the mining industry into the national health system to purchase modern and up to date medical equipment,  drugs as well as input directly into the revival of our national emergency response systems such as the Fire Brigade, Civil Protection Unit, and ambulance services.
8.Provision for the expansion of the ability of Zimbabweans to receive and impart information through the establishment of a separate Media Development and Diversity Fund to assist in the establishment of independent private and community radio stations, boost transmission capacities of the same and assist the print media in their viability challenges.
9.Provision for a holistic review of all state enterprises within the context of having their functions fulfill the New Social Democratic and Social Welfarist Deal for Zimbabwe.
10.Provisions for a ‘Bridging the Gap’ Re-integration and Linkage  Fund for the Diaspora with the express aim of ensuring that we communicate and integrate the Diaspora into our national debate and our national planning processes.
11.Provisions for the revival of our industrial sectors in relation to basic commodity production, mining, agriculture, tourism, industrial and mechanized heavy duty production, information communications technologies, all premised on the understanding that their operations are predicated on a Social Democratic and Social Welfarist societal vision and reality.
12.Provisions for the on-going global efforts to tackle the global problem of Climate Change which will include a much more comprehensive funding programme for the Metrological Department, the re-invigoration of our public awareness campaigns on clean and eco-friendly environmental usage, that also is cognizant of the dangers of seeking Foreign Direct investment in bio-fuels that damage the environment.
(iii) ‘GPA Provisions’
1.Provisions for the finalization of the constitutional  reform process with acknowledgement that it remains the right of Zimbabweans to reject or accept the draft constitution being written  by COPAC. Further still, to provide necessary resources for knowledge dissemination on the end result of the COPAC constitution as well as potential re-engagement with the Zimbabwean public on the aftermath of the COPAC process regardless of its outcome.
2. Provision for the continued reform and full functioning of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the attendant enabling  legislation with the express aim of fully democratizing electoral processes in Zimbabwe.
3. Provision for a national elections referendum, i.e to hold a national referendum on whether or not the country is ready for elections given the pace and progress of reform.
4. Provision for national elections in the aftermath of a national referendum to determine the nation’s satisfaction with the relevant electoral reforms.
5. Provisions for transitional justice processes in the aftermath of a national election.
G. Conclusion
The significance of the national budget cannot be more apparent in our country, wherein, it represents a binding statement of intent by the inclusive government to continue to seek solutions to our national political, economic and social crises. Our submissions may, in some instances be deemed idealistic or lacking in pragmatism. Where we are accused of being idealistic we humbly submit that it is from our ideas that we become pragmatic just as it is from believing in God, that we learn to bend on our knees in prayer. Our submissions do not cover all aspects of the national budget, neither do they undertake technical analyses of the National Fiscus. They do however take into account, the realities that are faced by millions of Zimbabweans (at home and abroad) and by so doing, offer a perspective that is intended to inform the policy intentions of the inclusive government for the year 2013. As explained in the first sections of this document, the basis of our submission is the Zimbabwe Peoples Charter. This is not to say that the latter is a perfect document, but it demonstrates a necessary understanding of the importance of accountable and democratic government particularly so, in the context of our country’s historical, contemporary and future challenges.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Notes on 32 years of Zimbabwe's Independence

Navigating Zimbabwe's Democratic Transition at 32 years of independence.

By Tapera Kapuya

Zimbabwe has just celebrated its 32 years of self-rule, all dominated by one political party and the same ‘big man’. It is a country at a crossroad: varying notions of history, conflicting perceptions on contemporary realities, and projections for its future are violently contested. But what can be agreed is that the country is in dire need for renewal and that renewal can no longer come from the old-guard nor the party of independence.

Whatever its past successes, and there are some, Zanu PF is unfit to rule and any further stay of this party and its leader, President Robert Mugabe, is a threat to the country’s national interest. Equally, whatever its short comings, and there are many, the MDC-T presents the only transitionary movement that can usher a second liberation for democratic and political freedoms. It is as such that it is prudent that we support its cause, for whatever, real or perceived, strategic reasons. 

The next 15 months are critical for Zimbabwe. They will determine whether a decade’s struggle for democracy and change can be consolidated toward the establishment of a new, freer, and fairer society. Failure to achieve this will sadly lead to growing acceptance of the Zanu PF regime, whether by choice or as a consequence of widespread political cynicism and defeatism by a majority of Zimbabweans. Worse, a paralyzed and divided democracy movement will form the primary legacy of the decade’s struggle against the Harare dictatorship.

The current situation suggests considerable cause for concern for anyone interested in Zimbabwe’s democratic transition. The unity government constitutionally comes to an end mid-2013 and elections or another political negotiation, or both, will determine the country’s immediate future. President Robert Mugabe’s threat to speed up the election timetable aside, this is a fact that we must all contemplate and which must necessarily condition the scope of our interventions.

It can be very tempting to brush Zanu PF aside and to be complacent, confident in predictions of a ready MDC-T victory. But from what we have learnt from the past elections, in particular the 2008 election, victories are only as good as the extent to which they can be consolidated and translated into claims to govern. The opposite happened: after MDC-T electoral wins, Zanu PF clutched onto the trophy and MDC-T’s protestations remained only that. The contestation resulted in the co-option of both MDCs into government, albeit with little, if any, powers to co-govern. The efficacy of this arrangement is as questionable.

Many have interpreted Zanu PF’s readiness to enter an arrangement with the MDC strictly as a signal of the former’s weakness. Yet with the passing of time, all evidence points to the opposite. For Zanu PF, the unity government gave it room to breathe, weaken the opposition, and buy time. Cracks within its ranks that had become so wide by 2008 have been narrowed: skeptics who had begun to sit on the fence and cut deals to save their skin from the pending implosion are now coming back to the fold. For Zanu PF, the unity government serves as a strategic space within which to strengthen its weakened hold on power.

To bolster this strategy, Zanu PF has retreated to its liberation war tactics, in particular, reactivating the party’s political-military alliance. And with a political machine on the wane, power seems to have shifted toward its military wing, giving the military an extended reach and growing influence in political and civilian affairs. It is this complex that has shaped many of the political events since 2000. It is this political-military alliance that guides Zanu PF’s march into its future.   

Unfortunately, the longer democratization takes, the more entrenched this alliance with the military becomes, constituting an ever larger force in our political life. This bodes ill for all of us, including those in Zanu PF for whom the military’s encroachment into political and civil space might have short-term benefits. As Jonathan Moyo once infamously opined: ‘you don’t invite the army and expect a picnic’. 

It has become increasingly evident that the next presidential elections are, for Zanu PF, primarily about using the national plebiscite to determine its internal party succession crisis. The current constitution holds a provision for a sitting president to be succeeded without cause for a national election in the event he dies, resigns or becomes incapable of performing his functions. In such an event, by design or nature, one of the Vice Presidents becomes caretaker president for 90days within which parliament sits as an electoral college to elect a new president to complete what would have remained of the term of office. This, many of us fear, might become handy for Zanu PF in the event of another disputed election. 

Mugabe is the only leader from Zanu PF’s ranks who can lead another violent election campaign and emerge with few fatal scars. The MDC and the international community will be disgusted and protest. But in the circles that really matter--SADC and the AU--Mugabe will receive little in the way of reprimand. Worse, as can be predicted, if he is to announce that he is stepping down to be succeeded by someone younger from within his fold, the international community, SADC and the AU will be likely to give the new ‘Mugabe’ a chance. Any protestations after this will not be met with the same receptive ears as the democracy movement currently enjoys.

Thoughts on the MDC-T

The gloom hinted at above should not prompt a sense of defeat among the many democracy- and freedom-loving Zimbabweans. Rather, it is a call for us to be introspective and to reflect upon the road we travel. The MDC-T, itself the central rallying force for political change in the country, must reconfigure its strategies and reaffirm its own goals. The past three years of the MDC-T’s mating with Zanu PF have undermined much of its capacity and legitimacy. 

With its senior leadership in government, the party’s structures have not been adequately strengthened. With few exceptions, the party appears to have a leadership without active followers. In several regions and districts, the party continues to rely on a ‘protest’ following - those who align with the MDC-T strictly on account of their antipathy to Zanu PF than out of genuine affinity for the MDC-T’s platform and values. Such a support base is unhealthy for any movement, for it limits its democratic contribution to the vote and is often less interested, if not wholly unaware, of its strategic role following elections.

The party’s record in the government has not been compelling to date. While there are surely exceptions, few MDC cabinet members can convincingly justify why they are in office. The reasons are two pronged. First, Mugabe has never really shared any power at all. Over the years, he managed to craft a system allowing him to govern directly through permanent secretaries. These heads of departments have proven a key force in Zanu PF’s political machinery. Second, the municipalities are in disarray and the party’s presence in them, without a proper mechanism for effective policy implementation, has meant councilors and mayors are swimming in the sewer that have fallen into disrepair under Zanu PF’s rule. Zanu PF’s culpability has slowly been narrowed, if not replaced, in the minds of some by a cynicism that posits the MDCs as equally corrupt. This growing lack of trust in MDC may lead, particularly in urban Zimbabwe where support for the MDC is strongest, to growing passivity and voter apathy in the next plebiscite.

A key strategic rationale for the MDC-T in government should have been, and must still be, to use the protection of the state and the relative immunity of their offices to embark on a campaign for total democracy. With no real work penned for them in government, this would be an ideal and strategic way to occupy their time and a strong justification for their presence in the sham we call a unity government.

Mastering the Role of a Government in-Waiting

Beyond these initial steps, the party must also condition itself to the hard reality that change is coming, in one direction or another. As such, its organizing and mobilization platform can no longer be restricted to a mere anti-Mugabe/anti-Zanu platform. The party’s current and projected future presence in the government demands that it establish itself as a legitimate and competent government in waiting. The party needs a reservoir of skilled and competent professionals to swarm its ranks, bolster its policy units, and ready itself to govern.

Yet it must also be said that the MDC has, over the years, failed repeatedly to capitalize on the many skilled Zimbabweans who should have been recruited into its operational ranks. Moreover, the party should have, and must still, pursue a program of providing skills and capacity building training to shore up its strategic operational components, especially those geared towards its role in government, and to strengthen those components charged with driving a strong and determined campaign for state power. As things stand, the party’s present capacity is a mere shadow of its potential.

The emphasis is dual: build capacity to govern whilst also galvanizing the organizing, mobilization and campaign platforms of the party. There is an urgent need to support party structures, recruit members and inspire Zimbabweans to register, vote and, after voting, to defend their vote. Policy instruments of the party should address the multitude of social, economic and political challenges facing the country. Policy is the practical construction of promise, which when positioned as such in the popular imagination of the public would motivate every voter to act against any threats to a hopeful future. It should inspire even the hardened skeptics in Zanu PF, and the many sitting on the fence, that there is an equal chance for them in a new political order.

The blunt reality is that the MDC should prepare for, and ready itself for, elections. This is whether or not there are any fundamental reforms. It should never be expected for Zanu PF and Mugabe to institute reforms that they know will lead in their dethroning. If anything, the very reforms which the MDC and democracy movement calls for will only be possible after a change in government and not the other way round.

The months ahead are critical for the democracy movement. Hard choices will need to be made, in an ever more treacherous struggle. But, as we have learned from history, fundamental political change can only result where those who lead it return to their popular base and galvanize the masses. There is no substitute for organizing and building a solid movement on the ground. The quicker we set out on this road, the greater the chances that our country can avoid succumbing to violent rule by a full-scale military dictatorship.

Tapera Kapuya writes in his personal capacity:

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Notes on 32 Years of Zimbabwe’s Independence: Part 2

Brief Preface:
Please see below, the last  two essays written by Zimbabweans in aide of seeking to reflect on the nature and meaning of 32nd commemorations of our national independence in Zimbabwe. The first three essays covering three topics, national historical consciousness, reflections of young Zimbabweans on the meaning of independence and tracing the fading democratic value of leadership in Zimbabwe were published last week. The electronic publication of these essays has been facilitated by the Zimbabwe Committee of the Peoples Charter ( .The essays  will allow for increased public debate on the meaning of our national independence.
Kind regards,
Committee of the People’s Charter.

Locating our national value system; 32 years after independence.
Kudakwashe Chakabva

When some legislators and their associates were arrested and some acquitted for abusing the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) some sections of the society hoped that a new culture of accountability was being nurtured. Others dismissed it as just but a public relations gimmick by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC). But the most striking feature about the CDF issue is that it reflected how deep corruption has potentially embedded itself in our society, corroding even the leadership of our people. It is from this end that it becomes of value to question whether we as a nation-state still have a national value mentality and if not how that national value system can be re-invented as a set principles of integrity upon which we must commit our individual as well as collective being.

On 19 April, Zimbabwe will celebrate the fall of the union jack, the symbol of British colonial empire.  An empire which was run based a system of racial denigration, social degradation and economic exploitation. In this set up the blacks were envisioned to be useless as co-architects of a normal society as such the war of liberation was justifiable. The purpose of this war while being prima facie against minority rule was also a war against a system in which state security apparatus were abused to maintain the hold on power of a small cliché to the detriment of sovereign majority. In the ensuing liberation struggle that occurred, thousands of lives were tragically lost.

The question which should haunt us but more importantly our leaders today is how can one interpret the vision and purpose of the war and locate it in our current national psyche. To find the link between the vision and necessity of the war of liberation should thus define to us what kind of a nation our leaders envision or how they defaulted from the integrity of the liberation cause.

A country born out of the mere need to capture state power is obviously a perfect experiment board for all political crocks and thieves. It is a system in which the state exists only to serve the desires of those at its helm and citizens become subjects existing to serve the state. This was the character of the colonial state, a state established  on a vile racist value system. Under this set up a group of men would occupy themselves with the business of the state and  in order to exercise this rule they needed a special apparatus of coercion to subjugate the will of others by force and a massive investment in institutions of coercion such as prison, police armies and intelligence pre-occupied their rule.

In the thirty-two that have passed since Zimbabweans brought down that colonial state, what then is the demarcation between the Rhodesian and Zimbabwean system of values?

More questions than answers come in to ask of the values of an independent country (Zimbabwe) in which at least twenty thousand citizens perished by the sword of fellow countryman just a few years after ending the colonial establishment. When elections are synonymous with the long night of swords as brother fights  brother deny one another the right to vote yet the struggle for liberation was fought for many reasons but also the right to one man one woman’s right to vote. And neighbors butcher one another not necessarily because of so fanatical ideological differences but just to appease a long distance political leader.

What should constitute an independent Zimbabwe when colonial legislative tools such as the notorious Law and Order Maintenance Act (1965) reincarnate obviously under new names (POSA)  but carrying the same repressive strength. And then what was the gist of the struggle when we all acknowledge that the colonial economy resulted in massive marginalization and social inequalities especially of the rural communities yet a whole cabinet minister and Member of Parliament takes the money allocated for the development of such a poor rural community and builds a mansion for his sister.

It is obvious that those who initiated the struggle for democracy noted this negation of the true essence of the liberation fight and for years the movement stood firm in a quest to rediscover and fulfill that meaning, until the discovery of the opportunity of space at the feeding trough. The values which had kept the democratic movement firm much to the annoyance of the brutal regime where hastily thrown away in preference of political and economic expedience shared with or even offered by the hitherto enemy.

Questions which were answered by long standing convention resolutions true to the movement’s founding documents are now responded to because of one’s proximity to monetary resources not ideals. In the en and they too make desperate attempts to find political arguments to defend not just themselves but the actions of the enemy as well. Such is the insidious effect of a clique of people starved of systematic set of principles which should separate wrong from right.

It is obvious that our current political course has defaulted from the envisioned revolutionary path and this has partly been due to the politics of greed necessitated by the lack of institutions of accountability. The one mistake committed by the people of Zimbabwe was to let the independence excitement undermine their ability to monitor and participate in key political activities. Instead of taking the vanguard role we became spectators much to the favor of the politicians who took advantage of the disinterest and fortified their hold on power. Politics was subsequently made a domain for a few characterized by wanton violence, corruption, intimidation, imprisonment, as well as the personalization of institutions. Because of this dislocation the first few years of independence were years of unchecked or unmonitored political madness resulting in the deviation of the revolutionary course and its value system.

True ‘a nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious. But it can not survive treason from within’ as Cicero said. For it is not necessarily the absence of resources nor the efficiency of the enemy that has seen our democratic struggle taking a prolonged nature but also the pathetic politics of inconsistency in our demands .The pursuit of petty personality politics that is embedded in ill-learned primitive tribal arguments all of which do not resonate with the aspirations of the ordinary citizen. It feels the same for one to sign a document which binds him in solidarity with others and as soon as possible ignore the dictates of the agreement, in a sense theMorrison Nyati Syndrome of betrayal does not affect our conscience nor does it teach us anything for so long as our financial gains keep flowing. All these and others add up to demand a single thing; a system of values of integrity that recognizes the humanity and responsibility of each and every individual in the society, with the firm knowledge that our legacies should be passed from generation to generation.

Because independence means a quest for self determination, the task of this generation of ours lies in our ability to interpret and effect the vision of our country’s true founding fathers who today rest motionless. We must reclaim that vision from the empty political demagoguery of present day. This must be done conscious of the fact that political power lies not in the hands of a few political faces, but in a politically conscious mass. Because the aim of political parties is the capture of state power upon which they will be able to employ their own policies. However most politicians are motivated not by the desire to serve the governed but by the prospects of nippy financial gains and acquiring state power is one surest way of achieving that. To this end power must be kept at all costs. This then means that it must be duty of the citizens, we the people to control the politicians and politics of the country.

To redefine our value system the people must reclaim their political space and be the force for accountability. It would be naive to presume that the architects of this deviation and let alone the benefactor can all be converted and won over to the new one merely by demonstrating its necessity. Hence what is necessary as a prelude to anything is to politically assert ourselves in a fight to put to an end of the era of fear and submissiveness and usher in a period of psychological liberation. And the Zimbabwe People's Charter is a firm way forward.

Youths Should Know and Defend the Genuine Gains of the Liberation Struggle
Terrence Chimhavi

The liberation struggle or fight against colonial and racial rule that was fought by our erstwhile liberators and the many that perished during that civil war in then Rhodesia, is an important chapter in the history of our country. That this liberation war was fought mostly by the young people goes without saying. What is and should be more important however, is what that struggle fought to achieve and more importantly how we as young people of today can be active in defending these gains and, in our lifetime contribute to the making of the Zimbabwe that so many died for.

Three fundamental points summarize the aspirations of the nationalist leaders as they led the black majority in the fight for political independence: the wide disparities in wealth distribution, largely favouring the white minority at the expense of the black majority; majority rule and the right to vote for leaders and a government of their choice (commonly referred to as ‘one man (woman), one vote’) and the redressing of the land question as many had been removed from their fertile lands and driven into reserves, keeps and other such barren areas.

When political independence came about in 1980 after a protracted armed struggle, it was greeted with enthusiasm and euphoria from the black majority. Expectedly, this majority was expectant that the ideals that had driven the war and what they sought to get out of the armed struggle would be fulfilled by the leaders they had entrusted with political power to drive a new Zimbabwe through the elections of 1980.

32 years after independence however, the ordinary black majority continues to face the same, if not worse challenges to what they did those many years ago before political independence. In essence, the yoke they carried under white oppression has been painted ‘black’ as they continue to suffer and wallow in poverty under a black administration. Ironically, the three fundamentals that drove and spurred many to fight white injustice and racialism remain unfulfilled and a pipe-dream for the majority, and a painful reminder that the struggle for a better Zimbabwe for all that live in it is still far from over and the dream far from realized.

In Zimbabwe today, there is glaring evidence of wide disparities in wealth distribution – a new black political elite has replaced the white minority in ownership of critical state and non-state resources. While ‘one man (woman), one vote’ has been realized, the majority are still not free to elect leaders and a government of their choice – there is evidence of election fraud in elections dating as far back as 1985, which has worsened over the years and finally culminated in the sham June 2008 election, the bloodiest in the electoral history of Zimbabwe. 

While we have and continue to be told the contrary, the noble initiative of land redistribution has by-and-large benefitted this new black political elite, at the expense of the formerly landless peasants in the ‘reserves and keeps’ – prime land has been parcelled out along political patronage lines, with many of those holding some form of political power being multiple-farm owners when other ordinary civilians have nothing.

Just as a reminder, the war of liberation was not fought so that a few Zimbabweans (and non-Zimbabweans) can enjoy the fruits of the resource-endowed nation that is Zimbabwe. What Comrades Tongo, Zvogbo, Chitepo, Mugabe, Nkomo, Sithole, Dabengwa and Mujuru amongst others fought for was that each and every Zimbabwean, regardless of ethnicity, colour, tribe or other considerations is able to live peacefully, enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms and enjoy an equal opportunity to prosper and achieve self-actualization in a socially-justiciable manner. At the height of that protracted struggle, they all acknowledged and defended this line wherever they went, even in the British and other capitals they continued to grace through diplomatic efforts. Then, they were very clear that despite assertions to the contrary, suggesting that they were Marxist extremists, the nationalist leaders were able to present a formidable and morally justified reason for waging this armed struggle – their quest to rid Zimbabwe of the injustices of colonialism and ushering in of majority rule, a phrase that has commonly come to be replaced by democratic rule.

However, despite the insurmountable evidence that all these noble causes and fundamental ideals formed the basis of the liberation struggle, evidence on the ground today point to a scenario in which this noble African agenda has been driven off the rails by an insensitive sect of greedy politicians and plunderers who have usurped the power of the masses and vested it in a closely-knit political cabal. Some members of this murderous crew have forgotten that just 35 years ago they led the armed struggle on the backdrop of popular support for majority rule. They even had the support of the same British, American and other nations across the globe backing them in calling for majority rule, which the Rhodesians worked tirelessly to prevent, but albeit eventually surrendered through negotiations as the war heated up.

Despite the fact that such history is well recorded and documented, the new black ruling elite of Zimbabwe have over time managed to re-write history to suit their own parochial intentions. They have chosen to negate and plagiarize the rich history of our nation through telling it in their own concocted way so as to justify the various heinous crimes that they have and continue to perpetrate on the civilian masses. This they have managed to achieve largely by destroying or willingly neglecting to document the numerous physical evidence of our liberation struggle.

Today, it is very difficult for any young person in this country to know of the true history of our liberation struggle. The only few available places to learn about this history have been so politicized and abused out of any meaning that they have lost meaning to what we all know, through one means or the other, as the real reasons and chain of events behind our liberation struggle. The issue of our National Heroes Acre quickly springs to mind. Despite being a noble initiative in respect of entrenching the history of our liberation struggle, it has been hounded and degraded of any moral value by the manner in which this ruling black elite under the guise of Zanu PF have clandestinely determined through their Soviet-style ‘politburo’ who is buried there. This has been to the extent that known cheats, thieves and murderers such as Chenjerai Hunzvi lie buried at our national shrine. It is a real pity. This case of our national shrine is just but one case in point.

The history of apartheid South Africa and its subsequent post-apartheid era poses huge lessons for Zimbabwe as it struggles to meet the dreams and expectations of those who waged and supported liberation struggles. This is true not only for Zimbabwe, but for a whole range of African and non-African nations that have fought colonialism and white imperialism over the years, in pursuit of self-determination as indigenous people. While Zimbabwe and many other African nations attained their political independence well before South Africa, it is the manner in which South Africans have been able to build on their history in resolving the various injustices and inequalities of the past. And this has to a greater extend been achieved through the manner in which government particularly the ANC has managed to push for the documentation and preservation of the country’s history, partly through the Truth and Reconciliation processes as well as building of physical structures to preserve the memory of their struggle against apartheid and why it was necessary to fight this struggle.

It is in this regard that Zimbabwe as a nation has failed dismally. Of the many lived realities, peoples, sites, documents, and other such paraphernalia that depicts and is relevant to our liberation struggle, very few are of any value today, especially to the younger generation who may have not been present to witness for themselves the uncensored truth of the liberation struggle or still, were too young to have known anything significant was happening in the country. Ask any young person what is ‘Gonakudzingwa’ or where it is (if it is still there) and this sad reality will dawn to you. What we have seen is the complete abdication of this very valuable history of our country, to serve the interests of our new black elite, who behave in every sense colonial as did the Rhodesians during that sad period of the liberation struggle and the times before it.

If you are going to speak to a lay person on the street about the lived realities of the many people who lived during the liberation struggle and how they understood the struggle and the reasons for waging it, you would be baffled at how the reality today does not resonate with the wishes and aspirations of the black majority that lived through and suffered under colonialism. What is further perplexing is the ‘new ideals and values’ that form the DNA of the new ruling black elite who today occupy the top echelons of power in Zimbabwe. It seems their first and foremost rule and ideal is self-enrichment and aggrandizement at the expense of the Zimbabwean masses. Look at our minister Chombo and you will begin to understand this DNA of our new ruling black elite.

The important questions young men and women of today must ask ourselves are: Did the attaining of independence after a protracted armed struggle fought by the young people of that time more than three decades ago usher in the expected results? If not, (as is the obvious case here) then what are we going to do as the youths to ensure that our country attains true independence and defend the genuine gains of the struggle?

As young people, we need to ensure that the ‘one wo/man one vote’ principle is adhered to and the subsequent result of any election is respected. This entails fighting for peace in our country and encouraging each other to participate positively in all elections. Without fighting for and defending our votes, our situation is not much different from that in the 60s when our parents could not determine who leads our lovely Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia).

Wealth distribution has seen even worse skewedness after independence, with the majority of the young people owning or controlling no means of production while a few, because of their again skewed liberation war credentials, feel they should own everything and anything. It is our duty as young men and women to fight for the equal distribution of wealth, to make sure that we also have access to resources and these privileges can never be delivered to us on a silver platter, we must demand and fight for them until we also get a piece of the cake.

Whilst ZANU PF claims that land was redistributed, it is important to note that the re-allocation was fundamentally wrong with the political elite clandestinely getting all the fertile landmasses while the few peasants who benefited only got sandy and dry areas. The youths of today must demand an audit into the land redistribution exercise and demand to know what criteria was used to allocate certain fertile pieces of land to the subsequent beneficiaries and put in place measures to ensure that such malpractices are not repeated in future.

It becomes important to critically think of Frantz Fanon’s words of wisdom: “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it.” Do we know our mission and are we going to fulfill it or betray it, spelling doom for future generations?