The Sadc military operation in support of the Kabila regime against Rwanda and Uganda was code-named Operation Sovereign Legitimacy.
Column by Tapiwa Nyandoro
Zimbabweans too have heard a lot about the need to jealously guard our “sovereignty”.
But what is this “sovereignty”?
Does the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali or Somalia have it? As for our “sovereignty” in Zimbabwe; is it jealously guarded, with what and by whom? Could it be under threat from the ravenous armyworm or an elite few?
The army worm has violated our borders, our territorial integrity with impunity.
We had to call upon our European “cousins” for assistance.
Somehow the national army’s biological warfare unit may still be on the drawing board despite the little worm threatening national food security every so often.
This time its timing has been most wicked. It chose to invade when the Grain marketing Board (GMB) is refusing to sell the staple grain to millers.
Could it be that the GMB, whose spokesperson refused to comment citing the “sensitive nature of food security” when approached by the Press recently, is carrying “ghost stocks”?
The millers claim that they are buying maize at a higher price now from the private sector whose origins they do not know?
The nation should not be surprised if investigations were to reveal that “the private sector” is re-selling maize originally bought from the GMB, but now being offloaded at a profit by a coterie that may include insiders.
I recently heard a cynical definition of sovereignty from a civil servant. He said that sovereignty meant abusing one’s office for personal gain by soliciting for bribes, facilitation fees, or by denying the public, public services and goods, so as to offer the same from a “private sector” vehicle.
The truth, however, is corruption is a serious threat to sovereignty. It is very easy for the leadership of a fragile State such as ours to abdicate responsibility to “developmental partners”, civic society or even a rogue Executive in the face of a patronised, intimidated and indolent legislature.
Mali, despite its sovereignty, could not protect its citizens from a rag tag army of Islamists.
A closer look might reveal that corruption is the root cause of Malian inaction in the face of a rag tag insurrection violating its sovereignty.
Patriotism and the will to be sacrificed defending one’s country dies within the defence forces if the leadership of a nation is perceived as corrupt.
Idi Amin found this out the hard way when Uganda was invaded by poorer but far less corrupt Tanzania.
It also explains the fall of the Mubarak regime in Egypt and surprising weakness of the Assad regime in Syria, despite both countries having formidable military machines.
From its recent congress, corruption is the Communist Party of China’s greatest fear.
Can nations unable to fight a few misguided insurrectionists, or unable to repel an armyworm invasion, or pay for their own general elections, or feed their own people, still be considered full sovereign states? The answer may very well be “No”. My english dictionary describes sovereignty as the right of a country to rule itself.
Thus a sovereign nation rules itself and its people are considered a source of sovereign power.
According to experts, the 10 key functions of a contemporary sovereign State are the following:
Maintaining the rule of law;
Monopolising the means of violence;
Maintaining administrative control;
Sound management of public finances;
Investing in human capital;
Creation of citizenship rights through social policies;
Formation of a market;
Provision of infrastructure services;
Management of public assets and
Effective public borrowing.
Of the lot, failure to maintain the rule of law and to manage public finances has negative implications on delivery of the other eight key functions.
Those who move in to support the State financially and in delivering its neglected services may naturally in the end usurp the State’s sovereignty.
He who pays the piper calls the tune.
It becomes tragic when those elected to be the people’s government and representatives become predatory and driven by selfish interest, cross the floor to become the mouthpieces of those with the funding, whilst still pretending to be carrying the mandate of the people.
The Copac exercise is illustrative of how sovereignty can be eroded.
The exercise was previously touted as people-driven before it became all too obvious that it was not, and then it was special interests driven, before being largely rubber stamped by the so-called principals.
Now an elite clique does not want it fully debated by Parliament, the country’s representative centre of sovereign power.
The elite cunningly, if not maliciously, wants the same parliamentarians to urge their constituencies to vote “Yes” for a draft the parliamentarians themselves may be unsure about!
Parliament should have none of this nonsense.
It should stand its ground. Martin Plaut, Africa editor BBC, World News Service, and a colleague, have just published a book titled “Who Rules South Africa?” most likely because of the lack of visible parliamentary democracy, such as Copac is urging on our Parliament.
In the book, the concerned Britons ask what the driving force of change is in today’s South Africa.
“Is it participatory politics of Unions and civic organisations? Is it the (African National Congress) as the revolutionary van-guard for socio-economic transformation? Class interest? Self-interest? Criminal interest?”
That such questions must be raised by so eminent a scribe must worry all democrats in Africa.
The questions raised by the authors do apply to Zimbabwe, especially at this time in our history.
We seem to be in the so-called “lap of captive politics”.
Parliament must stand firm and guard our sovereignty jealously. But does it have the spine?
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