Transition has been hijacked

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THE day that was came and passed. Zimbabwe now has a new President — officially sworn. Except he, in fact, is not new. I wonder what was going on in each of their minds as the dear leader read a speech that they all had heard before, and will hear it again in yet another platform.

Guest Column by Tendai Biti

I saw former South African President Thabo Mbeki there, in a very pensive mood. Almost like he was not there and I really wonder what was going on his head. That this indeed is a cursed country, if not worse, perhaps? That indeed we have gone a full circle, but at the end of it, the country is back where it came from – namely square zero?

The Global Political Agreement (GPA) which Mbeki negotiated was intended to carry the country forward to another level. It was meant to be a bridging transition to democracy. In that sense, it was a delicate compromise between stability and democracy, but with one certainty: the country was in genuine motion. Yet nearly five years after it was executed, the government of national unity has not achieved its purpose. The transition is a stolen one.

The transition has been hijacked.

One institution that must critically examine itself is Sadc and those that control it. Only on June 15, 2013, a summit was held in Maputo wherein strong clear and unambiguous resolutions were made, that there had to be reforms in Zimbabwe before the election and that the court determined date of July 31 had to be moved.

Six weeks later, a different song was sung, an unrecognisable litany of discord, a mixture of some endorsement and some abandonment.

What explains this conundrum? While the reasons are many and varied, three stick out.

The first is obvious fatigue. The Zimbabwe crisis has too long been on the agenda of Sadc meetings. It has detained these leaders for endless hours deep into the early throes of a morning.

Second, is the self-evident fact that in a few of these Sadc countries, critical elections will be held next year.

Third, may have been the lack of desire to pursue a process of confrontation, so appeasement becomes the softer option.

Whatever the reasons, and they are many, the consequences are as clear as a pike staff. That is, the Zimbabwe crisis is undermining the credibility of Africans to resolve their own problems. One of the reasons why Mbeki’s GPA was applauded had less to do with its content, but the fact that some African solution had been found to a malignant African problem.

Not only that, the crisis is undermining public international law. Public international law is a body of international law based on international morality and restraint. In the case if Sadc, it has developed as part of its corpus a set of rules known as the Sadc Guidelines on Elections that were adopted in Mauritius in August 2006. These rules have been flagrantly breached in the context of the Zimbabwean election, and yet the body itself has been unable to protect its rules. If Zimbabwe could get away with it, then potentially every rigged election will fly in the region.

More importantly, Sadc has not acquitted itself sufficiently as to remove the tag that it is but a bad boys’ club. It must be noted that all that has been pronounced has been done without the final observer reports being tabled.

Sadc, therefore, has a small window of redeeming itself when it considers the full reports from the observer missions. As submitted in earlier posts, this is a crisis that is far from over.

The original Sadc resolution of March 2007 in Dar es Salaam was clear: let’s restore legitimacy and credibility to Zimbabwe. To the extent that this has not been accomplished, with great respect it would be wrong for Sadc or anyone else to claim that the Sadc mandate terminated on July 31. This is a country mired in crisis and its challenges will not go away.

But, of course, Sadc is also right in implying, very obviously, that Zimbabweans must resolve their problems amongst themselves. How do they do this? That is the million-dollar question.

In the present mood of artificial triumphalism, a solution does not appear likely. All avenues of democratic redress including the courts are being shut. This is most unfortunate in that history teaches us that illegality always breeds illegality.

It follows that the stolen transition will in effect be a delayed transition. But history is very funny. It is like a game of cricket. Batting collapses occur so dramatically and unexpectedly. We saw this in the fourth Ashes Test. The Aussies grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory.

At this critical juncture in our history, one thing is clear: illegality is unsustainable. Illegality will put a premium on the people.

Any return to the past is not on. Five years of chaos are unimaginable and, therefore, a return to legality is critical. That I suspect is what was so obvious to any who was part of the coronation on Thursday. That I suspect is what poor old Enos Nkala may be carrying to his grave. May his soul rest in peace!

Tendai Biti is the MP for Harare East and MDC-T secretary-general. Nehanda Radio

13 COMMENTS

    • I think the MDC should call for a special congress, re-examine itself, possibly get detailed reports from all its election observers if they so wish to pursue the rigged election agenda.

      The leadership should also offer themselves for re-election. If the leadership structure is re-elected, that will give them a boost in confidence to plan ahead.

      Right now Mr. Biti you don’t sound like you have the vision to carry on at all.

  1. Many thanks for this attempt Mr. Biti, but frankly you sound like you are as clueless about why SADC did this like all of us. SADC has really killed whatever creditbility they had with this election..what is the meaning of free but in the same breath you withold the fair part of the verdict? Second why was there this sudden rush to endorse the elections by the heads of state when the report was/is incomplete? I will agree that fatigue has set in but refuse to accept that this would allow our regional leaders to rush headlong in this fashion to endorse something which their technical term is still working on..Thanks for the attempt anyway but you are like many not just in Zimbabwe but the region at large, if reports in regional newspapers are anything to go by..As you are higher up there, please do not stop searching for answers to this conundrum as you put it..the answer is out there…find it!

  2. The above post is a tad incomplete, the last line should read ..’you are like many not just in Zimbabwe but the region at large fumbling blind sick in the dark, if reports in regional papers are anything to go by…’

  3. I admire your relentlessness. Yes, your generation and mine are being denied the chance to usher a new error, and so we are subjected to the same old rhetoric of hate, retaliation, intolerance, homophobia, deindustrialisation, avarice and pure greedy. Although I am a retired civil servant, the president is older than my father! What new development agenda can he champion now, that he failed to in the more than 30years on the helm? Sadly, just like Ian Smith had, he has blind followers who just cannot think for themselves in terms of what is in the best interest of the country?

  4. i wonder where y have bin all this tym. you are nw looking for symphatizers simply becoz y lost the election.what a shame.

  5. SADC ndibhoki zvacho chisina meno takagara taona kupurizurana kwevakweguri hapana chaibuda . Asi hazvinei ticharamba tichikakata kusvika tisvike .Isu chanigwa ndechekuti hurumende itsva iyi yemhondi ngaituhunzire mabasa nemigwagwa yakanaka kuMberengwa kwete zvokungoti zvese zvakanaka kwaZvimba

  6. you were busy crying for good vehicles , sitting allowances for parliament and chasing
    ladies while others were campaigning you thought baba jukwa was going to do business for you .shame on you . you are for the dead as far as politics of zimbabwe is concerned keep on crying . you were calling us cry babies who is the crying baby now next time watch your mouth when you are in serious politics.

  7. You got it wrong dear Columnist. The Mbeki-negotiated GPA was meant to take Mugabe and ZANU PF, not Zimbabwe, forward. How do you reconcile your optimism with the loser Mugabe’s retention of all executive powers?

  8. Regai muruze, Biti you are in the wrong profession whilst you’re writing poetry others are doing politics. It’s a game for the wise chess players, kwete imi vemaflawu.

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