HomeOpinion & AnalysisMugabe’s intriguing VP appointments

Mugabe’s intriguing VP appointments

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“The most dangerous moment for a bad government is when it begins to reform.” It is a truism that Michael Gorbachev, the last General Secretary of the Soviet Union, knows all too well.

By Tapiwa Nyandoro

Rather than the fear of what those who may have eliminated General Solomon Mujuru could be up to next, the above quotation, attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville in the 19th century together with Gorbachev’s bitter experience probably played the greater part in President Robert Mugabe’s selection of his new Vice-Presidents in December 2014.

Detractors, as critics are fondly but foolishly called by the Zanu PF faithful, saw the appointment of a (former?) intelligence officer and his (former?) boss as a sign that repression was to be the tool of choice as Zimbabwe’s political, social and economic landscapes degenerated, making it overly “ripe for rebellion”.
Luke Tamborinyoka, an MDC-T spokesman, in a recent opinion piece is of this school of thought dismissing any chance of reform.

He sees more election thefts, possibly more (mass) shedding of innocent blood and certainly no progressive reforms.

“A leopard,” he noted ominously, “does not change its spots.”

On the other hand, government spin doctor Jonathan Moyo sees the opposite.

The appointments represent a chance to “reform Zanu PF from within” and presumably government.

At a recent lecture at the Army’s Staff College he reminded the media that he never said Zanu PF can only be destroyed from within.
Instead, he said he had said “Zanu PF can only be reformed from within”.

Across the political divide and within itself, there seems therefore to be consensus that Zanu PF and government in general need to be reformed.
The question, of course, is by whom and how?

The once revolutionary organisation that Zanu PF used to be is now everything that it probably wasn’t in the 1960s.

The latest cloak-and-dagger operation that refashioned its presidium is testimony to that.

The truth has no home in the party anymore, and outrageous lies come from the mouths of those in its top echelons.

Theft is common all around with parastatals and other State-owned enterprises stripped naked.

Even poor peasant farmers are not safe, with Lasch Enterprises, a “company” linked to some Zanu PF godfathers, taking this rather hapless lot to the cleaners.
The police, of course, as in a mafia state where rule by criminals is the order of the day, are usually the last to arrive at such scenes.
Even then, the force does so reluctantly.

Everything points to a degeneration of law and order.

And reform therefore means re-establishment of the rule of law.

Reform means getting the police and the judiciary to be incorruptible and impartial again.

Reform means fighting corruption on every front.

And finally reform means abandoning unworkable, unbankable and economically naïve, FDI-repellant national economic growth strategies. That is embracing the truth, however bitter it may be, and going forward in an honest manner.

Are VP Mnangagwa and VP Mphoko “fit and proper persons” for the task at hand, especially given the nature of their ascendancy to higher office? Does the old adage: “Cometh the hour, cometh the men”, apply to them as well? Is the timing and the environment conducive for reforming Zanu PF’s wayward ways?

Reforming governments and political parties is “notoriously difficult and boring” and may involve sacrificing one’s long-term political career as well.

Bravery is needed, and it usually demands a very steep price.

If, for example, as alleged, the two Vice-Presidents played an inglorious role in the infamous activities of the Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland and Midlands, then they are the perfect duo to present themselves to the traditional leaders of the affected for trial and sentencing on behalf of government.

“Blood money”, up to 20 head of cattle per deceased according to custom, has to be paid and the necessary rituals, Christian or traditional, performed.

The souls of the victims need to be rested.

The same applies to the political victims of the 2008 elections regardless of what the latest constitution says.

The exercise, which will re-establish the rule of law, may sacrifice the VPs’ future political careers but it will free the country of unnecessary baggage.

The South African High Court has ruled that perpetrators of political violence in Zimbabwe (and hence elsewhere?) should have there days in South African courts if apprehended.

Indeed the South African Police Service has been ordered to make the necessary arrests.

That noble position could easily be adopted worldwide, and there will be nowhere to hide for some in Zimbabwe’s leadership.

Killers of innocent people must find no sanctuary under the sun.

Vice-President Mphoko’s other hat as Minister of National Healing may therefore not be just window-dressing as many may think, but a commitment towards healing festering national wounds with a potential of becoming a bigger global concern.

That VP Mnangagwa is also Minister of Justice suggests that Mugabe is alive to the need of “putting his house in order” in all its corners.

Reform to the rule of law should also begin simultaneously within the party itself.

Booting cadres out of the party outside of a disciplinary hearing only serves to prove critics’ observation that the “beast” cannot be reformed from within.

However, the setting-up of a disciplinary committee that is openly biased – which should force it to recuse most, if not all, of its members – may be a master stroke.

Replacing the committee with a panel of three distinguished retired judges, led by Zanu PF’s own luminous son Justice Simbi Mubako, may mean that His Excellency may well be on his way to reforming his unruly organisation.

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