WHEN two people who haven’t been in talking terms for nearly two decades somehow, by some stroke of fate, decide to meet for a chit-chat, it would be most gratifying if the two are sincere.
One of mankind’s greatest writers aptly put it thus: “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns — as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.”
It is in this light that we hope that the long time coming meeting between the Zimbabwe government and the European Union (EU) currently underway in Harare will bear tangible results that will take our country and economy to a new positive level. We will not, by any remote chance, be interested in waffle from this meeting.
At this juncture of our troubled existence, many of us Zimbabweans are not interested in gobbledegook communiques that tell us little about where our relations now stand. It has become too commonplace to get conflicting messages after such meetings with each party telling us divergent standpoints.
We also remain wary of our government and the ruling party’s past disposition of indicating left but turning right, and at times not even turning at all. This kind of disposition will not be helpful in this kind of talks.
We insist that our government and the EU should go into these talks clearly understanding the reason why they have been estranged this long. Fundamentally, it was an issue of human rights and the brazen disregard of the rule of law by our government at the height of the country’s chaotic land reform programme that was birthed by the 2000 land invasions.
Everyone may choose to blame former President Robert Mugabe for the chaos, but the emotive land issue remains the crux of why we ended up here. It is indisputable that the country’s land belongs to Zimbabweans, but it is critical that our government comes to terms with the fact that everything it does has to be democratic and constitutional. And we are pretty sure the EU will not be compromising on that, as well as the issue of observing human tights.
Our government should do some really serious soul searching because it is going into this meeting on the back foot given the prevailing arbitrary arrests of several civic society activists and the recent disappearance of two opposition party members in Gokwe.
There is also serious talk in government to destroy thousands of homes illegally built on wetlands, a move – if rushed and brazenly executed will not help thaw our relations with not on the EU, but the rest of the community of nations.
A day before the talks began, President Emmerson Mnangagwa also signed into law the Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill which has a contentious clause that practically bans work stoppages by disgruntled workers. It is these seemingly immaterial things that can easily sour relations between the parties to the talks.
And those at the talks should be able to explain these happenings that go against the grain of a nation intending to correct its morally bankrupt past.
The community of nations, through the EU, has offered our government another opportunity to correct its ways and steer this country to prosperity, and so the chance should not be squandered.