FOR nearly two decades, Zimbabwe has been in the wilderness, isolated by the entire world – save for a few – simply because of one critical issue: Gross human rights abuses. While in that socio-economic and political Siberia, the country became the world’s worst-run nation, with hyperinflation setting a new global record of 89,7 sextillion percent year-on-year in mid-November 2008, that probably will never be broken. This largely saw the then regime of former President Robert Mugabe swallowing its pride and pen a deal with the opposition MDC after 10 years of near bliss and record deflation. Mugabe was then pushed out of power in 2017 because things were again beginning to turn tart and the entire nation and world at large welcomed the development, hoping that a new broom would do a better job. Goodwill was abundant then.
However, nearly two years down the line the Zimbabwe crisis, like a demon that refuses to be exorcised, has resurfaced in crude fashion. And coming in the wake of the country trying to negotiate its way back into the community of nations, it is simply heart-breaking as those holding political levers turn confrontational and arrogant towards those they want to come into good books with.
A case in point is the simmering war of words between the ruling Zanu PF party, its government and the Western world, with the latest vitriol coming from war veterans aligned to the governing party threatening to scuttle the southern African country’s chances of being re-accepted into the community of nations. The kind of venom that the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) spokesperson Douglas Mahiya and Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo are spitting at this critical point is the last thing the country needs, especially given that Zimbabwe is brittle and very vulnerable at the moment, given the drought and faltering economy.
What is also very worrisome is that those in Zanu PF appear least worried about the prevailing socio-economic situation. It appears they are simply interested in being in power and nothing else. In other words, the state of the economy ranks least among their concerns. The ZNLWVA spokesperson has said in no uncertain terms: “War veterans sat down today (Wednesday) to be able to tell the nation, to tell the world that we are there and unmoved. In fact, the question of power, what we went out there to do was nothing else, but to get power and the question of power surely will not be negotiated. It will never be negotiated … In other words, we will defend the political power that we got … We hear the European Union is trying to cement their relationship with those who are fighting against the State of Zimbabwe. The EU must know that Zimbabwe has a force that has made it possible that the people of Zimbabwe gain political power and be able to make their own policies and determine their own destiny.”
This is quite ominous, to say the least. Do we really need this kind of confrontation at this point in time? If Mahiya and company want to remain in power, why is it so difficult for them to simply respect people’s rights. In fact this is the reason why Zimbabwe is in this difficult position in the first place. Worsening the regime’s record by trampling human rights will only make the situation worse for the country. Retaining power at all costs, especially through gross human rights abuses, will make it even more difficult for them to retain that power, Mr Mahiya. Ian Smith, tried it and failed. What makes war veterans so sure that they will succeed this time around?