HomeOpinion & AnalysisSanctions to remain in force until you revert to basics

Sanctions to remain in force until you revert to basics


Cyprian M Ndawana

DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Your Excellency, the diplomatic naivety that was on display during the 26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP26) was embarrassing. As I see it, addressing an empty auditorium was deserved karma.

Frankly, your luxurious chartered flight and huge entourage were disproportionate to the prevailing socio-economic meltdown back home. It was beneath the dignity of a President to jostle for photo opportunities with world leaders, so was the mobilisation of “supporters” for solidarity.

A British newspaper headline which screamed: “Our country’s falling apart, never mind, let‘s party!”, aptly coined the sad state of affairs. There was nothing to be excited about in being the first Zimbabwean leader in two decades plus to visit the United Kingdom (UK).

Basically, the conference was convened by the UN, which is a global body. All world leaders, notwithstanding their democratic standing, were invited. Hence,  your invitation to the UK for COP26 had nothing to do with diplomacy.

Your Excellency, it was cheap to attribute your attendance to the engagement policy. Essentially, the invitation was not on a bilateral basis.

Essentially, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, leader of the COP26 host nation, has no reciprocal obligation to visit leaders who attended.

It was foolhardy that the spiel about your visit was as shallow as it was hollow. Methinks crediting your attendance of COP26 as success of your friend-to-all and foe-to-none policy is desperation for affirmation.

It is apparent why the international community uses cutlery with long handles when dining with you. With the recent gazetting of the Private Voluntary Organisation Amendment Bill, which seeks to clamp down on voluntary organisations, who needs such a mean friend?

With no well-conceived strategy to resolve the sanctions and Gukurahundi massacre issues, claims of an upper-middle class economy are mere prattle. Oftentimes I concur with those who say you lack probity whenever I ponder over your mediocrity in handling of these issues.

Your Excellency, targeted sanctions are bound to remain in force until you go back to the basics. It is imperative for you to acknowledge the rationality of their imposition. They were imposed for human rights abuses, undermining demorcacy and facilitation of corruption.

It does not make sense to attribute sanctions to commercial farm expropriation. This scapegoat stood on feet of clay from the onset.

Targeted sanctions were not imposed on Zimbabwe, but on 83 individuals and 37 entities.

Surely, the procedure for sanctions removal is straightforward. Yet, you keep on knocking on one wrong door after another. It was a diplomatic debacle that a contingent of clerics travelled with you to solicit support from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Granted, the archbishop is human. He can be sympathetic. But, he is not gullible enough to accept your plea without exercising his mind. It is my fervent prayer that these self-serving clerics be liberated from ingratiation and that blinkers be removed from their eyes.

Recently, you invited the UN rapporteur whose report, so as that of the archbishop, cannot be significant towards the removal of the sanctions. Actually, what has all along been expected of you in order to gain international embrace has always been within your plain sight.

Simply stated, it is implementation of a host of reforms. Electoral laws and various other liberties continue to be conspicuous by their curtailment.

Last week in Mabvuku, Harare, the opposition encountered police heavy-handedness while commemorating its founding anniversary.

As I see it, your regime can hardly be a friend to all.

Your Excellency, the adage that the more things change, the more they remain the same, is synonymous with Zanu PF. Although its leadership has changed thrice to date, its succession policy has remained the same — acrimonious.

Since its formation as a breakaway faction from the Joshua Nkomo-led Zimbabwe African People’s Union in 1963, leadership changes have been antagonistic. It has a culture of overthrows whose execution is anything but democratic.

Despite being half a century plus years old, the party is yet to experience clean leadership succession. It has an entrenched culture of power grab which is not likely to end anytime soon. It  started with the deposal of the founding leader, the late Ndabaningi Sithole.

He was dislodged by the now late former President Robert Mugabe. Although Mugabe held on for decades upon decades, almost personalising the throne it was nonetheless eventually wrested from him. Unwittingly, Mugabe set a precedent that also weeded him out.

He was overthrown by the apparatus that had been his bulwark. His resentment was unbridled. His fury was so intense that he died a bitter man. He forfeited the honour of interment at the National Heroes Acre.

Your Excellency, it is obvious that Mugabe took with him the sting of deposal to the grave.

Truly, leadership upheavals are a constant feature in Zanu PF. Whenever the crown changes hands, the acrimony which characterises the succession inevitably splits the party further asunder.

It is congenital for Zanu PF to occasionally jolt, dislodging leaders. Its succession is an antithesis for democracy. Truly, the party is not democratic, in word and deed.

Your Excellency, evidence abound that you inherited a fractious party, fraught with acrid relations. Methinks acrimony is an entrenched party ideology. It is apparent that Mugabe was not the last to be deposed. As I see it, the probability of you being the next casualty is high.

Despite your endorsement as Zanu PF presidential candidate for the 2023 harmonised elections, in real terms you are not the beloved party leader. If you were the intelligence guru your loyalists claim you were,  you would have smelt that the candidature remains a moot point.

Given the intra-party rivalry that characterises provincial elections,  the build-up to the next unseating showdown is already on the single digit countdown.

An implosion is in the offing. Given that promises of mega deals failed, it augurs well for you to avert a revolt.

Essentially, timing is of the essence for strategic-minded leaders more-so for those at the helm of volatile organisations like Zanu PF.

It is of equal importance to plan when to assume office and when to relinquish power. A premature entry is as fatal as a prolonged exit.

Methinks uppermost your mind must be your resignation strategy. Although you believe that the second republic has demonstrated its willingness and desire to play a responsible role in the international community, nonetheless, it is time you considered retirement.

Your Excellency, it is incumbent upon you to ensure the country has a credible succession system. As I see it, your successor will be able to fulfil your long-term plan of transforming Zimbabwe into an upper-middle income society in line with your government’s Vision 2030.

With the challenge regarding your legitimacy as leader of Zanu PF already filed at the High Court, your last supper is nigh. With all due respect, your priority ought not be seeking readmission into the Commonwealth, but navigating your exist.

Your Excellency, it is imperative that you avoid the inevitable.

Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public speaking coach, motivational speaker, and speechwriter

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