The Madhuku option: Proverbial low hanging fruit?

Lovemore Madhuku

THE out of court negotiations (herein termed the Madhuku Option) being mooted by NCA president, Polad member and prominent legal buff, Lovemore Madhuku, on the continued detention of CCC political prisoners avails a plethora of possibilities, both progressive and negative, depending on which political divide one’s sentiments are predicated on.

A functional platform

In spite of the hullabaloo obtaining, Madhuku, who was also detained for his political convictions before, argues that his proposal, given Zimbabwe’s history on political impasses and detentions, is the most pragmatic of available solutions.

Madhuku aims to create a functional platform upon which peace and civil order may be attained via negotiations. His is a herculean task, whose objective is to broker talks between the two major political players in Zimbabwe, Zanu PF and the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).

Absence of the rule of law

However, those who oppose his proposal argue that by opting for an out-of-court settlement, the Madhuku option proponents and their sympathisers have unwittingly admitted that there is no longer rule of law in Zimbabwe. The notion is based on the premise that any such negotiations are extrajudicial and therefore unconstitutional.

Is the judiciary partial?

Such negotiations would not normally exist in instances where the judiciary has not been captured. By and large, this is, according to them, an affront to justice and constitutionalism.

Any further step along such a route, they argue, will only lead to the dark lair of the hairy and obnoxious beast that captured the judiciary.

A Polad initiative

Some political scholars are of the opinion that the arrest and imprisonment of CCC activists is a premeditated ruse, designed to bring the Opposition leadership to the round table by hook or crook, an invitation CCC spurned when Polad ( a forum bringing together parties that participated in the previous general elections) was first orchestrated. It has not been clarified if Madhuku is acting on his own behalf or whether it is at Polad’s behest.

The latter is yet to proffer its stance regarding the same.

Only time will tell, as Lady Fate slowly unravels, what destiny lays in store for the nation as we approach the 2023 general elections.

Public outcry

In the public domain, the Madhuku option has evoked an emotive response from both local and international sympathisers and critics. The outcry which has, unfortunately, been overally emotional, emanating, equally, from effervescent political foes who obviously and stubbornly, justify their standpoints from their political reasoning.

As such, political overtones have clouded the political prisoners’ lawsuit, inadvertently expunging legal reasoning in both the public and political domains.

The fact that the Court has repeatedly denied the accused bail and adopted a snail’s pace regarding the process and conclusion of the matter has unnerved the citizenry and significantly poured the proverbial fuel into the smouldering fire of political uncertainty threatening Zimbabwe, as the 2023 General Elections approach.

Civil protest threats

In response to the prevailing status quo some political players have, of late, proposed civil protests to force the current political administration’s hand in the former’s pursuit to secure the prisoners’ freedom. A more pacifist approach has been initiated by Ibbo Mandaza through a petition to the President. The petition was signed by over a hundred and sixty eminent Zimbabwean citizens and sympathisers at home and abroad.

Citizens petition

These opine that the current administration is abusing the judiciary by weaponising the law and its procedures in order to stifle political dissent and incapacitate opposing views enshrined in the Constitution.

The petitioners are of the opinion that law has been tilted in Zanu PF’s favour as regards political prisoners, amongst other matters. The nation awaits to observe if and when the President responds to the communique.

The blind eyes of justice

As regards the CCC members accused of inciting political violence, the State argues that the law has been broken and, as such, the alleged perpetrators should have their day in court.

What has obtained between the accused’s arrest, detention and trial is what constitutes the crux of the Madhuku option’s brief.

Any such efforts by the contending parties to pursue their respective legal agendas, if and when carried out, may play a significant role in unnerving the intricate balance between national security, civil rights and democratic space as Zimbabwe approaches watershed General Elections in the first quarter of 2023.

Quiet before the storm

As the saga unfolds, it is interesting to note the quiet diplomacy approach undertaken by stockholders in response to the Mahuku option.

There has been an uneasy din of silence from the incumbent party and its leadership, Polad Human Rights Zimbabwe, the Law Society of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches.

The public broadcaster, ZBC, is yet to publish the official narrative regarding the same. As such, the nation bates its breath as the political behemoths weigh out their options before making decisions. To be or not to be, that is the question.

Ted Noham is an independent political analyst and commentator.

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