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Zimbabwe: Unity govt not feasible
Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2008

By Mabasa Sasa
April 24, 2008
The Herald

THE buzzword in opposition parlance, locally and internationally, these days is "government of national unity".

And perhaps it is no great coincidence that the prime drivers of the "government of national unity" discourse particularly in the context of Zimbabwe's recent elections are primarily opposition-aligned elements.

Western media have been titillated, maybe even physically aroused, by the idea of Zimbabwe going the Kenya way in both the violence and "national unity" phenomena and the MDC-T waltzing into Munhumutapa Building on the back of negotiations rather than votes.

The "government of national unity" debate should be approached from a critical perspective that seeks to denude the agendas behind those advocating it, its semantics and legalistic implications.

From the word go, one can be forgiven for thinking that the supporters of this option are in a way trying to side-step the electoral legal reality of a potential run-off between President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai.

It appears March 29 failed to produce an outright winner in the presidential race and the requirement as agreed by both Zanu-PF and the opposition during the Sadc-brokered talks is that there should be a run-off.

Questions naturally arise: Why are some people willing to pervert the country's democratic electoral processes by calling for a "government of national unity" that has no constitutional basis? What are they afraid will happen in a run-off that ensures both candidates cannot hide from minute scrutiny?

Why should people ensconced in some foreign isles far from the practicalities of our politics tell Zimbabweans to form a "government of national unity"? Surely, that should be a discourse originated, developed and concluded by Zimbabweans.

Furthermore, why is it that the majority of those driving this discourse assert that "the establishment of a government of national unity should begin with a transitional government, maybe with President Mugabe at the helm, while a new constitution is drafted?"

The language of this whole discourse indicates an overwhelming desire by some politicians, academicians and media practitioners to fast-track the opposition into office without going through the democratic rigours of a fool-proof electoral process that fully gauges and reflects the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

The inescapable interpretation is that a government of national unity should ultimately push President Mugabe out and ease Tsvangirai into power on the back of a constitution that does not threaten the economic and political interests of the West in Zimbabwe.

But why should there be talk of transitional governments that will birth "national unity" as if the majority of Zimbabweans did not vote for Zanu-PF to lead them for the next five years?

It seems that those behind this discourse would like to place more weight on what opposition sympathisers want than on the wishes of Zanu-PF's supporters as if our system is not based on one-man/woman-one-vote.

And this is precisely where the whole discourse breaks down and any self-respecting Zimbabwean should feel outraged that anyone should seek to short-circuit a democratic electoral system and deny him/her the right to choose who should be President of Zimbabwe.

Apart from this, the people who are talking about a "government of national unity" should explain exactly what they mean by "national unity".

Is such a government one where an opposition party is allowed to become a part of the executive without satisfying the electoral requirements? Whose unity is being talked about – that of politicians or of Zimbabweans?

After all, at the ideological and practical level there certainly cannot be much unity between Zanu-PF and the MDC as led by Tsvangirai.

Zanu-PF's central ideology, more concisely, President Mugabe's philosophy is diametrically opposed to that of Tsvangirai.

The differences between the two are too vast to even start contemplating the establishment of a government – even a transitional one – that is headed by President Mugabe and Tsvangirai would draw chuckles were the matter not so serious.

Zanu-PF has over the decades been built on an ideology that has resonance with a vast majority of land-hungry Zimbabweans who realise that Land Reform Programme was a giant leap forward in the total liberation of this country.

This ideology has firm roots in President Mugabe's unwavering philosophy that the people own this land and as such they should be masters of their own destiny.

In the mother tongue, it can be said Cde Mugabe is about gutsaruzhinji. His principled stand on this matter, which is premised on an appreciation and respect of human rights, has set Zimbabwe firmly on the path of true independence.

On the other hand, what Tsvangirai offers is the obverse of what Cde Mugabe has put on the table.

MDC-T's central ideology has its roots in the first attempts to block Land Reform and economic empowerment.

MDC was created to frustrate land reforms and protect the interests of the minority landed classes and today this has not changed.

There can be no denying that Tsvangirai has considerable support among young Zimbabweans and the proponents of the "government of national unity" discourse argue that the democratic rights of these supporters must be respected through giving the MDC executive power.

But would it not be more sensible then to ask for a parliamentary system of proportional representation implemented through due constitutional procedure than to try and foist an executive on this country that is out to protect the interests of Western capital at the expense of ordinary Zimbabweans?

We cannot therefore begin to talk of a government of national unity when one party stands for genuine empowerment while the other is comfortably reposed at the opposite end of the nation-building spectrum.

There can be no talk of a government of national unity as long as the Beatties and Kays of this world threaten new farmers with eviction if MDC is granted executive power.

There can be no talk of a government of national unity as long as Tsvangirai supports sanctions against his fellow man while he sleeps restfully in Botswana or wherever it is he is spending his 30 pieces of silver.

There can be no talk of a government of national unity as long as the opposition continues to throw veiled threats of Iraq-like scenarios and Afghanistan-style invasions.

There can be no talk of a government of national unity for as long as MDC-T does not recognise that Zimbabweans and Zimbabweans alone have the final say on who should constitute the national leadership.

The world should leave Zimbabwe alone to complete its democratic electoral processes and elect a political leadership of its choice.


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