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Talk or fight ... it's as easy as that

By unknown | Jul 09, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Arthur Mutambara

Arthur Mutambara

Zimbabwe is facing a major political, humanitarian and economic crisis after the illegal and fraudulent presidential election on June 27. The outcome of such an electoral process can only be an illegitimate incumbent.

There are only two options for us as Zimbabweans: Pick up arms of war and drive out Robert Mugabe, or negotiate an all-inclusive political settlement.

Given our circumstances and history, it seems the only sensible and conceivable way forward is through national dialogue among all the key civic and political stakeholders, in pursuit of a political agreement.

The immediate challenges include defining the framework, format, time line and terms of reference for that dialogue. Thereafter, and more importantly, the question then becomes: What kind of political settlement will lead to a democratic, justiciable and sustainable resolution of the crisis?

In terms of the potential outcome of the dialogue, there are three key possibilities - an inclusive and stable government on the terms of democratically elected citizens; a government of national unity involving all key political players; and a transitional government tasked with the mandate of supervising fresh, free and fair elections.

These are the scenarios, or their variations or permutations, that could constitute a political settlement in Zimbabwe. Beyond the political agreement there must be a comprehensive and drawn-out national healing and rehabilitation programme.

This is absolutely essential, given the extent of the political polarisation, physical devastation and psychological trauma our people have gone through in the last three months.

There is also the need to quickly address the humanitarian aspects of the crisis, while putting in place mechanisms to salvage, recover and stabilise the economy.

It must be emphasised that commitment to dialogue as a strategy of resolution does not mean agreement to a particular negotiation format, nor does it mean endorsement of a specific political outcome. All these matters must be resolved as part of the all-inclusive dialogue process.

What is imperative for Zimbabweans is making up their minds on whether they want an armed revolution or they want to talk to each other. It is that simple.

Of course, if negotiations do not succeed there will be only one option left to the people of Zimbabwe. Yes, we will fight.

Resolving the current national crisis through mediation and external intervention must be understood as a short-term effort that must be complemented by long-term and holistic processes driven by Zimbabweans.

We need to start defining a common socio-economic-political framework that we all defend as citizens irrespective of political affiliation.

This should be a shared framework in which we contest each other for power and develop economic strategies to drive our country. There must be some things we agree on in spite of our diverse political associations.

In addition to agreeing on the name of the country and its boundary, why can't we have a constitution that we all defend and revere?

Why can't we have both a democratic culture and a political system, rooted in issues based on plural politics, which we all celebrate and protect? Would we all not cherish the day when Gideon Gono, Emerson Munangagwa and Joice Mujuru spend 15 months in public debates in a party primary election to determine the Zanu-PF national presidential candidate?

Surely, a similar internal, protracted and public contestation in the opposition will enable distillation of ideas leading to both high quality candidates and political platforms?

Change must have both form and substance. This is the long-term dream. Why can't we collectively develop a 20-30-year national economic vision shared by all Zimbabwean political parties?

Why can't we just differ on strategies and tactics of achieving the vision but not question the existence of the promised land? There is a need for Zimbabweans to embrace generational thinking and analysis.

The generation of Joshua Nkomo, Herbert Chitepo, Robert Mugabe, Jason Moyo and Ndabaningi Sithole has a result: the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980. What is Xavier Kasukuwere, Sylvester Nguni, Nelson Chamisa and Priscilla Misihairambwi's legacy? What is their generational result they can point to when they are 84 years old?

We need to establish a multi-party, all-encompassing generational agenda that must define us as Zimbabweans. Yes, we should borrow and learn from other successful economies and cultures. However, there must be local ownership and buy-in of the formulation and construction of the socio-economic models.

If our generation can make Zimbabwe a globally competitive economy in 20 years' time, in terms of GDP, per capita income, entrepreneurship, business growth, exports, productivity, competitiveness, financial literacy, and quality of life, that will be our cross-party generational result.

Yes, we must confront the Zimbabwean crisis and resolve it as a matter of urgency. However, there is need for broader and longer-term processes to ensure sustainability of the resolution.

l Arthur Mutambara is president of one faction of the MDC in Zimbabwe.


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