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Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Time to pursue the politics of engagement!!


By Lloyd Msipa

Last updated: 08/22/2007 12:00:11

WHILST the just ended SADC summit might have left a lot of people perturbed by the inaction of the regional grouping towards Zimbabwe or President Robert Mugabe in particular, a cursory analysis reveals that a lot more came out of this meeting besides them clapping for Mugabe when he made an entrance
Firstly, this is the first in so many years that the regional grouping has stood together as one. Remember the extra ordinary meeting in Tanzania where Zambian President Mwanawasa called Zimbabwe a 'sinking Titanic'? The fact that one of theirs was in trouble, actually and contrary to popular opinion, served to cement their relationship.
In fact the consensus or solidarity displayed at this summit gave birth to a new regional power bloc that seems geared to take on the West. The fact that the report on the negotiating process being spearheaded by Thabo Mbeki placed some of the blame of Zimbabwe's woes on the doorstep of the UK government confirms my assertion that a regional power bloc geared to take on the west has been birthed.
In the bigger scheme of things, where does this leave opposition politics in Zimbabwe? Well, I think it is time for the opposition to call a spade a spade and realise that there is two sides to every story. We are all familiar with events and agreements at Lancaster, the willing-seller-willing-buyer agreement and the gentlemen's agreement to have Whitehall finance the land redistribution exercise.
The fact that Whitehall proceeded to breach this contract by reneging from it meant that Zimbabwe was equally not bound by the contract. These are basic tenets of contract law.
Let's go back to the opposition parties and evaluate how they fit into this equation. The politics of the opposition in Zimbabwe, beginning as far back as Tekere's ZUM, Dumbutschena's FORUM and to Tsvangirai's MDC have all had one thing in common. The all pursued the politics of confrontation and the opposition today assisted by various civic organisations still pursues the politics of confrontation.
Zimbabweans now needs more than ever to adapt the politics of engagement. Clarion calls are sounding far and wide to the effect that only 'Zimbabweans can solve their own problems". Failure by us Zimbabweans to embrace the politics of engagement will see us sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss.
Why engagement one might ask? Firstly it is important for Zimbabweans to first and foremost realise that before we are Zanu PF or MDC members, we are Zimbabweans. As Zimbabweans, we need to start talking to one another with no hidden agendas. We need to embrace a new culture that despises double standards. We need to begin our engagement premised on the fact that we are the masters of our destiny and our destiny includes building a better Zimbabwe.
The fact that we belong to different political parties must come in second. One needs to ask themselves, 'how did we arrive to where we are today?' I will tell you how. We have failed or neglected to engage one another in the spirit of brotherhood or sisterhood. We are more comfortable bludgeoning each to death hence the blood letting in March 2002.
What are the advantages of engaging one another one might ask? Firstly, we need to accept that people agree and disagree.
In fact it is important to agree to disagree as Zimbabweans in order to move forward. When we engage one another as Zimbabweans, we leave very little room for outsiders to run the show on our behalf.
Let's look at some historical truths. Zimbabwe is a product of a bitter liberation war where land was the central issue. How is it then that the West never refers to it when discussing Zimbabwe? In fact Zimbabwe is referred to as a gross human rights violator, a country that is being governed illegitimately by a president who was not elected by the people. The issue of how the United Kingdom breached a verbal contract is hardly ever mentioned.
It is a fact that President Mugabe is the elected president of Zimbabwe and hence the opposition has to begin by acknowledging this as a gesture of goodwill to engagement. The constant bickering by the opposition over his legitimacy is contradicted by the same Western countries that accommodate ambassadors and diplomats from the so-called "illegal regime".
To illustrate my point on confrontation, despite the fact that both MDC's are represented in the Thabo Mbeki initiative, the Tsvangirai faction however saw it fit to send another delegation led by its vice president Thoko Khupe to the SADC summit, confirming my assertion that the Tsvangirai MDC is not comfortable with the politics of engagement. They readily prefer confrontation as their default route to power.
The regional power bloc that has developed in southern Africa may potentially spell the end of any opposition political parties that are perceived to be affiliated with Western countries. The fact that the SADC summit agreed to a formation of its own peace-keeping force among other resolutions is evidence of Southern African countries gearing to defend one another.
Southern Africa has decided that Africa is for Africans. The message coming out of SADC is that we are 'our brother's keeper'. They have even requested Whitehall and Washington to drop any form of sanctions directed at Harare. The opposition has to buy into this spirit if we are to redefine our destiny.
The decision by Australia and the threats by the United States to deport the children of Zimbabwean officials shows us there is no letting off in this diplomatic war. Things can only get worse and the people on the ground in Zimbabwe will not be better off.
To remain relevant in this new scheme of things, the opposition needs to realise that engagement and not confrontation is the only way we can even begin to address the problems of our country. If they carry on down this path, there will be nothing left in Zimbabwe to salvage.
If the opposition begin to engage their colleagues in Zimbabwe, this will in turn affect the politics of negotiation between us Zimbabweans. If we succeed in embracing this spirit of engagement amongst ourselves, I believe that it will become necessary for the EU, IMF, World Bank, Whitehall and Washington to also drop their confrontation and embrace dialogue.


Peace and Tranquility???
Peace and Tranquility???
 Cell in RSA: 0791463039

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I look for "The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" at all times.