Friday, November 27, 2009

South Africa Announces New Facilitation Team

Yesterday President Zuma announced a new three-person Facilitation Team to work on the Zimbabwean process. Three big names have been brought in: Charles Nqakula, Zuma’s senior Political Advisor; Lindiwe Zulu, International Relations Advisor; and Special Envoy Mac Maharaj.

Zulu is a career diplomat and a former spokeswoman for the South African presidency. She is professional and measured and, above all, a listener, who has won respect in all her foreign postings (most recently as Ambassador to Brazil). I have met her and believe her to be very sharp.

Both Nqakula and Maharaj gave most of their lives to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and their credentials – and integrity – cannot be doubted. Though a former minister under Mbeki, Nqakula was respected enough by Zuma to be given the role of his main Political Advisor. The fact that he is leading a Facilitation Team of real party heavy-weights underlines the enormous importance of the Zimbabwe issue to the South African President.

The announcement is good news. It signals South Africa’s genuine commitment to resolving the problems in our country. To have serious negotiators on this team shows that South Africa means business and that the problems in Zimbabwe will take a lot of tough talking to resolve. They will be prepared to bang heads together.

The appointment of Maharaj is an especially big move. “Mac” is seriously hardcore and does not suffer fools. He was repeatedly tortured by the Apartheid police (including having his genitals hit with a truncheon) before spending time on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela. He then ran the ANC military organisation in South Africa and was a leading member of the ANC negotiating team with the Apartheid government of De Klerk. He is a communist, and a valued comrade of Zimbabwe – who, like most of his colleagues in the ANC, watched in admiration as Mugabe led the resistance movement north of the Limpopo River. ZANU (PF) cannot afford to alienate these fellow champions of the liberation movement. If we cannot find a way to work with them, all is lost for the party.

ZANU (PF) and the ANC have enjoyed a long history together. Both parties have helped each other in their quest for liberation. We should respect what Zuma is trying to achieve. He has Zimbabwe’s best interests at heart but it is also in his own interests to see Zimbabwe restored to health. Problems in Zimbabwe spill over into South Africa, there are millions of Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa and if Zuma helps to solve the political deadlock, he will win praise from many people around the world.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tsvangirai woos Gaddafi

What a humiliation for ZANU (PF)! This week, Morgan Tsvangirai travelled to Libya for a meeting with Colonel Gaddafi, currently head of the African Union. Tsvangirai was met with full military honours.

What has happened? Gaddafi used to be a loyal supporter of ZANU (PF) and President Mugabe. Now he embraces Tsvangirai and the MDC. We need to watch our back. The tide of events is turning against us.

ZANU (PF) is quickly becoming obsolete on the international stage. If ZANU (PF) is to keep the support of its most loyal friends and allies, it needs to engage properly with the Inclusive Government and lead it NOW.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Congress Postponed for Lack of Funds

The Party Congress has been postponed. Apparently this is because of a lack of funds.

Already, the event has been scaled back from the glamour of previous years. According to Congress organisers, the number of spaces has been cut, many distinguished party members have been told not to come and many of the delegates will be sitting on the floor in TENTS.

But why are there no funds? They must be out there but they are just not going into the Congress. Who controls the Chiadzwa diamond fields, for example? It does not seem to be the IG. Obviously this source of enormous wealth should flow directly into government control. But where is the money going? Certainly not into paying for the Fifth Congress, not into hospitals or schools. There is one simple explanation: it is being stolen.

The main mine in Chiadzwa – Marange – is controlled by the army and the profits go straight to the corrupt generals and brigadiers at the top of the tree.

ZANU (PF) is not in control. Mnangagwa and the Mujurus fight each other and blame the MDC for all of Zimbabwe’s ills, while failing to see the true threat that faces them. The money from the diamonds is going straight to the military. According to a source in Marange, over 400 million rands worth of diamonds were sold in the last two months. And who reaps the profits? Surely it can’t all be going to Chiwenga, Chihuri, Gideon Gono and a small gang around them.

This money belongs to the people of Zimbabwe. Friends of ZANU (PF) – we need to stand up to the thieves in our midst. We must throw them out! If President Mugabe won’t – or more likely, can’t – we need to take action from within. The Congress is the time to do this.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The ZANU (PF) Congress: Last Chance to Get It Right?

In a few weeks’ time, the Fifth ZANU (PF) Party Congress will be held. This is a huge event which comes only once every 5 years. Thousands of party members from across Zimbabwe will congregate in Harare. They will select the Presidium and the Politburo and they will determine the future of the party for the next 5 years. For the good of the party and all the country, they MUST get it right!

Congress comes at a crucial time. The struggle between different factions for control of the party has left it paralysed. It is vulnerable to outside meddling. The deadlock between ZANU (PF) and the MDC – and also the MDC’s childish “disengagement” – has completely stopped the vital work of reform and rebuilding that our country needs. The longer this log-jam continues, the more we lose legitimacy and the support of the people.

This may well be President Mugabe’s last Congress. He is 85 years old. If he dies as President, there will be a vicious struggle for power UNLESS we can resolve the core issues first. The most prominent battle for the leadership is between Minister of Defence Emerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Joyce Mujuru. Mnangagwa has a long and distinguished career in ZANU (PF) but his blatant personal ambition and rumours about some of his activities have worried many party members. For her part, Joyce Mujuru has established herself as an effective member of the government since her appointment as Vice President but some say that she relies too much on the military record of her husband Rex for her credibility.

Are there other potential candidates who could vie for the Presidency? Names occasionally put forward include VP John Nkomo, Sidney Sekeremayi and Didymus Mutasa. People in the know have also recently suggested that General Chiwenga, Commander of the Defence Forces, may also try to use his influence to gain power. There are already rumours circulating about his possible involvement in the Pomona arms theft. Could these be true? If yes, then he would be another likely candidate in this power struggle as he would use his military influence to steer the party in his favour.

It is essential to point out that for the party to thrive, we need a seasoned leader who can consolidate the party objectives, and do away with the infighting currently been witnessed in the government. We have had enough of the internal power struggles. It is time we started considering a successor to the President, that we ensure a smooth transition of power.

Those who care about Zimbabwe and ZANU (PF) need to speak out now to reform the party if we are to have any hope of survival. At the Congress, we cannot leave such crucial issues as the leadership and succession tobe dealt with in closed sessions or to be arranged in advance.

We need an open and honest debate. Even more importantly, the party needs to hear the TRUTH about the betrayals inflicted upon the party by some of its most powerful members. Now is the time to get all the skeletons out of the closet and make decisions based on fact, not lies.

I for one am not afraid to speak out and I invite all like-minded Zimbabweans to share their stories with me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What happened at Pomona?

We do not seem to be able to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. Just as our neighbours start to show a sense of urgency about the situation in Zimbabwe, we start to fight amongst ourselves. As if the factionalism in the party was not enough, we now have the security forces fighting amongst themselves.

Following the disappearance of some 20 AK-47s from the Pomona barracks, it appears that a number of army personnel have been arrested along with an MDC official whose connection to them is as unclear as everything else in this murky story.

According to the Herald of 5 Novemebr the MDC man, one Pasco Gwezere, "is alleged to have teamed up with one Gertrude and some soldiers who are still at large and broke into the armoury to steal the weapons" on 20 October. The same article suggests that Gwezere and three other party activists went for military training at the Soroti camp in Uganda in 1999 with the intention of coming back to Zimbabwe to destabilise the government of that time. If this is true, it speaks volumes for the effectiveness of both the alleged training and our security forces. It would appear that it has taken the best part of a decade for the supposed "destabilisers" to put their training into practice - and our security forces only seem to have been able to rumble them after they have stolen weapons from an armoury.

The whole incident would be laughable if it did not reflect so badly on the party. Everyone knows that one part of the machinery over which the President and the party have been careful to retain control is the security forces and the security forces have clearly failed us whatever the truth behind this story. Either they have failed to detect plotters in their midst or, if the opposition press is to be beleived, they are rounding up a number of their own people without good cause - worse still it could be both.

One can only pray that tales of torture of high ranking officers are eventually shown to be pure fabrication otherwise our own armed forces, who have done so much to secure the gains of the liberation struggle, will start to feel threatened by their colleagues - whether in the CIO, the police and even their own superiors. There is a limit to the number of people we can afford to alienate and for each there is a cost.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

SADC Turns on ZANU (PF)

Last week, something important happened in Maputo. For the first time SADC, the Southern African Development Community, made a statement on Zimbabwe which puts real pressure on ZANU (PF) and President Mugabe. It demands that the President and Morgan Tsvangirai to resolve their differences and move forward the Global Political Agreement.

Firstly, it “urged” both parties in Zimbabwe’s Inclusive Government to “comply with the spirit and letter” of the GPA.

Secondly, it urged the parties not to allow the situation to deteriorate any further.

Thirdly, it tasked the two parties to engage in “dialogue” on all the outstanding issues from the GPA and gave them 30 days to do so.

Tsvangirai, having lost his temper over the Roy Bennett scandal, agreed to re-engage.

Until now, the SADC has been a close supporter of ZANU (PF) and the President. Why have they now turned on us? Because we deserve it!

Finally, South Africa – i.e. Jacob Zuma – has thrown its weight fully behind the GPA. Sources who were at the summit report that Zuma ran the show and, behind closed doors, all but banged heads together to get the statement.

Now both sides will have to stop arguing and get on with the job of putting Zimbabwe back together.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How to Fix Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a country in grave crisis, as usual. The economy has stabilised - for now - and the number of tourists in our country has doubled since last year, but the sorry truth is that the political conflict at the centre of Zimbabwe’s troubles has only got worse.

MDC does what it can but has no experience of government and, has no real power to get the job done. Meanwhile, ZANU (PF), the great liberation party of our country, still the real centre of power, is tearing itself apart from the inside!

ZANU (PF) is not the monster the Western media denounces. At least, not all. There are many ZANU (PF) Party members (myself included), who are so unhappy with the situation Zimbabwe finds itself today and would like to see it resolved for the benefit of all our people.

But it is true that the party has a dark side, usually associated with the BIG MEN in the security sector. President Mugabe himself cannot control these men and he knows he cannot trust them. But he and they have a common interest: they need him to stay in power to save them from justice and from the vengeance of their victims.

Power corrupts - and too many of our ZANU (PF) comrades have become corrupted over the years. The Party has become separated from the people it liberated. The Security chiefs dictate the agenda and bludgeon people into a submission that only fuels their discontent. The interests of the many are sold out to the interests of a few. Friends, for too long, the spectres of colonialism and MDC terrorism have been used to keep attention from how these very people are, right now, plundering our national economy to fill their own pockets!

To survive, ZANU (PF) needs to change course and remake itself as a force for unity. It is the only party capable of bridging the chasm between the extremes of the MDC on the one hand and the die-hards in the security apparatus on the other.

Let me say, we need to throw out the rotten apples and reform. We must embrace the Inclusive Government, however painful and difficult that may be. ZANU (PF) must become the senior partner in a project of national healing that can only be overseen by the party that brought the country liberation. We cannot entrust our future exclusively to the MDC – or, worse still, to those who have been trying to obstruct what little progress the IG has made so far.

To fix Zimbabwe, we first need to fix ZANU (PF).