THE newly-formed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party wants neighbouring South Africa to once again take a leading role in mediating Zimbabwe’s decades-long political crisis.
Speaking during an online discussion on Wednesday on the political situation in the country, one of the CCC’s interim vice presidents, Tendai Biti, pictured, said South Africa and President Cyril Ramaphosa needed to step in now to help end rising tensions in the country.
“I know President Ramaphosa and the international community are watching (the Zimbabwe situation).
“My message to President Ramaphosa, and he may not be listening, but I know some of his advisors are … We Zimbabweans want the international community to play the role it always plays in conflict situations.
“South Africans … more than any other group in Africa, know the important role of the international community in chaperoning a transition.
“The Zimbabwe crisis needs the intervention of the international community … Despite President (Thabo) Mbeki’s faults in terms of the outcome (of the 2008 Zimbabwe talks), he knew the responsibility of South Africa,” Biti said.
“We quarrelled with him, but he acted … and we are looking for someone to act to ensure that there is democracy and that there is a transition (in Zimbabwe).
“We can create a soft landing and the soft landing is a matrix where there is time out … an opportunity to attend to reforms … an opportunity to create an environment where there are free and fair elections.
“I hope that President Ramaphosa will exercise that leadership that is naturally on South Africa’s shoulders,” Biti said further.
“What is the price of not acting? The price of not acting is a massive hit on your (South African) economy.
“South Africa’s economy has been sluggish at one and half percent growth rates, two percent. Last year, your first quarter results were the worst economic results in 45 years.
“One of the reasons is clearly the fact that you are subsidising the Zimbabwean crisis,” Biti added.
He also said Ramaphosa needed to treat Zimbabwe’s myriad challenges like domestic issues.
“If you think it’s not a domestic issue, chase our nurses and doctors from there. Chase our accountants from your financial systems … Sandton will be shut down.
“Chase our waiters and your restaurants will be closed. We are not a foreign policy issue. We are a domestic issue,” Biti said further.
He also said while the majority of Zimbabweans favoured dialogue that would culminate in another government of national unity (GNU), a similar arrangement would stifle democracy.
“The government of national unity gave our people time out. It allowed them to breathe. It allowed them to regroup their lives. It stabilised the economy.
“It brought down inflation … increased the productive capacity. It created real growth in the economy.
“The average growth rate of the Zimbabwean economy during that period was double digit. And in 2011 our growth rate was 12 percent, the highest in the world.
“And this was growth in real terms. So, I suspect that if you are to take a poll amongst ordinary Zimbabweans, they will tell you that the government of national unity was a good thing because it made their lives very different and much better,” Biti said.
“But I think if you take a poll amongst the academics and political scientists in particular, they will tell you that it diverted democracy and that Zimbabwe is in the crisis that it is in right now because Sadc, and Thabo Mbeki in particular, chose stability over democracy,” he added.
All this comes after political analysts said the long-mooted national talks should pave the way for another GNU in the country — like what happened in 2009, following the hotly-disputed 2008 elections.
Speaking to the Daily News earlier this week, renowned University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, was among the political analysts who said dialogue was the only way to go.
“Violence is a problem caused by human beings and it needs human intervention. I think all stakeholders should now come together and say what can we do.
“Politicians must also refrain from inflammatory statements. Dialogue can offer permanent solutions. National dialogue will ensure that there is national cohesion.
“It should not be a dialogue for national elections only, because we need solutions to a multitude of problems.
“It’s a costless process to dialogue. For a long-term solution, there is also a need to change the constitution to incorporate a GNU as a permanent feature,” Masunungure told the Daily News.
“The GNU period was a golden period. So, why not go back to that golden period? It’s important as a transitional tool until we mature sufficiently to form a Zanu PF or opposition government.
“We are not yet mature as a country for one party to handle power. We are not yet there,” he added.
However, Masunungure, observed that holding elections was a constitutional obligation, which meant that to cancel them needed an amendment to the law.
All this also comes as more and more Zimbabweans are growing disillusioned by endless disputes surrounding national polls, which have triggered a lack of appetite for voting.
In a survey conducted by Afrobarometer last year, the majority of Zimbabweans said they did not have faith in elections — and instead favoured political dialogue that would lead to another GNU in the country.
It also comes amid a strong push by many Zimbabweans to have President Emmerson Mnangagwa, opposition leader Douglas Mwonzora and his CCC counterpart Nelson Chamisa to hold talks ahead of the fast-approaching 2023 polls.
While all three men have previously agreed on the need for dialogue, nothing concrete has materialised thus far.
In 2009, the late former president Robert Mugabe was forced into forming a GNU with the late much-loved MDC founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai, after the hotly-disputed 2008 polls.
The short-lived GNU was credited with stabilising the country’s economy which had imploded in the run-up to those elections.
In those polls, Tsvangirai beat Mugabe hands down.
However, the results were withheld for six long weeks by stunned authorities — amid widespread allegations of ballot tampering and fraud, which were later confirmed by former bigwigs of the ruling Zanu PF.
In the ensuing sham presidential run-off, which authorities claimed was needed to determine the winner, Zanu PF apparatchiks engaged in an orgy of violence in which hundreds of Tsvangirai’s supporters were killed — forcing the former prime minister to withdraw from the discredited race altogether.
Mugabe went on to stand in an embarrassing and widely-condemned one-man race in which he declared himself the winner. – Daily News