Tendai H. Manzvanzvike Foreign Editor
PROVERBS 25:14 in the Bible says, “Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts gifts never given”, while in Jude 1:12 the Lord bemoans: “These people are blemishes at your love feasts . . . They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted — twice dead.”
The MDC-Alliance demonstration has come and gone, but as Shakespeare says in Macbeth, it was “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.
The impact is a matter of perception to be unpacked in many ways than one. If we are to work from the numbers game perspective, the best way would be to see how close it was to the assertion made by the MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa when he testified before the Kgalema Motlanthe-led commission of inquiry on Monday.
Chamisa told the Commission that “if you throw a stone in Harare you will hit an MDC supporter since 98 percent of Harare’s population are MDC supporters”. So, was yesterday’s crowd anywhere close to Chamisa’s Monday claims, made under oath?
But I digress. Apart from the usual, the MDC-Alliance presented a six-page petition addressed to Advocate Jacob Mudenda, Speaker of the National Assembly; Namibian President Hage Geingob, current SADC chairperson; African Union’s current chairperson President Paul Kagame and, President Mnangagwa in his capacity as Zanu-PF President and First Secretary.
It is interesting to note that while Chamisa realises the importance of the Legislature as a critical arm of Government, he completely ignores the Executive in the document, titled “The Petition on the Roadmap to Legitimacy and Democracy in Zimbabwe (Reload)”.
This takes us back to one of the Commissioners Chief Emeka Anyaoku’s observation that while Chamisa claimed that he was for the observance of the rule of law, he was at the same time spurning the Judiciary by refusing to accept the ruling by the highest court of the land, regarding the Presidential winner in the July 30 harmonised election.
The opening statement: “We the people of Zimbabwe and the Movement for Democratic Change”, gives the impression that this petition was crafted after consultative process with the people in the country’s 10 provinces. It also exposes the opposition outfit as they rightfully separate themselves from “the people of Zimbabwe.” If this was a people’s petition, there was no need to separate the two.
Out of the 17 points they raise, the writer identify a few that need interrogation. The first point in the petition is: “That those occupying the high offices are not there through the democratic process of a free, fair and credible election having imposed themselves into leadership through the 30th July disputed election, whose results are untraceable, unverifiable and unreliable.”
Gentle reader, remember what Commissioner Chief Anyaoku told Chamisa about respect of the rule of law.
Following the resignation of former president Mugabe, a process he was party to, President Mnangagwa constitutionally completed his five-year term of office. He did not cancel the December 2017 Extraordinary Congress, but presented himself before the Zanu-PF congress, for endorsement.
Thereafter, President Mnangagwa ensured that preparations for the 2018 harmonised elections were put in motion, including the invitation of lots of observer missions from all over the world, signalling a Zimbabwe that would do business differently. The observers were able to monitor the environment: pre-election, election time and the post-election and their reports are available.
Chamisa must tell the people whether his assumption of the MDC-Alliance leadership after founding president Morgan Tsvangirai’s death is within the dictates of the constitution. It is common knowledge that he disregarded their constitution, including having an elective congress. Thus Chamisa is the least person to talk about legitimacy, because he landed the party post illegally.
We hope that he understood the pregnant meaning in Chief Anyaoku’s remarks on Monday: “I met Tsvangirai in 1998. He was a fine man. I hope if you are to follow his footsteps you will have to be as mature as he was.”
The second point in the petition reads: “That key and credible observer missions condemned the election highlighting that the process fell short of minimum standards. In particular the Independent EU Observer Mission, IRI (International Republican Institute) & NDI (National Democratic Institute) report and the Common Wealth observer mission report.”
It is ironic that the MDC-Alliance decided to group the observer missions as key and what the writer can call non-significant. And these key missions are all from the West.
Meanwhile, the petition is going to none of the above organisations, but to the regional bloc SADC whose 2015 revised Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections are universally followed by bloc’s Member States. It is also going to the continental body’s chairperson.
They are not key, but they have to make a determination.
The MDC-Alliance cannot disengage itself from the events of November 2017. They participated fully in events leading to former President Mugabe’s resignation and President Mnangagwa’s assumption of power, including participating in his November 24 inauguration. Where then is the crisis of legitimacy arising from?
The petition also raises a number of issues on social service delivery. Meanwhile, Chamisa brags that the MDC’s power base is in cities and towns that have seen year-on-year decline in infrastructure development and service provision.
The petition also says “there is no more respect from each other, there is hate speech, violence including gender-based violence.” The MDC-Alliance wants recipients of the petition to believe that they have part to play in all the ills they mention. This also includes what they term “inflamed ethnocentricism.” If that is the case, why is Dr Thokozani Khupe and her colleagues in a breakaway faction? Why are Senators Elias Mudzuri and Douglas Mwonzora currently being hounded, and threatened with dismissal from the MDC?
Chamisa and a number of the Alliance’s top leadership were in Parliament since 2013 when the Constitution was passed. What did they do to ensure that the Eighth Parliament aligned the laws to the Constitution, including, electoral reforms?
What is also interesting is that the concerns and/or points the petition raises are already work in progress for Government, and as Zimbabweans, they are expected to also fully participate.
When all is said and done, this hue and cry is attention-seeking. They want to be part of Government, but they want the inclusivity done on their terms — clouds without rain.