By Denford Magora
NOW that a newspaper coming out of London has linked my name with that of former Information minister Jonathan Moyo and the publisher of this paper in relation to the Third Force, I feel co
mpelled to respond.
For Zimbabweans to understand why I am not part of Moyo’s “Third Way”, they must understand a few self-evident facts: although Moyo is an independent member of parliament, he owes his seat to President Robert Mugabe.
President Mugabe seems to be unaware of the level of hostility and hatred towards him by the people of Matabeleland. If he makes it public that there is something he desperately wants from the region, he can be assured that the people will do everything in their power to deny it to him.
So the day the president stood in front of the people of Tsholotsho and cried out for them to deny Moyo the seat, he was effectively ensuring that the people voted for Moyo, just to spite him.
Moyo holds his seat today not because he has a well-enunciated programme for development of the area, or a concrete ideology that the people of Tsholotsho can identify as capable of lifting them out of abject rural poverty.
They gave him the seat just to show Mugabe that they do not listen to anything he says.
The scenario can be summed up by saying that Moyo’s seat is nothing more than a slap in Mugabe’s face by the people of Tsholotsho. Such a position cannot be tenable for the professor.
If Mugabe had not gone to Tsholotsho to de-campaign Moyo, the former minister would not have got the seat. This is hardly a foundation upon which a potent, cohesive challenge to the MDC and Zanu PF can be built.
The professor has been referring to his movement as a Third Way. It is no such thing, of course.
Reason? It is not a cohesive political philosophy that is adaptable to local conditions.
The best and most effective practitioner of this philosophy was former United States president Bill Clinton. The Third Way as practised by the former US president, actually led to a reduction in poverty, a booming economy, a budget surplus, low unemployment and one of the greatest national capital investment levels since FranklinRoosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s.
UK premier Tony Blair, although he claims to be a Third Wayer, is not. His expedient policies and fear of non-traditional political platforms negate much of the Third Way policies he tried to copy from Clinton. In both these cases, however, there is a semblance of a cohesive ideology. In Professor Moyo’s case, there is no such thing.
I cannot be part of an outfit whose political footing is unknown. For now, the professor’s platform and springboard are hatred of Mugabe and disaffection with the MDC. A party or movement based on these two things does not auto-matically qualify as a viable alternative.
For me, the purpose of the Third Way should be ideologically rooted in the unshakeable desire of its principles to use pure but localised Third Way policies to lift every man, woman and child out of poverty. Even that should just be a starting point.
A Zimbabwean Third Way should also have coherent and realistic policies on how to give the long-suffering people of this country sustained prosperity, making the nation as self-sufficient in as many areas as possible.
Its policies should have the end objective of maintaining high education and health standards. It should also be ideologically opposed to budget deficits, wasteful government expenditure.
It should be ideologically opposed to telling private enterprise how to run its affairs unless this is called for by a national imperative. Even then, interference by government in private enterprise and private lives should be brief, corrective and non-intrusive. There is much more that a Third Way in Zimbabwe can, and should do.
All evidence on the ground at the moment shows that the professor has put no thought into this and until such time as a cohesive ideology that has the capacity to transform this nation materially and morally is found by the professor’s movement, I will remain an outsider.
Then of course there is the issue of the man himself. While I agree that people make mistakes and then change their ways later on, there are several areas I would want clarified before I decide to throw my lot in with this “force”.
There is the issue of the Ford Foundation, for instance. The Foundation employed the professor in Nairobi, Kenya, before he joined the Zanu PF government.
There has been talk of lawsuits and misappropriation of funds by the professor from the Foundation. A court case was widely reported on just after the professor became a minister. What is the true story? Has the issue been resolved, and how? Has Moyo been cleared of the charges?
That is an area one should be satisfied with before joining up with Moyo.
Then there is the issue of his time with Zanu PF. Does the man subscribe to the Zanu PF Marxist-Leninist ideology, which has been discredited the world over and which, wherever it has been practised in the way Zanu PF does, has led to increasing poverty and government unaccountability?
Is he seeking to create another Zanu PF with this Third Way?
I would also be concerned about his promotion and defence of Posa and Aippa. The nation was under siege and one could see the need to hold journalists accountable for what they write in light of blatant lies told to promote an agenda that was of no economic, moral or social benefit to the nation.
But what is the professor’s position on media freedom as a concept? In the absence of compelling and special circumstances such as the Zimbabwe government was dealing with in coming up with these laws, would he still believe that this is the way the press should be treated in a free society?
Is it his position that these are ideal laws that should outlive Zanu PF and its problems?
The answers to these vexing issues will tell us all exactly what the professor stands for. And because I do not yet have the answers to these questions, I am not part of the movement the professor is putting together.
For me, an organisation whose driving motive is simply the removal of President Mugabe from power is a non-starter.
I believe that, with the right kind of motivated leadership and policies, Zimbabwe is capable of stunning the world within three to four years of a new government taking over from Zanu PF.
Sadly, evidence on the ground does not point to Professor Moyo and his movement as the catalysts for a sustained recovery and prosperity of this nation.
* Denford Magora is a Harare-based advertising executive.