HomeEditorial CommentComment: Don't Forgive And Forget

Comment: Don’t Forgive And Forget

ALL good things are possible,” Zanu PF told us ad nauseam during the election run-off campaign last month.

But that was evidently a mirage. Zanu PF is incapable of delivering anything except bromides designed to calm a restive population. It offers no practical policies to ensure economic recovery and sits upon its coerced and battered majority with proprietorial satisfaction as if that was the chief function of its existence.

If it has a policy at all, it is one in which the MDC will be required to ask others for help. But that doesn’t stop it oafishly insulting its would-be rescuers. The old rule that when in a hole, stop digging, evidently doesn’t apply here.

The MDC headed by Morgan Tsvangirai is obviously aware of the task government expects of it and has very sensibly declined to assist. President Mugabe referred on his return from Egypt to the irreversibility of land acquisition. Government spokesmen have also demanded the closure of “hostile” radio stations and the lifting of sanctions as matters for early discussion.

They need to be disabused of these concerns at an early stage. A land audit is top of the MDC’s agenda which the public endorsed in the March election. This is designed to uncover multiple-farm ownership and illegal seizures. To leave land in the hands of a criminal cabal with no interest in farming whatsoever would be a betrayal of clear electoral undertakings.

The MDC has gone out of its way to reassure legal beneficiaries. All that is needed here is an impartial and forensic survey.

As to “pirate” radio stations, they are a direct product of the government’s failure to honour the Supreme Court ruling eight years ago striking down ZBC’s choking control of the airwaves. ZBC has been used as a tool of partisan propaganda, and, leaving aside unprofessional journalism, its hate language is a blatant violation of its public mandate and more recently of Sadc electoral rules.

Mugabe appears to think the opposition can magically wish away the sanctions that were imposed in 2002 as a direct response to political violence and electoral manipulation.

Even as he was demanding relief on this front, suspected Zanu PF militia gangs in Ruwa and Gokwe were punishing refugees from political violence. The terror teams have continued to terrorise villagers and to set up illegal roadblocks on country roads. At the same time the body of MDC employee Joshua Bakacheza was found burnt and mutilated on a farm in Beatrice after an extensive search. The MDC says that brings the total to 110.

Sanctions will now be tightened. That is the price we all pay for the greed and brutality of people who cannot let go of power.

Mugabe has been celebrating his “victory” in the run-off. But even the most obtuse supporter will know in their heart of hearts that this was a pyrrhic victory. It was obtained by cruelty and manipulation. Now we have to face the consequences: international isolation with even Zimbabwe’s one-time friends refusing to recognise the outcome; empty shelves as production falters and factories close; and a bitterly divided nation most of which is certainly not saying “Thank you” for the punishment meted out to them.

Apart from the pain of political retribution, there is the agony of an inflation rate spawned by a regime that thinks it can spend its way out of difficulty.

The MDC, despite its pronouncements, will soon end up at the negotiating table. But it should bear in mind the way its deal with Zanu PF on the Electoral Act, Posa and Aippa in January provided a harvest of thorns. They escaped a manipulative photo opportunity on Saturday designed to assist Thabo Mbeki at the G8. There will be other traps along the way.

But when the time comes to talk, we will want to know that political prisoners have been released and political villains prosecuted. And that the media is not being abused by one party at the expense of another. If there is to be healing it cannot be on the basis of forgetting all that occurred since March 29. Justice is also paramount.

More than ever now we need an economic recovery plan that is not hostage to the crocodiles among the political leadership; a public media that permits a diversity of views; public service chiefs who are professional in the execution of their duties; a court system that hasn’t been suborned; security establishments that serve and protect the public; and a constitution that protects everybody from arbitrary powers.

The 28-year dictatorship is passing into history. Its institutional failure is palpable. We must all help it on its way.


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