In an impassioned response to my article (The Standard, July 19 2014) entitled, Political patronage has destroyed Zimbabwe, John Sigauke accused me of being uninspiring and advocating for regime change from within Zanu PF.
Sunday Opinion with Pius Wakatama
In the opening paragraphs of his response entitled ‘Regime change comes from the ballot’, he said, “I have never met Pius Wakatama, but for a long time, he has been one of my favourite writers or columnists. Unfortunately he had disappeared into thin air for a while and I actually missed his writings. I recently discovered that he is back, not with his usual original penning dexterity though. I guess he is getting on in years. His writings, which used to be a reading therapy for me, despite our ideological differences, no longer inspire at all.”
First of all, I should make it quite clear that I am not writing to simply defend myself or to convert my critic from his erroneous thinking. Rather, I am writing to protect the many simple minded Zimbabweans out there, who might be misled by his feeble reasoning and his simple but rather good English.
I really thank Sigauke for those inspiring words about how my writing used to be a reading therapy for him and about my “original penning dexterity”. He is very right when he says I am getting on in years and this has affected my writing. After all, I am now 75 years of age and I started writing in the early 1960s.
However, my writing has not changed in terms of “penning dexterity”, as he claims. Many readers are telling me that the dexterity and wit, as well as the inspiration, is still there. My writing has changed very much, to him, because what he calls “our ideological differences” have now come to the fore in his mind. You see, due to old age, which makes one wise, my writing is now more incisive since I am no longer as afraid and careful as I was when I was young. This seems to make Sigauke rather uncomfortable and uneasy.
Indeed, I had disappeared into thin air as Sigauke says. I stopped writing newspaper articles soon after the Government of National Unity (GNU) came into being.
This was because I believed that, through the GNU and the proposed reforms, Zimbabwe was going to be transformed into a peaceful, just and prosperous democratic state and therefore, there was now no need to continue with criticisms.
Unfortunately, this did not happen. Both Zanu PF and the MDC did not have the capacity for such a task. Instead of putting the people of Zimbabwe first, they advanced their own agendas of self-interest and held flawed elections before any real reforms were in place.
In the first place, Zanu PF did not agree to the talks, mediated by Sadc, out of the belief that this was the right thing to do for Zimbabwe. They only agreed because they had miserably lost the 2008 elections to the MDC and were in a corner. If they had won the elections they would not have agreed to the talks.
They happily accepted to participate and to sign the GNU because they saw it as a way to legitimately retain power. This was the best way out of their dilemma. They would continue to rule with the respect and support of the African Union and the international community. They were going to play the game in such a way that nothing was going to change.
The MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai went into the talks apparently in good faith but were outwitted by Thabo Mbeki, the Sadc mediator. The MDC had won the elections but, instead of driving a hard bargain, they allowed the presidency and all the important security ministries to go to Zanu PF. The only important ministry they got was the Ministry of Finance.
When they tried to present any real arguments, Mbeki would tell them to remember that this was “an African solution for an African problem” and they should comply. This, of course, insinuated that the MDC would rather listen to whites than their fellow black Africans. The MDC gave in to that one and we got into the Government of National Unity, with the real power still in the hands of Zanu PF.
I will not bore readers with details of how the adoration of the masses and the taste of tinsel power soon wowed the MDC into forgetting all about the terms of the agreement. They dived into the July 2013 elections without the implementation of agreed reforms. They had not even seen the Voters Roll. The result was that Zanu PF retained power and Zimbabwe is back to square one.
The respected Catholic Justice and Peace Commission Zimbabwe, which fought hard against colonial rule, declared that the elections, which Zanu PF won, were not credible “due to government’s failure to fully implement agreed electoral, media and security sector reforms”. The only change there is in the country is that the economy is now finished and the suffering of the people has become worse.
Civil servants are receiving pay slips without pay dates. This is why I decided to start writing again, for whatever it is worth. Therefore, for Sigauke to say that I am writing in praise of Professor Jonathan Moyo, in order to get personal favours is the height of madness. Anyway, I forgive him because he does not know me. We have never met.
My political ideology has been shaped by Christian theology, which places high value on the practice and protection of human rights, which, in turn, is inherent in the democratic system of government. Unfortunately, I have no idea what Sigauke’s ideology, which he says is different from mine, is about. What I can safely conclude is that his ideology must be anti-democracy and is against human rights since it is different from mine which champions democratic governance and the protection of human rights.
Sigauke said I tried cunningly, without success, to set Zanu PF members against each other. This is totally untrue. All I am trying to do is to ask those members of Zanu PF, who are not selfish, greedy, cruel and violent, to search their consciences through introspection and see whether what their party is doing is in the best interests of Zimbabwe.
They should then work hard to bring about the much needed transformation, from within the party. If that happens then there will be no need for regime change, but if that results in regime change, Zimbabweans will definitely fill the streets drumming, singing and dancing. Is this too hard for Sigauke to comprehend and appreciate?
In his concluding remarks Sigauke said, “Democracy dictates that regimes be changed through the ballot. Wakatama is now certain that the horses [MDCs] that he has been backing all these years, will never win an election in Zimbabwe, thus he now wants the regime change to come from within.”
Unfortunately, in Zimbabwe, regime change has failed to come through the ballot box because of massive rigging, intimidation and violence.
It is true that my sympathies have been with the MDC, however, not for the reasons that he advances. My support will go to any political party, including Zanu PF, which promises real democracy to Zimbabwe. This, the MDC did until they lost direction during the GNU.
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