HomeEditorial CommentSunday Opinion: Time for a true people’s movement

Sunday Opinion: Time for a true people’s movement

On February 1 2015 The Standard reported that Zimbabweans from across the political divide, civil society, business and churches are warming up to the proposed National Convergence Platform (NCP), a dialogue of citizens with the aim to rescue Zimbabwe from the economic turmoil the country is in today.

By Pius Wakatama

The indaba is the brainchild of a number of concerned citizens who chose Bishop Sebastian Bakare as the convener.

These concerned citizens have reportedly met with church leaders, political actors, civil society, business leaders, students, women’s groups and ordinary citizens to prepare for the great indaba that is expected to usher in a new establishment to bring back prosperity and good life to Zimbabwe.

Bishop Bakare is reported as saying, “What has emerged from the nationwide consultations is consensus that our country is crying outloud for dialogue and we are, therefore, in discussion with key stakeholders as we plan to hold a national convention of concerned citizens under the theme, Unity in Diversity, whose objective is to define a clear national plan of action for dealing with the political and economic crisis that grips Zimbabwe.”

Bakare said, “The NCP is a non-partisan platform that seeks to enhance national convergence and the restoration of national unity, cohesion and tolerance to the Zimbabwean society. We are now in the process of consulting with various groups and individuals across the national spectrum in order to set up a National Steering Committee, which shall be charged with the responsibility of planning for the convention.”

Bishop Bakare and those planning this indaba are to be congratulated. Their efforts will bring hope to the majority who are suffering and are now disillusioned and have almost lost hope.

Whatever trust they had in the opposition to rescue them from their now untenable poverty and oppression has now faded. When you try to discuss the future with Zimbabweans these days all you get is a helpless shaking of the head with palms turned upwards and, “Mwari ndiye anoziva”. (Only God knows).

Opposition parties are in such disarray that they are in no position to lift Zimbabwe out of the quagmire that it finds itself in.

The idea of them coming together to form a united front to fight Zanu PF’s hegemony now seems to be a pipedream.

The much-vaunted grand coalition of the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) breakaway factions has failed to take-off as fast as the parties’ followers expected.

It is reported that the two factions have postponed their joint congress to elect office holders for the new united party, which had been slated for March, due to dogfights that have erupted in their camps as party leaders vie for positions. The congress is now likely to be held in August, if ever.

It is as if the parties have been infiltrated by Zanu PF operatives or by politicians whose only interests are positions, power and the attendant wealth, just as those in Zanu PF.

With the war raging in Zanu PF and that party now mortally wounded, one would have expected the opposition to capitalise on this by going into overdrive to cement their unity so as to pull the nation together for a coup-de-grace.

But no; for them, it is business as usual. They are busy holding rallies and telling the people to hold protest demonstrations. Why are they not organising the people, as true leaders and leading them in peaceful demonstrations from the front themselves?

It is clear now that the opposition is confused and cannot be relied on to lead us to the Zimbabwe we want. In an interview with an online publication, Sekai Holland, MDC Renewal Team leader said, Zanu PF’s internal squabbles have “overshadowed” the opposition, making it difficult for the parties to plan for the future.

She went on to say, “Our leaders should be concentrating their efforts on delivery and building on the peace initiatives set up under the government of national unity. But instead, we are all transfixed by what is happening in the ruling party.”

She also said President Mugabe’s fixation with petty party politics at the expense of national development has left “all of us in limbo”.

Holland summed up the situation clearly. The opposition has failed to capitalise on the internecine war raging in Zanu PF.

Instead of looking at it as being God-sent, they are mesmerised into inaction by the flames licking the mortally-wounded Zanu PF body politic.

This confirms what has been evident to some of us for some time — that our opposition political parties are not capable of leading us to the Zimbabwe we want. This is why I am thanking God for the new people-led initiative led by Bishop Bakare.

Bishop Bakare is the right person to lead this initiative as convener. His love for the people of Zimbabwe is what led him into the priesthood in the first place.

The attendant struggles he went through in his pursuit of justice, freedom and peace for Zimbabwe needs no recounting. He himself says, “I always try to be on the side of the poor and oppressed and those who, before God, are doing what is right.”

For the people’s indaba to succeed, political parties should not be invited. However, political leaders of all parties should be individually invited in their personal capacities only.

Civil society organisations, business, labour and other organisations can be invited as such but their representatives must speak in their personal capacities, expressing their personal views.

When things were really bad after the elections of 2008, the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA) organised the Save Zimbabwe Campaign with the same goals as the National Convergence Platform.

However, its only success is that it organised the Highfield prayer meeting where MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai and civil society leaders including Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitunal Assembly (NCA) were badly beaten and arrested.

This raised the concern of Sadc and led to the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which in turn led to the Government of National Unity (GNU).

Christian Alliance failed in that it had invited political parties as organisations. Zanu-PF outrightly refused to attend.

In the middle of the dialoguing, Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway faction of the MDC, accused the Christian Alliance of being aligned to the MDC-T at his party’s expense.

His party, therefore, withdrew from the dialogue before it was over. After a while it became clear that, indeed, the CA had become aligned to one political party since some of its officers featured at MDC-T rallies, wearing party regalia. Two of its officials even became election candidates for the MDC-T.

It is my hope that out of this indaba will come a true people’s movement, led by real patriots, who will take us to the Zimbabwe we so much want and yearn for. United we stand and divided we fall.

The people are ready for unity. All they need is to organise themselves and to choose selfless leaders from among themselves. By the 2018 elections — if not before — they will be able to bring about the Zimbabwe we want.

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