By Lloyd Msipa
THERE is an old Chinese proverb that says ‘May you live in interesting times’. That is true for Zimbabwe today.
The decision by the former finance minister Dr Simba Makoni to take the bull by the horns and run for presidency in Zimbabwe has introduced a new and exciting dimension to the Zimbabwean body politic.
It is not so much Makoni’s decision to stand up and be counted, but more the symbolism of his decision to challenge President Robert Mugabe.
Makoni is coming from the Zanu PF supreme decision-making body, the politburo. This should tell all and sundry that Mugabe is human after all and can be challenged. Before Makoni’s symbolic and brave decision, grown men in Zanu PF would literally quake in their boots at the very prospect of taking on Mugabe.
It is, therefore, exciting to know that Zimbabwe still has men who are not Mugabe’s wives - to quote the former MP for Sunningdale, Margaret Dongo.
Before Makoni’s announcement to run for President, most Zimbabweans were in a state of disillusionment following the collapse of the reunification talks of the two MDC factions -- one led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the other by Professor Arthur Mutambara.
It is a known fact that Zimbabweans are suffering. Zimbabwe has become a terrible place to live both for the rich and the poor. Those with money and those without face the same fate in that their money is either inaccessible in the banks or they do not have it. One’s ability to purchase basic commodities is curtailed either way.
The government line touted in every radio and television station in Zimbabwe placing the blame for Zimbabwe’s economic woes on the door of either Tony Blair (now Gordon Brown) or George Bush (Barak Obama or Hillary Clinton next year if the status quo is allowed to continue), is now wearing rather thin.
Zimbabwe has been on a downward spiral for several years, unabated. Zimbabweans, both at home and abroad, are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Attempts by countries like Libya to help have come to naught as our situation requires more that a symptom-solution. We need to overhaul the way we do politics.
Makoni’s press statement pretty much hit the nail on the head and summarised the real cause of the Zimbabwe crisis.
Zimbabwe’s problems go deeper than just ‘targeted sanctions’ touted by every government official who wants to remain on Mugabe’s good side. Zimbabwe has deep-rooted political problems emanating from political illegitimacy of Mugabe’s regime, and its delinquent economic policies.
No amount of ‘Sunrise’ projects by the Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono, can solve the Zimbabwean problem. Mugabe has been the leader of Zimbabwe for 28 years and Zimbabwe is no closer to becoming a normal country than it was five years ago. Zimbabwe is now a nation of queues and shortages. Those born after 1980 and possibly now married and with children, only know a life of queues and shortages of basic commodities and probably believe it is normal to queue-up.
Zimbabwe did not get to where it is today through the efforts of Mugabe alone. We need to realise that government ministers have been complicit in the downfall of Zimbabwe. Complicit how, one might ask? By constantly failing to challenge the leadership in Zanu PF, they have led Mugabe to project himself as superhuman. This, by the way, is also beginning to manifest itself in the MDC, hence their unsuitability to govern as an entity.
The prospect of challenging Mugabe after serving in Zanu PF was unheard of before Makoni decided to step up to the plate. To most people in Zanu PF, Mugabe ishumba inotyisa and the very thought of telling him to step down and give other youthful leaders a chance to rule was something unheard of.
Whilst I have the greatest respect for Mugabe, his leadership has passed its “sell by date”. He is 83-years-old and will be turning 84 later this month.
It is in this light that Makoni’s decision to challenge the status quo is historic. Those that have been muttering their disapproval of Mugabe’s leadership in the comfort of their living rooms have now been presented with an opportunity to come out of hiding and back this initiative if Zimbabwe is to be salvaged.
It is quite obvious that both MDCs have run out of steam and neither seems to have a clue as to whether they are coming or going. The Makoni initiative has presented Zimbabweans with a Third Option of salvaging any residual dignity that remains of our nation.
The Makoni initiative will not, and should not, operate to exclude anybody whose mind and intentions are progressive. There are those that have been quick to dismiss the Makoni initiative as ill-timed. Some have even gone to the extent of questioning his “electability”.
I only have one question for them all. What is the alternative? Morgan Tsvangirai or President Mugabe? Hell no! Zimbabwe cannot afford another year of economic and political chaos. Right now, Makoni has presented a Third Option as the only solution to Zimbabwe’s lock jam. A personal sacrifice most will not have the guts to make.
Zimbabwe needs a creditable change. Time has shown and will continue to show that the solution to Zimbabwe’s problem will not come from Zanu PF alone or the MDC alone but from its sons and daughters coming from both the ruling party and the opposition. A Third Way one might say.
As some have rightfully pointed out: “One day in politics is a long time.” Therefore, a lot can happen and will happen between now and 29th of March 2008. Apathy is no longer an option for Zimbabweans. Vanhu vave kufa nenzara. Zimbabweans have been reduced to beggars and paupers in their own country and abroad.
In the Makoni initiative, our glass is now half full and not half empty, which is the difference between optimism and pessimism. Zimbabweans have been presented with an opportunity to change the political direction of the country and bring it back to the community of nations.
Do we fill the glass up or empty it? The choice is ours.