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Lessons Mugabe failed to heed from Tanzania

Mugabe is the national chairman of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), and has been president of Zimbabwe since its independence from foreign rule in 1980.

Tsvangirai is the national chairman of the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T), and has been conjoined (so to speak) to Mugabe as the country’s prime minister since 2009 when the two were ‘talk-threatened’ into a power-sharing government by the international community, in the wake of highly disputatious elections.

Zimbabwe's on the eve of yet another general election in 2013, and the country's already suffering the agonising throes of political divisions. Mugabe wants the elections soonest, with himself yet again as presidential candidate.

He's already been endorsed by ZANU-PF as its hallowed candidate, all contraindications notwithstanding! Their objective is to exit the power-sharing arrangements soonest through electoral processes — forgetting so soon that they got to the awkward GNU mode via elections!

On the other hand, the Tsvangirai camp's anxious that elections shouldn't be rushed unless and until key reforms are agreed upon and implemented through ongoing constitution-making.

This brings me back to the Sekeremayi tour of Tanzania a few weeks ago. It isn’t clear whether the man’s visit was for and on behalf of the GNU in particular and the people of Zimbabwe in general, or was for the narrower interests of President Mugabe and his political cronies, among whom Sekeremayi has been for aeons! But, no matter…

The minister was received by Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete in the nation’s legislative capital Dodoma. Ostensibly, the visit was part of a tour of member countries of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), to update SADC leaders on political developments in Zimbabwe. [Nipashe: May 28, 2012].

In particular, Sekeremayi expounded upon progress of the ongoing constitutional review, and its Government’s 'acceptance' of the international Open Government Partnership (OGP) aimed at securing concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to make government more open, effective and accountable.

Apparently, Zimbabwe's already miles ahead of Tanzania in the Constitutional Review stakes, having already come out with a First Draft that's being debated by stakeholders. For its part, Tanzania's in the preliminary stages. A presidential Constitutional Review Commission is in place to garner the views of stakeholders preparatory to further action.

If it was only out of magnanimity more than anything else, President Kikwete — the gentleman he is — showered accolades upon Zimbabwe for its efforts to reach permanent/lasting accommodation among its different political parties, leaders and other stakeholders. In that regard, he said Tanzanians would strengthen their solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe…

Fair enough; after all, what’s good for one SADC member must also be good for all SADC members… But then, some interesting questions arise… Is the state Zimbabwe is in today — and, indeed, as are many other countries in Africa — the result(s) of developments/circumstances which were inevitable, unavoidable and, therefore, beyond human control?

In other words: would Zimbabwe be in the unenviable situation it's in today had its leaders, spearheaded in large measure by President Mugabe during the 32 years he’s been in near-absolute power, acted differently? Would it have become a virtual pariah state if, for instance, the man had learned and heeded lessons from Tanzania, where state leadership changes have been regular and relatively democratic — albeit under the same political party? Arguably, this attribute has partly contributed to the political stability and security which has characterized Tanzania since independence in the early 1960s.

Today, Mugabe reportedly fears that his ‘Zanu-PF will disintegrate without him… that his succession remains a delicate issue which, if not handled carefully, might result in chaos or civil war… He’s the glue that has been holding this country together!’ [Sapa-AFP: May 20, 2012].

Mugabe himself says ‘I want to retire, but I can’t! [See Aislinn Laing, Johannesburg: BST May 21, 2012].  The Standard and AFP reports on May 21, 2012, quoted a former Mugabe Defence Minister, Enos Nkala, that Zimbabwe's Mugabe ‘says he’s tired of ruling… he wants to retire but fears chaos if he retires; that his party would disintegrate…’

Where does all that leave Zimbabwe, Zimbabweans, SADC members — and other good governance stakeholders? It’s a pity that leaders the likes of Mugabe have miserably failed to take advantage of the great lessons that are freely available from Tanzania’s  Book. Cheers!  israellyimo@yahoo.com

 

AS  the  October  general elections  draw  ...

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Author: KARL LYIMO

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