[DEBATE] : Zim: Meaninglessness of independence
azwell at ecsecc.org
Mon Jun 30 09:55:51 BST 2008
Comrade Patrick and others,
I find this on Zimonline, today.
Quite a mouthful, but has rather some very startling contradictions and
exposes, on both Mugabe and Morgan. Could it just be true that Mugabe
believes what is said below?
Zimbabwe 2008: Meaninglessness of independence
by Mutumwa Mawere Monday 30 June 2008
OPINION: June 27, 2008, will remain in the annals of Zimbabwean history as
the day of great betrayal of the promise of independence.
Given the history and role of President Robert Mugabe in defining and
shaping the post-colonial political and economic agenda of Zimbabwe, it is
important that a critical examination be made of whether in fact key
foundational principles necessary for a democratic order ever existed in
post colonial Zimbabwe.
The events of the last 90 days have exposed the fragility of the
post-colonial democratic order and the apparent meaninglessness of the
national democratic revolution.
In its proper construction, independence is the self-government of a nation
or state by its citizens generally exercising sovereignty.
The noble idea that informed the liberation struggle that from the womb of
colonialism would emerge a new Zimbabwe in which a government of the people
and by the people would be created exclusively by citizens through an
electoral system has been irreparably shattered.
Mugabe has demonstrated that to him independence in post-colonial Zimbabwe
was never meant to confer unfettered powers to citizens to make independent
In fact, it is now been established that for as long as he is alive, there
is no real point in citizens exercising their sovereign right to elect
someone other than those deemed to be the true owners of the so-called
With the inauguration of Mugabe for his sixth term following the
announcement of the results of the one man run-off presidential election, it
is now fact that Zimbabweans are not truly free to make independence choices
on who should govern the country.
Until the run-off elections, Zimbabwe could pretend that it was a democratic
state and, in fact, Mugabe has taken pride in boasting that the
post-colonial order was superior to the colonial order in so far as the
universality of citizens access to fundamental civil rights.
Even Mugabe is acutely aware that it would be wrong to describe his new
government as originating from the genuine expression of the will of the
In a sense, it cannot be far fetched to assert that the difference between
the colonial and post-colonial eras is the same in terms of the alienation
of the majority of the citizens in deciding the political future.
In 1980, Mugabe made history by becoming the first black leader of Zimbabwe
and in 2008; he has made history once again as a leader who ran away with
the baton even when citizens had pronounced that they wanted a break from
For the first time, Mugabe will attend the African Union Summit in Egypt
arguing for a minimalist approach to democracy and pushing for the
proposition that Africa has not put in place generally agreed standards of
democracy to be the judge on the unfortunate developments in Zimbabwe.
He will no doubt make the case that Zimbabwe is better than many African
countries and, therefore, the starting point must not be Zimbabwe. In the
circumstances, it would be naïve to expect anything progressive from the AU.
Mugabe may well argue that if the West could accept and endorse the Kenyan
bizarre formula in which the winner and loser were forced to cut a deal,
there would be no reason why he cannot negotiate like President Mwai Kibaki
from a position of strength. In any event, he can point to the numerous
examples showing the Wests hypocrisy on the question of democracy.
For the last 28 years, it has not been possible to expose the contempt with
which Mugabe has for the democratic order. He has sought to argue that
democracy is not so high a value for Zimbabweans to subordinate political
sovereignty as he defines it.
It has been argued by ZANU PF that the sovereignty of Zimbabwe is under
threat justifying the suspension of civil liberties. The absurdity of the
situation is that the elections were held under a state of emergency
environment in which the incumbent President monopolised the political space
and still had the audacity to call it a free and fair election.
Mugabe will no doubt try to convince the world that Zimbabwe is engaged in a
war against the western world over the control and ownership of the
By framing the election as an extension of the liberation war, he will
continue to argue that Africa should be at one with him and should embrace
his brand of managed democracy.
The only problem that the veteran leader faces is that of legitimacy. Many
leaders with the same disposition would not have made the mistake of getting
into a race that they end up losing.
What cannot be changed is that Mugabe lost the March 29 election and sought
to change the hearts and minds of citizens through state-sponsored violence.
This loss will continue to haunt him personally and it is not clear how he
will attempt to rewrite the history.
For the first time Mugabe will face his peers in Egypt who may have no
better democratic credentials apologising for losing an election that his
administration was in control of. It is ironic that the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) only took 24 hours to count the votes in the run-off
elections and yet could not demonstrate the same efficiency during the first
In responding to the fact that he went into the run-off election as an
underdog, Mugabe has already made the case that indeed he is an underdog in
the face of imperialist forces determined to replace him with an alleged
By framing what is simply an election as a battle between the West and a
tiny but rich country, Mugabe who still holds the view that he is the sole
and reliable custodian of Zimbabwean sovereignty believes that the ballot is
less important than the protection of sovereignty.
He has made the case that he deserves another term to complete the economic
liberation struggle that will see the total emancipation of the country.
In making the argument he is obviously oblivious to the fact that during his
28-year rule, no significant foreign company has pulled out of Zimbabwe
suggesting that his administration has failed to come up with a sustainable
alternative to the inherited ownership structure.
Many foreign investors have largely discounted Mugabes rhetoric and are
confidently investing in the countrys rich mineral resources.
If Mugabe was a man of his word, why would foreign investors primarily from
the very countries that are threatening sanctions find the courage that
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has not yet mastered to do business with
Notwithstanding the rhetoric, Mugabe is cognisant of the fact that Zimbabwe
cannot feed itself without the financial support of the Western world. To
what extent has he enhanced the independence of Zimbabwe? Has he been a good
protector of the sovereignty of the country? What practical measures has he
put in place over the last 28 years to promote private sector investment in
the country? How viable and sustainable is the indigenisation/empowerment
project supervised by Mugabe?
He remains in power but evidently powerless to change the fortunes of the
country. The economy is on its knees and there is no evidence that there is
any real plan of action to address the serious economic challenges that
Mugabe can seek to argue that the land reform programme is vulnerable if he
were to step down but the reality on the ground confirms that the economic
situation may have been exacerbated by the manner in which the programme has
Even if all the productive assets were to be transferred to indigenous
people, there is no mechanism in place to suggest that the country will not
be worse off than it already is.
What really was the promise of independence? Zimbabweans find themselves
more vulnerable today than at independence. It must be accepted that
Zimbabwe does not exist in a vacuum and political arguments without
addressing the concrete economic realities facing the country will not
advance any national interest.
Mugabe will never accept any responsibility for causing the economic and
political crisis and, therefore, any proposals for a national unity
government must be understood in the context of the values and principles
that have informed the policies and programmes of his administration since
It is unlikely that he can be persuaded to accept the proposition that
sovereignty is meaningless without the existence of a democratic
Any new order will have to be premised on an acceptance by Tsvangirai that
the status quo ante remains and the disastrous economic policies will be
Mugabe holds the view that his attempts to emancipate the country from the
purported grip of imperialism risk being undermined if Tsvangirai becomes
What is ironic is that Mugabe would have no problem working with Tsvangirai
if the latter can assist in removing the targeted sanctions regime.
Why would Mugabe want sanctions to be lifted while at the same time seeking
to argue that he does not want any economic engagement with the West? Could
Mugabe be envious of the relationship between Tsvangirai and the Western
It is evident that Mugabe believes that Tsvangirai does not have the
qualities of a leader.
Whatever happens, Mugabe will not just vanish away because deep in his veins
he does not believe that there is anyone better to protect the independence
of the country.
Mugabe was elected in 1980 to deliver on the promise but regrettably by his
own version, the country cannot sustain itself without external
Clearly it is opportunistic for him to seek to argue that he needs a new
mandate to do what he has not been able to do for the last 28 years.
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