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Beyond the Zanu-PF/ ANC communique

11 Sep 2020 at 07:21hrs | Views
THE vagueness of the joint Zanu-PF/ African National Congress (ANC) communique on the bilateral meeting convened in Harare on Wednesday hides more than it reveals.

Thanks to the subsequent media briefings in Harare and at Waterkloof Airforce Base by Obert Mpofu of Zanu-PF and Elias Magashule of ANC, we now know a bit more than meets the eye.

It is evident that these were not ordinary regular talks as some would like us to believe. Mpofu had this to say after the meeting, "...look I have attended several meetings in my career as a politician and as a government representative and this was the frankest, most candid engagement that I have experienced'.

It has been long since I heard the word frankest but Magashule also acknowledged that the meeting was "very candid, frank, robust and open". Frankest discussions cannot be adequately captured in an almost generic communiqué on usual problems. After such a "no-holds-barred" meeting, the ANC visiting delegation said haticharari (we will not sleep) and travelled in the night.

The issue of human rights violations was discussed but not captured in the communiqué. Magashule admitted: "On issues of human rights, we have said we are liberation movements and this is what we fought for and that we were fighting against colonialism and, therefore, as liberation movements we should by all means respect human rights, we are the first to say we respect freedom of association, freedom of speech and all the basic freedoms which are there universally". He went further to show that they still needed to "continuously engage so that we [ANC and Zanu-PF] have one understanding in terms of human rights and am sure we have agreed and that's why I said our discussions were very frank and open and we will keep on interacting".

The issues of elections and legitimacy were partly discussed. Mpofu was quick to say that they had spoken about the people's desires but as Zanu-PF their point of view is that such aspirations are measured through an election. Mpofu then went on to say "we were given more than two-thirds majority" in the 2018 general election. Magashule later made reference to the need to recognise that Zimbabwe was coming from a recent election so that we bring peace and stability in that province [slip of the tongue].

This implies that it is difficult to bring peace and stability if electoral issues are not discussed in a frank manner.

Reader, the emphasis on the need to bring peace and stability is an acknowledgement that the country is neither peaceful nor stable. Remember, part of the delegation was the ANC's NEC chairperson of peace and stability.

It is clear that the issue of whether there is a crisis or not was discussed. Mpofu said: "We [in the meeting] also tried to avoid using the word crisis because there is no crisis in Zimbabwe". However, the ANC secretary-general went on to say: "I am not saying there is no cricis in Zimbabwe. I am saying there are challenges that are serious in Zimbabwe as there are challenges in many of parts of our countries, whether it is in South Africa, Namibia, and Tanzania".

Magashule seems to be saying that no matter the characterisation "such challenges must be confronted". The ANC strategy here is to try and soft-land Zanu-PF by giving false equivalence. This becomes bare in that Magashule does not say the delegation will be proceeding to Namibia or Tanzania but to return to Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe alone. Why? There are serious challenges and ANC is "not saying there is no cricis in Zimbabwe".

Reader, of interest is that Magashule describes the nature of these challenges as "domestic". This varies from Zanu-PF's everyday narrative of an external and imperial enemy.

As Magashule later articulated, "introspection and renewal of our [Liberation] values" was discussed. This means either or both parties have gone rogue and veered off the liberation principles. However, the person who feels more comfortable to say this in public is Magashule.

He went further: "We have agreed that at the centre of whatever we do as liberation movements should be our people, people of Zimbabwe, people of South Africa. Those people who are still marginalised. Those people who are still poor, those people who are still jobless, no water, no shelter...that's our work as liberation movements". One can add that the issue of plunder of mineral resources was discussed. The situation described here is dire.

Related to above, is the stability and factionalism within the liberation parties. Mpofu explained that they had "agreed that there are detractors among us'. The Zanu-PF secretary for administration also made reference to the G40 faction as a destabiliser and he called them fugitives.

Reader, the ANC also made it clear that they discussed the need to meet other political parties and stakeholders. Magashule said: "We have agreed as ANC that we will come back to engage other stakeholders and political parties so that we understand and comprehend the challenges".

He confidently repeated, "We [ANC] are definitely going to meet them...we have informed Zanu-PF and there is no problem about it". He envisages the meeting to be autonomous as he asserted that, "We [ANC] will arrange the meeting and the meeting is not arranged by Zanu-PF". For the avoidance of doubt he said give us two to three weeks.

Phillan Zamchiya is a human rights defender and writes here in his personal capacity.

Source - newsday
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