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You can't 'negotiate' for reforms with a criminal government!

13 Apr 2023 at 08:48hrs | Views
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Let us say, for instance, information minister Monica Mutsvangwa - in her press conference a week ago, responding to the Gold Mafia exposé being aired by Al Jazeera - had signaled that the Zimbabwe government was to negotiate with all those named and shown in the documentary, in order for them to stop their money laundering and gold smuggling criminal activities.

How was the nation going to react to this statement?

Was there not going to be widespread outrage - raising an understandable uproar?


Surely, what sense would there be in negotiating with a criminal to reform his ways?

Is that not why we actually have prisons - which are considered appropriate 'correctional institutions' - where a measure of force and punishment, through the revocation of certain rights, is an integral component of this 'reformation process'.

Quite frankly, I have never come across anyone who has successfully managed to convince a hardened unrepentant criminal into changing his ways, through 'negotiations'.

What I, then, find most baffling is how on mother earth anyone, with their marbles all in place, would actually believe that 'negotiating' with the ZANU PF government into implementing any meaningful political, electoral and security sector reforms, would work?

Is this not just plain silly, at best - or the height of disingenuity, at worst?

Surely, who does not know that the ruling elite in Zimbabwe are not at all interested in reforming themselves out of power - as there is just too much to lose?

Is that not the reason they would rather have targeted sanctions imposed on them by other countries (for over two decades now) - than implementing any real democratic changes that would see genuinely free, fair and credible elections in the country?

In fact, is that not why those in power would rather spill the blood of hundreds of innocent Zimbabweans - as happened in 2008, after then dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe was defeated by the late MDC-T leader Morgan Richard Tsvangirai?

These are hardened criminals, who would go to any lengths, in order to hold on to power - as not doing so presents a far darker and terrifying prospect for them.

Who does not know that, having been in power for the past 43 years, since the country attained its independence - those in the ruling elite has enriched themselves, to unimaginable insane levels, through the brazen looting of our national resources?

Furthermore, as a direct result of this thievery - in typical criminal fashion, they ended up committing even more heinous crimes, so as to protect themselves from being kicked out of power - by massacring, in cold blood, hundreds of opposition supporters.

This means that, they kept on adding to their ever-growing charge sheet - such that, their main fear is spending the rest of their naturals behind bars, and their families losing all that ill-gotten wealth - should they be voted out of office.

These hardcore criminals' only line of defense is the protection that comes with being in power - where they remain untouchable due to their control of all state institutions - such as the security apparatus, law enforcement, and the judiciary.

In fact, the presidency itself (according to Section 98(1) of the Constitution) protects the incumbent from being 'liable to civil and criminal proceedings in any court for things done or omitted to be done in his personal capacity'.

However, in Section 98(2) 'civil and criminal proceedings may be instituted against a former president for things done and omitted to be done…while he was president'.

In other words, leaving office may effectively be a jail sentence waiting to happen!

Why, then - especially when we are dealing with a leadership that is already aware that, not only are they highly unpopular with the citizenry, but also most likely to be booted out of office in a truly free, fair and credible election - would anyone, in their right mind, seriously expect these same people to reform themselves into prison?

That is where I find this whole talk of talks with the Zimbabwe regime, by some sections of the opposition - for the implementation of electoral and security sector reforms - most disturbing and totally outrageous.

Honestly, what do they expect to negotiate with a criminal regime that risks losing everything should they lose power?

Are such propositions not pure madness?

The only way a hardened criminal can be expected to be 'reformed' is through the use of force.

Let us remember that the ruling elite feels trapped - and are now panicked and gripped by fear - thereby, holding the entire nation as hostages.

Mere negotiations will never work on people like that.

In the case of the criminal Zimbabwe regime, this 'force' should be in the form of people's power - displayed by peaceful non-confrontational nationwide mass action by the citizenry.

I now sound like a broken record, but as long as ordinary Zimbabweans themselves do not take up their own crosses - by sacrificing whatever little comforts, pleasures and freedoms they have left, in the pursuit of real change - then, let us not waste our time with any dreams of free, fair and credible elections.

In fact, let us cast away any self-delusions of ousting ZANU PF through the ballot box - under the current distorted electoral environment.

That is never going to happen!


The Zimbabwe regime would rather even the UN (United Nations) itself imposed economic sanctions on them - yet, they will not budge an inch.

As already mentioned, there is too much at stake in leaving office - which makes these people in power even more stubborn than Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Douglas Smith - who, as the proverbial mule, stuck to his guns (as far as majority rule was concerned), even when faced with an international trade embargo.

The ZANU PF government is not going anywhere, any time soon - especially through a grossly flawed electoral process.

Nonetheless, negotiating with them will never bring about the desperately-required changes.

The ball is squarely in the court of Zimbabweans themselves - and, whether ZANU PF goes or stays depends entirely on whether we are willing to take the necessary action.

If not, then we may as well kiss goodbye to a better Zimbabwe for all its citizens!

Wishful thinking has never brought about any change!

- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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