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The NTA is a misunderstood opportunity

14 Oct 2016 at 07:13hrs | Views
"We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." American Constitution

It has been a rather busy week for me on social media as I have had to talk to many Zimbabweans out there on the case for the National Transitional Authority (NTA). In my opinion the NTA presents for us an opportunity to fundamentally change how we select those who purport to represent us in public office in the future.

Let us first share the objectives of the NTA as conceived by the People's Democratic Party (PDP) led by Tendai Biti in September 2015. Let me be clear here that this is not to say that it is the only solution, citizens are free to table counter proposals to the NTA idea, as long as they understand that first, ZANU (PF) will never fully implement the reforms we seek as these would make them redundant. Second, pushing for voter registration under the current ZEC which is an appendage of the regime is like closing your eyes and jumping into a pool hoping that there is water in it.

The NTA, according to PDP, has several objectives which include;
To attend to the issues of national stability and peace in a possibly very volatile post Mugabe period.

To attend to the implementation of an economic recovery plan to urgently deal with the social crisis, to create jobs, stabilize the economy and re-vitalise industry.

To attend to issues of the breakdown of the social contract through open dialogue among labour, government, industry and the rest of the Zimbabwean society, including the Diaspora.

To attend to the creation of conditions for free and fair elections, whenever those elections are held.

To attend to the unfinished business of constitutional alignment of our laws
To create conditions and platforms for citizen participation in policy issues.

Beyond averting a catastrophe, the NTA will also remove the infrastructures of fear, violence and police brutality, biased judiciary, thereby opening up space for citizens to participate in creating the Zimbabwe they desire.

I think we are all certain that ZANU (PF) will not implement the electoral reforms necessary and they have stated so. I am also certain that ZANU (PF) will not willingly juts accept the NTA. It therefore must be a negotiated settlement where local and international pressure is applied.

The bottom line is that we cannot wait and hope for electoral reforms and even so, electoral reforms alone are not adequate to create an environment conducive to free and fair elections without addressing the issues of the economy, security, freedom of speech and association,  overt intimidation, police brutality, violence and partisan institutions among others.

We are in a crisis and we need to deal with the economy today and not wait for 2018. There is also a very important issue which many are ignoring, this is the fact that economic issues are commonly used by ZANU (PF) to get an electoral advantage.

The patronage we see at every turn is an election tool. This applies too, for example, to the illegal allocation of stands to ZANU (PF) youthies only who have now declared no stands no vote, the partisan allocation of space at flea markets, the award of tenders to cronies and abuse of public funds to fund ZANU (PF) rallies and marches, the abuse of the police and army during elections and threats to repossess farms allocated to rivals. Economic disempowerment and intimidation of those who differ remains a real threat to free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. The role of chiefs in rural areas also comes into question.
 All the above issues need to be fully addressed before we can even think about free and fair elections. In my view, the NTA is therefore a more holistic approach to address those practices which have created unfair advantage to ZANU (PF) in past elections.

We would therefore be very naïve to merely to think that only registering to vote and the implementation of electoral reforms would sanitize the electoral environment. That is a narrow view of things.

With regard to the legality of the NTA, my erstwhile brother, Alex Magaisa, has done a good job in explaining that we should not only look to legal arena for what is a political solution. The law at times falls short in addressing political problems and we therefore need to look beyond the legalistic paradigm to address what is essentially a political problem. This was the case with the GNU for example. The argument that the NTA would be unconstitutional is neither here nor there because laws can be amended.

The imperative for a negotiated settlement must arise out of the active participation of citizens in creating circumstances that will leave the dictator no choice but to agree to the putting in place of an NTA. That to me is what we must rather spend time on than on academic arguments why the NTA cannot happen.

With regards to the question of who will comprise that NTA, the idea is that the NTA will be composed of a team of commissioners each in charge of the key deliverables of the NTA, including a chairperson of the Authority.

It will then have sub committees each chaired by a Commissioner. It must be composed of competent and credible citizens with no criminal record and are of good standing. The commissioners who shall lead the NTA will come from industry, the Diaspora, churches, social movements, labour and organised civil society with women and youth movements being proportionally represented.

All Commissioners will take oaths of office and pledge that they will not seek political office for a minimum period of 10 years during and after the expiry of its term of office. The Commissioners will be nominated by each of the key stakeholders. The Chairperson will be nominated by consensus by all the involved/ nominated Commissioners. It will be in office for a maximum period of 2 years, where-after elections shall be held, under its supervision. Critical is that those who participate as commissioners in the NTA should not have any conflicts of interest nor be partisan.

I think these are ideas which we should work on and gain some national consensus before we seek regional and international endorsement.

The fact that the NTA idea has been tabled by particular individuals should really not matter because this is about our future. Of course we must never allow the NTA to be hijacked by self-serving individuals or politicians and, in my view, citizens should rather stop criticising the idea and propose how it can be better implemented and step up to the podium and own this process.
Sometimes history makes us and other times we make history, it's time for us to shape it.

It's time to pull together!

Vince Musewe is an economist and author. He is also Secretary of Finance and Economic Affairs of PDP. You may contact him on

Source - Vince Musewe
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