Friday, October 28, 2005

Zimbabwe options update

Zimpundit is expanding on a very interesting discussion started here (see comments), regarding the possible advantages of some MDC members to be elected to the new Senate. Green Leader disagrees; I have serious doubts. Zimpundit concludes:

Ethnicity does matter. And yes while I may entertain the idea that "we've all suffered," it is true that some have suffered more than others. The senate presents an opportunity to gain lost ground for some however flawed may seem.

I agree that ethnicity matters (just look at the Zezuru-Karanga "war" - Mugabe is a Zezuru - within the same Zanu PF party), especially in Zimbabwe. I also agree that the Ndebele have suffered more than others. So much so that some years ago I wondered how much more neglect and oppression the Ndebele were going to take from Mugabe before rebelling or attempting to secede; but that was a long time ago.

What I have doubts about is this: is it worth splitting the opposition for the doubtful prospect of being able to express yourselves and be heard (and if you read the comments linked above, it seems very doubtful)? Is it worth to legitimize another Mugabe-rigged election and therefore validate an inevitably flawed institution? Isn't the price to high?

I have a feeling there is more. Perhaps Zimpundit is trying to say that the Ndebele have been marginalized within the MDC despite their contribution. Is he hoping for a "Third Force"? Is this his "silent hope"?



Green_Leader said...

Let me clarify my ethnicity comment. I understand that ethnic differences loom large in Zim. However, when it comes to Zim's future all groups (except Mugabe's tribe and his cronies) want change. Whites, Shona, Ndebeles, Asians, all want him out.

What I cannot understand is why you feel compelled to participate in the same skewed system that has marginalized the Ndebele for over 25 years? Mugabe's 'democracy' has never helped you. Real change won't come through elections.

The price paid by participating goes far beyond trying to undue past injusticies. You are harming the greater picture. Sure, perhaps the Ndebele will win some seats in the election. But you give the Herald and the regime the chance to stand up and say "see! we have a democracy whereby people participate!"

I agree with Marlow on the dangers of splitting the opposition. You may want to view this as 'the Ndebele have suffered the most so we have the right to make up for history'. But it harms the bigger movement.

zimpundit said...

I'm sorry, but I must say again I find both your "fears" and logic unfounded.

We'll start off with Captain Marlow's charge that the prospects I expounded on aren't worth "splitting the opposition for." In the words of the esteemed Greenleader, "it harms the bigger movement."
-In short, what's so sacred about the MDC that they should be protected from a potential split? What great service have they rendered to all the people who rallied around them such that they are now so high and mighty we don't want to shake them? How democratic is it to want to squelsh the emergence of another party if there's space for it?

Is it not myopic (and ZANU-PF like) to assume that MDC is Zimbabwe's sole "savior" party? Why can't people outside ZANU-PF and MDC be endowed with the good graces of political leadership (which by the way, both these parties have shown patent deficiences of).

If a "Third Force" emerges, so be it. Zimbabwean democracy is not like salvation that comes only by one name. Forget the big picture and high sounding talk about movements! People are dying in Zimbabwe right now, they need help now. I can guarantee you that help is not coming soon if they elevate the movement above present need and don't act. Movements come and go but life doesn't. In the words of Eminem 'You only get one life."

-Green, let me caution you again about your presumptious conclusion that all shona people (Zimbabwe's majority) want Mugabe gone. Such a belief is so incongruous with Shona culture, there's no doubt it is foreign. Like I said in my long response earlier, to them, this leadership is if anything else a self fulfilling prophecy. To the shona ousting Bob doesn't solve the problem, they'd much rather do whatever they can to improve their outlook inspite of him.

Don't be fooled by the few educated shona you've encountered wherever you are. On the ground, this is about those very peasants you and I so wantonly neglect and forget. The peasants are the shona majority and as long as they feel this mutuality with ZANU, they won't want regime change. That's a truth you can't change even if you refuse/fail to comprehend it.

-Finally, let me address this "legitimizing a flawed system" argument. If you ask anyone on the streets today, "how do you know MDC is a legitimate opposition party?" They (including myself) will tell you that there's no other party in the country's history that gained so many seats in parliament besides MDC even after the flawed March elections. Truth be told, the MDC derives it's political relevance from it's success at the polls. As a matter of fact they came close to beating ZANU at it's own game and be able to do it again if they get their act together.

Participating in the elections will not endorse the system if they go into it pointing out the flaws (like they did in the March poll). Besides, if they sit out they risk fading into oblivion because they've shown us that they cannot lead a succesful protest against Mugabe even when they have ample reason.

Don't worry about the bigger picture/movement, there's lives to be saved and children to be clothed and fed.

Green_Leader said...

Let me address your critique against the opposition. It is not limited to just the MDC. If a third option opens, so be it. But having opposition to Mugabe divided only benefits ZANUPF. 'United we stand, divided we fall' type thing. (Sorry it's not as nice as an eminem quote ;-) but I try)
I never said that all Shona are against Mugabe. I know better. But I would argue that if you took a poll and asked the average Shona on the street, he/she will say Mugabe has to go. Not all will say this, but most will.
Look, the bottom line is we both want change. I just look to the track record of the democratic process in Zim and see an inability to remove ZANUPF. Hence I look for another option... I advocate massive protests.
I ask you, lets say that the MDC gets 10 or even 20 senators (not likely)...okay then what? Will this stop people from dying? Will this create meaningful change? Come on let's be serious, the senate elections are a farce and no change will happen.
I would like to pick this debate up in 6 months time and see where Zim is then. I am confident I will be proven correct that the senate elections will have created zero change in the political climate in Zim.
Yet you give me 6 months of large scale protests and Mugabe will be in exile and some form of change will of happened.
Marlow, you wish to add your two cents? Cheers!

zimpundit said...

Good perspective and as I've iterated and reiterated, both your arguments hold water. I just wanted to make sure that we don't gloss over the magnitude of the dilemma MDC is faced with. I also wanted give readers, both here and elsewhere a closer perspectives on the complexities of Zimbabwean politics. There really is a segment of the Zimbabwean population to whom these elections bear a ray of hope and they are part of the story too.

I too just want change. Sadly the MDC has complacently allowed themselves to play second fiddle to ZANU-PF.

Good discussion.

Green_Leader said...

Yes, the beauty of the internet. It allows for us to transcend borders and to debate an issue that sadly is not allowed to be openly discussed in Zim.

marlow said...

Let me summarize and forgive me if I simplify:
Zimpundit prefers a "Ncube" approach, changing the system from within, as it were (UPM?);
Green Leader hopes Tsvangirai (or whomever) will mobilize the masses to oust the regime through a popular revolt;
And I expect Mugabe to hang himself through his mad and senility-driven policies.
In the end, we all want the same thing and I think our desired outcome will be brought about by a combination of all three approaches.
Thanks so much guys, I enjoyed the discussion very much. Keep in touch!

Anonymous said...

mugabe forever!!!