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Women’s political participation not an act of charity

By  Blessing Vava    File picture: Is engaging Kenyan women in security affairs the key to creating better policies? Photo: Mari...

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Of political entrepreneurship and greed

By Blessing Vava
Lovemore Moyo:''Right now I am using a
Discovery as an off-road yet juniour
 persons like Deputy Ministers
 are driving better cars''

The demand by legislators to get exit packages after the expiry of the term of office for the Parliament of Zimbabwe cannot go unchallenged and should be dismissed with contempt it deserves. The somewhat debilitating demands by the third arm of government should be scrutinised in comparative terms with the general standards that roles which the MPs are expected to discharge during the tenure of office. These roles include but are not necessarily limited to the following

·       The law making activity

·       The surveillance activity and

·       Constituency service activity

When individuals make a deliberate decision to become part of the government’s their arm in complementary duty to the other two arms namely the executive and the judiciary, they must do so with a general appreciation that it is public call for duty rather than a narrow expectation of primitive accumulation. 
Inside the Speakers garage

Since they were elected our dear legislators have made headlines for the wrong and shocking reasons especially to the electorate who voted them into office hoping to have their grievances being dealt with in line with the afore stated three levels of activities they are supposed to fulfil.

In terms of the law making activity, the legislature has over time degenerated into a rubber-stamping institution with the MPs either sheepishly endorsing directives from the executives and in most cases sustaining a repressive law and policy regime.

 Nabbed:St Marys MP Marvellous Kumalo (centre)
accused of looting CDF Funds

At constituency development level, the majority Mps looted the people’s resources and failed to develop the poor communities. The general expectation that an MP is a people’s servant has since sublimated into abysmal nightmare by day light. In essence the current crop should go and never have the guts to claim even a cent from the treasury. It is equally true that the same MPs, with their powers to summon any person besides the president, the function of surveillance remain moribund and presents an oxymoron sense of self defeat. It seems the only purpose that is left with the legislature is transforming the august house into a begging bowl that delivers nothing except a bubble of hot air.

During the last campaign in the 2008 elections a lot of the MPs had flowery manifestos full of promises of development. Like a man proposing love to a woman, they came out sounding sweet and saying all the right things. But in reality, they are nothing more than wolves dressed in sheep's clothing promising heaven on earth and miracle galore. But deep down they have a hidden selfish agenda to benefit only themselves and their kind.

They promised to deal with issue of service delivery, health, education, clean and available water and electricity, all of which has been the most affecting to the majority of the populace. The manifestos were forgotten and slowly but surely the ideals in them were exchanged for the selfish vices of merriment, primitive accumulation and self aggrandisement.  

When Zimbabweans voted for them, they wanted the issues mentioned earlier to be addressed as a matter of urgency not packages or allowances for MPs. But alas since 2008, nothing much has been done to improve these communities mainly because of a leadership dearth, corruption recorded both at local government and  the Houses of Assembly.

Mutare West MP Shuah Mudiwa (MDC-T):
“We are approaching the end of the session
and we have no assurance that
we will be coming back.
 Can the minister tell us if he is going to
 give us exit packages and allowances?”
None will forget their demands for a car every year which left many Zimbabweans in a state of shock. The current bunch of legislators is the worst we have had since independence always looking for avenues of milking the treasury dry, while turning a blind eye to their constituencies. The lack of qualitative socio-economic and political debates in the house leaves a lot to be desired, it was neither impressive nor informed by a genuine desire to alleviate the poverty endured by the electorate: NOT impressive at all as nothing much was done as far as the legislative reform and formulation agenda is concerned.

Their affinity for luxury is regrettable. Its  sobering as it is mind boggling for an MP to claim an exit package as if they had been working for a company. Zimbabwe has no room for political entrepreneurs! Already they have gobbled enough the money from the treasury, namely their vehicles, allowances and hotel accommodation and the Constituency Development Funds they put to personal use rather than developing their constituencies.

Poverty taking its toll in many constituencies
Those who are calling for these packages know very well that they have not done anything for their constituencies during their horrible stint in parliament, they are fully aware that the electorate will not vote for them again so they want to benefit for the last time. It will be a record set in that some will leave the house after five years without uttering a word in parliament apart from the swearing-in ceremony. The other opportune time they opened their mouths was when they were either singing the national anthem, or heckling other honourable members during debates and of cause they open their mouths wide during those lunches hosted for MPs.

Since 2008, the MPs are now proud owners of two vehicles, Isuzu vehicles they were scandalously given by Gideon Gono, and the Mazda BT50 from the treasury. In Zimbabwe being an MP has since become a profession and one way of getting rich quickly as evidenced by these outrageous demands and all that they acquired during this session of parliament. But the time has now come when rhetoric and empty promises will not have space in our political landscape.

The calibre of legislators we currently have leaves a lot to be desired. It is simply mediocre!  In the previous election some became MPs mainly because of bravery at the height of political violence and not what they were capable of delivering. At least the coming in of the inclusive government has afforded an opportunity to the electorate to assess the quality of leadership we have. The coming election will not be about protest voting, it will not be about bravery, but those who are capable of delivering.  Those who are corrupt will surely be shown the exit door.

Blessing ‘Vuvuzela’ Vava is a blogger from Chipinge, who believes in the ideals of the Peoples Charter. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmaill.com

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Response to ZCTU's Japhet Moyo

To ZCTU Secretary General Mr.Japhet Moyo
On the 27th of September 2012, I received a complaint letter from Cde Japhet Moyo, on a Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) letterhead, authenticating it to be disseminating ZCTU views and position pertaining to constructive criticism I made on my BLOG, the Vuvuzela Times. I deduced one basic and worrying point from the tone of this letter: ZCTU is now in a drive to stifle freedom of expression, civic commentary and withdrawing into shellshock.

It is worrying to note this sad development given the imperative fact that the trade union has been in the past the doyen of free expression, champion of free association and proponent of free choice as noted by how it played the midwifery role in the birth of a very strong and dynamic labour back movement, then the MDC.

From time immemorial, the activities of the ZCTU, were synonymous with the struggles of the peasants, the working class, the students, the weak in the society, the suppressed and those that are at the lower ebb of the socio-political and economic ladder. This was made possible due to the deliberate efforts of the leadership at the ZCTU then to provide strong vision and leadership through the creation of a platform that enhanced the critical pillars of such struggles as: freedom of assembly; freedom of association; freedom of expression and above all being at the epic-centre of collective bargaining on behalf of the suffering and toiling workers.

Having note the forgoing and having contextualized the issue at hand let me make these take-home points for the ZCTU leadership and the authors of the ill fated 27 September letter addressed to my person.

1. The ZCTU should move away from this elitist approach of focusing on writing letters in their air-conditioned boardrooms targeting people offering them free advice that is second to none such as my comments on my blog.

2. The ZCTU is not a private company that enjoys managing the public relations for narrow personal ends. It is OUR organization, the workers and the children of the suffering masses, hence we are the critical stakeholders who must be treated with respect and dignity when we make commentary on the well being of our institution.

3. When the leadership is weak, or is lacking, there is no room for blame shifting for such leadership deficiencies. Face the challenges and address them instead of seeing shadows from any constructive commentary.

4. The ZCTU should not be seen to be promoting internal cannibalism, through taking us back to stone age periods were criticism is viewed at enmity, deviousness and evil-some. Instead it should be viewed as an opportune moment of introspection and shaping a refined road back to the hey days when the labour movement was viewed as the centre for socio-political and economic struggles.

5. The ZCTU (hyena) should not accuse its kids of smelling like goats when it wants to devour them. As a proud son of the ZCTU, I hold no ulterior motive except seeing to it that the organization is stronger and regains its lost voice of being the centre for national mobilization. During my time as the National Spokesperson of ZINASU, I worked hard with ZCTU and NCA is ensuring that there was the general appreciation that ZCTU is the MOTHER of ZINASU (STUDENTS) and that NCA is the constitutional arm of the suffering parents and students. This has been the reality and gospel unless it’s about to change now? If it’s changing, then I will be the first person to inform you that I will not want to waste my time on you and your “name” and the future of such a private set up.

6. We don’t believe in the current thinking at the leadership that believes when there is a misunderstanding the best option is to rush to laws levelling criminal charges against online media activism. If you felt harmed in any way you are free to approach the VOLUNTARY MEDIA COUCIL OF ZIMBABWE (VMCZ) which your institution subscribes to as noted by adverts in your paper, THE WORKER.

I would like to remind you that the workers of Zimbabwe are not bothered about this exchange of letters, engagement of lawyers over letters, accusations of this and that and boardroom meetings. They want the tangible results of seeing their salaries increased, better working conditions, reductions in the cannibalistic taxation system and better relations between employer and employee.

I therefore make the following immediate recommendations:

1. Take an active role in ensuring that the biggest employer in Zimbabwe, the Government pays its employees, the civil servants better salaries and awards them their bonus as due.

2. Make concerted efforts towards dragging the employer and government to the negotiation table for improved working conditions

3. Be vocal on the workers’ than writing letters to me.

Having said all these things I wouldn’t want to waste my productive time through sitting down and responding to any communication from your office.

Mr Secretary General, I hope NOT to hear from you again on such issues or any related to the same.

Your Revolutionary Comrade,
I remain,

Blessing “Vuvuzela” Vava

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The COPAC circus continues

COPAC co-chairpersons during a press conference
By Blessing Vava
The much hyped COPAC 2nd ‘All Stakeholders’ has come and gone with nothing much coming out, rather the parties maintaining their positions with regards to the constitution  making process which has taken too long to complete than anticipated. Unlike the 1st Stakeholders conference in 2009, which was marred by violence and chaos, this one was rather ‘peaceful’ with no incidence of chaos reported, something commendable in our political landscape which has been riddled by polarisation and intolerance. The conference was nothing much to write home about and now that it has gone just like one of the many  money spending ventures, time wasting with no value added, no progress, to give it a better phrase it was a useless meeting typical of  what the inclusive government has been holding since its inception.
We have the final say-Mugabe
It was not surprising that the meeting yielded nothing, apart from attempting to fulfil lost timelines and values of the GPA. A closer look at how the conference was structured would give us a clearer picture of its irrelevance. Firstly, the GPA is not clear on the purpose of the holding of the indaba, its rather vague, Section (c) (iv) the draft Constitution shall be tabled within 3 months of completion of the public consultation process to a second All Stakeholders Conference.’’ Copac representatives ended up saying that the meeting is for recommendations and not amendments. One would ask who will be giving recommendations in this instance? From the onset the process has been in the hands of the three principals, the draft we have is a combination of positions from the same to their parties. The delegates to the conference were also largely drawn from the three formations except a few from civil society who begged for their inclusion or the other way round.  So it is like setting an examination for yourself and marking it at the same time.  It surely doesn’t work. From its framework Article VI in its very nature is exclusionary of political parties and other players outside parliament. Section 6.1says...  ‘’The Parties hereby agree: a) that they shall set up a Select Committee of Parliament composed of representatives of the Parties whose terms of reference shall be as follows:  (i) to set up such subcommittees chaired by a member of Parliament and composed of members of Parliament and representatives of Civil Society as may be necessary to assist the Select Committee in performing its mandate herein; They made it clear from the start that the role of civil society was to assist at the behest of COPAC as may be necessary, meaning that the process is for parties in government and no one else outside those confines have a say. You can only be invited at their mercy. Pity some civil society organisations still had faith in such a process were their  participation was at the behest of political parties. Some colleagues of mine from civil society confided that they were accredited under political parties making their contributions to this meeting highly compromised. They allege that a day before the conference all those accredited by MDCT including civic organizations had to meet at harvest house were accommodation and chapters for thematic committees were being allocated. They were chanting party slogans and telling people what to say during the conference, including people from civic society who were present. When getting into the conference there was a list were one had to check for his/her name, there was no list for civic society, all the names of civic society members appeared on the MDC-T list, the discussions during the thematic sessions ended up being a contest between the parties in government rather than objective analysis.
 It’s very much disturbing when civil society is now showing lack of principle and consistence employing desperate means forcing themselves on processes which   are clearly in sharp contrast to what they purport to be advocating for. They begged to be part of a meeting they were not wanted and political parties cleverly put them under their armpits in the process swallowing their voices rendering civil society representatives  mere party functionaries and spectators during the conference. Kana washanya pamusha pewanhu unodya unyerere chero zvikashatasei unongoti zvinonaka. That is exactly what they did. No need of crying foul now when they failed to contest Article VI which relegated civil society to ‘mere’ assistance of the select committee as may be necessary. Instead of begging COPAC to be part of its process civil society should take a leading role in fighting mal-practices and fraudulent processes being done by COPAC. Maybe this is the ‘people driven’ process civil society has been clamouring for in the past. When the role of civil society becomes compromised on political party politics and selfish expedience it becomes a cause for concern.
What happened to the principles and ideals of the National Working People’s Convention? What happened to what civil society agreed in the Zimbabwe Peoples Charter? These are clear positions which have the capacity to carry this country forward and this is what civil society should be fighting for and not to act like a chameleon which changes its colour based on its surroundings. Whereas COPAC/GNU will be continuing with their anti-people crusade there are some civic groups who will still be begging to be part of such processes abandoning their role as civics.
 COPAC has been a great betrayal and failure, it is a disgrace, undemocratic and an illegitimate process that has wasted national and donor resources.  They have personalised constitution  making for the whole nation to be their private project, Zimbabwe does not belong to three principals let alone political parties, that we should be said loud and clear!!! 
 To show unscrupulous nature of COPAC - the time allocated to analysing the draft was rather dubious, how can people analyse 176 paged document written in legal language, English for that matter in one and half hours? Not all  delegates at the conference passed through the law school,  COPAC should have tabled a simplified version of the draft in all languages if they were really genuine.
In summation, the process was a charade, it was exclusive to the three parties and their principals, no other political parties or interest groups were invited as equal partners to participate can do for their nation is to dismiss the dining and wining canvassed as an ‘all stakeholders,’ it was just a meeting of the parties in GNU. Equally, the greatest flaw of it all is that the principals will have the final say as President Mugabe put it clearly during the opening of the conference, he is honest unlike the other leaders in the GNU who keep lying to the whole nation that the process is people driven. 
 Blessing ‘Vuvuzela’ Vava is a blogger from Chipinge. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Dewa will be sadly missed

The Late Igwe-Tongai Moyo at
the peak of his career

By Blessing Vava

nb-this article was taken from the archives, it was published in the DailyNews  on the 19th of October 2011. One year on..we remember Dewa

I have always followed the late Tongai Moyo’s music and live performances. I have known fans to mob him and cheer each time he stepped on to the stage. But it was only at the recently held Chibuku Road to fame finals at the Glamis Arena where giants Oliver Mtukudzi, Alick Macheso and Allan Chimbetu were also performing   that  when Dhewa went on stage, it was not the usual happy cheers.

Instead a sombre atmosphere engulfed the whole stadium as the thousands who were in attendance  shook their heads in disbelief seeing how their favourite musician's body had deteriorated due to non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Having known this man as a fighter who did not want his condition to stop him from dishing out his star studded performances had deteriorated so rapidly.

He nevertheless gave his best performance. I and hopefully all other fans, thought the man was going to recover, but unbeknown to me, that was the last time I was to ever see him alive.

As news of his death on Saturday  the 15th of October filtered, Zimbabweans went into deep mourning.  Dhewa was one of the country’s  finest sungura musicians having carved his own niche of music over the last two decades. A  great entertainer whose outstanding contribution to the music industry is unquestionable. I received the news with great sadness and disbelief,  for he was a musician whose humble beginnings was an inspiration not only to other younger musicians but to all in the entire arts industry.

For a musician who hailed from a small town like Kwekwe it is only hard work and sheer determination to reach the levels of Dhewa. The colourful Kwekwe based musician who was affectionately  known in the music circles with an array of names including Dhewa, Samanyemba, Murozvi Mukuru, igwee, Mopao Mokozi, Father Flower or Muchina Muhombe died on the 15th of September after a long battle with cancer.

I first knew of Dhewa in 1996 when he released his debut album Vimbo, an album laced with classic hits such asChechete,  Chenesayi nzira and Ndinotenda Dhiya to mention but a few. Though the album was well received critics went guns blazing on him accusing him of being a mere Leonard Dembo copy cat, and this marked the beginning of a long musical journey which had its success and wonderful moments that earned him a permanent place as a top sungura musician whose only challenge was self proclaimed sungura king Alick Macheso.

After years of singing what sounded like Dembo's music, Dhewa finally carved his own beat, a fusion of sungura and rhumba and that move earned him respect in the music industry. This is one lesson young musicians should learn from the late sungura maestro that music is all about originality if you are to make it in this highly competitive industry.

For years i had been a Macheso fan who rarely missed his shows but it was Dhewa’s all time great Zvinoita murudo from the album Chingwa that transformed me into a great follower of his music.    Dhewa was a sungura musician with a  difference, he  redefined the fashion of sungura artists where in the past sungura musicians were identified with shabby dressing but he was always smartly dressed.   

He had style, swag and full of confidence and he changed the complexion of live performances by his well choreographed and unmatched performances equalled to none in the local music fraternity so far. Gifted with a great voice, composing and guitar playing skills, Dhewa was a polished entertainer whose departure will be sadly missed by the entire nation and even beyond.

Many had hoped that after managing to acquire the much needed drug to save his life, he was going make it and hopefully carry on with his work. But sadly that was not to be, as the man above called decided that his time was now up and called him home to rest, in a painful way though.

During his last shows you could hear Dhewa chanting, mandiregerera, (you are letting me down) maybe this was in reference to  those in the arts industry whom he felt they  had left him at the greatest time of need. Surely Dhewa had to struggle on his own for six months to raise US$15 000 to raise his medical bills. This is despite statements by some musicians and promoters who promised to assist Dhewa but nothing materialised until his condition became critical. Maybe had it that the  funds  had been availed for Dhewa’s medication the story could have been different today. Dhewa’s death is a call to in the arts industry to assist one another when befallen by such unexpected calamities.

We should not wait until the situation gets worse like what happened to Dhewa. His death has also exposed Zimbabwe’s decaying health delivery systems, for with better and up to date medical facilities Dhewa could have lived long. He has gone but his great works will continue to entertain us. We all hope that those he left behind, Peter and the rest of the Utakataka Express ensemble  will continue from were Muchina Muhombe left from.
They should remain focused, united and determined for them to remain a force reckon even despite that Dhewa is nolonger there. Peter should be inspired by Sulu, Tryson and the Dembo brothers who are keeping their late father’s legacies. 

Rest in peace our great musician till we meet again. 
Blessing Vava is a blogger, he can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com

Monday, 1 October 2012

COPAC 2nd ‘All’ stakeholders-much ado about nothing

By Blessing Vava
Obsessed with violence
War veterans leader
Joseph Chinotimba
The postponement of the 2nd All Stakeholders conference is a clear indication that all is not well with Zimbabwe’s constitution making process which is proving difficult to come to its fruition. Initially scheduled for the 4th to the 6th of October, COPAC postponed the dates to the end of the same month citing logistical problems. The postponement did not come as a surprise noting how the process has delayed its completion, initially pegged at 18months, but surprisingly dragging to 36 months. The delays, missed timelines, squabbles, violence were as a result of political bickering and sharp differences that has been the daily recipe in Zimbabwe’s political environment. The COPAC process has failed the test of time and everything they touch turns to rust. But what really is the importance of this 2nd All Stakeholders Conference? Is it really worth it? Looking at the amount of resources needed to conduct the process-$1.2million and the sharp differences existing between the parties in government this is likely just another waste of money and it will likely turn into a chaotic process, and this might signal the collapse of it.

War veterans disrupting the 1st Stakeholders meeting in 2009

Seemingly the conference is proving to be another charade, a waste of money and time. Apart from fulfilling Article VI (c) (iv) which says the draft Constitution shall be tabled within three months of completion of the public consultation of the public consultation to a second All Stakeholders Conference, it is not clear on what ought to be done at the conference. Though COPAC representatives have been quick to say that the Conference will not be a drafting conference, but that   the conference is to enable delegates to make comments and recommendations on the COPAC draft for consideration before it is tabled in parliament. One wonders its significance because it is the same three parties still driving the process and again the ones to decide on what to do with the recommendations.

One-man organisation-
FONGO 'President' Goodson Nguni
Also, COPAC  came out with the composition of the delegates who are going to attend the conference. From the total number of delegates 1100, 280 will be Members of Parliament, GPA parties 246, (each party nominating 82), the remainder 574 will be civil society. With such a breakdown and composition it does not need a rocket scientist to tell you that there is nothing ‘All’ Stakeholders about this conference, but rather a gathering of the three political parties and their erstwhile friends disguised as civil society.  Other political parties have been left out; ZANU Ndonga, MKD, MDC 99, ZAPU to mention but just a few, and again the process is still in the hands of the three political parties. Never mind the 70% which they are claiming has been reserved for civil society. It still remains the prerogative of the three political parties in GPA which make up COPAC to choose which civil society groups are to attend the conference. Obviously the two MDCs will choose their proxy civil society organisations, which we all know as witnessed during the first stakeholders meeting, same with ZANU PF which amongst its civics will be having names like Upfumi Kuvadiki, and Goodson Nguni’s briefcase organisation Federation of Non Governmental Organisations ( FONGO) and of course the notorious Chipangano and war veterans who will start singing and are likely to spark violence.
Left in the cold-MKD President
Dr Simba Makoni
ZANU Ndonga insignia 

So there is absolutely nothing new to expect from this conference, this gathering still remains a process being controlled by the three political parties and continuously excluding the people. The voices which will dominate are from these parties and also via their civil society organisations, hence it is no secret that the process is as defective as the draft itself which will not see the light of day come the referendum. As said before, nothing much is going to change at this conference as it is only for recommendations and comments. These are the same parties that crafted the draft; the delegates who will come to the conference belong to the three political parties, plus their ‘chosen’ civil society organisations. The same parties will be the ones again to debate the same draft in parliament, and the same parties may choose to adopt or ignore the recommendations from this all stakeholders conference.

 In a way this meeting is just meant to rubber stamp the positions of the parties in the GNU, a position which will ultimately carry the day. Many Zimbabweans are now tired of all this hide and seek game by COPAC and the GNU, they have wasted enough time, enough  resources, it is now the time Zimbabweans should be given a choice to choose what they want through the holding of the referendum so that we move forward. And talk of resources,   COPAC should also tell the nation how they used the monies allocated to them since the process started. There has been noise about the national statistical report to be tabled at the conference, we hope COPAC would be able to make a compilation of their financial report with a detailed breakdown on how much they used since the process started to date. Zimbabweans deserve to know how much and what was the money used for. 
Blessing Vava is a blogger from Chipinge. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

ZCTU and the history of constitutional reform in Zimbabwe

By Blessing Vava

They left an indelible mark-former ZCTU leaders
Morgan Tsvangirai and the late Gibson Sibanda
In 1999 two historic processes occurred in Zimbabwe’s political landscape that shaped the political discourse of the country.  The processes, namely the first National Working Peoples Convention in 1999, as well as the first People’s Constitutional Convention.  The two processes led to the formation of a strong opposition political party the MDC, with the latter leading to resolutions that rejected the Presidential appointed Chidyausiku Commission draft constitution in 2000. All these processes were as a result of a strong, coordinated, principled labour union that massively contributed to blocking attempts by politicians to force a constitution on the people of Zimbabwe. The  trade union then was under the tutelage of Morgan Tsvangirai and Gibson Sibanda who fought fearlessly for a new constitution as a result of the flawed Lancaster House Constitution that was being systematically used to suppress the working class people and the vulnerable sectors of society. Hats off to that generation of trade union leaders for putting that much needed pressure, forging alliances with the students and peasants in bringing the constitutional debate on the political arena.
The working class people who gathered in Chitungwiza were fully cognisant that the writing of the new constitution should not and never be a prerogative of politicians. That is why they agreed that the process should be led by an independent  constitutional commission defined by and accountable to a conference of representatives of elected, civil and other social groups.

This is one of the principled as well as progressive stances that has always been associated with the workers of Zimbabwe in particular the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). With the economic scourge that closed down the industries and depleted the working class people, still the ZCTU had remained a critical voice in as far as the plight of the working class people, the economic and democratic revolution is concerned. That is why the ZCTU, continued being part of other revolutionary democratic processes that were to follow namely the 2nd Peoples Convention of February 2008 that authored the Zimbabwe Peoples Charter. The Zimbabwe Peoples Charter is a social democratic document that aims for a social democratic state. It has a bias towards the working class people and above all it clearly spelt out and re-affirmed what the working class people said in 1999 advocating for a genuine people driven constitution for Zimbabwe. It was not surprising that the ZCTU again joined the students and the NCA in July 2009 in resisting the politician driven process by COPAC and that meeting called for the abandonment of COPAC because the framework as enunciated through Article V1 of the GPA deviated from all these historical processes. The Chitungwiza Convention which the ZCTU leadership was part of agreed to this, ‘’If the inclusive government and/or parliament do not heed our call to cease forthwith the constitutional reform process as outlined in Article VI of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), we will actively seek a rejection of any draft constitution produced by the same process through campaigning for a No vote should that draft be brought to a referendum,’’and one wonders what has changed now.
The working class people clamoring for  better  remuneration 

 However as the processes unfold, with leadership renewal, infighting, factionalism and bankruptcy of the ZCTU, the labour movement has suddenly made a U-turn.  The once vibrant, principled labour union seems to have backed down on their earlier position of resisting a politician constitution and they have since endorsed the COPAC draft. Such inconsistency in application of principle has left me wondering what has really happened to the once principled ZCTU? Some media reports have it on authority that the union received a ‘paltry’ $US87 000 funding from a European donor organisation called 3Fs, the handout, which we are told was conditionally disbursed on condition that the ZCTU endorses the COPAC draft.    If the truth be told without fear or favour and without a pinch of doubt the ZCTU leadership is out of touch with its membership which did not participate in the COPAC process. This is a clear case of personal interest overriding principle. 
ZCTU secretary general Japhet Moyo  seating 3rd in the front row,
President George Nkiwane  standing 4th from left

The ZCTU leadership should be reminded that the workers of Zimbabwe are not dunderheads, they are not lifeless bodies, they are neither robots nor toys, they are breadwinners, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and family heads of many households and they are aware that this draft was fraudulently produced without their input, and does not carry their aspirations. Only two unashamed individuals, George Nkiwane and Japhet Moyo want to force their unpopular position on the working class people of Zimbabwe. It is very clear that the position to support the draft is not shared collectively by the working class people but rather it is a position of these two individuals, and their drinking partners disguising themselves as a ZCTU general council. These two individuals have clearly sacrificed principle on the altar of political convenience and cheap pieces of silver. The real workers want a people driven process; they said it in 1999, 2000, 2008 and they said it again in 2009, and there is absolutely nothing in that draft that will lift the aspirations of the working class people.

Minister and unionist in one-Lucy Matibenga
Its an open secret that the ZCTU is a now beleaguered union, led by career  unionists who are now serving interests of political parties especially the MDC-t at the expense of its membership, the workers.  The ZCTU has lost ground and does not represent workers; hence they only shout from their air conditioned offices at Chester House when workers are wallowing in poverty. It is now an empty shell of its former self in that like any empty vessels making a lot of uncoordinated noise aimed at massaging the egos of factional politics. They are busy bringing commissions to investigate internal feuds in the MDC-t and paying lip-service to collective bargaining. Spending time eating cakes and drinking tea with the minister of labour and that of public service while forgetting the bona-fide workers who are chasing after the blood of the same. What sort of a workers union that endorses a process where MPs were grossing $100 a day at  a time when majority of its membership are getting salaries way below $250 a month. A process, in which they never participated and still will be participating on the peripheries and still declaring to vote YES. A constitution that does not clearly carry the aspirations of the working class people. Shockingly in their leadership, still is Minister of Public Service Lucia Matibenga, as one of their Deputy Presidents.  Talk of corporate incest, this is what exactly they are doing. How does she act the boss and the servant at the same time? It doesn’t work. She has to be clear on what she wants and relinquish one of her posts. What is clear is that the workers are lacking leadership as exhibited by the guys at the helm of the ZCTU, whose ambitions for positions in an MDC-T led government should the party wins the next elections is now open. The workers union has to re-invent itself and rising above personal and egoistic interests and strive for the uplifting  of the livelihoods of the working class people. Zvazviri!

Blessing 'Vuvuzela' Vava is a blogger from Chipinge. He writes here in his personal capacity, the views expressed in this article are entirely his and not in any way views of an organisation. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com

Thursday, 6 September 2012

MDC-t a smaller ZANU PF in the making

The late UP President Bishop Abel Muzorewa
By Blessing Vava
Last week I had a rare privilege of having a discussion with one of the co-chairpersons of COPAC,  the energetic Doglous Mwonzora whose meticulous rise   in Zimbabwe’s political landscape deserves special mention in the county’s political history. A former member of the now defunct United Parties (UP)led by Bishop Abel Muzorewa. Mr Mwonzora is a founder member of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), and served the constitutional reform movement in various portfolios. At the NCA he worked very well, eloquently defending the position of the NCA, he spoke passionately about the need of having a people driven constitution  as he rightly believed that the process should not be led by politicians. In our interaction, the former NCA deputy chairperson  openly admitted that this was not the way to go, but because he was following his party position hence he had no choice.

Mugabe is a fountain of experience
-Tendai Biti
On the contrary, he has been widely quoted discrediting the process as not perfect, but insisting that the outcome will be better than the Lancaster House charter. However what incensed me was his counter-accusations against the NCA arguing that its giving ZANU PF an advantage. After the discussion, which obviously was dominated by Mwonzora I was left wondering how and why the NCA was now working with ZANU PF and giving it an advantage? Foolishly, Mwonzora’s sentiments are widely shared by many of his colleagues in the MDC-t who have gone on a diatribe against the NCA for its principled position with regards to the constitution making process.   Some ill-advised quarters have even gone  to the extent of saying NCA has joined ZANU PF, ah ah because ZANU PF is appearing to be against the COPAC Draft they helped craft.

 Further the arm-chair critics are also accusing the NCA for what they call favourable coverage from the state-media namely the Herald, ZimPaper’s StarFM and ZBC and hence they have declared that NCA has sold out and is now dining with the enemy.

Swearing allegiance to the Head of State
My other question is selling out to who? For the record the NCA has not joined any political party and will  never join one, worse ZANU PF, the NCAs position on the constitution has always been consistent. That the writing for a constitution should not be led by politicians but an independent commission. That is what the NCA said in 1999 at the peoples convention in Chitungwiza and other historical processes to follow, like the Zimbabwe Peoples Charter, lately the 2nd Constitutional Convention in 2009, where the NCA  re-affirmed that position. In that light the NCA  launched the Take Charge Campaign, which essentially was a declaration against Article 6 of the GPA which provided for a parliamentary driven process. In a typical show of lack of consistence the MDC-t invited the NCA, ZCTU, ZINASU leadership at the party headquarters to find a common ground on the constitution making process but later backtracked. In that meeting it was unanimously agreed that Article 6 fell short of a people driven process. A committee was then set-up drawing two representatives from the four organisations to come up with a critic against Article 6, the dossier was meant to aid MDC-t president to inform the other principals that the MDC-t was not going to continue participating in the COPAC process.

 Shockingly, after that meeting the MDC-t joined their ZANU PF colleagues and still continued participating in the COPAC process and again the NCA was labelled spoilers. The two parties' love for each other is well documented their bond strengthened like Siamese twins. They enjoyed the 45million  together in COPAC (the money they should account for), bought nice cars together in a show of unity as they are in a unity government and in doing all this they were all in agreement. No Zimbabwean will ever forget Mwonzora’s infamous statement, ‘’Even if I leave my pilsner beer with ZANU PF’s Paul Mangwana I will still come back and drink it.’’ ( they have been cases of beer poisoning) There he was simply implying that he trusts Mangwana and leaving his beer with him and still come back to drink it was a sign that Mangwana was a trustworthy comrade. I wonder if Mwonzora can still say or do the same now? Now that ZANU PF is showing its true colours and the romance seems to have ended the MDC-t is now pointing its dirty fingers to the NCA labelling them traitors. What hypocrisy. ZANU PF has never been a good ally, ask those who were in ZAPU.  MDC-t was invited to join government by ZANU PF and they graciously joined at a colourful ceremony at state house. All of them including Tsvangirai swore allegiance to the state, the constitution and the Head of State.  Every Monday they have teas with President Mugabe, he gives them assignments in cabinet, and some of the MDC-t leaders have been heaping praises to Mugabe and these people include the likes of Biti,  and even Tsvangirai lest they forget.  Biti said: “He is a fountain of experience, knowledge and, most importantly, a fountain of stability. There are a lot of horrible things that would have happened in this country if he had not said, ‘No’. History will prove the correctness of this statement. He has been the number one symbol of stability . . . Us, the younger generation, are lucky to have gone through his hands. “We find counsel and wisdom in him. His importance in this country will be seen once he is gone. When he is gone that is when you will see that this man was Zimbabwe. Some of us who came from different parties have had to learn a lot from the man.’’

So if there is anyone who has joined ZANU PF it is the MDC-t and not the NCA.We do not even know the door of the state house nor have we been  close to Mugabe except on television. Therefore we urge the MDC-t to first remove a log in their eyes before pointing at a speck in others eye. Regarding their Yes vote it is rather ambitious, immature and a case of jumping the gun. Why are they rushing to campaign for a yes vote for a draft which one of the parties is still contesting. This has been a negotiating game from the start and the MDC-t should finish what it started and its very much likely that Tsvangirai will give in to ZANU PF’s amendments as we have seen before. And the MDC-t’s argument that the draft is not perfect but they will write a good one once in power is parochial. They have openly admitted  that it’s not perfect why can’t they renegotiate to have a perfect document if they are really sincere. The NCA’s  (NO VOTE) has been about principle as it is against the process that was bad and led as well as dominated by politicians.  We will not be cowed and moved from our principled position. The MDC-t should concentrate on cleaning their own mess with their newly found Zanu-pf friends. In conclusion, it is now very difficult to differentiate the MDC-t from ZANU PF, they seem to have inherited everything, arrogance, corruption, dishonesty, lying, violence and intolerance to dissenting  voices. Zvazviri!

Blessing Vava is a blogger from  Chipinge and a member of the Take Charge Campaign Technical Committee. he can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com