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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Mugabe doesn't know the State of the Nation

By Blessing Vava

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe presented his first State Of The Nation Address since 2007, following massive job losses after a controversial Supreme Court ruling.

While following President Robert Mugabe’s 2015 State of the Nation Address on social media, each successive tweet and update was confirming my expectations; that there was nothing new the 91-year-old leader was going to say as a solution to Zimbabwe’s worsening economic crisis.

Plainly put, the address, which was the first of its nature in eight years, was not worth any hype as in the end, it was 35 minutes of nothing but hot air.

An opportunity
This is because my understanding of a SONA- which is made annually in other countries like South Africa- is that it is an opportunity for a president to give a genuine and honest report of the current political, socio-economic state of his nation.
It is a time when the president gives an update on the government programs- including achievements- and how the nation will be progressing from then on. In fact, it shapes the debate of the parliamentary session.

For the ordinary Zimbabwe who lost his or her job last month, or the vendor in Highfield, or my grandmother in rural Chipinge, all ears were on this address, waiting to hear what the President was to say on the state of affairs.

They wanted to hear if he had any solution to the economic situation that is spiralling out of control and has rendered over 20,000 people jobless in the past month alone.

Not going anywhere
For me, perhaps the only anticipation was to hear a major announcement of when he will be leaving office.

I say so because retiring is the only logical step for Mugabe as he has evidently failed to resuscitate our ailing economy.

The state of affairs in Zimbabwe right now can only be described as country in paralysis. And every citizen, including the leadership, seems clueless because the future is no longer predictable than before.

It has become so much unpredictable that any day any moment the boss will tell you that your services are no longer required.

It is just a traumatic experience. Thousands of Zimbabweans have been dismissed from work in a space of a month and more dismissals are coming.

However, Mugabe shortest speech while presenting SONA, equally shows that it was not even worth the wait, as Mugabe spent 35 minutes talking to himself.

His speech was hollow, and it just shows that Mugabe is completely out of touch with reality. Definitely the country has no leadership, no vision, and we are heading to a bottomless pit.

Everything that was said in his speech is basically a copy and paste from the last two decades.

We must be careful of the assumption that Mugabe had any ideas to begin with.


The odds are high that the only real plan is to perpetuate the trough snuffling as long as possible - until Jesus returns or there about. ZANU PF is dominated by denialists like Mugabe, self-serving egomaniacs who masquerade as "revolutionaries" fighting to save the "masses", whose true freedom is permanently on hold while "leaders" fiercely compete on who can loot more from public coffers.

As I followed the tweets, he spoke of revitalising agriculture, value addition, we'll tackle corruption, grow SMEs, reduce corruption and on and on.

The bottom line is that this is just mere rhetoric, and he is doing very little to make sure it is actually implemented. The government will only do what suits them.

The president was also very quiet on poverty, inequality and failed to address the disaster that happened in Budiriro and many parts of Harare were citizens have been left homeless after their houses were destroyed by the authorities.

All these years the big Chefs who have been allocating people illegal land have been doing it under the blessing of this government.

Skating the issues
These are critical and urgent issues affecting our people, and we expected the President to say something about it. Instead, Mugabe was skating around the real issues, talking about a ten point plan whose origins no-one knows.

It is not surprising that, like ZIMASSET, the ten point plan will only remain on the mouths of government leaders and the state media.

The president told the nation that he has a plan for the diaspora, while forgetting that millions of Zimbabweans either fled from the economic or the political crisis authored by Mugabe himself.

An appeal
Mr President, we appeal to you to restore what you destroyed, and for sure all Zimbabweans in the diaspora will graciously come back home.

This is the same diaspora that was denied the right to vote by your government, and yet they are Zimbabweans. From the look of things more and more Zimbabweans are going to leave Zimbabwe for greener pastures.

As I conclude, I would say that Mugabe and ZANU PF have destroyed Zimbabwe in spectacular fashion. Those who cannot accept this reality are either possessed, or have had rose-tinted glasses surgically implanted.

Everything seems to revolve around self-enrichment, power and holding on by all means necessary. There is zero accountability and the so-called rulers are fleecing the poor.

Mr President, if you have any self-dignity after your SONA, then please gracefully walk away.

This article is an edited version, the original version is  on https://wazaonline.com/en/article/mugabe-doesnt-know-the-state-of-the-nation

Blessing Vava is a blogger who writes from Chipinge in Zimbabwe. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com. Twitter: @blevava

Monday, 24 August 2015

Time for Zim’s civil society to go back to the basics

 By Blessing Vava

The defeat of the opposition in the June 2013 elections was a huge setback in the struggle for democratic change in Zimbabwe.  The result not only left the opposition in disarray, but led to another split which saw the birth of the MDC Renewal to add on to the already many existing and yet ineffective divided opposition parties in Zimbabwe.  

Equally, the defeat of the opposition had a direct bearing on the operations of the civil society since many of these organisations have for long been fighting from the corner of the MDC-T.

 Over the years, the relationship of the opposition and that civil society has been that of a love and hate relationship.

Moreover the MDC was formed by civil society organisations and other social movements of that time who came together to mount political resistance to ZANU PF’s dictatorship. 

The struggle for a new people driven constitution became the epicentre of the mass mobilisation campaign that necessitated the formation of the MDC in 1999 to challenge political power in the upcoming elections of the year 2000.

 It was the resolve, volunteerism, selflessness determination, the united forces of students, the working class, the churches and other social movements who, despite the violent campaign by ZANU PF made significant strides in posing a serious challenge to the ZANU PF government.

However during the past decade the civil society has not been homogenous in its approach and operations, shifting positions, and at times going against declarations and ideological positions that compromised their existence.

In fact the civil society reneged from its primary and core business of bringing the government to account, rather went into the armpits of government.

The constitution making process is one livid example when Zimbabwe’s civil society went against their long held belief, which set minimum benchmarks on   the writing of the country’s supreme law.

It was agreed during the National Working Peoples Convention of 1999 that the writing of a new constitution should be democratic and people driven. However the first compromise was to support a politician driven constitution making process during the time of the Government of National Unity in 2009.

There are different explanations given by sides, those who supported and those who were opposed to the politician’s led constitution making process.

However I believe that the operating environment has totally changed as compared to the years preceding the 2013 election. Yes, the dynamics changed hence the need for new tactics, gone should be the days were the civil society goes into bed with political parties.

 There is no doubt that civil society at the moment is at its weakest, with donor fatigue, collapse of some organisations and fatigue amongst the membership and this is mainly attributed to the loss of the MDC. I argue that however there is greater need for self-introspection because  the current civil society has been dominated by elite cliques and cabals with very limited organic mass relationships.

 To put it candidly, I would say that the civil society of today should shy away from too many elite meetings that are disconnected with the people. The civil society in the past few years has been characterised by elite declarations and blueprints which have generally failed because they have no mass ownership.  There is greater need for a paradigm shift, move out of the comfort zone of issuing countless press statements and hosting press conferences while shying away from the grassroots.  

 History has taught us that powerful, social-political movements are a consequence of mass agitation and unless we resolve this conundrum we can continue launching as many blueprints but they are weak because they are not backed by popular legitimacy. The question has always been about popular legitimacy, without the masses, there is little that the civil society can do to influence any fundamental change in our society. It is the masses that drive the civil agenda not vice versa.

Therefore, the civil society has to go back to the basics, it can be done, and the No Vote in 2000 came as a result of mass mobilisation, the agitation, committment and selflessness.

The civil society should be guided by effective planning produced as a distillation of people's active participation - not just a donor funded plan of action shoved down people's throats. That has been one of the reasons of our failures. The masses will always defend the peoples manifesto and not some blue print authored by elites. Amilcar Cabral said hide nothing from the masses of our people, and we must not claim easy victories.

The revolutionary task ahead is enormous; there is need to consult residents about residents’ issues; workers about labour issues; women about women issues; farmers about farming issues; vendors about vendors’ issues. The intellectuals must be the guide and catalyst NOT the replacement of the people - organic agitation and exchanges lead to a popular movement which in the hour of need will defend its demands. The civil society should therefore continue holding government accountable and stop this business of going into bed with political parties.

NB: No part of this article may be used without prior permission from the author and please acknowledge the source.

Blessing Vava writes from Chipinge in Zimbabwe. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com