By Jonathan Chando-
Lawyer, Political Analyst and Commentator on International Law and Politics.

London. (News of The South) – In July 2003, Mandisi Majavu interviewed Professor Wamba dia Wamba about the new government in the DRC at the time. He asked the Professor what, in his view the problems facing the new transitional government in Kinshasa were.

In his response, Prof dia Wamba responded, “The transition has taken off with the formation of a government which is like an aeroplane taking off with pilots who do not know how to pilot planes, as they have been selected on other criteria than competence and integrity; with bicycle mechanics standing in for aircraft engineers. The landing at the destination is not assured and those who are not on board may be safer.”

This could be said today about the current government led by Emmerson Mnangagwa. Looking at the composition of the Cabinet, one wonders whether Zimbabweans should have confidence in the performance of such a group of people, who have been at the helm of destruction of the country for 37 years. They have no clue as to what they must do, to reverse the very damage they helped inflict on the country’s political and socio-economic status.

In December 2017, I wrote an article titled, “Zimbabwe has always had a democratic deficit”. The article chronicled how, ZANU PF has never had a democratically elected President after Ndabaningi Sithole, who was elected by the ZANU Congress at Gweru in August 1964. He was deposed through a coup, at Mgagao in 1975 by ZANLA commanders, who then imposed Mugabe as leader. Mugabe was later crowned as President at Chimoio in 1977, by a militarised indaba, which was clearly contrary to the provisions set out in the party’s constitution.
Mugabe’s reign since then, was never a reign founded on legitimacy, although on paper, Zimbabweans falsely believed they were being led by a leader elected through a democratic process. The military has always been the guarantor and driver of Mugabe’s autocratic rule, having installed him, and setting the direction and terms of his governance.

Since 1980, the ZANU PF government has ruled as a PUTSCHIST movement, executing all its activities by coercion and involuntary conformity. Anyone who proffered divergent views was labelled as an enemy of the state. During the liberation struggle, many cadres were incarcerated for expressing their discontent with the leadership style of Mugabe and his military backers.

It is very ironic that every one of the ZANU PF senior members who gets purged, suddenly realises how undemocratic the party which booted him/her out is. While enjoying the pickings and protection of the party, they never see that they are transgressing on the people’s democratic rights.
ZANU PF has been known for violence since the 1980s when it came back from the bush. In 2002, 2005, and 2008, ZANU PF unleashed terror on opposition members, backed by the same military which purports to be saviours of the people today.

During all these times, the same ZANU PF members, who are quoting the violation of the constitution were part and parcel of the regime, and never quoted the same constitution when violence was working in their favour.
While their pronouncements on the violation of the constitution are profound and accurate, they forget that they were part of the perpetual violation of citizen’s rights all along, only realising the evilness of the system when they have fallen off the gravy train.

This is the kind of political debacle that the country faces, not only in ZANU PF, but right across the Zimbabwean political sphere. MDC is experiencing the same problems and history seems to have this funny habit of repeating itself. When Tsvangirai’s youths assaulted Elton Mangoma and Tendai Biti, for demanding a succession plan, the latter broke ranks with Tsvangirai, citing the violent nature of Tsvangirai and his youths. Biti went further to mention that violence was not part of the MDC’s democratic principles and values, which the party sought to establish among the citizenry.

It appeared good then, that BIti et al demonstrated some measure of integrity by condemning violence and all undemocratic practices. But come November 2017, The same Biti and a host of lawyers, constitutional and otherwise, euphorically applauded the military coup instituted by the defence forces against a sitting President. They even joined the people who marched and gave speeches hailing the unconstitutional ouster of a head of state.
At the time, as a lawyer myself, I urged many of my colleagues and people on social media, not to celebrate and applaud unconstitutional power grabs, no matter how desperate the nation may be for change, as it would set a terrible precedent for the future of the country.
Human rights lawyers across the country went silent when the military transgressed on members of the G40, attacking residences with automatic rifles in the early hours of the morning, when women and children were still sleeping. Human Rights lawyers knew, or ought to have known that whether a person is a criminal or a murderer, s/he must not be subjected to abuse and human rights violations because of his/her transgressions. The silence by the Human Rights fraternity was deafening during the operational phase of the coup.
The only Human Rights lawyer whose voice I noticed at the time was David Coltart. All the others, including the MDC pool of lawyers became part of the unconstitutional celebration.

Fast forward a few weeks later, the MDC lawyers began to identify the power grab as a coup, how ironic. Their belief at the time of the coup was that the new power brokers were going to rope them into a transitional government, which never occurred, hence the U-turn back to constitutionality.
This is the kind of leadership Zimbabwe has nurtured, which seeks self positioning and self aggrandisement ahead of the national interests.

Biti et al, left the MDC, citing Tsvangirai’s condonation of violence. But today they join and applaud Chamisa’s unconstitutional, ascendency to power, without even thinking of the legal flaws behind such ascendency. Where did they stash the “principles” they had when they parted with Tsvangirai? Does this not show the hypocrisy of their leadership style? They seem to always cry out aloud about the supremacy of the law when things do not seem to have worked in their favour, but will choose to remain silent when it’s convenient for them?
Today Zimbabweans are at the mercy of a leadership which does not value constitutionalism and democracy, but only cites it when tables turn against them. Zimbabwe suffers from a leadership crisis. Our leaders across the political divide are all selfish and cares less about people’s welfare and democratic governance. The violence at the MDC-T Bulawayo offices clearly show that the MDC is in the same whatsapp group with its purported rival, ZANU PF and the people of Zimbabwe are on their own.

By Jonathan Chando-
Lawyer, Political Analyst and Commentator on International Law and Politics.




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  • dundubala

    You said that Mugabe was an illegitimate president. There is no constitutional provision to remove an illegitimate leader. However, it is very bad to do a bad thing, but it is far much better to do a bad thing to avoid the worst. we breathed a bit when Mugabe was removed, because everybody who had his/her eyes open before then saw the country gliding tor wards civil war and he Mugabe was happy about it as he was busy fueling it rather than stopping it. Inevitably someone had to be brave enough to stop the nonsense. They are not innocent, far from it they are part of that evil system, but this time around sanity downed on them and did the right thing to avert the worst, though we do not condone it but we accept it

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