When common sense paid a rare, fleet­ing visit

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion - Spec­trum Jo­ram Ny­athi

MOST peo­ple would be aware of the Ezul­wini Con­sen­sus reached in Swazi­land in 2005 and adopted by the African Union in Ethiopia. It con­tains a mod­est pro­posal for a big­ger say by Africa in the af­fairs of the United Na­tions, the world’s most rep­re­sen­ta­tive or­gan­i­sa­tion by coun­try af­fil­i­a­tion.

Given its pop­u­la­tion size and nat­u­ral re­sources, and the global vil­lage’s ob­ses­sion with rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­racy, Africa has de­manded that it be al­lowed to have two per­ma­nent mem­bers with veto power in the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, and five non­per­ma­nent seats.

At the mo­ment Africa is the only re­gion not rep­re­sented in the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

There is no other ex­pla­na­tion for this ex­clu­sion other than that the con­ti­nent was largely un­der colo­nial rule when the UN was formed on the ashes of the League of Na­tions in 1945, and there­fore did not have a voice. Africa was a dark con­ti­nent. But then democ­racy it­self did not ring so loud for the Dark Con­ti­nent then. And things have changed, we have moved on, the world is sup­pos­edly more en­light­ened.

Why is democ­racy com­ing alone on to the Dark Con­ti­nent and leav­ing be­hind the nec­es­sary power and rep­re­sen­ta­tion at the world’s most in­clu­sive body’s ex­ec­u­tive arm, the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil?

That must have been the sim­ple but pro­found rea­son­ing of the African lead­ers who gave birth to the Ezul­wini Con­sen­sus in Swazi­land back in 2005.

More than a decade later noth­ing has hap­pened and rep­re­sen­ta­tion at the UNSC re­mains a mat­ter of grave concern for African lead­ers seized with the ad­vance­ment of its peo­ple and their role in global af­fairs.

It is not an idle de­mand, but a mat­ter of demo­cratic rep­re­sen­ta­tion. It is about the dig­nity of Africans. One would there­fore ex­pect this plain truth to be self-ev­i­dent to the lo­cal champions of democ­racy, in­clud­ing their po­lit­i­cal move­ments, and civic so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions.

The in­tel­li­gentsia too. The future lead­ers, those peo­ple one would ex­pect to carry on the fight for Africa’s place in the sun, to give fruition to the dream of their fore­bears. Why should Africa not be rep­re­sented in the UNSC? When Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe re­turned from the 71st UN Gen­eral Assem­bly in New York last week, he in­di­cated that African lead­ers had dis­cussed a pos­si­ble with­drawal from the UN if there were no re­forms to ac­tu­alise the Ezul­wini Con­sen­sus.

He did not say Zim­babwe wanted to pull out, but that it was ready to, in sym­pa­thy with the common African po­si­tion, if there was no move­ment on this vi­tal mat­ter by Septem­ber next year.

The re­marks were at­tacked by the dis­tor­tion­ists who know only too well who but­ters their bread; the front run­ners against any pol­icy which seeks to em­power black peo­ple – the Mu­gabeism which must be up­rooted branch and root.

It was like Mu­gabe had said slav­ery was good for the African when the in­ten­tion is the ex­act op­po­site.

The state­ment was twisted and dis­torted no end, with dire sce­nar­ios man­u­fac­tured to cre­ate max­i­mum fear about the fund­ing ben­e­fits Zim­babwe would lose by with­draw­ing its UN mem­ber­ship.

But all those seem­ingly prac­ti­cal and ra­tio­nal con­sid­er­a­tions were only a mask for some­thing sub­lim­i­nal – fear of chal­leng­ing any­thing that an­chors and sanc­ti­fies white supremacy.

If Amer­ica and Europe don’t want African rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the UNSC, then it must be bad for Africa, it is not a pri­or­ity.

African rights come third, sev­enth, tenth af­ter those of white Amer­i­cans and Europe. White rights and dom­i­nance are or­dained by the divine, they can­not be sub­tracted, not even by the march of his­tory and en­light­en­ment since 1945, let alone at the be­hest of Africa. There, his­tory must stand still.

The crit­ics should have saved their pre­cious words. Africa has never been known to act in con­cert to de­fend its own in­ter­ests. Not when most na­tions on the con­ti­nent are led by the likes of Ian Khama who have no qualms about caus­ing un­nec­es­sary ten­sions in or­gan­i­sa­tions sworn to re­gional in­te­gra­tion such as the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity.

It would be next to im­pos­si­ble for peo­ple like Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe to mas­ter enough num­bers at the critical mo­ment for a quo­rum to even draft a with­drawal res­o­lu­tion.

The re­sis­tance will, as usual, be led by the same black in­tel­lec­tu­als who help to serve the white world and its in­ter­ests to­day, the same Lazaruses crouch­ing for crumbs un­der the ta­ble who be­lieve singing for white do­na­tions and spon­sor­ship sig­ni­fies in­de­pen­dence of thought, and de­ride what they de­scribe as pa­tri­otic jour­nal­ism.

Only the white man makes au­then­tic, gen­uine, neu­tral his­tory. The in­de­pen­dent African in­tel­lec­tual and jour­nal­ist has a pa­tri­otic duty to lis­ten to the white man’s view of the world.

But that is to miss the point. The is­sue is not whether or not what Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe said is prac­ti­cal or prac­ti­ca­ble. It is about at­ti­tude, a mind­set which says Africa must be free.

Free of for­eign dom­i­na­tion, free to ex­ploit its vast nat­u­ral re­sources for the ben­e­fit of its peo­ple. A veto power in the UNSC means Africa can stop das­tardly de­ci­sions like those of the Berlin Con­fer­ence in 1884, or Res­o­lu­tion 1973 of 2011 which led to the de­struc­tion of Libya. Un­for­tu­nately, the spirit of African in­de­pen­dence long died from sur­feit of white in­tel­lec­tual pa­tron­age. Loben­gula could not read when he re­port­edly put the in­fa­mous X to the Rudd Con­ces­sion; we sign our own death cer­tifi­cates with our eyes wide open. Ev­i­dence: as the na­tion fights to build a new, in­dige­nous-owned econ­omy, op­po­si­tion lead­ers have no shame about mak­ing a bee­line for Chatham House in Lon­don to seek en­dorse­ment and pa­tron­age money by de­nounc­ing the same poli­cies. They re­turn home to face re­jec­tion at the polls. Yet their so­journ is not such an aber­ra­tion. It’s log­i­cal. An aber­ra­tion was the Daily News Com­ment on Wed­nes­day this week. --------A rare tale from The Leader head­line was mun­dane enough, “Stop the vi­o­lence”. That was in the is­sue of Septem­ber 28, 2016. It re­lated to a story of Zim­babwe Peo­ple First of­fi­cials who were re­port­edly beaten up by po­lit­i­cal rivals in Gu­ruve, Mashona­land Cen­tral. This is a news­pa­per which doesn’t tire of re­mind­ing the na­tion about “much-an­tic­i­pated” elec­tions as if they were on to­mor­row. This time around it ac­knowl­edged har­monised elec­tions were still far away, yet po­lit­i­cal tem­per­a­tures were ris­ing sharply. The up­surge in po­lit­i­cally-re­lated vi­o­lence was dis­turb­ing, the pa­per ob­served. I was com­pelled to check again the mast­head if I was read­ing the right pa­per. It was too sober to be true. Be­cause in the past f ew months ahead o f the Sadc sum­mit in Swazi­land and the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly in New York, the pa­per seemed to run out of su­perla­tives in de­fence of vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions around the coun­try, claim­ing this was a right en­shrined in the na­tional con­sti­tu­tion. ----- Democ­racy in prac­tice.----It is the same pub­li­ca­tion which propped up a pa­per tiger called Evan Mawarire be­fore he met his Wa­ter­loo in New York last week, leav­ing his flock of the equally gullible high and dry back home.

It was the same pa­per which in­cited the vi­o­lent demon­stra­tors who said they wanted to march to State House to force Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe out of power.

The same pa­per again which reported lustily about how the Nera en­sem­ble was “un­fazed” or would “ig­nore” a po­lice ban on demon­stra­tions in Harare, and how they have “out­wit­ted” the po­lice.

When the po­lice in­ter­vened to stop the vi­o­lent protests, they were ac­cused of bru­tal­ity, of us­ing ex­ces­sive force even when they were be­ing at­tacked and stoned by the pro­test­ers.

The pa­per was lit­er­ally in the op­po­si­tion trenches cheer­ing the vi­o­lent protests on while also ap­peal­ing to Sadc lead­ers and the United Na­tions to in­ter­vene. Head­lines about Zim­babwe or Harare burn­ing en­tered its lex­i­con with undis­guised gusto.

Wed­nes­day’s Com­ment rang with a sober tone for once since the pa­per’s lucky res­ur­rec­tion af­ter com­mit­ting le­gal sui­cide in 2003. Lis­ten to this:

“There is no way we can tell the po­lice how to do their job but we hope they will leave no stone un­turned and ar­rest who­ever blud­geoned Mu­tam­bara and com­pany re­gard­less of their po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion.”

In­deed, let the po­lice do their job. Es­pe­cially if you can’t tell them how to do it, like han­dling vi­o­lent protests against an elected govern­ment.

That’s the only way we can all help “stop the vi­o­lence”. Vi­o­lence is like a veld­fire. It can con­sume those who in­cite it, too. The pa­per lamented that we have “nur­tured vi­o­lence” into a na­tional cul­ture. This was blamed chiefly on politi­cians. It would be too close to the bone to point out the role of ir­re­spon­si­ble jour­nal­ists who ev­i­dently don’t know what to do with so much free­dom.

As I fin­ished read­ing the Com­ment, I re­flected char­i­ta­bly: Could this sig­nal the be­gin­ning of re­spon­si­ble jour­nal­ism, or was it rare common sense mak­ing a fleet­ing visit?

It was a gross aber­ra­tion. The fol­low­ing day we were back on the fa­mil­iar path of a night­mar­ish Zim­babwe.

When Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe re­turned from the 71st UN Gen­eral Assem­bly in New York last week, he in­di­cated that African lead­ers had dis­cussed a pos­si­ble with­drawal from the UN if there were no re­forms to ac­tu­alise the Ezul­wini Con­sen­sus. He did not say Zim­babwe wanted to pull out

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe

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