Time to sit at the table
THE worst kept secret in Zimbabwe’s media is out: Secretary for Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, and Presidential Press Secretary Mr George Charamba is Nathaniel Manheru, that often acerbic, sometimes crude, but always informative columnist in our sister paper The Herald.
The columnist ended decade-plus journey with pseudonymous writing in the last edition of The Saturday Herald, and in his farewells was a gem that Zimbabweans — particularly the governing classes - would do good to pay heed to.
He recalled how Cde Alexander Kanengoni, the author of the unmatchable “Echoing Silences”, once chastised him to the effect that “all wars end up at the table”.
Cde Kanengoni, a liberation war hero, would know what he was talking about: he fought in the Second Chimurenga whose guns were silenced by the Lancaster House talks.
All wars end at the negotiating table. The talks may be as extractive and punishing as the Versailles embarrassment of Germany, as tempered and conciliatory as Lancaster, or as useless and unending as Camp David and the numerous other failed efforts to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Whatever the case, all warring parties at some point end up at the table, their guns left outside (sometimes temporarily) and exchanged for pens with which to sign peace agreements.
Somehow this is a lesson that Zimbabweans find hard to grasp.
In the midst of illegal economic sanctions and an unprecedented onslaught on tiny Zimbabwe by some of the world’s biggest powers, we somehow did not realise the need to unite and first secure our common national interest instead of continuously fighting each other.
And it is even worse when it comes to our governing classes, the ruling Zanu-PF party, which seems intent on expending more energy on fighting itself than on fighting economic decline.
The reports in the media last week after Zanu-PF’s Politburo meeting pointed to an unending appetite for brinksmanship and self-destruction.
Party spokesperson Cde Simon Kaya Moyo was clear: the Presidium would deal with the matter of embattled National Political Commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere.
It is out of the hands of the factionalists and successionists; it is now a matter for President Mugabe and his two deputies, Cdes Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko.
The shameful planting of stories in the private media by some characters whose identity is even more obvious than Nathaniel Manheru’s to try and distort what happened in the Politburo and put a spin to its outcome indicate a mentality geared towards the kind of never-ending war that Rumsfeld and Cheney had in their wet dreams.
But the reality is that war ends at the table, not in more war.
Zanu-PF should be focusing on the reality of a 2018 election in which it must prove once again that the spirit of political independence and its attendant economic empowerment is what drives the people of this country.
A good platform has been laid for economic recovery, and it cannot be wasted by an ugly politics that thinks being quarrelsome and loud is an indicator of influence.
The 2016/17 summer cropping season provides the governing classes with an opportunity to consolidate the land and agrarian reform agenda.
The good rains were a God-send for the Presidential Well-Wishers Inputs Support Scheme and Command Agriculture.
We are looking at a bountiful harvest, meaning food security, meaning the belly will not be an issue come elections.
Rather than taking advantage of that and extrapolating this onto wider economic recovery, we have some among us who would rather insult Command Agriculture.
The fact that these same people sit in Cabinet and profess to be policymakers — and bearing in mind they received inputs worth thousands of US dollars from the programme —tells us that they are more concerned with unending war and a poisonous brand of politics that cannot be allowed to continue at a time we should all be working towards economic recovery.
Our infrastructure needs urgent upgrading, and it is pleasing to note that the Transport Ministry has taken a leading role in fixing roads, in addition to spearheading the US$1 billion dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare Highway.
Towker-Mukorsi Dam has been commissioned, and there is much potential there for employment creation and advancing agriculture, fisheries and tourism. Our governing classes should have their hands full with these and many other projects instead of trying to poke each other in the eye while neglecting the important business of fixing the economy.