Time to sit at the ta­ble

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - COMMENT -

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.

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