What if there are no reforms by 2018?

via What if there are no reforms by 2018? – NewsDay Zimbabwe January 7, 2016

TO expect Zanu PF to effectively render itself redundant is for me naïve and stupid. Ask Zanu and Zapu, they had exactly the same experience with Ian Smith’s prevarication on political reforms until they decided that enough was enough.


In 2013 before the July elections, I asked the question — what if Zanu PF wins? It turns out that I was unintentionally correct and the sad reality is that our opposition political parties had not even considered that scenario in their strategies. They never had an alternative plan. As a result they were subsequently paralysed by the shocking result and up to this day, we have all suffered for their inability to consider and plan for all probable outcomes. My greatest fear is that history may repeat itself once more, come 2018.

The most dangerous assumption we can make again is that Zanu PF will have implemented all the reforms that we want before the next elections and that we will all go to free and fair elections that will finally reflect the unadulterated will of the people of Zimbabwe. That will is obvious — it is outright discharge of Zanu PF from government through a majority vote by citizens against the tyranny, which we have all reluctantly stomached since 2000.

We are assuming that we shall then have a new President and a new legitimate political leadership that can begin to build a multi-party democratic state underpinned by inclusive coalition politics and developmental economics. What if we are wrong again?

Given the current shenanigans within Zanu PF, I have no doubt that much is going to change in its form between now and the next elections. However, the crux of the matter is whether the nature of this beast will change enough for it to accept electoral defeat through a fair transparent electoral process that it voluntarily implements? I doubt that very much.

The economy is of course the major issue. It is speaking on our behalf and reflecting the reality that without fundamental political change, the country faces severe deterioration in the quality of life of most citizens. But whether this will be adequate enough to get Zanu PF to effectively surrender political power through the ballot box remains very doubtful given our experience with them to date.

We all know that the major challenge that decimated Ian Smith rule was the economy, where the then Rhodesia became economically isolated and pressure was put to bear especially by South Africa, which was propping up the Smith regime. In addition, of course, was the raging bush war, which created a continuous danger and risk to the Smith regime.

However, the geopolitical conditions that existed then are significantly different now in that the international community, including Africa, do not view our current government as a rogue government. In fact, we have seen the international community re-engage the government, indicating a belief in those circles that Zanu PF remains a politically legitimate and acceptable option for the immediate future.

Without severe international pressure on Zimbabwe to change its political systems, especially from the rest of Africa and within the region, it is highly unlikely that we will achieve any fundamental change in our politics. We are on our own.

This makes our situation very difficult and inadvertently strengthens Zanu PF to the detriment of creating a new Zimbabwe that is significantly different from that of Zanu PF total hegemony. So although the country has become economically weak, and this will worsen in 2016 and towards 2018, I am not confident that we can achieve any fundamental or significant political change by relying on economics alone.

As long as there is no increased international pressure for democratic change and the implementation of reforms in Zimbabwe, we will continue to muddle through to 2018. I have no doubt that Zanu PF is well aware that the implementation of reforms will be its undoing. It will, therefore, do all it can to delay and postpone any significant reforms, which would disadvantage its continued hold on power. That is the reality which we must deal with now before it is too late.

What then should we do?

In my opinion, without significant action by citizens to cause fundamental political change in Zimbabwe, it is highly likely that come 2018, we will, once again, have a stolen election because there is no other way that Zanu PF can continue to be in power legitimately.

As we speak, Zimbabwe’s formal economy has collapsed and has been replaced by the informal economy that is survivalist and a secret economy that is elitist. The latter is characterised by short term corrupt transactions that continue to feed the predatory cabal and a political elite. As long as the army, the police and the intelligence services are paid their salaries, as has happened recently in December, Zanu PF believes that it is well protected against any eventuality of a mass uprising spurred on by the declining economic and social conditions. This thinking is also reflected in their most recent budget allocations to defence, security and intelligence services, which they hope will remain somewhat insulated from non-payment of salaries unlike civil servants, whose future remains precarious.

The questions we must now face as citizens, who desperately want and need political change are; what options, what can we do to cause political change in Zimbabwe? What is it that will ensure that come 2018 we have free and fair elections so that we may democratically and peacefully dismiss the dictatorship and create an inclusive democratic coalition government that revives the economy and begins to rebuild the morals and ethics of our society at large to create a new culture of political accountability and responsibility?

Clearly whatever we have done to date has not worked. The conditions pertaining in the country with regards to the role and responsibilities of opposition political parties as our change agents have not resulted in the change we want to see. Our opposition parties remain disempowered and ineffective in achieving democratic reforms as envisaged by the GPA.

This is the reality in Zimbabwe which I think we are ignoring and hoping that time will work for us on the side of change. It is futile for us to hope and wait on the assumption that Zanu PF will implode or that Mugabe will retire. What if this does not happen?

We must find new answers to these questions now and act accordingly as a collective before it becomes too late.

Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You can contact him on vtmusewe@gmail.com



  • comment-avatar
    Mazano Rewayi 5 years ago

    Our greatest enemy is not Zpf but fear. Zpf only survives because of this fear in the masses. Everyone you talk to in/from Zimbabwe fears a “Dzamara” by the state apparatus. When you ask how the state apparatus can do a “Dzamara” on all 13 million people the answer you get is “It’s not possible, but I do not want to be another Dzamara”. So we need to overcome our collective fear before we talk of political reform and what to do if Zpf were to win in 2018. Every effort should be made by the Civil Society, political parties and prominent personalities to speak the truth and to encourage the common man to speak the truth openly. That truth is simple – everyone must sing loudly that Zpf has failed! The ground swell of voiced discontent will make it impossible for the Zpf govt to govern. In fact the Zpf government is so afraid of this scenario that it unleashes the security forces on innocent individuals just to keep the masses frightened. Smith did the same. Once the fear is removed we will not have demonstration by one pastor in Vic. Falls, or some Junior Doctors in Harare or a few teachers but by the whole country at once. When that happens Zpf will not wait for 2018, they will run (Ratsiraka style). Anyway, most of those masquerading as liberators in that party are merely impostors and thieves. The opposition parties should be encouraged to organise the masses not to attend press conferences where they speak to the press and people from Europe or the USA. Here we can actually learn from Zpf in 1979 – they kept real comrades among the masses whilst Muzorewa organised massive rallies and campaigns from helicopters – result: Zpf 57, UANC 3!

    • comment-avatar

      Yes, totally agree. Clearly, “we are all cowards”.

      The issue is: Who will put “balls” into us, Zimboz? Clearly, we Zimboz, are by and large a bunch of cowards – of course we have a very-very small group of women and men who are “men enough” to confront the rogue regime. But surely, the numbers are way below the “critical mass” required to make the dictator feel the punches from the people.

      All what the dictator is feeling now are punches from the economy alone. And as, Vince correctly says, the economy alone will never be enough to topple a dictator – especially in a country endowed with varsity natural resources. The dictator will always obviously cut out some surly deals with his “Look East” friends to come & get those resource for a song in exchange for keeping him in power. Surely, this is what we are simply waiting to happen come 2018.

      What we need now is nothing else serve a credible opposition fronted by men & women of integrity, who have “balls” and who are more than prepared to put their lives on the line and mobilise our cowardice masses. This wont be an easy ask given that they will be dealing the a country of cowards.

  • comment-avatar

    You are spot on Vince. As a people we need a new strategy, and it has to be soon. Whatever is happening in ZPF is no guarantee they will be out by 2018. Guaranteed, they have a ‘Plan’ to stay in power. And nothing can be as naive as expecting electoral reforms that will lead to a free and fair election from ZPF. the easiest way to take ZPF out of power is to create free and fair conditions for elections.. and they can never allow it to be as easy as that. meaning opposition leadership should think outside the box… wake up and lead th country out of this quagmire

  • comment-avatar
    Gwindingwi 5 years ago

    Zimbabweans are a marvelous nation. This far we have avoided the destruction we see in South Sudan, Afghanistan, Libya etc. There are no bomb blasts everywhere. No terrorism, not even a hint.

    This is so because this country has excelled in the security sector. The security establishment is strong, has been made strong intentionally, with the help of North Korea. We are a North Korea in every sense. The security guard runs the show here. Everything is operated from a security sector perspective. This is why you find that in the middle of a heightened economic malady stretching over 17years, Zimbabwe required aid from China to build a military college and now they talk of a parliament building in the bush.

    Kenya, Angola and Ethiopia among other are is building infrastructure to make their economies competitive and efficient.

    The Zim Govt has instead chosen Military colleges, Longcheng Plaza, National Sports Stadium, a Chinese hotel in Manicaland…all with no meaningful economic benefit. In fact, these so called investments are taking cash out of Zimbabwe. At Longcheng, the Chinese sell Chinese made goods at retail and use the funds to expand there cash mopping projects such as playgrounds for kids.

    The reason for the above situation is that the Zim govt is a military junta who want to retain their grip on the small incomes that come from minerals as a levy. They have no interest in anything else. They will be prepared to mass murder citizens who may raise any dust.

    Thus, Zimbabwe has already receded to the level DRC where most of the military generals saw how sweet it is to exploit minerals for personal aggrandizement. The public face of this is a 92year old geriatric who sleeps, reads wrong speeches and falls at the slight gush of winds. But the real power is with the security guard and this when contrasted with progressive corporate structuring, you cannot expect anything less with the night watchman running the show.

    The Chinese, Israels, Russians etc are so happy. They are using this state of affairs to mass extract and stockpile the vital minerals in their capitals. By the time Zimbabwe wakes up to produce for the world, there will be no raw materials available. The result is, it will take no less than 500years for Zimbabweans to find a developmental formula that benefits Zimbabwe.

  • comment-avatar
    amina 5 years ago

    ZANU PF will not implement the reforms in as much as they never implemented the GNU where they refused everything except to blot the ministerial position and have excessive power even. You are right Vincent as much as even the opposition knows they are wrong to hope that ZANU PF will implement anything

    ANC’s Nelson Mandela after realizing that negotiations without real force would never implement any reform that would bring majority rule. Now ZANU PF as long as opposition has no military wing but talking and talking when they have guns and baton sticks what really do they need to negotiate for. While majority are suffering the ZANU PF are busy building mansion all over, acquiring land and companies, passing laws that are oppressive to the majority. They are passing laws of traffic offence that are 1/4 a civil servant’s none paid salary. What that means is no civil servant will drive a car. who does not commit a traffic offence at some point in a month. They are careless about those laws knowing that they will not be arrested or stopped even if they break every law left in the country since they have broken majority they are immune to law. So he got military training himself at the age of 45/46. Then spear heard the formation of Umkonto Wesizwe.

    They will not reform. Instead they will even be more evil.

    Opposition in view of that need to have military wing not talk show. There are many Zimbabweans already outside Zimbabwe, with some as young as 16 years. Willing and ready to such a noble fight. Dictators world over are removed either by civil war or foreign intervention not talk show.

  • comment-avatar
    Mazano Rewayi 5 years ago

    What we really need is organisation and of cause leadership. Guns may not even be necessary because Zpf does not have the numbers on their side even in the security sector. There is a small cabal of “high ranking” people who want to maintain the status quo. In the 2008 elections, for example Zpf lost the elections in the barracks and police stations. The rank and file are not in support of this thieving because they do not benefit from it (unless they are in the traffic section!). The opposition must get serious and start strategizing and organizing. They must start consciously seeking the right people to fill their ranks by going for more quality and less quantity in the core team. When the struggle against Zps started there were man/women of integrity who unfortunately were sacrificed on the alter of expedience. The vocal and reckless took most posts only to abandon ship when things did not go according to plan. Most MDC councilors are a good example of this. Most never understood what the fight was all about but saw an opportunity to enrich themselves Zpf style (stands, allowances, cars, etc.). The opposition needs to guard against such characters by having a proper code of conduct and specifying criteria for office. Two, the opposition need to have a clear strategy for removing Zpf – complaining and expecting people to follow you can hardly pass as a strategy. Talking about what to do when Zpf is gone whilst Zpf is still so firmly in power is equally stupid. Of cause it is wise to have an eye on the future but to talk of life across the river without constructing a bridge is silly. Let us all be serious, it’s our lives and those of our children at stake here.