Biti: The case for a National Transitional Authority

By: 
Tendai Biti

Waiting for Godot

WANANCHI, the motherland continues to heave and suffocate under the weight of a sterile oligarchy, exhausted and indeed frail nationalism, downright statism, indifference and inertia.

For too long we have been poisoned by the odor of vicious cycles of stagnation, failure, retrogression and excuse making.

For too long the regime has reaped reward from the grave yard of its on callous ignorance, failure and fatigue. Indeed the monster has gotten away with its own omissions, its own mediocrity and its own lack of judgment and wisdom.

The economic Eldorado promised in 2013 remains a pipe dream. A fairy tale plucked from a post J K Rawlings novel. Meanwhile, our insatiable thirst for change and democracy remains an ongoing quest to find a solution that may not be successful and may never be found. Waiting for Godot if you like.

Indeed our cry for change remains entrapped in the culpable hands of a half thinking blighted cacophony of men and women who are yet to realize the urgency and imperator of convergence.

Wananchi, it is hard to imagine a period of time in the history of this country where the State has been this weak and this fragile. It is hard to imagine a period in history where all possible fatalities have converged at one point in time rendering an already morbid State helpless, hapless and awe struck.

From 1890, the historian will not find a point in time where all the fault lines have cracked at the same point.

The Emperor has no clothes

The regime has become a clueless bystander, powerless and bemused. At the epicenter of its woes is leadership. There is simply no leadership. Quite clearly the country's chief executive is no longer in a fit and proper condition and position to run the country. If he were a commuter bus driver, no one would ride that bus.

Age is cruel, age is unkind and age has no antidote. Botox is ephemeral. The truth if the matter is that President Mugabe has become the epicenter of the country's vulnerability. He and he alone has become the embodiment of the country's new found do-nothing-stand -and -watch ethos.

The fact of the matter is that he single handedly has become the prison guard arresting the country's creativity or capacity for self recreation and self reproduction. Put simply it is now self evident that this country can only move forward after President Mugabe's departure.

In other words as long he remains in office; we will remain captured in these vicious cycles of inertia and sterility.

The elephant in the living room

Inextricably tied to this is the unresolved succession issue in ZANU PF. A matter that has created so much chaos and havoc within the misruling party such that on its own it has become a national security issue.

Ostensibly, there is a battle between the so called Lacoste faction led by the power thirsty Emmerson Mnangagwa and the dangerous and over ambitious G40 mafia fronted by the First Lady Grace Mugabe.

But beyond this, the issue is about who will control the State after Mugabe? Who will continue to keep the lines of patronage open? Who will keep the taps of rent behavior flowing?

Militarization of the inheritance

Regrettably, the power struggle has forced the bulk of war veterans and members of the securocrats to rally behind the Lacoste faction. This is notwithstanding that Emmerson Mnangagwa whose legacy is tainted by Gukurahundi cannot win a free and fair election in Zimbabwe. Thus, the third crisis, facing Zimbabwe is the militarization of the succession battle.

Recent remarks by the Army Commander Constantine Chiwenga are clearly off side of the country s constitution which requires Security forces to remain out of politics. More sadly remarks by Shuvai Mahofa a Minister of State that the army should take over, are proof beyond reasonable doubt that the army or certain sections of it are clearly thinking of a military solution to the succession impasse.

Wananchi, this military solution is commonly known as a coup de tat.

Breakdown of the Social Contract

An off shoot of the above challenges is the massive dislocation now existing in the body fabric of the state. This is a complete breakdown of the social contract characterized by different shades of social dis-cohesion and discord.

Hate speech, intolerance and Bohemianism is the order of the day. There is increase in violence, including domestic violence. There is massive increase in marital breakdowns as well as an increase in child marriages, rape, prostitution and crime.

Fatalism has also set in, resulting in millions of people flocking to mushrooming Pentecostal churches. To compound matters fear and coercion remain the key instrument of governance. Fortunately, the citizen through a nascent social movement is begging to fight back.

The #ThisFlag Movement led by a young smart pastor Evan Mawarire has caught the regime with its pants down.

Chickens coming home to roost

Next is a deep structural economic crisis, that has seen the state for once in over hundred years, accumulating wage arrears. The economy is in a massive recession fast tracking itself into a depression.

Unemployment, cash shortages and current account deficits are the new sound trek to an economy hijacked by ignorance. Excess capacity, reflected in ghost industries with overgrown grass on roofs and rusting gates, luxury downtown buildings now occupied by rodents as tenants, is now the order of the day. In turn, poverty levels have increased dramatically with per capita income collapsing to US$180 and 79% of the population now leaving in extreme poverty.

Without fresh lines of capital in the form of foreign direct investment, lines of credit and dwindling overseas development assistance, it's only a question of time before there is a total government lock down.

The Classical Failed State

The sum totality of the above is that Zimbabwe is an unstable fragile state that is on the verge of an implosion. We are in the middle of the rollover of the chaos scenario, one playing out in the presence of a very weak international law regime.

SADC and the African Union have been so weak. Equally, Brexit and the rise of the far right in the West have shrunk the capacity of the West to make any meaningful intervention. In the context of the above, Zimbabwe needs a soft landing to avoid a catastrophe.

The National Transition Authority (NTA) is just a transitional mechanism to allow an orderly transition from an extractive predatory status quo to a more democratic sustainable Zimbabwe. Without the soft lending of the NTA, an overnight transition from dictatorship to democracy is not common on the African continent.

The old order must be eased out of power. Put simply, Zimbabwe needs the NTA as a way and means of buying the peace.

The NTA is not another GNU

Unlike the GNU, the NTA will focus on key functions of transition that will be dealt with in a separate article. What is key at this stage is to underscore the point that any NTA is a negotiated outcome. This negotiation will be inevitable in a post Mugabe scenario.

The truth of the matter is that any ZANU PF faction that takes over post Mugabe will require time to consolidate. The truth of the matter is no ZANU PF faction, post Mugabe, can hold this country together. The opposition equally, will require the NTA to create an even playing field before an election.

Going to the elections now without a level playing field will spell doom for the opposition even if it is united. Equally the people of Zimbabwe need a transitional process as a rest haven away from the vicious contestation associated with Zimbabwe's electoral authoritarianism.

How the NTA is arrived at, and its composition, is clearly a subject for another article. Suffice to say that, Zimbabwe needs a managed transition and only the NTA can offer that.

Zikomo zikomo ...

Another Zimbabwe is Possible!!!

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