On 8 April 2002, The SADC facilitator and Special Envoy to then Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo Professor Adebayo Adedeji, together with the then Secretary General of the ANC Mr Kgalema Monthlante who was the Special Envoy of the President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki flew into Harare for a Special Dialogue Summit between Zanu PF then led by the late strongman Robert Mugabe and the late MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai. MDC was represented by the then Secretary General Professor Welshman Ncube.
The Special gathering had been convened after the realisation by the two protagonists that the country was in turmoil and the masses were suffering. According to available statistics at the time inflation had reached unreportable levels, over 90% unemployment, over 85% of the population was living below the poverty datum line, manufacturing sector had virtually died and ultimately Mugabe’s government that lacked legitimacy in the eyes of the world.
With the view to ending international isolation and the suffering of the masses, MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to this historic dialogue, advocating for the diaspora vote, cession of politics violence, and stop human right violations.
Fast forward to 2008 when Morgan Tsvangirai humiliated Robert Mugabe in the general election, but Mugabe unleashed unprecesseident state sponsored violence on perceived enemies and thousands of MDC cadres lost their lives in the bloodbath.
As a result of the bloody run off where Mugabe installed himself the winner SADC member states again called for Dialogue and what came out was a more comprehensive agreement, the Global Political Agreement (GNU). This ushered in the Government of National Unity. The agreement recognised that violence dehumanises and engenders feelings of hatred, nation polarisation and undermines the collective independence as a people and the capacity to exercise our free will in making political choices. The parties agreed to refrain from using hate language, coercion intimidation, violence, abusive language that may incite hostilities, political intolerance, unfairly undermine each other and ethnic hatred.
Further the parties agreed that the right to canvassing and mobilization of political activity as the cornerstone of a healthy democracy. That brings me to my next point: the current MDC leader Douglas Mwonzora has tabled the same agenda that was tabled by Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki 18 years ago, and the same agenda that was supported by SADC and backed by the African Union 7 years ago. The same agenda that SADC tried in vain to table with no success soon after the disputed poll in June 2018.
Looking back to 2002, the same items that were tabled by the MDC to Professor Adedeji and Mr Mothlante remain unresolved save for the re writing of the constitution. The MDC leader Douglas Mwonzora has been consulting the party structures countrywide on the need for the party and other players to engage in dialogue to end the country’s decade’s long crisis.
In his approach, he has introduced the politics of Rational Disputation, devoid of hate, rancour, political intolerance, violence hate speech that incites class hatred and violence. All these things are detailed in the Global Political Agreement and were the demands of the MDC in 2002 to General Obasanjo. All he has just done is to adopt an already agreed position and reminding the nation and other political players as well as traditional leaders, the church, civic society, labour, and the student movement of their obligation to this very important and historic document.
The people of Zimbabwe, drained from endless demonstrations and political Violence are now heeding his call.
In Kenya, their politics has transformed of recently, not because of the ruling party but because of Morgan Tsvangirai’s friend and long-time opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Elections in that country were always marred by violence. Violence which at one time invited microscopic attention of the International Criminal Court. But today Odinga and all opposition leaders enter into Harambe House not as visitors but future occupiers of the state property. They attend national events without fear of being labelled sell outs.
The opposition politics of Kenya is what every Zimbabwean should yearn for. Our political atmosphere is so poisoned and toxic such that people are still caught in a time warp of name calling those who disagree with them in strategy, ideology and methodology as sell out and puppets.
Defeating the whole objective why the liberation struggle was waged, political pluralism and adult human suffrage. I personally am convinced that the Rational Disputation Movement by President Mwonzora has introduced is much needed politics in this Country.
The crisis facing Zimbabwe today is three fold. There is no economy to talk much about and Zimbabwe needs direct foreign investment so that we create employment for the people of Zimbabwe. Secondly we need to end international isolation which is affecting all of us and we need to be part of groupings like the Commonwealth. This international isolation must come to an end now. Thirdly we need to end a contested legitimacy and make sure that our domestic policy is devoid of all the vices that have made us a pariah state.
In the bleakest of corners of our country, in poor rural areas, in the ghettoes, in the middle of a dark African night, you will find idealists who are bold and brave enough to challenge the system and give hope to an ailing and polarized nation.
Douglas Mwonzora is one such idealist, on the correct path and that is the reason why he will prevail.