President Thabo Mbeki must be a very happy man. For at last he has secured something resembling a legacy for himself ahead of his departure from office next year. In brokering a power-sharing deal between the rival personalities and parties in Zimbabwe, he has shown that Africa and Africans can indeed resolve their own difficulties and problems, if given the latitude to do so, without undue interference from non-African nations.
Over the course of much of the past decade, the political problems of Zimbabwe began to appear intractable; with the nation careering towards seemingly inevitable armed conflict. What with, a sitting president refusing to stand up to make way for change and an opposition leader unwilling to compromise on anything short of his attainment of the top job. It was not a promising situation. And as ever, in these sorts of standoffs between men of elephantine egos; it is the people who invariably suffer.
It is clear that the protractedness of the problem in Zimbabwe also owed much to external interference. Britain’s undue interest in the matter and its desire to effect the deposal of President Mugabe from office, served only to worsen the situation. Their tactics backfired, as President Mugabe became more emboldened and resolute in his desire to remain in office. And combined with their obvious preference and covert support for Morgan Tsvangirai only made matters worse.
But all along President Mbeki was insistent on adopting and implementing his own formula to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe. And this much to the irritation and annoyance of those who wished to see, post haste, the back of President Mugabe. President Mbeki has shown by his approach that the art of diplomacy is not a dead or dying one. It still has its place in world politics and it is often more effective than resorting to armed violence.
Now that an agreement has been reached between ZANU-PF and the MDC, the onus is now upon the main protagonists to make it work. The people of Zimbabwe deserve much better than what they have experienced in recent years.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who now assumes responsibility for the day to day running of the country, has his work cut out for him. Sectors of the economy that have been ignored and undermined for much of the past decade now need to be resuscitated if the nation is to return to its former pride of place.
Without any prior experience of running a government or a nation, it will be a tall order for him. It will be a stark departure from being in opposition, where one is required to say much and do little. I wish him every success in his new leadership challenge.
Given his close and cordial relations with Britain, perhaps as a start, he will be able to persuade them to lead the charge in lifting whatever sanctions – direct or indirect – that are in place against Zimbabwe immediately. To do so, would be in the collective interest of the people of Zimbabwe and the British citizens who maintain assets in that nation.
Going forward, the issue of land redistribution will crop up again. But with the new political order in place in Zimbabwe, the British government may now be disposed to resolving it, either within the framework of the Lancaster House Agreement, or by negotiating a new deal, but one which takes cognisance of the historic right of Zimbabwe’s indigenous population’s to their ancestral land.
As an aside, the power-sharing model adopted by the antagonists cum partners in Zimbabwe, is similar in part to that adopted by Kenyans to quell their recent political troubles. It is one that other African nations may wish to consider as a viable political template; because it lends itself to multi-party inclusiveness in political systems, which are notorious for gravitating towards one-party rule.
Perhaps Nigeria’s constitutionalists may wish to ponder this point. The power-share deal brokered in Zimbabwe is near enough in character to the French political system. A system which appears better suited to our current political circumstances, more so than the American system which we currently adopt. It at least bears the promise of, and potential for, multi-party participation at the executive level of government; where real power resides in our system. But this is just a passing thought.
President Mbeki deserves our collective praise for resolving the situation in Zimbabwe. From the outset, he recognised that any viable solution in Zimbabwe would have to ensure that President Mugabe retain a measure of dignity, rather than promote his humiliation by stampeding him out of office, as his chief antagonists desired. President Mbeki’s place in the pantheon of great African leaders is now assured.
Now that President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai have crossed the Rubicon they must not look back. It is now time for progressive action and co-operation in nation building.