By Professor Jonathan Moyo
This article was originally published on The Southern Times website in September 2016 around the time of the #ThisFlag and other regime change protests. Prof Jonathan Moyo is Zimbabwe’s minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development and MP for Tsholotsho North (Zanu PF).
If there’s one inescapable reality to interrogate without fear or favour today, it is that Zimbabweans have reached a moment of truth to come to terms with the fact that Zimbabwe’s national survival and economic prosperity are inextricably intertwined first with President Robert Mugabe’s constitutional leadership and second with his liberation legacy such that the former is unachievable without the latter.
This has become necessary to critically unravel in light of the clear and present wave of dishonesty that has been building up among regime changists and successionists across the country’s political divide since April this year.
There is now the spectre of regime changists and successionists falling on and finding each other in a common purpose seeking to grab power for its own sake.
The motley crew behind the latest crusade to grab power by any means available includes hashtag activists such as the MDC-T’s #Tajamuka whose face is Promise Mkwananzi, the US sponsored #ThisFlag whose poster pastor is Evans Mawarire, the so-called National Transitional Authority (NTA) fronted by Ibbo Mandaza, a loose affiliation of electionphobic opposition parties calling themselves NERA, misfits of African leaders such as Botswana’s Ian Khama who never misses an opportunity to please Western imperialists and some Zanu PF successionists who previously plied their politics under the cover of darkness but are now becoming daring on the social and mainstream media and even in Parliament.
This motley crew has taken into vilifying the President and is going to some unprecedented lengths under some patently thoughtless “Mugabe must go” calls which have no rhyme or reason as to their policy rationality or ideological justification. These calls are generally muted but unmistakable among successionists, whose disloyalty now knows no bounds, and very loud among regime changists.
It is common cause what the motley crew of regime changists and successionists have been up to lately. The recent trail of their destructive antics is out for all to see as are the threats they continue to make in their efforts to instil public fear and cause general instability.
What has been shocking but not surprising is the role of some foreign ambassadors—such as the Head of the European Delegation Philippe Van Damme and US envoy Harry K. Thomas—who have been notorious in their abuse of the social media to shamelessly prop up regime changists and successionists under the spurious cover of supporting human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe.
Against this backdrop, there is one overriding consideration that is true only of President Mugabe and nobody else in Zimbabwe’s political landscape as you read this; and that is the fact that Mugabe’s leadership is the product of the new Constitution and his legacy is an enduring expression of the gains of the liberation struggle. This fundamental fact defines the moment of truth that Zimbabwe has reached and exposes the wave of dishonesty that has gripped regime changists and successionists on the loose.
President Mugabe’s leadership of the country and government is an intrinsic product of the new Constitution which provides in section 88(1) that, “executive authority derives from the people of Zimbabwe and must be exercised in accordance with this Constitution”.
This provision was not in the former Lancaster Constitution. So it is new and quite significant in so far as it makes clear that the executive authority that President Mugabe has derives from the people who elected him and that it is exercised only in accordance with the Constitution. Consequently, the motley crew of regime changists and successionists who thoughtlessly say Mugabe must go are enemies of Zimbabwe’s new Constitution.
As such, the Ian Khamas of this world and their hopeless lot must be told in no uncertain terms to go hang. This is because their stance seeks to subvert constitutional democracy in Zimbabwe by overturning not just constitutionality in terms of the letter of the law but also by undermining constitutionalism in terms of the spirit of the law and its supportive conventional practice.
The new constitutional position in Zimbabwe is that only the people can tell President Mugabe to go through a national plebiscite.
Anything else from malcontents outside the constitutional process, is just mumbo jumbo.
It is notable that the new Constitution is neither a Mugabe nor a colonial document.
It is a product of a home-grown process that involved not only negotiations among the country’s key political parties then represented in Parliament but also the gathering of the views of ordinary Zimbabweans including a national referendum.
It is therefore unconstitutional and treacherous in the extreme for any Zimbabwean to say President Mugabe must go contrary to the new Constitution. SADC leaders, like Ian Khama, who want to promote and support unconstitutional calls in Zimbabwe are an embarrassment to SADC which worked tirelessly and in a dignified way to facilitate the making of Zimbabwe’s new Constitution between 2009 and 2013.
Zimbabwe’s national survival and economic prosperity necessarily depends on the sustainability of our constitutional democracy. We lose our Constitution, we lose everything. Since 1999, Zimbabweans were at loggerheads over the process of making a new constitution and the content thereof until they resolved the stalemate in 2013.
Nobody should be allowed to overthrow the 2013 constitutional pact under any circumstance whatsoever. Citizens must stand up to defend the Constitution as an expression of Zimbabwe’s moment of truth. Among other things, this means defending President Mugabe’s constitutional leadership of the country and government.
Along with the fact that President Mugabe cannot go anywhere outside the Constitution, there is the related and fundamental consideration that his leadership is an expression of the gains of the liberation struggle from a legacy point view.
The history of nation-states, especially in the Western world, is littered with instructive examples that show how countries are bonded and how their permanent interests are entrenched in the embedded and enduring laws, values, practices, customs, conventions and institutions from generation to generation by and through the founding leadership. Countries that ridicule, demonise, torment and disconnect with their founders remain politically frail and economically fragile for an indefinite period running into decades and even centuries.
Put differently, the long term security and stability of a country is a function of how it treats and permanently connects with its founding leadership as well as how and where it places that leadership in history. America’s founding fathers owned hundreds and hundreds of slaves each but they were revered and remain revered to this day even to some descendants of slaves.
The attitude of the US to founding leaders in Africa is radically different from its disposition towards its own founders.
In any event, it is notable that Western founders and funders of human rights and democracy individuals and groups in Africa do not just oppose the views, ideas or polices of African founding leaders but they demonise and dehumanise these leaders.
This is readily apparent in the works and words of the motley crew of regime changists and successionists whose only mantra is Mugabe must go: they demonise and dehumanise the President at every turn.
The same goes for Ian Khama. He has said zilch about any view, idea or policy why he says President Mugabe must go and how that is his or Botswana’s business besides demonising and dehumanising the President by pointing to his old age as would do an overgrown and delinquent juvenile.
Zimbabweans cannot hope to improve the country’s operating environment and secure a better future by demonising and dehumanising a leader elected on the basis of a new Constitution and who embodies the ideals and legacy of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle and its historic gains since 1980. That should be a no no!
Demonising President Mugabe is not the same as opposing him or opposing the government or opposing Zanu PF. To demonise President Mugabe is to dehumanise him and that dreadful practice is necessarily harmful to the country’s permanent interests in terms of stability, national survival and economic prosperity.
In a Sunday Mail interview done by Nomsa Nkala published July 2, 2012, the opposition MDC-Ts Tendai Biti, then the Minister of Finance, made these trenchant remarks which should be food for serious thought to all Zimbabweans: “We find counsel and wisdom in him (President Mugabe). His importance will be seen once he’s gone. When he’s gone that’s when you’ll see that this man was Zimbabwe.
“Some of us who came from different parties have had a lot to learn from the man. He’s a fountain of experience, fountain of knowledge and, most importantly, a fountain of stability.”
People can say what they want about Tendai Biti but he is a true nationalist with wisdom. The rest is irrelevant.
It would be mass suicide for Zimbabweans to allow regime changists and successionists to demonise and dehumanise President Mugabe under the mantra that he must go to facilitate a power grab when we, the nation, have an opportunity to develop and benefit from his wisdom, counsel, leadership and legacy today; not when he’s gone, but today. For that to happen, President Mugabe deserves the support of every Zimbabwean.
Let Ian Khama mind the desert that is Botswana’s troubled business while we mind our own challenges and exploit our country’s opportunities by taking seriously President Mugabe’s call that the time has come for us to work together to industrialise and modernise Zimbabwe.
Professor Jonathan Moyo is Zimbabwe’s minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development and MP for Tsholotsho North (Zanu PF).