Lovemore Sibanda

ZIMBABWE is in the throes of a political and economic crisis of gigantic proportions. The country is literally burning. Unemployment has reached unacceptable and alarming levels.

Salaries and wages are eroded daily. Public service employees are either on strike or threatening to take industrial action. Doctors, who took the Hippocratic Oath, have been on strike for nearly two months now. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to see that the two major political parties in our country, Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance contribute differently to this political and economic crises. Both parties are to blame, but Zanu PF as the governing party since independence, is largely to blame.

By their very nature political parties, particularly in times of crisis are polarising entities who generate feelings of animosity and hatred. Arguably, the leadership of both parties is in politics for personal aggrandisement and gratification, not for the welfare of the people. Whereas Zanu PF aims at remaining in power at all costs, the MDC Alliance is desperate to grab the levers of power by all means necessary. Within the MDC Alliance leadership there is this misplaced hope that the economic and financial crisis currently gripping the country, will lead to the collapse of the government and ultimately Zanu PF as a party.

The different vision for Zimbabwe of the two parties after the sudden and unanticipated fall of the late former President Robert Mugabe has created this economic and political impasse.

As Zimbabweans, how do we extricate ourselves from this political and economic crisis? History has shown us that in times of polarity and deep divisions, compromise is the best course of action.

Compromise is not a weakness but strength and sign of maturity. Leaders who compromise for national progress demonstrate beyond doubt their selflessness and humility and love for their country. To them, the country is bigger than their political views, party or themselves.

Compromise is the hallmark of statesmanship. The United States is what it is today — the most powerful country in the world — because its leaders engage in compromise at critical moments in their history. To the Americans, the US and national interests matter most, not political parties or personalities. For example, the US constitution was birthed in compromise — the “Great Compromise”. Compromise is the catchword in American politics and the Americans have managed to navigate difficult periods in their history. At this critical juncture in our history, we desperately need a Zimbabwean version of the “great compromise”. The country needs both the MDC Alliance and Zanu PF. No party, MDC Alliance or Zanu PF can take us out of this economic and political quagmire. We are aware that some people are benefiting from this polarity and economic crisis, hence they want it to go on unabated.

Decades of Zanu PF misrule, tyranny, and gross economic incompetence under Mugabe and the 2018 election have deeply divided and polarised our country. The election of 2018 widened the urban and rural divide. A rigid dichotomy now exists between the urban areas controlled by the MDC Alliance and the rural areas still under the stranglehold of Zanu PF. Seemingly, the youth, born after 1980, intensely dislike the generation who participated in the armed struggle. To complicate matters the army viewed by many as the kingmakers are losing the support and goodwill of the people. As Zimbabweans, we do not speak with one voice either domestically or internationally. We sacrifice national interests and values on the altar of sectional and personal interests.

In the context of the unfolding debilitating political and economic crisis and polarisation of our politics we need a Zimbabwean version of the “great compromise”. Our people are suffering and our leaders both in government and opposition do not care. The masses who made heroic sacrifices during our armed revolution have not reaped the full benefits of our armed struggle. It’s for their sake that we urgently need a “great compromise”.

Zanu PF, MDC Alliance, other political parties, civil society, churches, students, and workers must engage in a robust and no-holds-barred national dialogue to unlock this impasse. We have reached a stage where the solutions to the myriad of problems bedevilling Zimbabwe cannot be left to MDC Alliance and Zanu PF alone. This was the mistake of the GNU. The government through Parliament should take the lead in this regard by providing a platform and framework for an inclusive dialogue. The pre-conditions for dialogue set by both MDC Alliance and Zanu PF are unacceptable. We are our own liberators and do not need foreigners to pull us out of our self-inflicted wounds.

MDC Alliance and Zanu PF need to move away from the election mode. People’s lives are at stake here and they are crying for solutions from their leaders. Name-calling and inflammatory statements from hardliners in both MDC Alliance and Zanu PF must cease forthwith.

That is the legacy of Mugabe politics which must be buried in the dustbin of history. MDC Alliance should learn to acknowledge where Zanu PF has done well and respect the institutions of Zimbabwe.

Opposition for the sake of opposition will take us nowhere. Zanu PF as the governing party must behave responsibly and maturely, and stop scorched earth politics. Both Zanu PF and MDC Alliance should understand that politics is a zero-sum game. We are all Zimbabweans. Our differences do not make us enemies.

History will judge harshly the leadership of both Zanu PF and MDC Alliance for their failure to put the country first.

If there is a time in the history of our nation we needed visionary and bold leadership, it is now. Our problem is the lack of leadership at this critical moment in our history.