Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mbeki, Zuma amnesty to avoid repeat of Zim?

A key issue in reaching a settlement in Zimbabwe is going to be parties being able reach an accommodation on the outgoing president and Zanu-PF.

As in the case of the National Party prior to 1994, there is too much baggage being carried by Mugabe and his party for them to simply allow for a transition to the party of the majority.

The MDC would be compelled to charge many high ranking members of the Zimbabwean government with crimes against humanity.

My feelings on Mugabe must play second fiddle to the desperate plight of the poorer communities of South Africa and Zimbabwe. An estimated 5,1-million Zimbabweans are staring starvation in the face

Justice is easier to contemplate when you are sitting at home with the heater on, waiting for your lunch, than it is when you’re in a shack, starving, while state-sponsored or inspired thugs are butchering your family. Try and remember that while you are being trying to be “brave” on behalf of Zimbabweans.

Hopefully, as part of any deal, the Zimbabwean Constitution can be amended to ensure that no president or party can ever hold the country hostage again.

In South Africa, there are definite parallels to be drawn from what is happening up north, although in our case it is one of the ANC embroiled in a power struggle with itself.

This is going to hit home in the build-up to the Zuma hearing and, unfortunately, after the elections next year if matters are not brought to a head. The only difference between the hearing and post-elections is the faction who will seek to control the organs of state and the media.

In order to understand where I’m coming from you need to read two articles. The first appeared on IOL in 2005 and sets out the history of the arms deal in some detail from 1998 until June of that year.

The subsequent fall out between the president and Zuma culminated in the latter being elected as the ANC’s president and candidate for the national presidency. Woven into the fabric of this conflict was the unlawful use of state organs, which occasioned a war between the police and Scorpions and focused our criminal justice system on politics rather than fighting crime.

That war continues, with the judiciary now tearing itself apart and the NPA facing enormous pressure in having to deal with a trial that’s become a political football rather than a quest for justice.

Now read Karyn Maughan’s article on the latest bombshell from the arms deal.

In a report by an ANC task team the president’s involvement in the arms deal is coming under increasing fire while Zuma’s role appears to have been the subject of lesser criticism. While Mbeki’s denials are placed in doubt, calls for a Zuma amnesty as a “pragmatic solution” are put forward.

As I said in an article many months ago, Jacob Zuma must be given amnesty. That was before our judiciary started ripping itself apart and threats of killing for Jacob Zuma began. Many of those who scoffed at such a suggestion have reassessed the situation and have started to contemplate the same thing. These calls are going to get louder as time marches on.

Now, however, I need to include President Mbeki in the same way. The last thing this country needs is to go through the next elections, become optimistic for the future only to find that it’s payback time. This time it’s the Zuma camp taking it’s revenge on the Mbeki camp and our criminal justice system is once again being used to settle old scores while the economy takes a hammering.

If the president is backed into a Mugabe-like-corner, what’s next on the inter-factional agenda requiring delayed elections, prosecutions or the like?

While it might have slipped everyone’s minds there is an enormous amount of anger on the ground. If non-delivery, post-Polokwane, runs parallel to the current trends then the ANC won’t have to worry about the DA, FF or the UDF because losing voters will be the least of their problems. The factions won’t be arguing with each other — they’ll be too busy trying to work out how to stop a mass revolt.

If the xenophobia riots weren’t sufficient warning of the current mood what will be? I went in among the people and their anger was real. Not criminals — ordinary folks who were bitter about corruption in local councils, exiles putting up shacks next door to them overnight, the list was endless. They were ordinary people, not criminals! Ordinary people. When ministers tried to call for calm they found an anger even they did not expect, JZ included.

Before we find ourselves in another Zimbabwe-type debacle, the ANC must get together and thrash out a settlement covering both factions once and for all. Call in the opposition so that they can ensure that the Constitution is amended so as to avoid the ANC ever turning on itself again.

These include making press freedom non-negotiable, total independence of the judiciary and criminal justice systems so that they can never be employed as instruments of politics again.

That will not threaten the party it will safeguard it, its members and the citizens of this country.

If we could overcome 40 plus years of apartheid by negotiation using all parties then why not go down the same route? This country is crying out for political certainty so we can deal with the rest of our problems.

Don’t let pride come before a horrendous fall.

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