By Wisdom Mumera
The Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) has found itself at the centre of controversy following revelations that this week it is being hosted in Nyanga in a workshop focusing on the US’ Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) and sanctions.
The event was co-convened by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and sought to among other things train the politicians in such things as international relations, diplomacy and etiquette to supposedly enable them to advocate for the removal of the sanctions.
The issue of sanctions, in the famous words of lawyer Thabani Mpofu, has become a poisoned chalice, whose veracity as a justification for the country’s poor economic state is open to debate.
The other 16 parties in POLAD, minus ZANU-PF, have always had their independence questioned and their usefulness doubtful in the practical scheme of the country’s political stalemate.
Conjoining them into what is essentially a ZANU PF political campaign disguised as a national narrative against a geopolitical bully in the US, actually acts to diminish the parties’ standing even further and, like the 25 October anti-sanctions march, will be of little use to the macro-political standing of the country.
Speaking about sanctions, the tone and thematic slant of the politicians in Nyanga has been very patronizing to the hand of their benefactor and lacking in the critical analysis which should underpin any discussion of the role of sanctions in the country.
MDC-T leader Dr Thokozani Khupe said sanctions were strangling the economy and all facets of life.
“The major problem we have had is that there has not been enough advocacy on the issue of sanctions so that people understand the effects and impact of sanctions on individuals and on the country as a whole,” she said.
“We have decided that we are joining the advocacy for campaigning against sanctions and the removal of sanctions. Once a person embarks on advocacy there is a need to be clear about the issues for which you are advocating.
“So, this workshop seeks to capacitate us as political actors with the issues and facts about these sanctions so that when we do the advocacy campaign we are clear, we are factual and we are able to change the narrative and have the people affected talking about them,” said People’s Rainbow Coalition leader, Ms Lucia Matibenga.
These statements, just like the ZANU PF line, should be read within the context of the absence of any academic or scientific study of the effect of sanctions on the country.
This makes most of the statements mere political propaganda lacking valid facts.
The Albert Makochekanwa led University of Zimbabwe research project into sanctions, engineered by former Higher Education Minister Prof Jonathan Moyo died with the political fights of November 2017.
The supposed year-long research, which had a $150 000 funding, could have provided a base for a stronger campaign but presently POLAD, like ZANU PF are acting on the convenience of their political ambitions whilst suspended in a vacuum of scientific data and facts.
Whereas the 25 October anti-sanctions march was aimed at building a base for renewing consent on the centrality of sanctions as the chief cause of Zimbabwe’s problems, bringing in POLAD, created as a platform for political dialogue, to deal with such a specific and polarizing issue, is a negative on the larger aim to unite the country.
Moreso when there are still differences in the composition and trajectory of the coalition.
Henceforth POLAD will find itself with reduced standing to deal with national issues as it continues to lose its value as an independent assemblage of different political parties.
POLAD co-convener and National Peace and Reconciliation Commission chairman, Justice Selo Nare said there was need to come up with a strategy to help the country rid itself of the illegal sanctions.
“The Political Actors Dialogue has convened a meeting to discuss the topical issue of ZIDERA and sanctions, which seems to have plagued the nation. In solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the region and Africa, the political actors have resolved to deliberate on their position on the matter and churn out a strategy to help the nation rid of itself of this malady called sanctions,” he said.
That POLAD has been taken aboard the train of terming sanctions as ‘illegal’, itself a propagandist semantic so used over time as to appear normal, it’s the institution of the coalition which is in peril after this.
The public has previously complained about POLAD being President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s political project for self-convenience and the latest event serves to strengthen that perception.
Dressed any way it can be it’s apparent that the workshop is POLAD’s orientation into the ZANU PF ideology against sanctions.
POLAD had an ignominious start, lacking national appeal and constituted of fringe political players with questionable political souls and it has so far maintained its trajectory of being an un-anchored coalition ready to sway in any direction chosen by the only relevant player in it, ZANU PF.
From here there is no redemption for this grouping of political players as they have been taken into the belly of the beast.