The writing of a new constitution should have been an exciting and vibrant episode of momentous celebration by a nation expected to be eager to set its own code of practice away from the odour of the 1979 Lancaster House mind games.

But the very thought of an operation that seeks to gag people who are expected to speak makes Zimbabwe a gigantic and an amazing spectacle of historic tyranny in action.

Reports are abound about instructive prayers that go on forever carrying a silencing pitch and head start for the positions Mugabe wants followed. In a democracy nothing would be wrong to sell your views and ask for support. But Operation Vhara Muromo/Shut Your Mouth is essentially a violent stand against the right of a people to speak in an exercise that seeks to hear their views. What a pity.

Against this background it becomes compelling to examine and try to predict the chances of a free and fair election for the plebiscite scheduled to take place after the adoption of a new constitution.

It is also very important to remember that the violent elections of the year 2000 and 2002 characteristically followed on the heels of a constitutional exercise that was marred by bloodshed when the then ruling party failed to have its way.

It will be strange if the scheduled election rolls out and concludes peacefully without incident. It will be a shame if both parties went ahead into this election expecting violence and bloodshed, a few bodies lying in the streets, international headlines and back to the GNU sham of a marriage in which the other party looks no more than a mere mistress.

Shamefully and predictably, the next election will be marred by violence unless SADC was pushed now to start laying the foundations for conducting an undisputable peaceful election result.

The task of approaching SADC over this matter is for those who want fair play. Without SADC supervision, facilitation and observation the next election could turn out to be even bloodier and a waste of resources and time.

The most important job SADC is required to do is to facilitate the holding of a free election not just to stand there and observe one. Facilitation will mean that by the time the election is due SADC will have put in place all the manpower,technology,and necessary contingencies to ensure that the ballot is free and fair and importantly that the long delays in announcing the results of the last election are not repeated this time.

But before this election is held it is important to set the pace for a free transfer of power if the M.D.C should win. It is at the heart of the matter to be open about the need to calm the military top brass, and the sitting President about the possibility of a blanket amnesty over the political crimes committed by his party and generals under his orders.

It is indeed a contentious matter which raises temperatures but if we should be so angry as to be blinded our actions will cause the people who have a cause to fear to seek to undermine both democracy and constitutional rule.

Amnesty and the possible recalling of a seasoned military general such as Mujuru to serve as head of army in the five years of M.D.C leadership has symbolic and practical advantages. Amnesty is a way of looking ahead whilst pre-empting the ugly possibility of a military takeover or a militarilised takeover in which the sitting president may be one put forward by the army itself.

By refusing to talk openly about amnesty we encourage the kind of desperation that works against the reshaping of Zimbabwe into an accountably and democratically governed country.

There is already an appetite within Zanu PF echelons of power to carry on the kind of politics and criminality that Mugabe inspired. There are people in Zanu PF who have gained immensely from the racketeering and mafia nature of business at party ,government and state level and whist seeking to protect what they got they are wishing for more.

Zanu Pf government has and continues to provide them a platform to get extravagantly wealthy by stealing, corruption, harassment, intimidation, blackmail and murder. The kind of untouchability Zanu PF provides for these criminals is a permanent attraction for which they need not a kind of moderate syndicate leader like Mugabe.

Such people would rather the post Mugabe era was characterised by the same level of confusion and chaos that makes countries unstable and therefore weak in enforcing law and order. Without law and order criminals prosper.

The prospect of Mugabe dying in power and creating a vacuum leaves democracy at its most vulnerable point. Mugabe must be encouraged to sort out the succession issue. There is a danger of extreme anarchy if he passes on leaving a power vacuum.

To sort this issue requires him asking his commanders to put their guard down. Away from the criminality associated with the offices of these generals there is another dimension in which these commanders must be seen.

They are essentially the same people with those in the party or in government. They are soldiers yes, but they are war veterans ,they were in Mozambique and Nyadzonya,and for that reason they have a determination to keep Zanu PF in power. They are not neutral.

Put differently these guys have deeper roots than the Bright Matonga’s and Leo Mugabe’s of present day Zanu PF. In the Mafia structure of Zanu Pf they are the ultimate enforcers.

The relevance of this is that if democracy must succeed in Zimbabwe the crimes committed by Mugabe and his establishment must be pardoned which will in effect create within this security apparatus an assurance that there in no retribution if they as the last guarantors and protectors of this kleptomaniac regime should give in to free and civilised democracy.

It must therefore be a precondition that their immunity is dependent on them resigning before the next election. For the purposes of stability a respected retired general such as Solomon Mujuru must be recalled to lead the forces during the transition and five years on from there even if there was an M.D.C government.

That way you start talking to the military. That way we arrest the panic and paranoia of the generals and set in motion the eventual movement of our country from dictatorship to democracy.

Clearly it must be for the good of Mugabe and his conduits to accept, if it should be offered, that with his exit must go the whole thuggery ,brutality and excesses of the mafia state he created. Not even his children will live in peace if he decides to refuse to make far reaching reforms in exchange for amnesty. Not even the generals will live in peace.

Not even their children. It is clear that the only way out for Mugabe and his conduits is to accept that it is now inevitable to change course. No dictatorship lasts, for its very make ignites different combinations of anger and resentment which only dissolves with its overthrowing and jailing of its leaders.

The compensation of victims of torture, violence and the genocide in Matabeleland can be looked at by a commission or ministry with the view to seek to support families of those affected. The need to shame or direct our anger at few misguided men and women cannot allow us to lose sight of the fact that we have a country to run.

If we are so incensed by the wrongs committed against us to the point that we cant let go it may be the case that we are going to waiting for a chance for revenge for a long long time and by then most the principal offenders may be long dead.

The need to sort out issues over the immunity of Mugabe and possibly a list of others must be prioritised before the election. Mugabe himself should enter this debate and discussion and let the amnesty deals begin. He should provide the list of the leaders and families the amnesty must cover. The Amnesty should only cover political crimes not theft. The farms that were distributed to black farmers must remain leased to them for the 99 years except where there is multiple ownership within a family.

Neither elections nor a new constitution will adequately address the challenges Zimbabwe has in seeking to implement a transition. Of course Mugabe and the army are aware that they have lost the support of the people.

Whether they have lost that support to the M.D.C or not is a different matter. What is required is to ensure that Zimbabweans enter the post election period as free and equal citizens under a different climate of political relations and politics which ever political party has the most votes.

If we are to take the few years of the GNU as an example. It was a period of relative political calm and consequentially slight but positive economic growth. We have the energy and means to take that forward if we were willing to restart and remodel the texture of our political fabric as a nation.

Mugabe on his part needs to begin to fold in the greed disorder within his party. We need to go back to property rights and law and order. By now who has a farm can become a farmer, professionally, and build on from there. Wealth snatching is hardly a basis for developing confidence in your own country. It must stop.

We want a country where people are genuinely free to speak ,to associate and to hold those in public service accountable. We want a country that fosters an environment for successful indigenous business innovations. We want genuine empowerment of local people. We want the natural resources of our country to make the most for us all as a nation. There is no conflict between stable government, democracy and the empowerment of previously disadvantaged communities.

Zimbabwe’s tomorrow will depend on choices we make today. There is a clear need for maturity and belief in our people and country. We have a duty to sit together as a big family and iron out our differences, compliment each other in our strengths and show the world what a beautiful ,intelligent and resolute nation we are.

We must stop tearing each other apart. The stability and progress of our country will depend on what we do in the next few months. With Mugabe ageing and his mental health deteriorating the last thing we want is to miss the opportunity to throw away this dying dictator with the rubbish he stood for right. We will bury him at that diluted and contaminated rubbish mount called heroes Acre, a place where heroes lie restlessly beside carcass eating hyena’s that betrayed their dreams.

A place where gallant fighters and producers of this semi liberated country are shamed in their prize by being put to eternal grief by being laid together with escariots that turned on their own and betrayed the liberation agenda. Enough for that, for now

Beyond our anger we must have sense and compassion to see the future clearly, free of the madness, and corruption of these parasitic lunatics with whom we are all a big family called Zimbabwe. These are lunatics for whom we must show greater compassion if in our wisdom taking back Zimbabwe means more to us than senseless brawling and violence in which they confess to possess degrees.

It seems we must forgive them, grant them the amnesty first to move forward. That is where the heart of the matter lies. Outside that it is politics for its own sake with the biggest losers being the majority and the biggest winners being these losers.

Lets us all see sense and talk sense. Let us all act wisely. Zimbabwe is at crossroads. It needs clear decisive action or we haven’t seen the worst of these cowardly kind that fails to stand up to its own greed and finish the job of those who deserve to lie at the heroes acre..

Courage Shumba

Executive Director