Professor of World Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Stephen Chan (PC), has said Zimbabweans have to find solutions to their own problems adding that other countries are currently grappling with their own issues hence they do not have time for sideshows.
He made the remarks in interview with the Daily News (DN) during which he commented on the envoy sent by president Cyril Ramaphosa to assess the Zimbabwean human rights crisis, 31 July anti-corruption protests and the possibility of a government of national unity.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
DN: What role should South Africa play to assist the resolution of our crises?
PC: South Africa is having desperate problems of its own right now. So is China, by the way. No one is going to come to rescue Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans feel entitled. But, right now, it’s down to Zimbabwe itself — by itself.
DN: Is an inclusive government the panacea to our problems?
PC: Mbeki wants to try this again. But it can’t be by the same means as last time. Then it was not just that there was a coalition — this restored some international confidence — but there was also the use of US dollars. Zimbabwe would have to look seriously at that again, but this time it will be harder. No one wants to make dollars available. In short, inclusive government only works if there is an economic foundation.
DN: What is your assessment of the foiled July 31 protests?
PC: The protests were suppressed at great financial cost to the government. It was a successful show of force, but an expensive one. Zimbabwe has 700 percent inflation, so the cost of aviation fuel for the helicopters would have increased even while they were in the air. But the same massive show of force revealed that the government was fearful of a mass expression of dissatisfaction.
DN: In your view were the protests successful as claimed by the organisers that they managed to expose the government’s heavy-handedness?
PC: The episode demonstrated that the government’s principal objective is control. Many people looked to the government for solutions to the economic and health problems. Treating all citizens as if their dissatisfaction meant support for the opposition is a misjudgment. People want economic recovery and a health plan. Only if the government consistently fails to deliver these things will support for the opposition increase meaningfully. But which opposition? The parties are divided. They too fail to inspire great confidence.
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