SA cannot continue as facilitator

HARARE - In our African tradition, when two people want to get married, the family of the man scouts for someone known and respected by both families to act as the “go-between”, a facilitator, a mediator.

He not only delivers messages from one family to the other but also counsels and advises them.

The go between is privy to what both families think and want but does not betray that information to either family. Instead, he or she monitors the progress of the negotiations with the primary goal of making that marriage possible.

The go between, or munyayi, commands respect of both families and his word is taken seriously by both. He defuses potential hiccups that might derail the impending marriage.

Thus, munyayi is a builder who saves situations, especially when the parents of the bride start making unreasonable demands.

I am fascinated by the go-between’s credentials. His biggest and most valued asset is neutrality; his ability to treat both families as equals and advise one family against the other while doing the same with the other family.

When all has been said and done, when the happy couple has been granted the go ahead to marry, it is the go between who smiles for having literally negotiated towards the marriage of the young couple.

The go-between is tough but gentle, kind but firm. He listens and gives advice yet makes no unilateral decisions on his own. He carries the message as given to him even if the message is one that goes against the advice he had given.

He fights to unite the two families.

The go-between is not an envoy because he belongs to both families. His interest is in the success of the bonding. He thrives on seeing a successful marriage because he knows that when two people marry, it is actually two families, two clans or even two countries that are being united through the marriage.

It is the go-between’s fairness and desire to unite that drive him.

At national level, we have a serious situation that has seen our nation severely polarised along political lines and, as a result, even along tribal lines, if calls to partition Zimbabwe are anything to go by.
For 32 years, our nation has lived under the rule of one man and political party, something that is definitely unacceptable. It is an indication that something is not right.

Indeed, in 2008, Robert Mugabe’s supporters resorted to violence from which our nation still has to recover.

The violence before, during and after that election took the lives of hundreds of our compatriots.

To this day, Mugabe and his Zanu PF continue on their wayward path of harassing the citizens while breaking rules, both economic and political, of dealing with other nations and governments, including those in opposition in our country.

The acrimony deepened until Sadc intervened and somehow South Africa emerged as the “go-between”, the so-called facilitator, tasked with bringing harmony among the violently disagreeing political parties.

First, it was former president Thabo Mbeki who embarrassed himself by taking sides in a dispute in which he was supposed to play peacemaker.

Then came Jacob Zuma.

Zuma says all the right things but does none of them. With every visit, his facilitation team returns empty-handed.

For more than five years, Zimbabweans have seen talks, talks and more talks.

When the Voice of America’s Studio Seven told Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that, according to mails they receive, people are fed up with this long negotiation process, he said: “They will have to be patient,” and added something about Rome not being built in a day.

Oh, dear! Back to South Africa, the go-between.

In 2008 when Zimbabwe held its last elections, as many as 200 people were murdered and the police, army and Zanu PF vigilante groups are blamed for the killings.

Last week, it was revealed that South Africa the mediator or go-between in Zimbabwe, while outwardly busy trying to bring peace in Zimbabwe had in fact, been selling weapons worth more than R2,5m to Zimbabwe this year despite its commitment not to arm countries with “political complications”.

Zuma does not view Zimbabwe as a country with political complications, much as Thabo Mbeki said there was no crisis in Zimbabwe.

Africa does not appear to be politically mature to solve its own problems. So much for African solutions to African problems! South Africa shamelessly sells weapons of war to a man they are supposed to bring to order and stop from annihilating his own people.

South Africa cannot be facilitator in Zimbabwe; South Africa is not neutral, firm or determined.

Their intentions are not in our interests. -  Tanonoka Joseph Whande

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