The Herald takes a stab at the Daily News after the flopped mass stayaway

On Wednesday, the excitable Daily News, which has been overzealously praying for political violence to precipitate some kind of Arab Spring, ran an Armageddon-like apocalyptic lead story headlined “Anxious nation holds its breath”. The garrulous paper anticipated a massive opposition demonstration that would degenerate into an orgy of violence and destruction that would be the “endgame” for the ruling Zanu-PF party.We were told that “Zimbabweans are on tenterhooks as the country’s rot deepens and civil unrest snowballs – with pressure groups and opposition parties planning another debilitating nationwide stay-away today…” Unfortunately for them, this sick drama they have been playing in their minds over and over did not materialise as Zimbabweans ignored the so-called stay away and terrorist threats by shadowy elements. Yesterday, the paper had to beat a hasty retreat and came up with a whole new idea that served to show us that Wednesday’s monumental flop had had a sobering effect on them. The paper carried an editorial comment titled, “Dialogue the only way forward”. Excerpts of the Daily News’ comment yesterday which sought to camouflage the previous day’s monumental error in predicting a mass stayaway which however, failed to take place The comment, which we reproduce below, is instructive in at least four major ways. First, it is an admission that the call for a shutdown and the attendant orgies of violence and looting have no takers in Zimbabwe and this is significant on the part of the paper after months of behaving like a teaser bulls. They wished for a classic Eddie Cross-ish “let-it-crash-and-burn” scenario, which did not materialise. The second and third important things, as related, is that the paper recognises that the country has recorded some positive economic indicators and that it has fallen foul of the inclement weather in the form of El Nino induced drought. Lastly, on the issue of dialogue itself, while in principle it is a good idea that the nation faces itself and introspects and dialogue, we are rather amused by the Freudian Slip in the Daily News telling us that the Lancaster House Agreement took place in 1978. Even elementary learners of history will know that the Lancaster House Constitutional Conference took place in 1979. Maybe the Daily News hankers after the Abel Muzorewa-like settlement, which took place in 1978! Of course, we are not for the idea of some failed political forces seeking power through the back door. We maintain that dialogue happens during campaigns and this gives the best teams and people a mandate — such as Zanu-PF is legitimately enjoying now until 2018 when the next elections are due. The following is the DailyNews’ Damascene moment. *** Following the Zanu-PF led government’s failure to fulfil its 2013 elections promises, resulting in massive protests across the country, it only makes sense for President Mugabe to urgently call all opposition political parties and other stakeholders for a meeting to map the way forward. For the past few years, Zimbabwe has hurtled from one crisis to another-from economic regression, unemployment, and almost insurmountable corruption diseases to cash shortages- and this calls for national dialogue of sorts with citizens as a way o9f finding a common approach and a way out of this crisis. Mugabe’s recent decision to use or misuse the security sector to crash rising dissent is a sign of an insecure state that is afraid of its citizens because of its failure to improve the lives of the people who voted them into power. The recent wave of protests come as Zimbabwe’s economy is sliding toward its biggest crisis since 2009, when hyperinflation forced the government to dump the Zimbabwean dollar, effectively adopting the United States dollar as its national currency. For the past two months, the government has been late in paying its military, police and other public employees, whose wages consume more than 80 percent of official spending. On payday, long queues form at banks, which have restricted the amount of cash that can be withdrawn. The central bank said lenders at the end of May had enough dollars just to cover four percent of deposits. On July 26, daily volumes at the Zimbabwe stock exchange dropped to $105, down from about 1 million at its peak. Meanwhile an El Nino- induced drought has left some 5,5million Zimbabweans, among them 40% of rural population, with insufficient food, the US Agency for International Development said. The economic challenges are exacerbating a power struggle within the ailing nonagenarian’s Zanu-PF party as warring factions jostle for power. For the sake of national; security and economic development, Mugabe is advised to adopt the negotiating route to end the current impasse in the country rather than sticking to the misuse of the uniformed forces. Zimbabweans have been suffering for too long and its time all the stakeholders speak with one voice and call for dialogue. We have seen the power of dialogue as it helped to end the Second Chimurenga through the 1978 Lancaster House Agreement as well as the establishment of the Inclusive Government that came as a result of the 2009 Global Political Agreement. Only dialogue can help bring relief to millions of suffering Zimbabweans who have been at the receiving end of Mugabe’s misrule for the past 36 years.

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