Everyone is talking about it. About what? Why about the "National Vision Document" (NVD), of course.
John Makumbe has called it "deceptive and demented".
Bishop Levee Kadenge of the Christian Alliance has a quarrel not so much with the content of the NVD (at least with the early version he reviewed) but with the "process" by which the church leaders have sought to "vet" the NVD (i.e., with the Mugabe regime first, and the people--if at all--second).
The Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo and fierce Mugabe foe, Pius Ncube, like Kadenge, recognized the relevance of some of the issues raised in the document (he said a "half a loaf is better than no loaf") but doubted the sincerity of the government.
The chief of the Zimbabwe electoral monitoring organization, ZESN, Reginald Matchaba-Hove, has been quoted as saying that the "NVD", to him, means "normal vaginal delivery" (Dr. Matchaba-Hove is a practicing physician in addition to being the country's chief elections watcher) but that this so called NVD appeared, in his professional opinion, to be stillborn.
Although the GOZ intitally embraced the NVD, after apparently forcing through some last-minute sanitization to remove those parts that were most offensive to it, it now seems wholly intent on aborting the process, if the recent attacks in the government mouthpiece, the Herald, are any indication.
Now it is opposition MDC MP Trudy Stevenson's turn. Writing in newzimbabwe.com today, Stevenson states that although "[the] attempt by church bodies to persuade Robert Mugabe and his government to engage with the people to solve our national impasse and move towards The Zimbabwe We Want is entirely laudable", the document "appears to have been watered down at the last moment, undoubtedly to remove those sentences and paragraphs which offended Mugabe or might possibly offend him. This being the case, it is most unlikely that the opposition and civil society will find it worthy of real engagement, and this is a tragedy, in view of our dire straits as a nation."
My only bone to pick with Trudy Stevenson is with regard to her contention that "sovereignty" is not one of the core values of the Zimbabwean people. The problem, as leading Zimbabwean human rights lawyer, Jacob Mafume has stated, has more to do with one's definition of sovereignty. The GOZ's constricted and self-interested definition of sovereignty considers anything that poses a threat to the regime's hold on power (like press freedoms, robust debate) as a "threat to sovereignty". The issue of sovereignty, Mafume has said, has now transcended borders, and is now defined in terms of shared values and principles hence the existence of the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press and the 2002 “Banjul Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa” , among others. Sovereignty is now being defined and strengthened through guaranteeing and protecting the freedoms of citizens and not necessarily in terms of geographical confines. Seen in this light, sovereignty is, indeed, a core value of the Zimbabwean people.
Read Stevenson's whole article here.