He told a delegation of the Zimbabwean civic society visiting the country on a lobby campaign for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe:
“I know that it is frustrating but postponing elections until things are right as much as is possible is the best thing to do. Elections that are rushed without the requisite conditions of stability, peace and foundations for democracy are not a solution.”
He said the Zimbabwean situation wa s very complex but one that they had been watching since the beginning of the downward spiral of the country in its politics and economy, which started while he was serving as a minister under President Joachim Chisano.
Simao said that at the time, in the early 2000’s, again Mozambique was chair of SADC and he remembered being asked to mediate between Zimbabwe and Britain.
“Europeans and Africans are in pursuit of the same thing but points of emphasis and prioritisation are different. Our experiences with wars even against colonisation have shown us that democratisation is not a rushed process. Stability and peace are paramount in the democracy-building project, and should be emphasised ahead of democracy, because it is their product.” Dr Simao said.
“Europeans are interested on just the later, instead of promoting peace first as the backbone. They are interested in justice only, but sometimes this preoccupation with justice ahead of peace and stability can prolong the peoples suffering as can be seen in Zimbabwe and also in conflicts in the great lakes region involving the Lords Resistance Army ( LRA).”
Dr.Simao stressed that in spite of their experience with Madagasca, solutions there or elsewhere may not be solutions for Zimbabwe because there is no one size fits all to the continent’s political challenges. He urged continued dialogue between political actors and civil society as well as amongst themselves as part of the way to solve challenges.
Dr Simao also highlighted that inspite of the reality that they were no longer in government, he would appraise the Mozambican government on the delegation’s submissions as well as former President Chisano.
He said former President Chissano retained an interest in the Zimbabwean question because of his foundation’s quest for peace promotion, social and economic development as well as cultural cementing of the above two pursuits.
Dr.Simao commended civil society for being engaged on the Zimbabwean question, and the way in which they presented issues, stressing that the kind of impartiality they displayed was key to continued engagement.
“Part of the problem has been perceptions that civil society is political parties in disguise. But we can now see that this is not so. Remain engaged and continue this work in a non-partisan and impartial manner. It is important that ZANU Pf does not see your engagements as attempts to just push them out. It is not easy for liberation movements to transform into normal political parties, but it can be done, people temper their language and engage in progressive discussions around their country.”