The caution with which the Zimbabweans received the news of a possible breakthrough in the ongoing talks between the political rivals in that country is understandable.
Over the last ten years or so, the people of Zimbabwe have had their hopes raised only to be disappointed and shattered over and over again.
We have always maintained that while the Zimbabweans had to be helped to find a lasting solution to their problems, the ultimate responsibility rested with themselves to come up with such a lasting solution.
While we understand the pessimism which is more a result of past broken promises and failure to live up to undertakings, especially by Robert Mugabe, this time around we want to give him the benefit of doubt.
We are well aware of the difficult position Mugabe finds himself in, given the kind of people surrounding the old man, many of whom have not the slightest understanding of how democracy works.
The reality of the situation is such that Mugabe’s situation is worsened and further complicated by the fact that the people surrounding Mugabe are fearful of the fact that should they lose power, the atrocities they have performed against innocent people in the past would come back to haunt them.
It is exactly because of those reasons that we are of the view that skewed though the agreement seems to be, at least it offers a breather of hope for the people of Zimbabwe to finally start a long march which will help them to eventually turn their back against what by all accounts has been a disgraceful phase in the history of that great nation.
Through these times of uncertainties, our hearts are with the ordinary people of Zimbabwe who, for such a lengthy period of time, have been forced to go through some of the worst atrocities ever meted on an unarmed citizenry by a government that is supposed to be defending and protecting them.
We want to emphasise that the details of the agreement reported to have been reached by the ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change remain sketchy.
That said, it remains our hope that while concessions would no doubt have been made by either party, it should remain high on the minds of all the negotiating parties that the will of the people of Zimbabwe should, under no circumstances, be compromised.
We are willing to tolerate a negotiated settlement only on the understanding that such a settlement will be short-lived and limited in scope.
Our view is that the use of such an abnormal settlement to get out of the morass should be limited and only be used as a safety valve out of the current impasse, beyond which the power to choose a government will be given back to the people to whom it rightly belongs.
In this spirit, we are of the opinion that the abnormal situation would not be given a life span of anything more than two years.
More importantly, the implementation of the road back towards normalcy where the people will have an inalienable right to choose their government will have to be restored as a matter not just of principle but also urgency.
Zimbabweans cannot be led by a negotiated government forever, especially given the potential cumbersomeness of the deal.
In the same vein, it is our fervent hope that as more details of the agreement emerge it will be one of its central features that the international community, especially in the form of SADC will be allowed to oversee the transition period as well as monitor the implementation of this phase which, as we put it, will only be temporary.
Mugabe has proved too cunning in the past to be allowed another chance to derail the destiny of the people of Zimbabwe.
Cynics say he is agreeing to any form of power sharing as a result of the intense pressure that that has been unrelenting on him for the last five months.
Cynics further point out that Mugabe will use the deal as a way to buy time before somersaulting into his traditional cunning ways.
We understand such apprehensions.
But we want to point out that while such apprehensions are not altogether unfounded, the stakes are so high that we cannot afford not to give Mugabe and his henchmen another chance for, as we have come to learn, there can be no lasting solution in Zimbabwe that does not involve Mugabe.