OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials have met veteran negotiators of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) to sharpe
n their bargaining skills as they prepare for the resumption of talks with the ruling Zanu PF.
An MDC technical task team on transitional issues chaired by the party’s national executive committee member Yvonne Mahlunge met seasoned Codesa political brokers in Pretoria recently to gather information and share experiences on transitional issues.
The Codesa process ushered in a democratic dispensation in South Africa in 1994. It was held between 1991 and 1993 in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, and represented a variety of political players.
The MDC delegation included opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s advisor, Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, party spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi, Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, Isaac Maphosa, Mahlunge and a diplomat based in Harare.
The South African group comprised former African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general and key Codesa negotiator, Cyril Ramaphosa, United Democratic Movement deputy president and ex-Provincial Affairs and Constitutional Development minister after 1994, Rolf Meyer, South African Communist Party secretary-general Blade Nzimande, and ex-ANC national executive committee member and outgoing chief executive of the National Economic and Labour Development Council, Phillip Dexter.
It also included Cape Town High Court Justice Dennis Davis, an ANC top official and parliamentary portfolio committee on justice chair, Johnny De Lange, and former South African President Nelson Mandela’s legal advisor during Codesa, Fink Haysom.
Meyer, a vastly experienced politician, was the National Party’s chief Codesa negotiator, while Haysom was also involved in advising on transitions in Chile, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Documents to hand indicate that the teams discussed case studies on transitional issues in relation to Zimbabwe.
The MDC used the meeting to gather “lessons, experiences, perspectives, and ideas around the issues of talks, negotiation and transition”.
Although the South Africans made valuable input, documents suggest the MDC “controlled, determined, guided and made decisions on the intellectual aspects of the discussion”.
The opposition wanted to sufficiently understand the terrain, challenges and complexities of talks with the aim of “develop(ing) its own suggested road map or framework of negotiations and transition”.
The MDC proposed a road map that include talks about talks for two months, formal negotiations for two months, transitional arrangements for three months and implementation of agreed issues for another three months before free and fair elections are held. It also alluded to a transitional constitution. (See local news.)
Direct informal talks are currently going on between the MDC and Zanu PF to clear obstacles before the dialogue that collapsed last year in May officially resumes. The parties have been meeting for sometime now over the current crisis.
The South Africans said there was need to establish a framework and broad objectives for talks. They also said there would be need to “respect deadlines and avoid or prevent unilateralism” during talks.
The MDC, Codesa negotiators said, should know the first rule for negotiations was that there were no rules. But the meeting agreed “there was need to establish mechanisms to secure the irreversibility of the negotiations and transition” in Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabwe must think through the process of how to secure its own transition,” the records of the meeting say. “There is need to strengthen the resolve for internal process to ensure legitimacy is accorded it.”
It was said the international community should only play a supportive role.
The June meeting concluded there was a “mutually hurting stalemate” in Zimbabwe that must be resolved urgently.