ZIMBABWE’S presidential election run-off has come and gone with President Robert Mugabe “winning” a sixth term, but the country’s crisis remains far from over.
Opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the race against Mugabe five days before the run-off, which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said had no legal effect ordered the election to go ahead last Friday.
Mugabe garnered 2 150 269 votes against Tsvangirai’s 233 000 in an election that has been labelled a sham by the United States and Western governments, who are now proposing more targeted sanctions against the regime.
On the other hand, Sadc, the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) are pushing for a negotiated settlement to the Zimbabwe crisis between the ruling Zanu PF and the two formations of the MDC.
Politicians and political analysts this week said the way forward for the country was for Tsvangirai, Mugabe and other stakeholders to sit down and hammer out a unity government pact that put Zimbabwe’s interests ahead of everything else.
The analysts argued that given the country’s plethora of problems – a free falling economy over 10 years and the worsening political and social crisis – the March 29 and June 27 presidential polls were not necessary because an election cannot be used as a conflict resolution mechanism.
If the current crisis persists, the analysts argued, it would impact negatively on the poor citizens who are yearning for an end to galloping inflation now above 9 000 000%, shortage of basic commodities, over 80% unemployment, and deteriorating health and education delivery services.
Mugabe’s disputed victory will in all probability result in the current economic situation worsening and the majority of Zimbabweans being pushed further into poverty.
The analysts observed that use of targeted sanctions to reign in Mugabe since 2000 have failed, adding that military intervention to oust the 84-year-old former guerilla leader and replace him with Tsvangirai would not resolve the crisis.
Tsvangirai, they argued, would not have legitimacy despite winning the first round of the presidential election in March.
“Military intervention is a non-starter,” said political analysts Michael Mhike.
“Where will Tsvangirai draw the legitimacy from? There was no clear winner in March and this necessitated the run-off, but unfortunately Zanu PF embarked on violence to win at all costs resulting in it being a sham. Tsvangirai, like Mugabe, will not have legitimacy to lead Zimbabwe.”
The United States and Britain last week said they no longer recognised Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s legitimate president and lobbied the UN to recognise Tsvangirai as the country’s leader based on the March election result. But they subsequently settled for a resolution that all Security Council members agreed to.
“The only way out of our crisis is a negotiated settlement by all political parties. Ideological differences must be set aside in pursuit of unity of purpose to extricate the country from this crisis,” suggested Mhike.
The analysts pointed out that Iraq was a good example of a failed military intervention.
Despite toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003, the United States and its allies are still conducting running battles in Iraq against the former dictator’s supporters. Thousands of innocent civilians have been killed in the country in the past five years.
The political analysts said Mugabe and Tsvangirai should open internationally backed negotiations to end Zimbabwe’s woes.
Prior to the run-off, Tsvangirai said he was willing to engage Mugabe and Zanu PF on the country’s way forward only if he called off the election.
Mugabe agreed to talks, but only after the election.
Suggestions have been made that Zimbabwe should adopt the Kenyan model, where former UN secretary general Kofi Anan succesfuly managed to strike a coaltion deal between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga to resolve last December’s disputed presidential election.
Kibaki remained the president, while Odinga became the country’s first prime minister. Cabinet positions were devided equally between members of Kibaki’s Party of National Unity and Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement.
Independent MP-elect for Tsholotsho Jonathan Moyo supports the idea of a government of national unity arguing that negotiations were the only way forward for Zimbabweans.
“A transitional government to resolve the deep-seated, economic and constitutional crisis that has dogged Zimbabwe generally since Independence and particularly over the last nine years would be the best possible way out,” suggested Moyo, a political science professor.
Moyo said it was critical for Zimbabweans and others with good intentions of helping out to understand that elections were not a conflict resolution mechanism.
He explains that the reasons for a negotiated transitional government would be the realisation that given Mugabe’s legacy of 28 years of one-man rule Zimbabwe does not have the means of changing its national leadership.
“In such a system elections are used to keep and not change the government and its leader. Resolving the Zimbabwean crisis necessarily requires a transition from Mugabe’s legacy of a de facto one-party and one-man rule to an institutionally -based and constitutionally-defined dispensation whose pillars would not be threatened by any change of government or leadership through a democratic election,” he said.
Lawyer and political commentator Alex Magaisa was of the idea that Mugabe and Tsvangirai would not govern meaningfully without more than half the people of Zimbabwe represented by either Zanu PF or MDC. He said: “The two men therefore have in effect one thing that the other needs: Mugabe rides on the crest of legality, Tsvangirai rests on the wave of recognition and moral legitimacy. The country cannot move forward as long as the situation remains that way – someone will need to have the combination of the legality, recognition and legitimacy.”
Another political analyst Eldred Masunungure said a viable political settlement would be the way forward.
“There is need for a political settlement that will be more similar to the Lancaster House settlement where a new legal framework would be agreed on as well as power-sharing in a transitional sense to help solve Zimbabwe’s problems,” he said.
But it remains to be seen whether or not Zimbabwe’s political protagonists would sit around a table and come up with a negotiated settlement given that the MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti this week said the party would not agree to talk to Zanu PF.
“The sham and cataleptic election on June 27 totally and completely exterminated any prospects of a negotiated settlement,” Biti said in a statement on Tuesday. “It is now the firm view of the MDC that those who claim they have got a mandate to govern should govern.”
By Wongai Zhangazha