THE proposed power-sharing deal between Zanu PF and the two formations of the MDC is intended to retain President Robert Mugabe as head of state and government while leaving new prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai with little executive power.
According to the leaked proposal which Tsvangirai refused sign, Mugabe would have remained the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and head of government, as well as head of state.
Tsvangirai declined to sign the deal after questioning Paragraph 2 of the proposed deal titled the Role of the Prime Minister.
While the paragraph states that the prime minister would have the responsibility to oversee the formulation of policies by the cabinet, it also spelt out that Tsvangirai would not be the man in charge.
It said Tsvangirai would only be “a member of the cabinet and its deputy chairperson”.
This arrangement would have left Mugabe as the head of cabinet in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Political analysts observed that the situation was made worse by Paragraph 11, which stipulated that Tsvangirai would have to “report regularly to the president”.
Mugabe was also to retain broad powers to declare a state of emergency, declare war or make peace and to grant amnesty.
The analysts said the proposed deal also revealed that Sadc leaders were in support of Mugabe’s retention of far more executive powers than is warranted.
Sadc heads of state and government met in South Africa two weeks ago and made a passionate plea to Tsvangirai to sign all “outstanding agreements” to pave way for an inclusive government.
The regional bloc recommended the convening of parliament that took place on Tuesday, a move analysts said was contrary to the spirit and letter of the memorandum of understanding signed by the negotiating parties.
Zimbabwean-born South Africa businessman Mutumwa Mawere said the proposed pact intended to create two centres of power with attendant challenges not only in terms of accountability, but also in reconciling the past and the future.
“Mugabe is an ideologue and believes in the justice of his cause,” Mawere observed. “His world-view has not changed and he has invested so much in the past that the future appears to be of little concern to him.”
He said the country needed a break from the past and the correct interpretation of the March 29 election was confirmed by the takeover of control of the House of Assembly by the opposition for the first time in Zimbabwe’s history.
“The proposal was negotiated when it was not clear how much support MDC-Tsvangirai enjoyed. The view held then was that whoever controlled parliament should have executive powers,” Mawere argued. “With the outcome of the Speaker’s election, a new argument can be legitimately made that Tsvangirai does control parliament . . . If Tsvangirai does control the House of Assembly, then a case must then be made that he deserves to deliver the change that people want.”
Political scientist Michael Mhike concurred with Mawere that the South African President Thabo Mbeki-mediated deal intended to create two centres of power —— an executive president and prime minister. He further argued that change in Zimbabwe would not be credible with Mugabe at the helm.
“A new face with executive powers is required,” suggested Mhike. “Two centres of power in terms of day-to-day supervision of ministries has its own dangers.”
He said the proposal was framed on the basis that Mugabe was duly elected as head of state.
“The events following the March 29 election culminating in the election of the Speaker confirms that the legitimacy of Mugabe is problematic and a new scenario is called for,” Mhike argued. “The parliament and senate configuration is sufficiently balanced to give comfort to Mugabe that the inevitable loss of executive powers through the transfer of power to the prime minister will not pose a serious risk to moving the country forward.”
He said the ideal deal would have been for Tsvangirai to report to parliament and senate, not Mugabe.
Mhike said it was apparent that the negotiated deal was meant to accommodate Arthur Mutambara, Mugabe and Tsvangirai as individuals.
“It turns out that Mutambara may not enjoy the support of his constituency to give him a credible standing in any negotiations. If this is the case, then there has to be a new realisation by Sadc and all interested parties that no deal that places Tsvangirai in a subservient position to Mugabe will be credible,” he argued.
For declining to sign the deal, Tsvangirai has been accused by the MDC-Mutambara of demanding power transfer to himself rather than power-sharing.
Welshman Ncube, the chief negotiator of MDC-Mutambara camp, last week quoting the Sadc communiquÃ© said the deal on the table was appropriate, fair and an equitable power-sharing pact.
“The executive function is the function of running government, of appointing and supervising ministers, of determining the day to day operations of government, of defining policy,” Ncube said. “If you exclude the leader of one of the parties from that completely, you are rendering whomsoever you have excluded ceremonial. That is why Sadc found that the demands which are on the table (from Tsvangirai) are for a power-transfer. And they were unable to endorse those. Which is why they endorsed what is on the table which is power-sharing.”
He said even if one would go by the results of March 29, no single party can argue for transfer of power to itself because no single party had the absolute majority entitling it to have power transferred to it.
“Consider the figures, Zanu PF has 99, MDC-T 100 and we have 10,” Ncube argued. “For anyone to say that power ought to be transferred to themselves alone, they ought to have 106 seats in the House of Assembly. No one has that. The fact that you might have the highest number does not entitle you to a transfer.”
Writing in the Cape Argus this week, former professor of constitutional law at Unisa and veteran of South Africa’s own negotiations for a new constitution, Marius Wiechers, argued that Tsvangirai was right to reject the deal because it was not about power-sharing. “It’s just jostling for positions —— the really operative side is not addressed,” he wrote.
Wiechers argued that despite the attempt to dish out ministries fairly equally, the clincher was that Mugabe retains the chair of cabinet, which could prove decisive.
He dubbed the deal an “incestuous merging” of presidential and prime ministerial systems.
Wiechers said there was no other conflict-resolution mechanism in the deal, which becomes, therefore, a “recipe for disaster” in the form of inevitable deadlock.
He suggested that Sadc should take a leaf out of the international community’s handling of the Kosovo crisis by creating a superior Sadc body standing above all the Zimbabwean parties to arbitrate the deadlocks which he believed must inevitably arise from the power-sharing deal.
By Constantine Chimakure