Chimakure: Professor, what is the meaning and significance of the power-sharing agreement signed on Monday?
Mutambara: In the history of every nation there comes a time when a unique and game-changing opportunity presents itself to the citizens of that country. Such an occasion, to chart a different national trajectory, is what we witnessed on Monday. Every generation of Zimbabweans will define what it means to be Zimbabwean. What we did on that Monday was to start a conversation about our collective destiny leading to a shared definition of the Zimbabwe we want. Achieving a political settlement through the establishment of an all-inclusive government is the beginning of a long and arduous journey towards a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe.
Chimakure: Can you tell us the agenda of this inclusive government, and how it is going to work?
Mutambara: This is a coalition government of three political parties which means, necessarily, that you have to combine the political platforms of those three entities. There has to be synergistic and complementary integration of the different political programmes. However, there is a unifying and overriding theme defining the agenda. Our collective mandate involves addressing the unprecedented humanitarian, political and economic crisis characterising our country. Surely, these are shared terms of reference and a common redemptive framework to address our challenges.
In particular, we have to make sure that there is food relief to those in need, national healing, and both economic stabilisation and recovery. Our country has gone through traumatic experiences, in particular during the months of April, May and June this year. We have had nearly 10 years of political polarisation, divisions and acrimony. We need national healing, and that healing must cascade from the top to the villages and townships.
Our economy has virtually collapsed, with inflation raging beyond 10 million percent. Hence we need programmes and strategies to stabilise and recover the economy. More importantly, we need to transform the economy into a globally competitive nation. That is the broad agenda of the inclusive government.
Obviously as three political parties we may differ on the strategies and frameworks to achieve the envisioned future of our country. That is why ideological compromise and accommodation will be essential. However, there has to be a common and shared value system rooted in salient and immutable principles. It is our considered view that there is more that unites us as Zimbabweans than that which divides us. We have to find each other. The variance and variability in our perspectives on the national interest and its pursuit are manageable.
Nonetheless, it is imperative that we emphasise that this agreement is a compromise arrangement which is both a flawed and limited. It is the best short-term answer to extricate our country from its worst situation. It is the price we pay for peace.
However, it is important that we are cognisant that the objective is to deliver services, and improve the quality of our people’s lives. This government must perform and deliver. The challenge is how do you extract efficiency, effectiveness and excellence from a mediocre and suboptimal framework? That is the leadership question, and we will not disappoint.
Chimakure: You alluded to national healing, are we going to see perpetrators of political violence in the countdown to the controversial June 27 presidential election run-off brought to book? Is there going to be a blanket amnesty?
Mutambara: As I have indicated earlier, we need national healing in the country so that Zimbabweans can accept each other irrespective of political affiliation. We should never question each other’s patriotism because of our different political associations. The details of the national healing programme will be crafted and executed by the three cooperating partners.
Without pre-empting that discussion, I must say the underlining principle is that we must build a society that cherishes political tolerance and accepts freedoms of association, assembly and expression, as inalienable. The details of the healing process will be announced at the appropriate time, save to say we must break the cycle of impunity. We must create a society where we say never again will we have a situation where Zimbabweans brutalise their fellow citizens over political differences.
In order to achieve this, institutions and individuals must always be accountable and take responsibility for their actions. Even if this means moral responsibility in order to establish the truth of what happened. We must embrace restorative justice that seeks to incorporate the views of the victims and rehabilitate the affected individuals and communities.
The motive is not retributive justice or revenge. We seek to heal the nation and turn the page of history. However, this should be built on the basis of accountability and the truth. Abuse of human rights and crimes against humanity should never be tolerated in our great country. It is also important that as we seek to heal the nation, we take a holistic and comprehensive view of our country, starting with the atrocities of the Smith regime, through Gukurahundi and the election violence of the past eight years, up to the brutality of the June 2008 presidential election.
The requisite healing goes beyond the nation of Zimbabwe. After finding each other internally, we must heal the relationships between Zimbabwe and its neighbours in Sadc. We must re-establish viable, respectful and productive relationships with our African brothers and sisters throughout the continent. This will also augur well for our regional and Pan-African developmental strategies, which are the cornerstone of our survival paradigm under globalisation.
Beyond Africa there is need for healing between Zimbabwe and the rest of the world, in particular, with respect to the British, the Europeans and Americans. Of course this process must be based on mutual respect, recognition of Zimbabwean sovereignty and acceptance of our nation’s history and its consequences thereof.
Our economic transformation and revolution into a global player will be driven by both empowerment of our people and leveraging strategic partners in the East, West, North, and South of the globe. We are saying the healing is a transportable phenomenon beyond the borders of Zimbabwe into the region, Africa and the globe.
Chimakure: Are there ideological differences between the MDC and Zanu PF which may be stumbling blocks to the implementation of the deal? Is there a meeting of minds between the three political parties?
Mutambara: Obviously when you have three political parties, there will be three political ideologies. This means we must develop a common agenda to provide solutions to the crisis in our country. What we need to do is to craft and define a shared value system. We must have a shared vision, that is, where we want to take our country, both politically and economically.
There is enough common ground around issues of good governance, a new people-driven constitution, enabling competitive politics and growing the Zimbabwean country. That shared vision must be able to force us to work together irrespective of our different ideological positions. Where the ideologies may play a role is in crafting the strategies to achieve the vision.
In that arena we have to sit down and compromise and come up with a hybrid or composite strategy, which we can then push and use to achieve a common vision. The national interest and its pursuit will force us to effectively manage our ideological differences. Our charge is to pursue the people’s agenda. This is about Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans. It is not about partisan or personal interests.
Chimakure: Will Zanu PF’s politburo and the two MDC national executive council decisions have a bearing on what will happen in the cabinet and council of ministers? Over the years we have seen the politburo formulating policy for implementation by the government because there was no clear distinction between Zanu PF and government?
Mutambara: Yes, those three entities will have their say. We are three political parties and as three separate entities, we are going to have separate perspectives on how we want things done. This means there will be at some level a three-way caucus system before going to cabinet. In the three executive bodies of the three political parties, leaders will discuss resolutions and thoughts that will be brought to cabinet. Here these three-way ideas are debated, compromise achieved and the composite positions will then be structured into government business and brought to Parliament. The three political parties have to compromise their different perspectives and come up with shared platforms that would then be adopted in cabinet through collective responsibility. The operative phrase is an efficient and dynamic three-way compromise framework.
Chimakure: In your view, do you see any areas of potential conflict in implementing the inclusive government deal?
Mutambara: There will be several areas of potential conflict. There could be differences on issues pertaining to the land question, public service reforms, economic prioritisation, educational reforms, security institutions reform, and new constitution development processes. All these differences are not insurmountable. Differences are healthy. Diversity of thought is a source of creativity and innovation.
The leadership challenge is how best to manage the differences and come up with a common position. I am sure the three cooperating partners will be able to manage the areas of conflict and drive the Zimbabwean agenda.
Chimakure: What will be your role as deputy prime minister besides assisting Tsvangirai?
Mutambara: The details of the roles of the two deputy prime ministers will be fashioned out soon. I will be able to speak more authoritatively after that. Essentially, the role of a deputy prime minister is to assist the prime minister in the execution of his responsibilities clearly articulated in the agreement. It is primarily a supportive role.
Chimakure: Are there areas of potential conflict between the two MDCs and Zanu PF, especially on the powers and functions of the president and prime minister in relation to the cabinet and council of ministers?
Mutambara: The cabinet, chaired by President Mugabe, and the Council of Ministers, chaired by Prime Minister Tsvangirai, are complementary institutions. The council is not a parallel cabinet, and it does not duplicate cabinet functions. It does not make decisions, nor initiate activities, which are the functions of cabinet. The primary functions of the council include assessment of cabinet decision implementation, coordination of government activities, and reception of cabinet committee reports. Furthermore, all the three parties’ ministers sit in the council, and hence it is not possible for any party to use the council to subvert the cabinet.
Chimakure: Who has “real” power between the president and prime minister?
Mutambara: They both have real power. This is a power-sharing agreement with an executive president and an executive prime minister. Both their powers as clearly indicated in the agreement are executive and substantive. What is critical is for the two leaders to work closely together and deliver on the promise of the power-sharing agreement.
Chimakure: During speeches on Monday, President Mugabe appeared to be still rooted in the past, while you and Tsvangirai spoke about the future. Do you think you can pull in the same direction with Mugabe?
Mutambara: We are a nation with a rich history and a revolutionary tradition rooted in the liberation struggle, pan-Africanism, emerging nation solidarity, land revolution and economic empowerment. A page of history is worth 10 volumes of logic. We must understand where we came from and the lessons of that experience in order to chart the way forward.
However, it is critical to clearly articulate our view of the Promised Land, where we want to be as a nation both politically and economically. Having done that, we must then develop a strategy or game plan that will take us from the current crisis to the shared economic and political vision. Hence the three speeches were complementary. Yes, Zimbabwean leaders can pull in the same direction if they put national interest before any other considerations. History will never absolve us if we equivocate and prevaricate.
Chimakure: Professor, any further comments?
Mutambara: The work has just begun. Delivery, impact, and performance are the only matrics that will determine the success or failure of the power sharing agreement. The people of Zimbabwe have suffered, and they deserve a new dispensation. We shall not let them down. Defeat is not on the agenda of this inclusive government.