A SADC resolution for the establishment “forthwith” of a government of national unity in Zimbabwe brought a controversial closure to the cabinet-formation impasse between President Robert Mugabe and the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC although it did not leave room for an appeal process, analysts have said.
The analysts said although there was finality on allocation of ministerial portfolios, if Mugabe goes ahead and appoints a cabinet excluding Tsvangirai, the country’s crisis would worsen the socio-economic and humanitarian situation.
They warned that the Western donor community would stay away, leaving the country in a “Hobbesian state of nature” where life will be “nasty, brutish and short”.
Sadc leaders met in Sandton, South Africa, on Sunday and resolved that Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the leader of the smaller formation of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara, should “forthwith” constitute an inclusive government in line with the power-sharing agreement they signed on September 15 in Harare.
The regional leaders also ruled that Mugabe and Tsvangirai co-manage the Home Affairs portfolio and start work on the drafting and enactment of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No19 to give effect to the political agreement.
But Tsvangirai rejected the decision and said he had been “saddened” by how Sadc handled the impasse.Â He said the African Union (AU) should step in and try to salvage the power-sharing agreement.
Eldred Masunungure, a political science professor at the University of Zimbabwe, this week said Tsvangirai should abide by the Sadc decision and “participate under protest” in the proposed unity government. He said Tsvangirai should realise that the resolution by the regional bloc was not a recommendation, but a final decision.
Â “Given the resolution of the Sadc —— which was not a recommendation but a final decision —— there are very few options for MDC-Tsvangirai other than to participate under protest,” Masunungure said. “It appears to me that the Sadc resolution brings the cabinet formation impasse to finality and does not seem to leave room for an appeal process.”
Masunungure, who is also the director of the Mass Public Opinion Institute, suggested that the best Tsvangirai can do is to participate in the government, but insist on a professional oversight body for the security sector of the government.
“This oversight structure will comprise men and women of integrity consensually selected by all three principals and its function will be to monitor the conduct of the police, defence forces and intelligence sector and ensure that these agencies do their work professionally and above partisan considerations,” he said.
Masunungure said there was no hope of the AU overturning the decision of the Sadc summit.
After all, he argued, the Sadc was an organ within the AU structure and therefore would merely “endorse and baptise” the decision of the regional bloc.
“Frankly, the road for appeals is blocked,” Masunungure said. “To this extent, the MDC-Tsvangirai has to weigh its options very carefully and with sensitivity to its image and place within Sadc.”
He said there was a grave danger that the MDC’s actions may be construed as analogous to Unita’s Jonas Savimbi and as such Tsvangirai has to act in a manner that the tag does not stick.
Zanu PF has already accused the MDC-Tsvangirai of recruiting and training youths in Botswana to destabilise the country, allegations the party and the Botswana government have dismissed as unfounded and baseless.
Another political analyst, the Zimbabwean-born South Africa businessman Mutumwa Mawere, warned that it would be foolhardy for Mugabe to proceed with forming a government without Tsvangirai pursuant to the resolution of the summit.Â He argued that the summit did not endorse Zanu PF to proceed with a unilateral approach and warned that Mugabe would fail to have Constitutional Amendment No19 passed in parliament without the backing of the MDC-Tsvangirai.
“It (Sadc) recommended that a power-sharing government be established. Clearly, Zanu PF lacks the parliamentary majority to change the constitution,” Mawere averred. “Surely Mugabe must know that any change to the constitution to provide for the formation of a government of national unity will require the positive support of MDC-Tsvangirai.”
He said after the humiliation suffered when Zanu PF endorsed candidate for parliamentary speaker Paul Themba Nyathi, it was unlikely that Mugabe would take the risk and proceed to approach parliament with the Constitutional Amendment No19 without first cutting a deal with the MDC-Tsvangirai.
Nyathi lost the speakership to MDC-Tsvangirai’s national chairperson, Lovemore Moyo in August.
“Mugabe still has a problem with legitimacy and this will not be cured by him deciding to go it alone. Sadc has not endorsed this approach leaving Mugabe, not Tsvangirai, in a corner,” Mawere said. “It is Mugabe who has to put into effect a government of national unity. Any rational person would know that it is Tsvangirai who now holds the key. The decision of Sadc actually suits Tsvangirai because he knows that Mugabe cannot proceed without his support.”
Mawere agreed with Masunungure that Sadc’s decision was final and had helped to resolve the deadlock on ministries and there was no need to approach the AU. He argued that Mugabe would soon realise that he has lost power when he takes the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No19 to parliament where the MDC enjoys a majority in the House of Assembly, while Zanu PF is in control of the Senate. Without cutting a deal with Tsvangirai, the amendment would not “sail through” parliament because Zanu PF will fail to garner the two thirds majority in the House. Mawere argued: “The process is now squarely back in Zimbabwean hands. It is now showdown time. Mugabe will know what time it is after failing to change the constitution.
“Zimbabweans are in for some interesting developments. If Tsvangirai gets Home Affairs then it augurs well for him because he would have proved on two occasions that he can play the high stakes game and prevail. Will Mutambara’s people be on MDC-Tsvangirai’s side or Zanu PF’s is the question? Once Mugabe fails to get his way from his own people he will come to the realisation that he needs to change the game plan.”
But National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairperson Lovemore Madhuku said the decision by Sadc was not surprising as the regional bloc has a history of taking positions that are in favour of Mugabe. Madhuku said it was “unrealistic and naÃ¯ve” for anyone to think Sadc would have taken a different position from its Troika and mediator Thabo Mbeki.
Both the former South African president and the Sadc Troika on politics, defence and security have in recent weeks supported the sharing of the ministry.
Madhuku said the MDC and Zimbabweans should focus more on finding their own solutions locally and insisted that the solution did not lie with Sadc, the African Union or the United Nations, as the results were predictable.
“You must ask why the MDC is in an arrangement with such a dishonest party like Zanu PF,” Madhuku said. “If they found reason to sign a deal on September 15 I think it is too much to simply blame Zanu PF. The blame must be put on the shoulders of both parties as that agreement on the 15th was unworkable from the start.”
On Monday, Mugabe declared he would constitute a new government “as soon as possible”, while Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said the 84-year-old Zanu PF leader will invite Tsvangirai to submit names of his party members he wants to be appointed into the cabinet.
In terms of the inclusive government agreement, Mugabe will have 15 ministers, Tsvangirai 13, Mutambara three. The MDC-Tsvangirai’s national executive and council will meet on Friday to decide on the way forward after Sunday’s Sadc summit. The party argues that it cannot be party to a unity government where it would be a junior partner. It added that there were 10 key ministries in dispute it wanted to be shared equitably and freely between Zanu PF and itself.
The Mutambara faction said although it accepted the decision of Sadc, it would not be party to a government in which Tsvangirai was not involved.
By Constantine Chimakure