Since the GPA was signed in September last year Zimbabwe had been slowly creeping out of its decade-long political and economic crisis authored by President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF’s disastrous policies.
The gains of the newly found peace and economic stability that were being driven by the inclusive government are now in reverse gear following the MDC-T’s decision a fortnight ago to partially pull out of government, although they claim to have disengaged from Zanu PF, not government.
Two cabinet meetings have since been held in the absence of Tsvangirai and ministers from his party. This clearly means government business is at a standstill because almost half of the cabinet ministers have withdrawn their services. Any decisions made by Mugabe and his ministers cannot be enforced and can be deemed illegal.
Many questions on the benefits of the disengagement have been asked, but satisfactory answers are not forthcoming from the MDC-T.
What is not in dispute is Mugabe and Zanu PF’s unwillingness to resolve the outstanding issues in line with Sadc’s January 27 communiqué that outlined the sticking points of the agreement.
But the MDC-T’s decision was hasty and the reasons advanced were not sufficiently compelling given that the party had in September resolved to consult its members and Zimbabweans at large on whether or not to remain in government. The consultations are apparently still going on-going.
The current fight is not about moving the country forward, but power relations between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. We agree with former Finance minister Simba Makoni’s view last week that the MDC-T had disengaged from Zanu PF because it wanted to have “jobs for the boys” and not policies that can deliver real change for Zimbabweans.
“The people want stable and permanent jobs, economic development, repair of dilapidated infrastructure, food, functioning health and education systems and social support networks. The people want their dignity and respect back,” Makoni said.
This may be considered harsh on the MDC which has been credited with building confidence in the market and stabilising the currency. But this goodwill is threatened as long as the fight with Zanu PF fails to resonate with national aspirations. We believe that there are critical issues that have not been dealt with by the inclusive government which are critical to national development.
Besides the outstanding issues of provincial governors and the appointments of Roy Bennett as deputy Agriculture minister, central bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, there are more sticking points Mugabe and Tsvangirai have never bothered to deal with.
While Mugabe and Tsvangirai accept that a new constitution is inevitable, their commitment to the process is questionable. The process has also been hamstrung by financial problems.
According to the GPA, the parties to the deal agreed to give priority to the restoration of economic stability and growth in Zimbabwe by leading the process of developing and implementing an economic recovery plan.
To that end the parties committed themselves to working together on a full and comprehensive economic programme to resuscitate Zimbabwe’s economy, which would urgently address the issues of production, food security, poverty and unemployment and the challenges of high inflation, interest rates and the exchange rate. They agreed to establish “a National Economic Council composed of representatives of the parties and of the following sectors: manufacturing, agriculture, mining, tourism, commerce, finance, labour, academia and other relevant sectors”.
Almost eight months after the formation of the inclusive government and a year after the GPA was signed, the economic council is yet to be incepted when it should be the engine for economic recovery.
The current impasse could have been avoided if the inclusive government had adhered to the GPA and put in place the periodic review mechanism in terms of Article XXIII. The parties agreed to constitute a committee composed of two representatives from each party to review on an annual basis progress on the implementation of the priorities and objectives set out in the GPA.
The committee would have made recommendations to the parties and the new government on any matters relating to the agreement, more particularly on measures and programmes that may be necessary to realise full implementation of the deal.
Another outstanding issue that has largely been ignored by Mugabe and Tsvangirai is that of national healing, cohesion and unity. When is the programme going to be operationalised and what period of Zimbabwe’s chequered history would be covered?
The three issues we raise above are far more important in moving the nation forward than the bullfight for power between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.