HomeOpinion & AnalysisWhat next for unity govt?

What next for unity govt?

AN international group known as the Friends of Zimbabwe, or Fishmongers, recently met in Oslo, Norway, to offer Zimbabwe a lifeline and save the country from the brink of economic collapse.

The Friends of Zimbabwe group includes representatives from most Western countries, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank as well as NGOs.
At their meeting on June 1 the Friends of Zimbabwe group offered to increase its economic and humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe.

This assistance will be channelled through and managed by non-governmental organisations such as United Nations Development Programme and African Development Bank.
The Friends of Zimbabwe group made it very clear that no assistance would be channelled through the transitional administration in Zimbabwe until the partners to the global political agreement fully implement the pact.

The targeted sanctions that affect about 200 top ranking Zanu PF officials will stay in place.
This declaration by the Friends of Zimbabwe group is in harmony with the proposed amendments to the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, which are being discussed in the US Congress.
The international community is sending a clear message that it will not abandon the suffering and oppressed masses in Zimbabwe. Hence, over US$650 million had been committed to humanitarian assistance for Zimbabwe by last year.

In order for the international community to give direct financial support to the transitional government, as well as help reschedule or even cancel Zimbabwe’s indebtedness, all the global political agreement (GPA) partners need to do is to implement fully the agreement that they signed in September 2008.
The outstanding issues in the GPA are fundamental to the crafting of a new political dispensation in Zimbabwe that everyone is expecting.

The rule of law is the foundation of any democratic society. And the transitional administration is being encouraged to restore the rule of law in Zimbabwe. It was scuttled by President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF when they unleashed militia thugs to wreak havoc on opposition supporters. Yet nearly two years after the signing of the GPA the rule of law is still absent in Zimbabwe.

There has been an escalation in the arrests of supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on trumped up charges or cases that are long past the statutes of limitation.
On the other hand, the real criminals in Zanu PF who killed in cold blood, raped and tortured supporters of the MDC are not only free but have been rewarded with stolen loot from their victims as  well as from the state assets.  They have proved that if you are a member of Zanu PF crime pays rich dividends.

Freedom of expression and the press are other fundamental issues for any democratic society. Mugabe and Zanu PF have effectively muzzled press freedom for over 10 years.
The recent granting of licences to independent daily newspapers was greeted with a sigh of relief among many Zimbabweans.  But the atmosphere for a free press is still hostile.
Journalists and others working for the independent media will face harassment and possibly torture.
Mugabe knows that an independent press will expose him and Zanu PF, making them even more unpopular and very unlikely to win any elections, if they ever had a chance in hell.

Another outstanding issue is implementing a process for free and fair elections that all parties will abide by and accept once the results are announced.
All the outstanding issues are not only desirable for Zimbabweans but are the necessary and foundational conditions for  increased aid from the international community that will kick-start the  ailing economy and create jobs in a nation whose unemployment rate is about  90%.
The meeting of the Friends of Zimbabwe in Oslo and their statement on Zimbabwe shows how far the international community has expressed its willingness to engage Zimbabwe’s leadership in finding a solution to the failed state.

The ball is now clearly in the transitional administration’s court, specifically on Mugabe and Zanu PF. They have a Sadc-brokered political agreement and a promised financial aid from the international community.
What Mugabe, Zanu PF, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC and other partners in this coalition need to do now is implement fully the GPA.

This is not a difficult process. Zimbabwe’s leaders are not being asked to make any sacrifice at all.  Implementing the GPA entails in very simple terms alllowing freedom of the press and expression; allowing free and fair elections; sharing power and responsibilities equally among the coalition partners in the transitional administration and restoring the rule of law.
All of these outstanding issues can be implemented literally overnight.

They do not require heavy investment in resources or capital. They do not require any real sacrifice from anyone.
Yet,  nearly two years after the signing of the agreement, none of the above has been implemented at all, except for the half-hearted measure of allowing for more independent newspaper publications.
What must be most puzzling to many Zimbabweans is the fact that the so-called principals in the transitional administration, namely Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara took so long to meet after their negotiators presented them with proposals for moving forward on the outstanding issues.

Does this mean that the principals, especially Tsvangirai and Mutambara, are now enjoying what Bishop Desmond Tutu once called the gravy train?
Has the urgency of the now, as the late Martin Luther King once described the need to address the civil rights problems in America,  been lost to the politics of delay in Zimbabwe?
Yet, how can this be?

A month ago, Tsvangirai and the MDC carried out a no-holds-barred attack on the intransigence of Mugabe and Zanu PF in implementing outstanding issues in the GPA.
This gave the impression that MDC’s patience with Mugabe and Zanu PF was now wearing razor thin and that the MDC might pull out of the transitional administration if no progress was made in honouring the agreement in full.

Worse still, there has been a spate of harassment and arrests of MDC members and all this being done in a flagrant violation of the spirit of the agreement.
How does one explain the apparent lack of urgency on the part of the MDC in confronting Mugabe over these issues that are triggering the real prospect for renewed atrocities against MDC supporters?
There are two possible explanations.

One is that MDC sees itself unable to move Mugabe and Zanu PF further towards the full implementation of the political agreement. As a result, the MDC now feels the best they can do is to just tag along as a junior partner in the transitional administration in the hope that, at some undetermined future, Mugabe will just die leaving Zanu PF in a state of flux and possibly embroiled in an internal factional war which could destroy the party.
Another explanation is that the MDC sees no useful purpose in talking to Mugabe and Zanu PF who have resolutely refused to allow any further significant implementation of the pact.

The MDC probably feels it is a waste of time talking to Mugabe. As a result, MDC is now actively looking at other strategies to confront Mugabe. One of the strategies may well be to pull out of the transitional administration and engage civil society in order to mobilise a national and international campaign against Mugabe and Zanu PF.

With the international community having made its position and intentions on Zimbabwe very clear following the Oslo meeting, the ball is now in Mugabe and Zanu PF’s court.
But it is also in Tsvangirai and MDC’s court.
What will they do next?
Mukasa is a Zimbabwean political analyst based in the US.

By Stanford Mukasa


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