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‘GPA does not have a sunset clause’

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF are on record saying the inclusive government’s lifespan ends this month, but the MDC-T has a contrary interpretation of the GPA. MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa (NC) yesterday fielded questions from the Zimbabwe Independent Assistant Editor Dumisani Muleya (DM). Excerpts:

DM: There are reports in the media, some made by politicians within the inclusive government, that the GPA is expiring tomorrow (today) and concurrently with the lifespan of the inclusive government. What exactly is the position in your understanding?

NC: Those are just reports from merchants of darkness who are perennially entrapped in the departure lounge mentality. In fact, naïve and evil characters, who like bacteria thrive in darkness would wish the inclusive government prematurely dead so that we are back to the period of non-accountability and free-for-all; the biblical Egypt. The GPA does not have a sunset clause. Neither a single page nor clause of the GPA speaks to the gestation period of the GPA being two years. Two years is only mentioned by way of referring to clauses. As a matter of fact, instead of the termination clause, we have two review mechanisms. One is done annually to review the functioning of the inclusive government. The other, which is supposed to be done to review the relationship of the (inclusive government) upon the conclusion of the constitution-making process.

DM: If it is true that the GPA expires tomorrow and hence the inclusive government, what will happen next? If it is not true, what also happens?

NC: The GPA does not expire tomorrow. But as and when it expires, it shall be the prerogative of both the President and the Prime Minister to act in consultation to dissolve parliament and have new elections as espoused by Article 20.1.3(q) of the GPA. To the extent that this has not been the case, the GPA shall subsist.

DM: How is the constitution-making process unfolding? When should we expect the referendum of the new draft constitution?

NC: COPAC is better disposed to deal with this matter. As a people’s party of excellence and agents of real change, we have ambassadors to represent us in COPAC. We are reliably informed that we are at the stage of uploading of data. This shall be followed by thematic committees, then drafting and then a stakeholders conference. We are made to understand that the referendum is pencilled in for September this year.

DM: Related to the above questions, when do we expect the next elections? Some say the polls could be in August or September, is this feasible in the current scheme of things?

NC: We have to expunge the obsession with meaningless dates. We should not put the cart before the horse. First things first. We believe the holding of an election should be a creature and product of a process and conditions for the holding of a free, fair and credible plebiscite. In fact, in our politics, seek ye first the preponderance and kingdom of a conducive electoral environment, everything happily follows. August and September are months on a calendar better utilised for remembering and saluting our heroes, heroines and loved ones who gallantly fought for the liberation and building of this beautiful country, Zimbabwe. If Zanu PF decides to be adventurous by pulling out of the inclusive, transitional arrangement, the MDC shall assume control of the entire government in the national interest and common good. We are happy that the nation is fully behind and with us in this regard.

DM: Can we hold elections before the Constitution-making process is finalised?

NC: In the GPA there is nothing that says elections can’t be held before the constitution process is finalised. In the event that this becomes inevitable, the President and the Prime Minister have to agree. In our view, what is desirable, to avoid a slide-back into the fiasco of the past is to be loyal to our signatures and walk the talk in the full consummation of the GPA. Further, the people’s party of excellence strongly believes that the election to be held is the unfinished and contested presidential race, not a general election that includes parliament and local authorities. For the record, the parliamentary election is only due in 2013. This position is supported by all fair-minded Zimbabweans, majority of Zanu PF, rank and file and has been communicated to President Zuma as the mediator.

DM: How far have the parties in the inclusive government gone in drafting the elections roadmap which your party has been talking about and demanding?

NC: As a people’s party of excellence, we take the issue of the roadmap seriously as an everlasting solution to ailments that have afflicted our governance and political fabric in Zimbabwe. A roadmap etched in strict timelines, tangible deliverables and signposts, the role of State institutions, Sadc and the AU in guaranteeing a peaceful, dispute-free and legitimate election.

DM: What exactly does your party want to see included in the elections roadmap?

NC: The roadmap should be signposted by key electoral reforms, media reforms, a new constitution and the security of persons and the vote. In particular terms, the country needs a new, biometric and computerised voters’ roll, observers and monitors to be in the country six months before and six months after the election, right of political parties to hold meetings, rallies and peaceful demonstrations. It is also critical to vaccinate against the political abuse of traditional leaders, civil servants and other State actors during elections by desperate and unpopular political parties. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should be staffed by non-partisan personnel and not functionaries from one political party.

DM: If Zanu PF stalls the roadmap initiative and decides to call for elections without a new constitution and without reforms, would the MDC-T take part in elections?

NC: Your question connotes that if there is a coup, will the MDC take part. It’s both an unconstitutionality and impossibility. We are not partakers in the decimation of the constitution. As is the default setting of Zanu PF, in the event that by some sheer drive of madness, it becomes possible, it would be political hara-kiri on their part. We will not allow Zanu PF to jeopardise our collective national fortunes and destiny as a people.

DM: What guarantee is there that this time around President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF would accept the outcome of elections if they lose?

NC: 2 Chronicles 7, verse 14, “If my people who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” Our prayers as a people, for real change and a new Zimbabwe shall surely be answered. On our part, as mortals, we have included matters of accepting the result in the roadmap. More importantly, we also count on the prefects and referees of our continent, Sadc and the AU, to ensure that the red-carded player leaves the pitch in and with peace.

DM: When are Sadc and SA facilitators in the inter-party dialogue coming to back to facilitate further talks?

NC: This is a very important question, particularly considering the Zanu PF demon of violence that has manifested its ugly head over the past few days. This demon needs urgent exorcism. As to the ins and outs of the facilitation team’s mission, the mediator, President Zuma, is the perfect guest. 

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