HomeEditorial CommentDanger of authority without responsibility

Danger of authority without responsibility

The three parties that appended their signatures to the Global Political Agreement (GPA), among other commitments, vowed that they were determined to solve the Zimbabwean political crisis once and for all.

Report by Nevanji Madanhire

In the first clause of the GPA preamble, the parties said they were “concerned about the recent challenges that we have faced as a country and the multiple threats to the wellbeing of our people” and, therefore, they were “determined to resolve these permanently”.

Article II of the GPA is a declaration of commitment: “The parties hereby declare and agree to work together to create a genuine, viable, permanent, sustainable and nationally acceptable solution to the Zimbabwe situation and in particular to implement the following agreement [GPA] with the aims of resolving once and for all the current political and economic situations and charting a new political direction for the country.”

Looked at simply, what the GPA did was give the three parties not only the authority, but also the responsibility, to shepherd the country out of the debilitating crisis it found itself in.

All the problems that the Government of National Unity (GNU) ­ — borne out of the GPA — has encountered during its subsistence have been a result of the struggle between authority and responsibility.

As they say, authority can be delegated, responsibility cannot.

The acrimony we have seen in the past few weeks resulting from the Constitutional Court (Concourt)’s verdict that President Robert Mugabe announce election dates and the elections be held by July 31 was a result of one party to the GPA trying to delegate responsibility.

In this case, Zanu PF, through subterfuge and intrigue, sought to delegate the responsibility to declare election dates to the Concourt when that responsibility clearly lies with the three parties to the agreement through their leaders, the principals and also very importantly, through the guarantors of the GPA, namely the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and the African Union (AU).

It was always the responsibility of the principals to come up with and superintend the election roadmap in a way acceptable to Sadc and AU.

On May 16 last year, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, was asked about the electoral roadmap in the House of Assembly, upon which he listed seven reforms that had to be done before elections could be help. These were: the Constitution, media reforms, political reforms, electoral reforms, national healing, security sector realignment and economic reforms.

He said: “What we want to do next time around is to make sure that when we go into elections, those elections will be respected by the winners and losers. The winners will be able to form a legitimate democratic government and the losers are able to congratulate the winners. For us to do that, we must go through these reforms carefully.”

Clearly, Mutambara was speaking for the principals, and defining their responsibility.

Of the seven reforms listed, two are hated by Zanu PF. One is media reform and the other is security sector alignment. The party wishes to exclusively control the mass media, the most powerful tool for any political party to spread its policies and woo voters. Zanu PF wishes to continue to use public radio and television to spew its propaganda, which is mostly based on hate language and verbal abuse. This has worked for it in the past and it doesn’t wish to see this change.

A partisan security sector is also important to its electoral game plan. In the recent past we have seen, not only selective application of the law, but also military personnel leaving the barracks for political podiums and election rallies. Not only has this been highly intimidating to the general populace which has often been physically abused by soldiers, but it has also caused a lot of anxiety to voters and political observers.

But the GPA is binding; President Mugabe and Zanu PF cannot renege on Article II, the Declaration of Commitment, cited above.

If Jealousy Mawarire was the responsible and concerned citizen he purports to be, then he put the cart before the horse. He should have approached the Concourt to force Mugabe to implement all reforms required by the electoral roadmap first before demanding election dates. In him we see a clear case of authority without responsibility. As a bona fide citizen of Zimbabwe, he has every right to approach the Constitutional Court, and the court can grant his desire, but his wish does not come with responsibility.

Elections in Zimbabwe have always been bloody affairs; each election since independence, has not gone without violence and death. In 2008, more than 200 innocent people lost their lives due to electoral violence, most of which was state sponsored. One of the responsibilities bestowed upon political parties by the GPA is to ensure that not another life is lost again during elections. This is a theme Jealousy Mawarire seems to have missed completely, hence his rush to the courts.

Those who say election dates should be process-driven are right. Luckily they include the Sadc and their appointed facilitator to the GPA, South African President Jacob Zuma. Zanu PF conspirators have dishonestly accused Zuma of interfering in Zimbabwe’s affairs when he states the importance of following the election roadmap, but as facilitator he is an integral part of the process of ensuring the Zimbabwean crisis is solved properly, once and for all.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is very right in stating that Zimbabwe surrendered part of its sovereignty when it allowed South Africa to be the facilitator and Sadc and the AU to be the guarantors of the GPA.

“To stand up and say South Africa has no right to interfere, it’s not interfering; you invited them to be the facilitator, so Sadc is as important a stakeholder in this process as us Zimbabweans. No amount of shouting is going to make them bystanders,” Tsvangirai said addressing civic organisations in Bulawayo last week.

The Concourt ruling has put Zimbabwe at a crossroads; it teeters on a knife edge where it must either fall back to its reprehensible past, or gather itself and move forward in a way that charts a new political direction for the country.

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