THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is retracing a familiar path that has led into a cul-de-sac in the past and is most likely to meet the same fate w
ith its new “road map”, analysts say.
Proponents of the seven-stage plan crafted by the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC that would culminate in a transitional government recognise the heavy odds militating against wholesale acceptance by stakeholders.
For all its enthusiasm and hope to garner support and acceptance, the road map recognises President Mugabe as a major factor and likely impediment in efforts “to persuade Zanu PF to agree”.
The document benchmarks its pessimism on the fact that “government and its machinery are major shareholders and major beneficiary to the current status quo”.
Analysts say the road map to unlock the political impasse could be yet another hard-sell given the dramatic failures earlier local and regional initiatives encountered owing to the refusal by leading politicians to engage in constructive resolution to the internal conflict, they say.
Political analyst and chairman of the department of politics and administration at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), Dr Eldred Masunungure, says the MDC is just testing the waters and casting a symbolic gesture that it is serious in solving the present crisis.
He says by proposing a road map the MDC is also putting Zanu PF in a corner and wanting to see politicians in that party viewed by the electorate as devoid of policy options.
Masunungure says he did not see Zanu PF taking the road map seriously.
“They are involved in a nebulous road map between themselves and the churches. Zanu PF is vigorously pursuing its own initiative to steal the thunder from the opposition,” Masunungure says.
Roping in the church to a parallel initiative, he adds, represents open rebuff of the MDC proposal.
“They have completely abandoned inter-party talks,” Masunungure says.
“The MDC are engaged in an illusion if they think Zanu PF will accept it. You can judge by the manoeuvring that Zanu PF is trying to counter the road map initiative by the opposition.”
Masunungure says resolving the current political stalemate needs a comprehensive stakeholders’ conference but Zanu PF prefers engaging in politics of inclusion by exclusion.
“Government is excluding key stakeholders such as civic society by extending its hand to selected clergymen. But this will lead it nowhere,” Masunungure said.
Spokesperson of Crisis Coalition Primrose Matambanadzo agrees.
She says dialogue was essential to get the country out of the morass but points out that it cannot exclude faith-based institutions.
“A stand-off is not the solution and the talks should not only involve the two parties but all stakeholders to craft a new constitution which is essential to restore legitimacy,” Matambanadzo said.
She said although it will be difficult to convince Zanu PF that talks are essential, the question of legitimacy could not be resolved without a new people-driven constitution.
“When you exclude other parties, you cannot come up with a broad-based constitution acceptable to all.
Another political commentator, Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei, also of the UZ, said Zanu PF itself feared the prospects of successful constitutional talks that they view as meant to ladle out political advantages to the opposition.
“The ruling party is part of the problem. There is a misconception that a new constitution will give the opposition enormous political advantage,” Dzinotyiwei says.
And there are clear signs too that Zanu PF might be playing politics to divert public attention from the current political impasse.
The party’s body language seems to have adopted a more favourable posture towards the church after an avowed “going it alone” policy lost all its steam, forcing the party to compromise its stance and attempt to “build bridges” with the international community.
Dzinotyiwei says Mugabe knows the problems bedevilling Zimbabwe, but instead of facing the problem head on, he would rather digress.
“Zanu PF knows the problem but one wonders why they have to bring in the church,” he says.
“The party itself faces difficulties in coming up with solutions to the current political impasse and the economic crisis but it continues to go astray,” Dzinotyiwei says.
“The biggest problem with Zanu PF is that it is a one-man band. Deep inside his heart he (Mugabe) knows the country has been run down but perhaps fear of retribution has clouded his judgements.”
He says proposals by the MDC recognise the dilemma government is in and try to assist it out of it.
Admissions by President Mugabe while addressing church leaders might also mean a fresh look at the current impasse.
“We must accept our failures. We should have to acknowledge that as trustees in our part of the world we have not succeeded as we had wished,” Mugabe said.
Masunungure says Zanu PF is looking for legitimacy because the local, regional and international community is contesting the space it is occupying.
“It will not get that by engaging church leaders. Zanu PF is engrossed in politics of self-deception, not wanting to accept the brutal realities that you need to engage your enemies,” he says.
While the road map recognises Mugabe as a major impediment to acceptance, Masunungure says the divisions in Zanu PF over the succession issue could pose serious hindrance to engagement between Mugabe, the opposition and civic society.
He says the ruling party has lost the initiative to come up with solutions to the national crisis due to these divisions.
“It is difficult to come up with an agreement acceptable to both the ‘hawks’ and the ‘doves’ in the party depending on who has the upper hand between them,” he says
“The hardliners will shoot down any proposals that threaten their interest while the doves could accept anything.”
The MDC says its modest proposals are a demonstration of its sincerity, good intentions and commitment to a peaceful resolution of the crisis through dialogue and negotiations.
It says the proposals represent the MDC’s determination to chart a course and a soft landing out of the crisis with minimum costs in terms of human suffering.
What remains to be seen is whether the MDC road map has much road to run and the directions it will have to take.