THE are mixed feelings among Zimbabweans on the proposal for the formation of a government of national unity (GNU) as a resolution to the countryâ€™s deepening political and economic crisis.
There are calls from United Nations members, Sadc and within the country for President Robert Mugabeâ€™s Zanu PF and the MDC headed by Morgan Tsvangirai to open negotiations on a GNU and avoid the June 27 presidential election run-off, thus sparing the nation further turmoil.
The GNU would be made up of all political stakeholders in the country.
Proponents of the GNU argue that the run-off between Mugabe and Tsvangirai would not end the current crisis. Reports suggest Zanu PF and the MDC were in secret talks to hammer out a GNU or a transitional government, but the protagonists are deeply divided on who would run the government; between the ageing Mugabe and former trade unionist Tsvangirai.
The MDC said it wants an inclusive government minus Mugabe, while Zanu PF insists that the run-off should go ahead and thereafter a GNU could be formed.
“The question of government of national unity becomes legitimate after the run-off so it is at that stage that whoever wins can discuss the GNU,” Mugabeâ€™s chief presidential election agent Emmerson Mnangagwa said recently.
Losing independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni has been one of the leading voices in Zimbabwe calling for a GNU.
“We need to establish an authority that will take care of business up until we are able to run an election with a sound body that has respect from all the political players as well as civic society.
“That authority should be allowed to run for five years before the elections are held. We believe that by then things will be in their rightful order,” Makoni told a media conference in the capital last week.
Voters who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent this week said both options â€” the GNU and the run-off â€” should be exploited in the quest to secure a solution to the countryâ€™s biting problems.
Some argued that the run-off was the best way to deal with the crisis, while others said the poll would be an extra expense that will not resolve anything.
Takura Zhangazha, a media and political analyst, said the results of the March 29 presidential election should be the determining factor of who should lead the GNU if it was to be established.
“One thing that has to be taken into consideration is that the people of Zimbabwe made their stance clear on March 29,” Zhangazha said. “Anyone mooting a government of national unity has to be guided by the outcome of that election because it is representative of what the people of Zimbabwe want.”
Tsvangirai outpolled Mugabe, but failed to win the legal majority to assume the presidency.
“There is no unity government that can be founded now besides one whose foundation is on the outcome of March 29 elections,” Zhangazha said.
He added that should Zimbabwe be condemned to the run-off as announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), there was need to put an immediate end alleged state-sponsored violence against opposition supporters.
“There is a lot of election manipulation by Zanu PF,” Zhangazha said. “Violence and torture is being unleashed on the people with impunity. The environment at the moment bodes ill for a free and fair election. It cannot produce a result that is in line with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe,” Zhangazha said.
Admire Zaya of the Build a Better Youth Zimbabwe said that the recent wave of political violence and intimidation of MDC supporters made the environment unsuitable for an election.
He said dialogue towards a GNU was the best way of dealing with the standoff in the country.
“The unity government is the answer as it will have representation from both ends of the political divide, thus having the brains that will come together and tackle the problems facing the country,” Zaya said. “It is not about individuals, but the people of Zimbabwe. The election is a costly exercise and I think it might not achieve the intended results as there would be bickering as to whether the winner did win in a free and fair manner, and that will drag on while the national economy continues to shrink.”
Richard Mashave, a businessman in central Harare, said a run-off would enable Zimbabweans to elect a leader of their choice as compared to the “boardroom pacts” which were being proposed.
“If the run-off is held in a free, fair, and transparent manner, it has the potential of enabling Zimbabweans the chance to choose a leader who will be able to deal with the current economic problems,” Mashave said. “That leader whom people will choose on June 27 has the potential to lead us to the normalisation of the situation if those that have been defeated accept it and support him.”
Lameck Magura, a general hand at a Harare shop, said there was no need for a run-off at the moment, but said there was need for Mugabe to accept defeat at the hands of Tsvangirai and leave office.
“When people lose in an election, they have to accept that they lost and the nation moves forward,” Magura said. “His party does not lose anything given that they will also be in parliament.”
Phillip Makwevera predicted there could be problems on who will lead the GNU if the run-off was to be avoided.
“Both Zanu PF and the MDC want to lead the government of national unity,” Makwevera said. “They will not give in easily to the demands of the other. The best way to deal with this standoff is to go through an election to prove who of the two candidates is more popular and has the potential of helping Zimbabwe out of the doldrums.”
A Mbare resident, George Chibamu, was also of the view that there was need for a GNU.
“The people of Zimbabwe are starving at the moment as Zanu PF and the MDC continue with bickering as to who should lead or who won the elections,” he said. “In order to cut down on the same problem after the run-off, I believe it is better to have a government of national unity that will take on board all the players because they will all be working for the betterment of Zimbabwe.”
By Nkululeko Sibanda