Why The Secrecy In On-going Talks?

ZIMBABWE Watch is watching with concern the long-drawn-out talks between political parties while Zimbabweans continue to suffer. . .

 

with little access to food, cash, water, electricity and other necessities. We are also concerned, like other Zimbabweans, about the secret nature of the talks, which have excluded the populace of Zimbabwe from participation in the settlement.

The Kenya model seems to be the preferred one, and it still remains to be seen what kind of outcome it will yield. Already there are fears that the settlement will be no better than an elite pact, sharing power between the top echelons of Zanu PF, the MDC’s and their allies in the rest of Zimbabwe.

Where will the people of Zimbabwe fit into the settlement? What size of government will the Zimbabwean people be expected to support?

We await the settlement and its terms, and for the moment Zimbabwe Watch will merely raise issues that we think need to be noted. We are being told, when we raise questions about the secret nature of the talks, that “Chidembo hachivhiiwe panevanhu”. That is the usual stance on many issues.

In Zimbabwe, it is routine to withhold information about critical issues affecting the nation. The Lancaster House negotiations were conducted in semi-secrecy although, at least, regular bulletins on their progress were released.

In the current talks, everything is shrouded in secrecy and we will all be ambushed with a fait accompli, come the day the principals decide they agree. When the inter-party negotiations were in progress before the March 29 elections, all the formations that asked questions about inclusion of the diversity of Zimbabwe were told that there was no need to negotiate in public since everybody would want their tuppence worth (or in our case, their trillion worth) to be heard, that it was not an efficient or effective way of doing business.

In the event, nothing came of those talks and the rest is history. We are continuing with the same argument while Zimbabwe burns. Zimbabwe Watch appreciates that in conflict resolution it is crucial for negotiations to take place without too much outside interference. However, we believe that if the mediator or a spokesperson from the negotiations had issued a weekly update to the media, this would have dispelled suspicion and rumours around the talks.

If the talks continue, we hope they will take up this suggestion. After the Lancaster House talks, people now argue with hindsight that there should have been a clear commitment in writing about who would finance what part of the land acquisition process.

Today, we hope we will not be lumbered with a settlement whose financing is beyond us. Secrecy will make it possible for deals, made with a handshake or a wink, to create problems for us as accusations fly about who did or did not promise what and to whom. If there is no deal and the talks collapse, what is MDC-T’s Plan B?

We have gleaned that they believe that if the economy collapses, the Zanu PF government will fall.

Tsvangirai’s advisors have persuaded him this will happen, but it will not. In real democracies, governments resign when they have messed up, but Zimbabwe is not in that group. We are in the group with North Korea, where even when people were apparently reduced to eating grass, the government remained in power. Zimbabweans are not eating anything, yet Zanu PF remains in power!

In Africa, the economy of affection still kicks in to enable people to survive in incredibly straitened circumstances. Zimbabweans make a plan! We will continue to lurch from day to day as we have since the year 2000. As formal institutions fail, informal institutions and systems take over.

What is a bad deal to Tsvangirai is probably a good deal for Mugabe, and vice versa.

What is a bad deal for the people of Zimbabwe is to have no deal and continue the slide into chaos and possibly civil war, enabling foreigners and the warlords to loot whatever is not nailed down with no controls whatsoever! We cannot allow another DRC or Somalia scenario to develop.

Zimbabwe Watch,

Harare.