Serious Problems In Implementing Deal

THE inclusive government to be run jointly by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will face numerous challenges in implementing the agreement they signed on Monday, among them how to tackle the land issue and reform state organs.

 

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the leader of the other MDC formation Arthur Mutambara, signed a coalition agreement in a bid to end the country’s 10-year crisis after 17 months of negotiations.

South African President Thabo Mbeki facilitated the Sadc-initiated talks.

Political analysts said the implementation of the agreement would face hurdles with Zanu frustrating its execution.

Under the deal, the new government would carry out “a comprehensive and non-partisan” land audit to establish accountability and eliminate multiple farm ownership.

But analysts warned that it would not be easy to repossess the land as most multiple farm owners were Zanu PF bigwigs and have close relations to Mugabe.

Numerous land audits were undertaken since 2000, but very few multiple farm owners were chucked out.

The agreement said the United Kingdom government has the primary responsibility to pay compensation for land acquired from former white commercial farmers.

The challenge in enforcing that provision, the analysts observed, was it imposed an obligation on Britain that was not part to the deal signed on Monday.

This, the analysts argued, meant that however desirable, the payment of compensation would depend on the acceptance of Britain to assume the obligation placed upon it.

“You have to consider here that there are also internal dynamics in Britain that may militate against the fulfillment of this obligation,” a political analyst who requested anonymity said. “Gordon Brown (British Prime Minister) is under the pressure, to put it mildly, and he will hesitate to take a position that appears to endorse what appears to be Mugabe’s stance.”

He said if Britain accepted responsibility it would amount to accepting that Mugabe was right all along.

The new government will also find it difficult to reform the state media despite that Zanu PF and the two MDCs agreed that they would take steps to ensure that the public media provides balanced and fair coverage to all political parties.

Just like the Rhodesia state media in the aftermath of independence in 1980 took time to adjust, the same would be the case in respect of the way the ZBC and Zimpapers are operating.

The analysts warned that there would be resistance to change, with Zanu PF fighting to control ZBC and Zimpapers for propaganda purposes.

Another hurdle in implementing the agreement would be reforming of state organs, especially the army, the police and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) whose leaders declared before the March 29 and June 27 elections that they would not salute Tsvangirai if he wins the presidential election.

The state security organs reportedly spearheaded Mugabe’s bloody presidential run-off campaign, which Tsvangirai’s MDC claimed to have resulted in the death of over 120 of his supporters, plus 10 000 families displaced and thousands injured.

The bond between Mugabe and some of the service chiefs would be hard to break. Even when talks for an inclusive government were underway in August, Mugabe honoured war veterans and some of the service chief who were accused of perpetrating violence.

On Defence Forces Day, Mugabe rewarded the men who helped him secure Zimbabwe’s presidential election by giving them medals.

The beneficiaries included war veteran and also head of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission George Chiweshe, Happyton Bonyongwe, head of the CIO, which the MDC claimed to have seized, tortured and killed its activists before the presidential run-off. Paradzai Zimondi, the prison service chief who said he would not recognise a Tsvangirai victory, was also honoured.

Alex Magaisa, a law lecturer at Kent University in Britain, yesterday told the Zimbabwe Independent that reforming the state organs would be a challenge to the new government.

“That is going to be a huge and important challenge because the culture inculcated in these organs is irrepressibly pro-Zanu PF,” Magaisa said. “I notice that there are numerous references to training and re-training of personnel in the security organs — that’s an important feature which will need implementation –– but the question is would the implementation take place soon?”

Other analysts said it would be difficult to reform the army, the police and the CIO without easing out their leaders whose terms of office were extended to 2011 by Mugabe before the March 29 harmonised elections.

The inclusive government will also have a dilemma on how to reform loss-making parastatals, which perform the bulk of the country’s important service provision.

Some of the parastatals are headed by former army and police officials and needed to be demilitarised, analysts observed.

Under the deal signed on Monday, Mugabe after consulting Tsvangirai, will appoint heads of parastatals and other government departments, meaning that the president has the final say.

Sources in Tsvangirai’s party said they intended to push for the appointment of new diplomats, but Zanu PF was likely to fight the proposal to retain the current ambassadors.

Tsvangirai’s MDC, the sources said, was of the opinion that there was need to build bridges that have been burned over the years.

The party believes that a levelheaded and diplomatic person should lead the foreign ministry.

“Zimbabwe simply needs to take a detour from its belligerent approach, especially against Western countries,” Magaisa said. “Therefore, the appointment of diplomats needs careful handling so that both Zanu PF and the MDC can help build proper relations because any aggressive stance will jeopardise the work of the new government. Changes will be gradual but they have to have important symbolic significance to the wider world.”

Analysts said the government would face a Herculean task to have sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Britain, its European Union allies and the United States lifted.

The parties agreed to work together in “re-engaging the international community with a view to bringing to an end the country’s international isolation”.

But analysts said Zanu PF and the two MDCs had no capacity to influence the removal of the sanctions.

They pointed to the cautious optimism Britain, the EU and the United States expressed over the signing of the deal as an indication that sanctions could remain.

The countries said they would only lift the embargoes after seeing progress on the implementation of the deal.

The reforming of the national youth programme would also be difficult to implement because since its inception it has been partisan with its graduates used to perpetrate acts of violence against opponents of Zanu PF.

By Constantine Chimakure

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