Sadc Summit Unlikely To Break Cabinet Logjam

AN extraordinary Sadc summit will have no capacity to unlock the deadlock on allocation of ministries between President Robert Mugabe and the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai “unless and until” there is good faith between the two protagonists.


Political analysts and commentators said failure by the regional bloc’s organ on politics, defence and security on Monday to resolve the impasse would be repeated at the summit if Mugabe and Tsvangirai do not shift from their current positions.
And there doesn’t seem much prospect of that.
The failure, the analysts observed, left the unity government deal tottering on the brink of collapse.
The Sadc Troika – made up of Swaziland, Angola and Mozambique – spent over 13 hours with Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the leader of the smaller formation of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara, but failed to deal with the impasse.
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza chaired the meeting that was also attended by Angolan Foreign minister Assuncao dos Anjos and Swaziland Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini.
Newly elected South African President and Sadc chair Kgalema Motlanthe and his predecessor Thabo Mbeki assisted the troika. Mbeki is the Sadc point man on Zimbabwe and is the one who brokered the September 15 all-inclusive government deal between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara.  
But like previous negotiations, Monday’s talks were deadlocked, according to the troika, on who should be allocated the home affairs ministry between the 84-year-old Mugabe and former trade unionist Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai’s party on Tuesday said the impasse was over 10 ministries, not just one.
In a communiqué issued after the impasse was declared, the troika recommended that the allocation of cabinet posts be referred to the full summit of the 15-member regional bloc.  
The troika suggested the co-sharing of the Ministry of Home Affairs or a rotational system where MDC-Tsvangirai and Zanu PF would take turns to run the portfolio.
Tsvangirai rejected this saying he should be solely responsible for the ministry.
While an extraordinary Sadc summit would now have to be convened, political analysts said the regional bloc was bound to fail to deal with the issue unless Mugabe and Tsvangirai compromise.
They argued that there was a lot of mistrust between the two leaders and moving them to accommodate each other would be a Herculean task.
Alex Magaisa, a law lecturer at the University of Kent at Canterbury in the UK, predicted that Sadc would fail to resolve the impasse and blamed the regional bloc for failing to enforce its own guidelines to avoid Zimbabwe plunging into the morass.
“I fail to see what the Sadc summit will say or do which has not been said or done in the many meetings they have held so far,” Magaisa said. “They are all fiddling and fumbling around giving great hopes and expectations where little exist, while Zimbabwe itself literally burns.”
He said Sadc should have long ago taken a realistic and robust view of the situation in the country rather than “fumbling over symptoms” and address the core of the problem.
“African leaders, Sadc especially, need to be bold enough with their long-time colleague Mugabe. They must acknowledge and thank him for his past service but tell him frankly that there is nothing new or revolutionary that he is likely to bring to the table,” Magaisa said.
“Elections were held and by all accounts they failed to comply even with Sadc’s own principles and guidelines. If they can’t enforce their own rules, then why bother setting them up in the first place? Even if it means giving him a ‘golden parachute’, he can float and land in some paradise, but thereafter Zimbabwe can perhaps entertain the possibility of an internationally supervised election.”
University of Zimbabwe political science professor, Eldred Masunungure, said after the Sadc Troika’s failure to deal with the impasse, the matter should be referred to the African Union –– one of the guarantors of the unity government deal.
“There is not much that Sadc can do except to rely on the good faith of the Zimbabwean protagonists,” Masunungure said. “After Monday’s failure, surely Sadc should throw in the towel and refer the matter to a higher level -–– AU.”
Masunungure wondered why more than a month after the pact was signed, the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) is yet to be formed as specified in the agreement.
The Jomic was supposed to have been composed of four senior members of Zanu PF and four senior members from each of the two MDC formations.Among its objectives were to ensure the implementation in letter and spirit of the unity government deal.
“This (Jomic) could have first played the role that Mbeki and Sadc are now playing,” argued Masunungure. “What is inhibiting the establishment of this potentially useful conflict resolution mechanism? It is now also worthwhile to explore the possibility of activating the reference group to assist Sadc.”
The reference group was appointed by Mbeki in July to help him to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis and was made up of AU Commission chairperson Jean Ping, United Nations undersecretary for politics Haile Menkerios and Sadc official George Chikoti.
Another political scientist, Michael Mhike, said while it is not hard to find a way forward on the impasse, much depended on Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s good faith and willingness to work together in the spirit of trust and confidence.
He said no amount of technical rules or arrangement would produce any positive result.
“Sadly, these crucial elements are lacking and I cannot see them germinating, let alone growing and flowering in the near future,” Mhike lamented. “It all looks pretty pessimistic.”
He suggested that Sadc should be “tougher and stronger” in its dealings with Zimbabwean politicians, especially on the Zanu PF side.
“They (Sadc leaders) need to honestly acknowledge the problem in Zimbabwe and identify where the source of the malaise is and deal with it decisively. Somehow, I doubt they have the cojones to do it. Many of them seem to be far too much in awe of Mugabe,” Mhike said.
Mutumwa Mawere, Zimbabwean-born South African businessman, said Sadc should think hard about what they have not done so far to resolve the country’s crisis and confront the problem in its proper construction and context.
He argued that while Sadc was a club of states with a limited mandate, its members should register their honest views on the kind of Zimbabwe that they want to see.
“It cannot be a Zimbabwe that is historically anchored and Zanufied,” Mawere said. “At the Johannesburg (Sadc) summit, it was resolved by Sadc that parliament should be opened and indeed it was opened only to confirm Tsvangirai’s assertion that he enjoyed the majority support in parliament. This was the minimum test given by Sadc as a basis for formulating a strategy on Zimbabwe.”
He argued that at the time, Mugabe was arguing that none of the principals had control of parliament to claim the mandate to form a government without the other.
Mawere said: “Having satisfied this requirement, Tsvangirai is back again to Sadc with severely reduced powers making the whole experience just a sham.  Since September 15 the Zimbabwean parties have demonstrated their inability to address even the smallest challenges facing the country to give Sadc confidence that the arrangement will work.”
He said there were two options to deal with the current deadlock.
“One is for Mugabe to be satisfied with the powers vested in him as head of state and government pursuant to the talks and allow Tsvangirai some degree of freedom to become the chief operating officer of the government,” Mawere suggested.
He said the dispute over the ministries exposed that Mugabe still believes that he enjoys the support of the majority of Zimbabweans and, therefore, no legitimacy problems.
“The other option is to go back to the people and let them decide who should be the president through a legitimate, free and fair election supervised by a non-partisan actor,” Mawere said.
Even the Sadc Troika agreed that without faith between Mugabe and Tsvangirai the Zimbabwe crisis was far from over.
The organ also emphasised that Zimbabweans, not outsiders, should find the solution to the impasse.

 

By Constantine Chimakure