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Zim’s Deal-makers In No Hurry To Act

ZIMBABWE’S chances of having a functional government soon are anywhere between negligible and none as the protagonists in Zimbabwe’s political crisis have a long way to go before a final deal can be hammered out.

Political analysts this week said even if the planned Sadc Summit to resolve the deadlock on the allocation of cabinet posts between President Robert Mugabe and the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai and a new government is formed, it would take months for  government to start doing its work.
This, the analysts observed, meant a delay by the new government in focusing on reviving the economy, service delivery and the democratisation of the country as envisaged in the all-inclusive government pact signed between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the leader of the other MDC formation, Arthur Mutambara, on September 15.
Already, the analysts said, it had taken a long time to form a new government to tackle the food crisis in the country and put logistics in place for the 2008/9 agricultural season.
More than three million Zimbabweans are in dire need of food aid and United Nations food agencies have predicted that the number could go up to five million by January. Some people in rural Zimbabwe were reportedly surviving on wild fruits.
Preparations for this year’s agricultural season are in shambles with little seed and fertilisers on the market due to acute shortage of foreign currency to import the commodities.
The Sadc organ on politics, defence and security meeting on Monday in the capital failed to unlock the deadlock on the allocation of ministries between Mugabe and Tsvangirai and referred the matter to the regional organ’s summit.
While the organ said in its communiqué the outstanding ministry was home affairs, the MDC-Tsvangirai said 10 cabinet posts were in dispute. The party also outlined five outstanding issues and given the rate at which the negotiations have been moving thus far, it would take months for a final deal to be secured.
Analysts observed that there was no meeting of minds between Mugabe and Tsvangirai and as a result a speedy pact was elusive.
Former South African president Thabo Mbeki who brokered the deal on the number of ministries allocated to each party, left the cabinet portfolios to Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara hoping the three leaders would work out how they are shared. However, it will now take a whole Sadc summit to secure agreement. And success there appears increasingly unlikely.
MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti this week regretted the failure by the Sadc Troika to narrow the gap between the Zimbabwean parties and bemoaned the suffering of the ordinary people.
He said at the core of the stalemate was lack of sincerity and good faith on the part of Zanu PF. Biti said there were six outstanding issues in the implementation of the September 15 deal — the parcelling out of cabinet posts, sharing of provincial governors, composition of the National Security Council (NSC), the appointment of permanent secretaries and ambassadors, drafting of Constitutional Amendment No19 and the alteration of the deal signed on September 11.
The MDC contends that there has to be equitable distribution of portfolios. It accuses Zanu PF of power-grabbing after Mugabe three weeks ago allocated “key” ministries to his party, among them defence, home affairs, foreign affairs, local government, agriculture and media and information.
“In this regard the MDC has suggested a methodology in respect of which the key ministries are paired in the orders of importance and relative equality,” Biti said. “We identified 10 key ministries which we believe are supposed to be shared equitably. For instance, we have paired Home Affairs to Defence, Justice and Legal Affairs to Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Mines and Minerals Development to Environment, and Youth to Women.”
However, he said there was an attempt to ignore fundamental principles and hence the claim in some circles that only the Ministry of Home Affairs was outstanding.
Impeccable sources in Zanu PF said Mugabe would not agree to the suggested MDC methodology after the party’s politburo meeting on Wednesday ordered him not to cede any more ministries.
The MDC is pushing for an equitable sharing of the 10 gubernatorial seats in line with the outcome of the March 29 elections although Mugabe in August appointed members of his party to all the 10 posts. Zanu PF’s central committee has also ruled out changes in governors arguing that the unity government deal did not cover the issue.
“The third outstanding issue is the question of the composition, functions and constitution of the National Security Council (currently the Joint Operations Command),” Biti said. “This is a critical issue in view of the dangerous and partisan role that has been displayed by the intelligence services in this country.”
In terms of the all-inclusive government deal, Tsvangirai as prime minister would sit in the NSC to be chaired by Mugabe.
The drafting, gazetting and debating of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No19 to operationalise the pact would also be another contentious issue and an obstacle in the implementation of the deal.   
The amendment would create the office of prime minister and deputy prime ministers and would expand the numbers of MPs in both the House of Assembly and Senate.
“Details of the constitutional amendment should come from the three parties,” one of the sources said. “The input into the amendment will be contentious and there is a likelihood of another stalemate.”
The source said MDC-Tsvangirai would fight for a constitutional provision stating that Mugabe would make key appointments only after “agreeing” with the prime minister. The MDC wants the word “consult” in the agreement referring to Mugabe to be replaced with “agreeing”. The sources said Zanu PF would fight “tooth and nail” to block the MDC from curtailing Mugabe’s power.
The two MDC formations, the sources added, would also fight to have a constitutional provision empowering them to be involved in appointing permanent secretaries, ambassadors, heads of parastatals and government departments.
If the parties agree, Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No19 will be gazetted in terms of the law. After being gazetted, the constitutional amendment should be debated publicly for at least 30 days before it is tabled, debated and passed by both the House of Assembly and Senate. Mugabe would then sign it into law.
The MDC, according to Biti, would also like the Sadc summit to deal with the “morally reprehensible” alteration of the agreement of September 11.
“It is our understanding that the troika in fact made a resolution that it is the agreement of September 11 that should be binding and we are indeed surprised that it was not captured in the communiqué,” Biti said. “From the above, it is clear that there is so much that still has to be done and a lot of goodwill, patience and wisdom, which so far has not been evident or has not been exercised.”


By Constantine Chimakure

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