AN extraordinary Sadc summit was held in Sandton, South Africa, on Sunday and resolved that Zimbabwe should â€œforthwithâ€ constitute an all-inclusive government in line with the September 15 power-sharing deal
between President Robert Mugabe and the leaders of the two formations of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara. The Zimbabwe Independentâ€™s Dumisani Muleya and Constantine Chimakure this week interviewed Mutambara at his Harare home to find out more on the Sadc summit and the way forward in negotiations to resolve the political crisis. Below are the extracts of the interview. The Independent also sent the same questions to Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the MDC formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai (opposite page).
Ind: Professor, what happened at the Sadc meeting?
Mutambara: Going into the Sadc summit, the position of our party was very clear. We were totally and unequivocally in support of Tsvangirai getting the Ministry of Home Affairs given the distribution of the security ministries, and in pursuit of fairness and equity.
We dismissed Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PFâ€™s claim to the ministry as not only baseless, but unreasonable, frivolous and vexatious.
However, it must be emphasised that it was a clear understanding among the three political parties that we were going to Sadc for a firm ruling, some kind of arbitration.
The challenge is not whether you like the Sadc decision, but rather how you are going to respond to it.
We must clearly explain and outline our reservations about the outcome, but at the same time respect Sadc processes and outcomes. The key thing is that all the stakeholders on the Zimbabwean matter must remain engaged.
Ind: Now that the Sadc has made this ruling, where to now?
Mutambara: There are two things we need to emphasise on the way forward. The first one is that there is no recourse or any kind of way forward outside the Sadc system. The second issue is that the inclusive government prescribed by Sadc has to include all three political parties.
If we somehow get the opportunity to go to the AU through brazen and unorthodox methods, the AU is most likely to defer to the decision of its lower organ, Sadc. Furthermore, there will be no moral basis for anyone to discuss Zimbabwe at the UN without Sadc or AU involvement and support.
The starting point (on the way forward) is to immediately stop President Mugabe from unilaterally forming a government. We should try to address all MDC-T concerns in the process of implementing the Sadc communiquÃ©.
The negotiators of the three parties must immediately get together and agree on the content of Amendment 19 to the Zimbabwean Constitution. This should be a quick and painless exercise because it is just extracting the aspects in the global political agreement that require legislation.Â The legislative framework required for the National Security Council must also be gazetted similarly, presumably as part of Amendment 19. Soon after the gazetting of these legal instruments, the prime minister-designate and the deputy prime minister-designate must be sworn in, and the three principals will then form the rest of cabinet together.
Also as a matter of urgency, before the gazzeting of the legal instruments, a public pronouncement must be jointly made by the three principals outlining the timelines and processes which the new government will use to discuss the outstanding issues of governors, permanent secretaries and ambassadors.
There should be a public acknowledgement by the three principals of the fraudulent changes made to the September 11 constituting agreement and a public commitment to adhering to the un-doctored version. The dispute around the Ministry of Home Affairs can be addressed by using the six-month efficacy review provision in the Sadc ruling.
If the co-ministering proves unworkable there is a potential exit strategy provided by Sadc. Also this six-month review window can also be used to raise concerns about the other outstanding matters (MDC-T concerns) outlined above if they are not resolved by then. In fact, in six months we can have a make or break Sadc Summit review of the entire inclusive government.
Let me also state that in this debate on cabinet positions and establishment of an inclusive government, we are also missing the forest for the trees. What is the purpose of this inclusive government? What we are trying to establish is a transitional authority whose sole purpose is creating conditions for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. More importantly, this transitional government has a mandate to develop and adopt a new people-driven constitution.
While we solidly support Tsvangirai in getting the Ministry of Home Affairs, we are not prepared to destroy Zimbabwe because he has not gotten the Ministry of Home Affairs…We have had nine weeks of destroying lives and business in Zimbabwe. This is where we draw the line and take a principled position. Not a single life should be lost in pursuit of Tsvangiraiâ€™s presidency of Zimbabwe.
The Sadc communiquÃ© speaks about immediately putting in place mechanisms to present and adopt Constitutional Amendment No19 in parliament. That amendment requires a two-thirds majority to pass in parliament and that can only be achieved by the three political parties working together.
Let me make an unequivocal declaration that our party will not be involved in any Mugabe government that excludes our colleagues in MDC-T.
Ind: If Tsvangirai and Mugabe want to pass the amendment they can do it. The two have the two-thirds majority!
Mutambara: You make my point precisely. Any functional arrangement has to include both MDC-T and Zanu PF.Â Tsvangirai has to be party of any arrangement that produces the two-thirds majority and that is why we are spending our time talking to our colleagues in MDC-T and urging them to compromise and put Zimbabwe first.
Any brazen behaviour on the part of Mugabe will be totally unproductive and will drive the country into further chaos. Mugabe should reach out to Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai must be strategic and clearly take cognizance of the limited options that he has. Â
One theory that has been advanced by misguided and un-intelligent Western analysts and governments is that â€œjust stay out of this government and give them six months, the regime will collapse. Mugabe will be brought to his knees by the economy and then MDC-T can walk into
power,â€ the thoughtless theory proceeds.
There is no regime in Africa that has collapsed because of economic problems alone. No one will walk into State House without firing a shot. The economic collapse would have to be combined with an armed struggle or mass demonstrations to drive Mugabe out of power.
Now, how do you do any of these complementary activities without any support among the 15 Sadc countries and their organisations? I have read remarks from President Khama, before the Sadc summit, where he was proffering an internationally supervised election as a solution to our crisis.
Under what law do you call for a fresh presidential election? Who is going to call the election? Who is going to force Mugabe to bring international supervisors to monitor our election?
If we are to have an election today, it will be under the June 27 conditions. More importantly, the most likely elections will be harmonised elections and these will be conducted under brutal and unjust conditions of June 27, that is, no international supervision, no freeness, no fairness, and more significantly under the current dysfunctional constitution. It doesnâ€™t take too much imagination to guess who will win those elections.
Pragmatism and flexibility demands that we go into this government and prepare our people for an election that we can win.
Ind: The armed struggle issue to gain power?
Mutambara: We are not recommending it; neither do we think it is desirable at this point in time, given the history of our country and the nature of our disputes.Â We are saying even if you were to engage in an armed struggle, how do you do it without a regional base? You canâ€™t wage your struggle or combat from Washington and London.
In 1979 when Mugabe and Nkomo were at Lancaster House and they didnâ€™t like the agreement, they pulled out and decided to go back to fighting. It was Nyerere, Kaunda, Machel who told them to go and settle despite the fact that the agreement was an unacceptable compromise to the two Zimbabwean leaders. Mugabe and Nkomo did not agree with the Frontline States leaders, but they respected their advice and complied. What is so special about Tsvangirai today?
Ind: It seems there is a dispute about a dispute here. Tsvangirai says there are 10 outstanding ministries and Sadc says one â€” Home Affairs. Which is the correct position from your understanding?
Mutambara: As political leaders in Zimbabwe we are victims of a serious mischaracterisation of the importance of ministries. Every ministry is important.
Our economic and social sectors have collapsed and this is where the focus should be. Consequently, we do not agree with what has been bandied around as the key ministries. We agree that there must be equity and fairness.
To fight over ministries is a misguided exercise because we are seeking to construct one inclusive government. There will be collective responsibility in that cabinet, and that coalition arrangement must be driven by mutual respect and trust. There will be no such thing as a Zanu PF minister or an MDC minister. No minister will take instructions from Zanu PF or MDC headquarters.
In terms of allocation of ministries, we went through several discussions as the three principals. We also had several meetings in the presence of the facilitator. With all due respect to our colleagues in the MDC-T, one of their major problems is overstating their case and misrepresenting facts.
We cannot say none of the ministry allocations were agreed. We can raise our disquiet about the allocations, but we must agree that by the time we went to Sadc, the main stumbling block was Home Affairs. And yes it was proper that Sadc had to deal with that ministry only and none of the other ministries. We as a party fought hard for the MDC-T to get the Ministry of Finance, and they got it. The struggle was now on the Home Affairs ministry, and we lost it at Sadc.