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Editor’s Memo: National Betrayal

WHEN President Mugabe on September 15 said there were parts of the power-sharing deal he did not like and parts of the deal that Tsvangirai did not like,

“but there were some things we both liked”, we all thought that the leaders would work to build on common positions and quickly find consensus on contentious ones.
Events since then have shown that the leaders have instead decided to amplify areas of contention and make these the subjects of engagement. They have decided to use these entrenched positions to fortify their mantras which at the end of the day have little to do with improving the lot of Zimbabweans.
The leaders on September 15 all agreed on the urgency of halting the economic collapse, reviving social services and dealing with the hunger that stalks the nation. These I believe are the areas of agreement which necessitated dialogue and the signing of the power-sharing agreement.
Morgan Tsvangirai summed up the task to hand: “The new beginning will be built more quickly with the support of the international community,” he said. “First we will stop the devastating food shortages. The first priority of this government is to unlock food accessibility. We need doctors and nurses back in our hospitals. We need teachers back in our schools. We need to stabilise our economy and restore the value of our money.”
Authur Mutambara weighed in with this brave statement: “There’s no longer a ruling party. There’s no longer an opposition party. We are now working together. The hard work starts today. This document that we have today is simply a framework to resolve that crisis.”  
Lofty pronouncements indeed, and we believed them!
Mugabe at least was honest on the day. He admitted that he was uncomfortable with “democracy in Africa” which he thinks is “a difficult proposition”.  Look at where we are today.
Two months down the line, there is little to show that unlocking food accessibility and stabilising the economy are an urgent matter. There is also no evidence of any hard work by the leaders cooperating to solve the mess in this country.  Instead they have put up shabby displays of arrogance to show voters how different they are and how much they do not trust each other.
There is a real danger now that the Global Power-Sharing Agreement could form a new epicentre of conflict between the MDC formations and Zanu PF, with devastating consequences for economy. There is evidence that the collapse of the economy has been steepest since the signing of the power-sharing deal. We just need to count the zeros which have come back to haunt the economy since September. There is outright collapse in health and a cholera outbreak which is the worst in the history of this country.
The parties in the interim have remained locked in attritional combat for appointments of ministers, permanent secretaries, governors and diplomats.
Amid the malaise wrought by the logjam, the leaders have put on deceptive masks of commitment to the dialogue. In France this week Tsvangirai spoke on the contentious subject of European sanctions in a manner which appeared to break ranks with his party back home. He did not exactly attack Western sanctions on Zimbabwe as Zanu PF wants him to do. He did not call for the lifting of the sanctions but he said further sanctions were not necessary at this point when food aid was urgently needed. He pledged commitment to dialogue saying “It can’t be forever,” he said. “We cannot go on and on and on.”
“We are not walking away from the deal, we support the deal. We continue to defend the deal.
But it must be a deal that reflects equitable
power-sharing. If we miss the opportunity, then the tragedy for the country is even too desperate to contemplate.”  
Tsvangirai will not want to be credited with savaging the talks. He wants to be a deal maker. He knows that deal breakers never win negotiations. They just end them.  
Mugabe’s party on the other hand said it had sent a draft constitutional amendment to the mediator, former South African president Thabo Mbeki for his perusal. The bill, among other things, sets up the office of the PM, deputy PM and nine non-constituency MPs. But the MDC has charged that it was not party to the drafting of the bill.
That’s not the way parties work together. The issue of the constitution has become another potential deal breaker. There is a real possibility that the parties are going to add this to the inventory of issues which have to be dealt with by the mediator. More delays. More queues at banks, more deaths from cholera and hunger and more zeros.
The tragedy of it all is that as a nation we have watched and cheered on the three leaders as they go off the rails. We are not demanding better government but we are content with taking our seat on the grandstand. We want to see who will win. We have constructed various coping mechanisms as the economy collapses and we have allowed ourselves to become slaves and victims of our preferred leaders’ whims and caprices.


By Vincent Kahiya

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