THERE has been a lot of debate in the media, of late, relating to what exactly the term â€œpower-sharingâ€ means and entails.
The main thrust of this article is to clarify the obvious and in some cases, deliberate, distortions and untruths peddled by the state media on the subject of power-sharing.
A power-sharing government is one in which two or more political parties join hands in forming and running it. The ratio of power-sharing is entirely determined by the preceding agreement between the contracting political parties who agree to enter into a power-sharing government.
What is patently clear is that there is no precise formula for a power-sharing government. There is definitely no one-size-fits-all approach to the formulation of a power-sharing government. Each power-sharing government is unique and indeed, peculiar, to its own specific and special circumstances. Put differently, the model of a power-sharing government adopted in country A is not necessarily suitable for country B.
The power-sharing agreement signed by Morgan Tsvangirai, Robert Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara on September 11, 2008 and solemnised amidst much regional fanfare on September 15 underpins the need for the countryâ€™s two major political parties, namely the MDC-T led by Tsvangirai and Zanu PF led by Mugabe to share power equitably and fairly. There is nowhere in the memorandum of agreement where any one political party is described as the dominant political entity and thus, the party that will literally invite other political parties to join it in forming a so-called all-inclusive government.
My understanding of the 9/11 agreement is that it forms the global framework on which an all-inclusive government is to be formed. It is therefore preposterous and indeed, fallacious, for Zanu PF to perceive itself as the â€œdominantâ€™â€™ political party that should unilaterally determine the parameters and ramifications of an all-inclusive government in Zimbabwe. The 9/11 agreement conceptualises a government in which the MDC formations and Zanu PF share power equally. More importantly, the agreement has the outcome of the March 29 harmonised elections in which Tsvangirai emerged as the winner of the presidential electoral contest as its bedrock.
It is beyond debate that Mugabe was beaten hands down by Tsvangirai in the March poll. A sham election was held on June 27 in which Mugabe competed against himself and won â€œresoundinglyâ€™â€™. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to appreciate the overwhelming lack of legitimacy of the charade that took place in Zimabwe on June 27.
Surely, if Mugabe â€œwonâ€™â€™ the June 27 election run-off fairly and legimately with over 85% of the total valid votes cast as announced by the thoroughly discredited and partial Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), then why didnâ€™t he proceed to quickly form a government as the overwhelming â€œwinnerâ€™â€™ of the presidential election run-off? The mere fact that Mugabe has not formed a governmentÂ nearly five months after â€œtrouncingâ€™â€™ Tsvangirai during the June 27 run-off election speaks volumes about the lack of legitimacy of that particular election â€œresultâ€. The annals of history have recorded the murderous campaign perpetrated by Zanu PF that preceded the June election run-off. This one-man â€œelectionâ€™â€™ received unprecedented and universal condemnation from even the Sadc observer mission, the Pan-African Parliament observer mission and the AU observer mission. This is the main reason Thabo Mbeki found it necessary to broker the power-sharing agreement of 9/11.
In normal electoral dispensations, an overwhelming winner of a free and fair election can never be compelled to share power with a loser. It will really be up to the winner to show his magnanimity by inviting the loser to join him in government. And we all know that it is not within Mugabeâ€™s political DNA to invite electoral losers into his government!
Tsvangirai is, therefore, perfectly within his rights when he demands that there must be genuine and equitable power-sharing between himself and Mugabe before he can join the so-called all-inclusive government.
Mugabe and Zanu PF have absolutely no right to unilaterally dictate the terms and conditions of the power-sharing government. By unilaterally apportioning cabinet portfolios as done by Robert Mugabe some few weeks ago, the need for Tsvangirai to be more careful in his dealings with Mugabe cannot be over-emphasised. As Tsvangirai has repeatedly said, it is better to have no deal than to have a bad deal. The people of Zimbabwe spoke on March 29 and who are we to ignore the wishes of the voters who chose Tsvangirai to be their president?
The 9/11 agreement should not and indeed, cannot, be taken as a substitute for the peopleâ€™s choice as reflected in the outcome of the March elections. If anything, Tsvangirai should be applauded for exhibiting true statesmanship by agreeing to have Mugabe, a clear loser of the legitimate March presidential election, remain as head of state!
Power-sharing is not and can never be an easy thing to do in politics. Political parties, rightly so, contest for political power to enable themselves to form governments. Thus, it is always going to be very difficult and painful, for electoral winners to form coalition governments with electoral losers. Even in Kenya, the situation is not all that rosy. Raila Odinga was forced to share power with Mwai Kibaki in order to avert a major catastrophe in Kenya. But recently and especially after the outcome of the Waki Report was made known, things have really been on a knife-edge in Kenya. Justice Philip Wakiâ€™s report is basically an analysis of the causes and effects of the post-election violence in Kenya between December 2007 and January 2008.
And now some politicians in Odingaâ€™s political party are crying foul alleging that the Waki Report is a witch-hunting exercise meant to tarnish their image by labelling them â€˜â€™warlordsâ€™â€™ who masterminded the post-election violence. There is even talk of bringing those politicians implicated by the Waki Report to trial at the International Criminal Court at the Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity.
This clearly shows the need for Tsvangirai to enter a power-sharing government only after ensuring that the rug will not be pulled from under his feet once he blindly enters into a government that is dictated by the whims and fantasies of Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.
All important issues such as the promulgation of Constitutional Amendment No 19, the equitable distribution of cabinet portfolios, governorships, senior diplomats and senior civil servants as well as the composition and operations of the National Security Council, have to be clearly and unequivocally canvassed and agreed upon before Tsvangirai can be sworn in as Zimbabweâ€™s new prime minister. Nothing short of this should be acceptable. Power-sharing doesnâ€™t mean rushing into an improperly-constituted government simply because the people are suffering. Fortunately for Tsvangirai, the majority of the people understand the basis of his reservations and certainly; he remains arguably the most popular national leader in Zimbabwe at the moment.
By Obert Gutu: MDC Senator for Chisipite and member of the partyâ€™s National Legal Committee.