Candid Comment: Deal Leaves Tsvangirai Cornered

THIS year started with no hope of an immediate implementation of the global political agreement signed between President Robert Mugabe and the leaders of the two MDC formations, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, on September 15 last year.

Tsvangirai has declined to be sworn in as prime minister of the envisaged inclusive government insisting that there are outstanding issues before the agreement can be consummated.

Among the sticking issues, according to Tsvangirai, are the ministerial portfolio allocations, appointment of provincial governors and the constitutive nature of the proposed national security council. He is also concerned about the abduction, torture and illegal detention of his members.

Tsvangirai’s refusal to take the oath of office has promoted speculation in the official media that the opposition leader and his party intend to walk out of the agreement in the hope that the economy will plunge into chaos, forcing Mugabe to quit.

The MDC-T’s leaders will meet in South Africa at the weekend to decide whether or not to enter the inclusive government, but it may be difficult for Tsvangirai to walk out of an agreement that he is party to, despite growing international disillusionment with Mugabe’s performance since the pact was signed.

His only option is to push Zanu PF into a corner where they would have to agree to new elections under international supervision so he can get the chance to beat Mugabe once and for all.

Sadc has betrayed the people of Zimbabwe by failing to stand up to Mugabe’s delinquency after the sham June 27 presidential election run-off that eventually led to the signing of the shaky unity government pact.
Equally, Tsvangirai and Mutambara have also been maladroit in so far as the events leading up to the signing of the pact are concerned.

It was up to Tsvangirai and Mutambara and their respective formations to formulate a united position and decide on who should be the principal in any engagement with Mugabe and Zanu PF.

A divided opposition to Mugabe was always going to be good news to Zanu PF.

It would be wrong to claim that Mugabe was responsible for the opposition not getting its act together both before and after the March 29 elections.

Mutambara chose not to participate in the presidential election and ordinarily he should be excluded from any discussions dealing with the allocation of executive power, and yet he now finds himself a player — and a critical one for that matter — in the contentious issues that remain.

Sadc and the mediator in the Zimbabwean crisis, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, had no choice but to listen to the voices of Zimbabwe’s opposition leaders and regrettably there seems to be no trust among them. Mugabe, being the incumbent, is the beneficiary.

Mutambara and his formation seem satisfied that the current outcome is what the country needs. The MDC-T disagrees.

Because of the results of the parliamentary election, an opportunity was created for a re-interpretation of what the people of Zimbabwe wanted to see: an executive reflecting the parliamentary results or an executive coming from the direct presidential election results.

When people voted on March 29 they surely had no idea that a vote for a parliamentary representative would end up being manipulated as a vote for who should be head of state.

By craftily investing in the terms of reference for the global political agreement, it was possible for Sadc and Mugabe to box MDC-T into a corner to the extent that very soon Tsvangirai would acquire the reputation of a spoiler. Yet his party won both the presidential first-round poll and the parliamentary contest. Mugabe only won the second round through an orgy of violence.

By signing the inclusive government deal, MDC-T must accept responsibility for creating this absurd outcome that now sees Mugabe taking the moral high ground.

The pact is framed on the basis that Tsvangirai will never assume unfettered executive power as long as Mugabe is alive. All he can hope for is being a prime minister under Mugabe. Mutambara appears to be happy with such an outcome, as he knows that if Tsvangirai were to assume unfettered executive powers he would not be a beneficiary.

For self-interest, the outcome on the table suits Mugabe and Mutambara.

The real betrayal of Zimbabweans lies in the nature and composition of the opposition forces. Given the current stalemate, Mugabe and Mutambara on the surface have the majority but lack the legitimacy.

The inclusive government deal is the only route for Mugabe to restore any residual legitimacy even among his own colleagues in Sadc and the AU. They can now claim that the deal has the endorsement of not only the three players, including Tsvangirai, but Sadc as well. It is a signed document as is the Constitutional Amendment Bill.

The bottom line is that Tsvangirai cannot walk out of the pact. But he should at least tell the country what his position is.

BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE

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