Unity Deal Can Only be Saved From Within –– Analysts

SADC cannot push President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to form a unity government “unless and until” the deep mistrust between the two protagonists is resolved, political analysts have said.

The analysts said although the regional bloc failed to facilitate a “real” power-sharing deal, it had done much to find a political solution to the country’s decade-long crisis and was let down by Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s fixation on gaining maximum power in the envisaged unity government.

The pact signed on September 15 last year, the analysts said, was on the verge of collapsing and would take direct intervention by Mugabe and Tsvangirai to salvage it.

Tsvangirai’s party meets on Sunday to decide whether or not to support Constitutional Amendment No19, which gives legal effect to the power-sharing pact, when it is introduced in parliament on Tuesday.

The MDC had earlier indicated that it would oppose the Bill until “outstanding issues” of the pact are resolved.

This, the analysts said, would signal the collapse of the deal and the country’s crisis will deepen and worsen the  humanitarian situation.

Among the outstanding issues the MDC-Tsvangirai cites are the allocation of ministerial portfolios; appointment of governors, ambassadors and permanent secretaries; and the constitutive nature of national security council.

Political commentator Alex Magaisa said there were no hopes of Sadc salvaging the deal given the positions of Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

“To continue to raise hopes and insist on the deal, which is yielding nothing, is tantamount to buying time and patience for the Mugabe regime while the disaster is unfolding in Zimbabwe,” Magaisa observed.
He said both parties were to blame.

“For its part, the MDC is not helping matters. They protest that there are fundamental breaches of the deal, that the talks have stalled and there are abductions and all manner of violations that suggests to all and sundry that nothing good will comes out of this, yet incredibly insist that they are still committed to the mediation process,” Magaisa said.

“There must come a point, surely, when they have to say that this is not working and it’s not going to work and pursue other options. But I fear, however, that they have no other strategy other than the negotiations –– that means they are stuck (and so are Zimbabweans) in a process that is unlikely to yield anything.”

Sadc chairperson and also South African president, Kgalema Motlanthe indicated that there was nothing Sadc could do for Mugabe and Tsvangirai to form a unity government.

“Being the chair does not mean you have the power to take or push for decisions the parties to the conflict are not agreeable to,” Motlanthe told the South African Mail & Guardian. “Our role can only be to facilitate the process of finding solutions.”

He said if the regional bloc had its way, the constitutional amendment should have been tabled in parliament in the first week of January, but the MDC took a decision to convene the House on January 20.

Motlanthe lamented the absence of Tsvangirai from Zimbabwe and insisted the MDC should join the unity government.

“Whatever outstanding issues the MDC might have can be dealt with after an inclusive government is formed,” he suggested. “Besides, without such a government efforts to deal with the humanitarian crisis are hampered.”

Eldred Masunungure, a political science professor at the University of Zimbabwe, recently told the Zimbabwe Independent that Tsvangirai should be party to the unity government and “participate under protest”.

He said the MDC leader’s concern with the security apparatus of the country could be addressed by insisting on the creation of a professional oversight body to oversee the security sector.

“This oversight structure will be comprised of men and women of integrity consensually selected by all three principals and its function will be to monitor the conduct of the police, defence forces and intelligence sector and ensure that these agencies do their work professionally and above partisan considerations,” Masunungure suggested.

Michael Mhike, a political scientist, said Zimbabweans should not be concerned with what Sadc should do to persuade Mugabe and Tsvangirai to form a government of national unity, but should focus on how the impasse should be resolved.

“Zimbabwe at this defining moment needs to turn a new leaf and it does not appear that Zanu PF is willing to relinquish executive control of the state,” he said. “What the deal provides is a framework that leaves Zanu PF in control of the state while giving some control to the MDC through the council of ministers.”

“The passage of time since the signing of the deal confirms that the two dominant political forces cannot work together suggesting that the solution may lie in holding fresh presidential elections for the people of Zimbabwe to determine who should lead them,” Mhike suggested.

“I do not think that a solution supported by Sadc with no cash will do. Zimbabwe urgently requires external financial support and the providers of such potential support have already spoken.

They want a new face to represent Zimbabwe and after 28 years in power there must be some recognition that responsibility for the crisis may lie in the very players who want more time to do the same.”

He said it was wrong for anyone to suggest that MDC was holding the country to ransom when Zanu PF was in control of the state even after the outcome of the elections.

“The current state of affairs shows that Zanu PF does not need the legitimisation of citizens to continue to hold onto power,” Mhike argued. “It is MDC that went to the elections to gain something from the process, but an absurd outcome has resulted where the doors to state power will remain closed without patronage. Zanu PF will need to change its approach to governance that has helped create a power vacuum and MDC has no pride to swallow when it has nothing to give. Its demands are supported by what people voted for.”

The International Crisis Group in its latest report suggested that Zimbabwe needed an 18-months transitional government excluding Mugabe and Tsvangirai to drive the drafting of a people-driven constitution, institutional reforms and prepare for free and fair elections.

It said the power-sharing deal was dead.

BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE