GNU Cracks Widen Despite Zuma Visit

SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma flew into Zimbabwe last Thursday and upped the tempo for full consummation of the global political agreement (GPA), but the situation on the ground shows widening divisions in the inclusive government, political analysts have said.


So worrying is the growing list of outstanding issues that one of the key principals to the GPA, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, on Tuesday implored the Sadc Summit next week to rein-in on President Robert Mugabe and force a resolution of the sticking points.

 

During his two-day official visit, Zuma — in his capacity as chairperson of Sadc — met Mugabe, Tsvangirai and his Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and urged the principals to move with “speed and progress” to fully consummate the GPA signed last September to resolve long-running political tensions in the country.

Zuma said the Sadc Summit on September 7-8 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) would provide an opportunity to review progress in the implementation of the agreement, and for the countries of southern Africa to reaffirm their commitment to assisting Zimbabwe.

The implementation of the GPA has been dogged by the intransigence of Zanu PF since the formation of the inclusive government on February 11 and on Tuesday Tsvangirai expressed frustration.  

It was apparent that the three principals had failed to break the impasse on the outstanding issues and that Tsvangirai’s salvation was now with Sadc, which analysts argued has no leverage to push Mugabe to play ball.

Incoming Sadc chair Joseph Kabila is relatively inexperienced in Zimbabwean politics and in any case owes his survival to Mugabe’s intervention in the Congo conflict.

“We have not resolved or implemented agreed positions on provincial governors despite the negotiators agreeing on a formula on their fair allocation,” the premier told journalists in the capital. “This is why we urge Sadc to place the issue of Zimbabwe for specific consideration during the forthcoming summit in Kinshasa.”

Apart from the issue of provincial governors, Tsvangirai and the two formations of the MDC have been irked by Mugabe’s move to rehire Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and appoint Attorney-General Johannes Tomana in breach of a memorandum of understanding the principals signed in July last year.

Mugabe has also refused to swear in MDC treasurer Roy Bennett as deputy Agriculture minister while there were continuing reports of farm invasions and sporadic acts of political violence throughout the country.
Tsvangirai lamented that the political climate in the country continued to be marred by unfortunate and “vicious” propaganda emanating from the state-controlled media.

To make matters worse, he said, the selective application of the rule of law, including the persecution and prosecution of MDC MPs, continues to inflame political tensions.

Equally problematic, Tsvangirai added, was the deliberately slow pace of progress on the implementation of key issues connected to human rights and the rule of law.

“This includes the self-evident deliberate stalemate on the constitutional-reform process, as well as the slow pace of media reform,” Tsvangirai complained.

Political analysts said Tsvangirai’s call for Sadc intervention was a clear sign that Zuma’s visit had failed to nudge the leaders to resolve the outstanding issues.

The analysts said despite his outspokenness during his visit, there was no departure from South Africa’s so-called quiet diplomacy under ex-President Thabo Mbeki who brokered the Zimbabwe political deal.

University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said Zuma’s diplomacy was no louder than Mbeki’s.

“In any case, I did not discern that Zuma’s diplomacy — when he finally spoke — had any more decibels than Mbeki’s. It would appear that his was a variation, a different style around the same theme of silent diplomacy.”

After all, he argued, Zuma’s was the first and probably last foray into the murky waters of Zimbabwe-Sadc diplomacy.

Zuma would at the Sadc Summit hand over the regional body’s chairmanship to “an even quieter if not inaudible” DRC President Kabila who has his own “can of thick worms” to worry about.

Masunungure said Zimbabweans should not pin any hopes on the Sadc Summit to resolve the sticking points because it “does not have sharp teeth that bite and even has difficulty barking”.

Another political scientist Michael Mhike concurred with Masunungure that Sadc cannot resolve the sticking points.

“Sadc does not have much leverage over the three principals, especially Mugabe and Zanu PF,” Mhike said. “And the host of the summit is easily the youngest Sadc leader who is battling insurgency in the eastern part of the DRC. How then can he call the Zimbabwe kettle black?”

Zanu PF told Zuma that it could no longer make more concessions on the outstanding issues because the MDC formations had failed to honour part of their bargain – calling for the removal of sanctions and putting an end to broadcasts by international pirate radios.

On the other hand, the MDC argued that the issues of sanctions and pirate radios were collective responsibilities of the partners in the unity government.

Masunungure agreed with Zanu PF that the two issues were sticking points.  

“Both are outstanding issues, especially sanctions which directly and visibly affect key members of the previous regime,” he said. “Both are apparently Zanu PF’s “outstanding issues” but they are deliberately being elevated above MDC’s issues. Apparently as well, both sanctions and pirate radios are matters beyond the control of the MDC and of Sadc; they are within the jurisdiction of other sovereign states.”

Zuma said effective recovery in Zimbabwe “is also dependent on the removal of sanctions and other measures that hold back economic development”.

Zimbabwean lawyer based in the United Kingdom and also newspaper columnist Alex Magaisa was of the view that Sadc could have had great effect in ensuring the adherence to the GPA if it was serious.

“But this appearance is far removed from the reality. Sadc feels that it has done enough to halt the violence and turmoil in Zimbabwe and quite frankly I don’t expect anything to come from that body,” he said.

Constantine Chimakure

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