This term was first used after a 1973 six-day hostage incident in Stockholm, Sweden.
During a bank robbery, several people were held captive in the bank, and when authorities finally came to their rescue, several hostages resisted rescue attempts.
And more worryingly, during the trial many of the victims refused to testify against their captors.
Back home, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who appears like he is being held hostage by President Robert Mugabe in the unity government, refuses to take on Mugabe, even though he is clearly being taken advantage of.
He assured Western leaders on his EU and US trip to re-engage the international community in June that all was well in the unity government, courting the anger of MDC officials at home who felt that their leader was economical with the truth.
The Stockholm syndrome –– a common survival strategy for victims of interpersonal abuse –– has been observed in battered spouses, abused children, prisoners of war, and concentration camp survivors and incest victims.
Now, it seems the syndrome can be found in Zimbabwean politics and hopefully shrinks will one day come up with a name for the Mugabe and Tsvangirai affair.
Mugabe says he has met his side of the bargain as outlined in the GPA and will not budge for anyone, let alone the European Union (EU).
He said: “They (EU delegation) thought things were not working, yet we did all the things we were asked to do under the GPA, timeously even.”
But the unilateral appointments of central bank chief Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana are still outstanding issues.
Mugabe refuses to swear in Deputy Agriculture minister designate Roy Bennet into office. Several MDC-T MPs have been arrested on various criminal charges.
Information Communication Technology minister Nelson Chamisa is continuously being undermined by Zanu PF’s Nicholas Goche, who believes he is the one responsible for parastatals’ such as Netone and Telone.
Mugabe has appointed provincial governors unilaterally among other acts not in line with the GPA. The unity government is still to form human rights, electoral and media commissions a year after the signing of the GPA.
The constitution making process is struggling to take off after its chaotic launch which was disrupted by Zanu PF members in July.
Analysts see Mugabe’s hand in the delays in the constitution-making process and setting up the commissions.
The state is still to open up media space and Tsvangirai and MDC-T are being subjected to hate speech by the state-run media.
Propaganda against the MDC is at its peak at Herald House and the national broadcaster, ZBC continues to undermine Tsvangirai and his ministers.
Contrary to the GPA, Mugabe and Zanu PF believe it is Tsvangirai’s mandate to lift sanctions. The agreement merely acknowledges the need to have sanctions of any kind removed but does not mandate the premier alone to have the sanctions lifted.
Land seizures are escalating all over the country at a time when Zimbabwe is trying to attract foreign investment.
While state publisher, Zimpapers, has launched two dailies, H-Metro and Midlands Chronicle, without a licence, other publishers cannot do the same and are awaiting the setting up of the Zimbabwe Media Commission to licence them.
The army continues to take political positions and some of its chiefs have saluted the premier once.
Army commanders are issuing statements that the continued broadcast of pirate radio stations amounts to “warfare” and issued another chilling statement this week that NGO’s must stay out of Zimbabwe’s politics or else.
But why is Tsvangirai continuing to allow this abuse? Will Tsvangirai walk out of this union with Mugabe if push comes to shove?
John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, doubts Tsvangirai and his party would exit government if the people demanded such a move.
He said: “I doubt whether Tsvangirai and his team would adhere to the views of the people if told to get out of government.”
MDC chairperson of the Women’s Assembly Theresa Makone is of the view that the party should pull out sooner rather than later.
She said: “There is continued marginalisation of women who are not Zanu PF, so when will this end. It is rather better we pull out than continue to be abused, raped willy-nilly by Zanu PF people. I say let’s pull out.”
Analysts believe Tsvangirai will be reluctant to disengage from government but will be hauled before the coals if he does not bow to party demands.
Others believe Tsvangirai will stay as long as possible while Mugabe and his officials continue running the show like there is no binding agreement between them. Zanu PF continues to make unrealistic demands such as the lifting of sanctions and an end to pirate radio broadcasts, an area the MDC has little influence over. All evidence that the GNU is failing, is there for all and sundry to see, analysts say.
After meeting the EU delegation a fortnight ago Mugabe claimed to have told them: “I said don’t talk about them (sanctions) being targeted sanctions. The sanctions are real.”
Tsvangirai believes there are challenges in the implementation of the GPA, but believes it is working.
He said: “We want to see the full implementation of the agreement and that is why we have taken the issues to Sadc. However, there has to be progress. The pace of the GPA has been slow but I am sure the three political principles will be able to sit down and solve the issues.”
South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe says his government told Zimbabwean political parties that human rights violations, such as beatings and kidnappings would not be tolerated.
He said: “We have spelt out that when (British Prime Minister) Gordon Brown and (US President) Barack Obama and the EU want progress, these are the issues the Zimbabwean political leadership ought to address to ensure that investors come to the party.”
Motlanthe added that the Zimbabwean parties realise that this was their last chance to “pull themselves out of the morass”.
Mugabe seems to have turned a deaf to Motlanthe’s advice.
“Instead of discussing sanctions, they were talking about Tomana and Gono and I said munei navo (what have you got do with that),”said Mugabe in typical defiance.
Swedish International Co-Operation minister Gunilla Carlsson, who was part of the EU delegation to Zimbabwe, says there is need for full implementation of the agreement.
Carlsson said: “We would like to engage with the government of national unity in Zimbabwe. But of course, we are concerned by the fact that there has been no progress on some issues included in the global agreement.”
Observers say the lifting of sanctions depends on whether Mugabe will sack Gono and Tomana and introduce tangible political reforms in line with GPA.
Government is still to free the airwaves and Tsvangirai is concerned about propaganda emanating from the state media.
He says: “The distortion of the political reality by the state media presents a real and credible threat to this inclusive government and its stability to impact positively on the lives of the people.”
The premier says his party took the decision to participate in the unity government to enable the people to rebuild their lives again.
“We in the MDC took the firm decision to participate in this government to give the people of Zimbabwe hope and an opportunity to retain their dignity and to restart their lives,” he said.
Analysts say Tsvangirai must be firm with Mugabe, who has taken him for a ride from day one.
MDC crisis meetings began over the weekend and saw the party going back to the masses on whether the opposition should pull out of government.