The analysts say the partial withdrawal from the unity government by the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC three weeks ago would also erode gains made in turning around the economy and political reforms underway since the formation of the new administration in February.
Tsvangirai, Mugabe and the leader of the smaller formation of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara, the analysts said, were aware that the failure of the inclusive government would not be of benefit to any of them and that internal dialogue is the answer to the current dispute.
The MDC-T disengaged from cabinet and the council of ministers to protest against Mugabe and Zanu PF’s failure to fully consummate the September 2008 global political agreement (GPA) that gave birth to the unity government and the helter-skelter pace of democratic reforms.
Tsvangirai’s action was also to protest against the indictment to the High Court of party treasurer-general Roy Bennett, the reappointment of central bank boss Gideon Gono, the hiring of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, the delay in the appointment of provincial governors, the continued harassment and politically motivated prosecution of MDC lawmakers and activists.
The MDC-T has not attended three cabinet meetings since the disengagement.
Soon after announcing the disengagement, Tsvangirai went on a week-long diplomatic offensive in southern Africa drumming up support to compel Mugabe to honour outstanding issues of the GPA as outlined in the Sadc communiqué of January 27.
The premier met Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, South Africa President Jacob Zuma, DRC president and also Sadc chairperson Joseph Kabila and Angolan leader José Eduardo dos Santos.
The regional offensive culminated in the Sadc organ on politics, defence and security dispatching a ministerial team last week to review the GPA in line with the January 27 Sadc communiqué and to deal with the current impasse. A full Sadc troika meeting on the deadlock was held in Maputo, Mozambique, yesterday.
Sadc, analysts observed, would not do anything to compel Mugabe to honour the GPA and deal with the outstanding issues. The analysts said while the MDC-T’s complaints against Zanu PF were genuine, Mugabe would not give in to the party’s demands until the ageing leader’s party congress in December.
The analysts said Mugabe was aware that without the MDC in government he would lose political legitimacy and will not be able to move the nation forward, but was under pressure from Zanu PF not to give more concessions.
Zanu PF’s politburo in September declared that it had fulfilled the demands of the GPA and challenged the MDC-T to honour its part of the bargain. The party said the MDC-T had not done enough to persuade the United States, Britain and the West to lift sanctions and stop foreign radio broadcasts into the country.
“Mugabe is somehow contemptuous of Sadc leaders, that he has made clear through his actions, but at the same time he can not spit in their face because they did help him secure legitimacy through the coalition government at a time of increased pressure for his ouster from the West,” said University of Zimbabwe political science professor Eldred Masunungure. “So Sadc is likely to wring some concessions from the old man, reminding him that a stable Zimbabwe is better for the region but he is unlikely to give in to all MDC demands because you don’t want to go to congress appearing weak and giving in to your rivals.”
Mugabe has since been accused in Zanu PF circles of being a sell-out when he inked the GPA with Tsvangirai and Mutambara. Hardliners in his party and government are reportedly working overnight to torpedo the inclusive government.
Another political scientist, Michael Mhike, said despite the current impasse, Mugabe and Tsvangirai were aware that the inclusive government is the only solution to the country’s teething political and economic problems.
“Without the MDC, Mugabe has no political legitimacy,” Mhike said. “On the other hand, the MDC cannot champion democratic reforms outside the inclusive government. If you noticed, all attempts by Zanu PF to make political gains after the MDC disengagement have failed and that is why Mugabe is insisting that talks are going on to save the unity government.”
He said in the event of the collapse of the government, no fresh elections would immediately take place because constitutionally the next polls are scheduled for 2013.
“The collapse of the inclusive government would be disastrous for the nation. All gains made in the last nine months will be eroded,” Mhike postulated. “Mugabe will remain in charge of the country while the two MDC formations would go back to the trenches. Negotiations to save the situation should continue until an agreement is reached between the principals.”
Kabila, who was in the country this week for a state visit, was also of the opinion that there was no substitute to dialogue in resolving internal differences.
Drawing parallels to what happened in his country, Kabila said: “Political dialogue, entailing compromise and give and take, had to be brought to bear in order to defuse misunderstandings, build confidence, mend the social fabric and induce reconciliation. Indeed, accepting to share power with adversaries, or granting amnesty to rebels is seldom an easy decision.
“It can be politically painful and even dangerous. It takes vision, wisdom, and, above all, courage. Looking back, we do not regret having ridden that, at times bumpy road. It led us to where we stand today: strong and tall, as it was meant to be.”
Reports have emerged that besides Sadc nudging Mugabe and Tsvangirai to end the current deadlock, the two principals are engaged in parallel internal negotiations since last Monday when the protagonists met and failed to agree on the way forward.
The parallel negotiations are spearheaded by prominent businesspeople and politicians. This explains Mugabe’s weekend statement that Zanu-PF and the MDC-T were engaging each other to find a lasting solution to outstanding issues of the GPA and the smooth sailing of the unity government.
“We are glad that we are talking,” Mugabe said at the burial of national hero Misheck Chando in the capital on Saturday. “We cannot report it anywhere. The UN says it’s your issue and this is our issue. We settle it here, it’s not for others.”
Internal settling of the impasse also curried favour with the Sadc ministerial team that was in the country last week.
“In our observations we made it clear that the problems have to be solved first and foremost by Zimbabweans themselves. We do support the inclusive government but we have to show that support by making sure that it is inclusive in all instances,” said head of the ministerial team Oldemiro Baloi, who is Mozambique’s Foreign Affairs and Cooperation minister. “The parties should intensify their dialogue to come out of the situation and speed up the implementation of the GPA. We urge all parties to normalise the situation as soon as possible. This is a highly undesirable situation and it should not be allowed to stay for long.”