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GNU Hangs by a Thread

THE shaky inclusive government is facing renewed danger of collapse after ongoing inter-party negotiations yielded a stalemate over contentious issues confronting the three rival parties currently running the country.

Informed sources said the inclusive government was now hanging in the balance and under threat following failed talks last week and Zanu PF’s defiant position this week on negotiations which have kept local and regional leaders in frenzied engagements.

The sources said after a new deadlock on Wednesday last week, the situation deteriorated dramatically in the aftermath of Zanu PF’s politburo meeting on Wednesday which resolved that the party’s negotiators must not yield during talks unless the MDC formations ensured the removal of targeted Western sanctions and stopped foreign radio broadcasts into Zimbabwe.

Guided by its congress resolutions made last month, Zanu PF on Wednesday said its negotiators were not going to cooperate with their MDC counterparts until sanctions are lifted and foreign radio broadcasts are stopped.

Zanu PF renewed its venomous attacks against the MDC-T, describing it as a “tool of British and Western imperialism”, showing the former ruling party was now geared for a fresh fight with its bitter rival. It accused the MDC-T of calling for “evil sanctions” and demanded their removal as a condition for dialogue.

In a move which showed the widening gulf between the parties and rising tensions, MDC-T spokesman Nelson Chamisa yesterday fired warning shots, saying the situation was rapidly deteriorating because Zanu PF was recklessly continuing to “tear apart” the Global Political Agreement (GPA), the foundation of the inclusive government.

“Sadc should intervene. One way to resolve this is for the region to intervene and help us agree to disagree and find and locate exit points to this political logjam,” Chamisa said.

“If we can’t agree we must have a framework for basic infrastructure to facilitate free and fair elections. Let’s just have an acceptable electoral management regime and hold elections because Zanu PF is wasting our time in the inclusive government.”

Chamisa said Zanu PF has “torn apart the GPA” and “threw it out of the window”. He attacked Zanu PF, saying the party was undermining the inclusive government despite losing the 2008 parliamentary elections and the first round of the presidential election before President Robert Mugabe stormed back to power via a campaign of violence and brutality.

“They were denied legitimacy by the people and we loaned them legitimacy in the interest of moving forward and saving our nation from disaster,” Chamisa said. “Why do people have to waste a whole year talking when they know that they are not interested in resolving the issues at stake?” Chamisa said.

MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti, who is the party’s chief negotiator and Finance minister, on Tuesday warned that if the inclusive government failed to implement the GPA, the power-sharing arrangement could soon fall apart.

Biti told journalist in Washington DC that South African President Jacob Zuma should intervene to prevent the breakup of the inclusive government.

“This equation can only work if those fundamental foundational cornerstones which brought the Zimbabwean parties involuntarily together are addressed,” Biti said “If there is a fear that there is arrested development on the things that gave rise to [the inclusive government] such as democratisation, writing of a new constitution and economic reforms, it will collapse. This is the time for President Zuma to show  leadership and intervene.”

Informed sources said senior MDC-T officials are convinced the way forward is no longer more negotiations, but Sadc intervention. The sources said the MDC-T officials are not limiting their options to Sadc. If Sadc fails, sources said, the MDC-T would withdraw from the government and campaign for fresh elections. 

“Talks are going nowhere,” a senior MDC-T official told the Zimbabwe Independent.

“Last week it was a disaster. We met and there was no progress at all. In fact, there was retrogression.

 We are now taking this issue to Sadc and if that doesn’t work we will consider pulling out. Zanu PF thinks we are bluffing but we are serious about this. We are not going to be talking forever and if these negotiations fail it’s time to take difficult options.”

Last week Zanu PF negotiators Patrick Chinamasa and Emmerson Mnangagwa refused to cooperate with MDC-T negotiators Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma and MDC-M representatives Welshman Ncube and Priscillah Misihairabwi, leading to a new deadlock in the talks.

Although negotiations are resuming on February 8, the MDC-T is already pulling out all the stops to take the issue to Sadc.

Frustrated senior MDC-T officials said this week they would first refer the issue to Sadc and if that failed they could disengage from government again. Last year the party briefly withdrew from government over the same issues, precipitating a paralysis of government that was only stopped after direct Sadc intervention.

Sadc leaders, including President Armando Guebuza and Zuma, held a meeting in Maputo which led to the MDC-T’s rejoining the government. Regional leaders ordered talks to resolve the issues, but the negotiations have not gone far. After the Maputo summit, marathon talks were held between November 23 and December 6 and appeared to be making progress. However, when they resumed last week, Zanu PF, now guided by its congress resolutions, balked and stalled the process.

The parties are deadlocked over such issues as the swearing-in of Roy Bennett, appointment of provincial governors, appointment of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, and the chairing of cabinet, among other things, which took again centre stage last week before they hit a new impasse.

Dumisani Muleya



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