HomeCommentComment: MDC-T’s naivety will lead it up a cul de sac

Erich Bloch Column: Govt takes yet another wrong turn

A FORTNIGHT ago it was reported that the Sadc-appointed negotiator in the GPA talks, South African president Jacob Zuma, wanted parties to the GPA to “park” outstanding issues in the protracted battle and proceed with the constitution-making process and then elections.

We voiced our scepticism at Zuma’s call to “park” these issues and proceed to implement facets of the Global Political Agreement in which the parties had a common position.
This approach, the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said, resonated with that of Zanu PF as illustrated at the party’s congress last December. We shared their concern that this was a position which would leave the GPA not fully consummated and one that awards victory to the loser, hence betrayal of the spirit of the power-sharing deal as agreed in September 2008.
This week we carry the story of the deadlock in the talks which resumed at the beginning of the week. Zanu PF is not willing to drop its entrenched position regarding the appointment of RBZ governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana.
The party has also remained steadfast against the appointment of governors despite an announcement last year that there had been a breakthrough on the issue. Zuma’s emissaries who were in Harare for the greater part of the week to unlock the logjam have failed. Zanu PF is digging in and there is deadlock.
As a way forward, the parties now believe their contestation can be ended by an early election. As it stands, this is the same project that Zuma two weeks ago said was the best way forward. It is the same route that the MDC has condemned many times.
But “park and proceed” is now the new game in town.  Tsvangirai in a story we carry elsewhere in the paper has adopted the Zuma phrase of “park and proceed”. He believes that after the failure of the talks, an early election can bring the required change to Zimbabwe.
Our worry in this matter is the naivety being displayed by the MDC-T that the constitution-making process, the referendum and then election can be executed by a unity government that has made it its business to squabble at every process of governance. As it stands, the unity government cannot be trusted to execute policy that benefits the general populace, more so with the parties having failed to execute a power-sharing deal as per agreement.
The breakdown in the dialogue could just be the beginning of a process of gradual disengagement by the parties with disastrous consequences. Last week we reported on President Mugabe’s attempts to wrest supervisory powers from Tsvangirai and cede them to the VPs, Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo. The unconstitutional manoeuvre has been challenged by the MDC but we should expect to see more such maladroit policies from Zanu PF in its bid to maintain its dead man’s grip on power. Mugabe sees the current deadlock in the talks as an opportunity to consolidate power and paralyse the MDC ahead of the referendum slated for October.
The period leading to that referendum will be critical. Zanu PF and the MDC-T, who have fought over every small thing in their year-long marriage of convenience, will soon be opening a new chapter of conflict as the constitution-making process gathers pace. Zanu PF has already started campaigns to push for the adoption of the Kariba Draft as the anchor of the new constitution. There are reports of physical force being administered by party hoodlums to push through this agenda. On the other hand, the MDC-T is also on the road with its set of proposals. The parallel processes are going to take the parties further apart. The fight will not just be about content, but will also encompass the process of gathering information and collating it. The constitution-making process in our view is the beginning of the dogfight for elections expected to take place in the first half of next year. The competition will be intense. With no tractors and land to give as inducements to voters, Zanu PF can be trusted to do what it knows best: rolling out instruments of coercion to bludgeon voters into compliance.
But the constitution will have to be adopted first. Mugabe’s sentiments at a central committee meeting last year regarding the constitution should be taken seriously. If Zanu PF fails to push through the Kariba Draft, and also fails in the referendum, it would try to frustrate the process in parliament where the MDC does not have a two-thirds majority. 
The “park and proceed” option which Tsvangirai is warming up to should be regarded with extreme caution as the PM could be leading his party up a nasty cul de sac. It leaves Johannes Tomana in situ where he can inflict maximum damage. It is worth noting that the “park and proceed” plan can only work if Zanu PF adheres to democratic tenets to win power. The party does not look keen to go that route. After the March 2008 poll, Zanu PF made known the violence it is prepared to unleash to retain power. In a deadlocked situation the same formula could be employed. To the MDC-T the issue of the 2008 violence should be an outstanding issue. Or is it “park and proceed” again on this one?

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading