This was heightened by Zuma’s comments — after meeting the main players — that the parties had agreed on a package of measures to be finalised by the negotiators with a report being submitted to the facilitator by next Wednesday.
Alas these hopes were shattered on Wednesday when Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo revealed that one of the party’s negotiators, Patrick Chinamasa, had told the politburo there was no package of measures agreed to during Zuma’s visit.
“He (Chinamasa) reported that nothing was agreed upon during the past visit by President Zuma contrary to what some sections of the media have reported,” Gumbo was quoted as saying in yesterday’s Herald.
This means we are back to square one: the global political agreement signed by President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara is far from being consummated.
This entails that these talks about talks will continue to drag on with no clear solution in sight.
The main political players continue to fiddle as the country burns — faced with severe food shortages that threaten millions of Zimbabweans.
The negotiations continue to drag on as the violence that characterised the June 27 presidential runoff is beginning to resurface in some parts of the country with reports of resuscitation of the feared torture camps. Reports of fresh human rights violations abound.
A case in point is the seizure by the police of photographs for a ZimRights exhibition focusing on political violence at the Delta Gallery this week.
The parties continue to natter away as the registration of new media houses remains a dream despite utterances by the recently appointed commission that this would be done timeously.
The negotiations hobble along as Zanu PF youths recently threatened Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai with unspecified action if he did not call for the removal of sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union
The talks limp on as Mugabe recently stripped four MDC ministers of their powers, virtually leaving them to be placeholders in the fragile inclusive government.
We have no doubt that more problems will surface as talks stagger along, which makes the pronouncement by Gumbo deeply disturbing.
It means the status quo remains with no solution in sight, especially as Zanu PF continues to insist on the removal of sanctions as a prerequisite to any concessions in the talks. Of course Gumbo may be hanging tough for the benefit of his audience. But the prospects of the two sides agreeing on the way forward are not encouraging.
The EU and the US have made it abundantly clear that they would only consider removing sanctions if the GPA was fully fulfilled. It would therefore be futile for the MDC-T to go on a globetrotting campaign to have sanctions removed.
Farm invasions continue with the takeover of productive farms which include those supposedly protected by Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements. Laws that suppress democratic freedoms are still in place. There is no land audit in sight to check multiple farm ownership. There is still no movement on the constitution-making process which was supposed to have started early last year because of continuous bickering among the parties.
The threatened expropriation of foreign-owned companies through the implementation of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act that stipulates a 51% shareholding by indigenous Zimbabweans adds another dimension in the fractious relationship within the inclusive government. The law became operational in March without the input of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
All this weakens the call for the removal of sanctions.
It is for those reasons that Zuma’s call for the lifting of sanctions remains hollow and will fall on deaf ears as he found out when he visited the United Kingdom recently.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told Zuma point blank that there would be no removal of sanctions unless Zanu PF adheres to the letter and spirit of the GPA.
Zanu PF’s intransigence will not affect the US and EU but the very Zimbabweans they purport to serve.
This stubborn attitude by Zanu PF threatens to reverse the little progress that has been made since the signing of the GPA and risks alienating South Africa which will sooner or later run out of patience.
Zanu PF cannot demand the removal of sanctions and brazenly ignore its obligations to the GPA. They cannot have their cake and eat it.