WHEN South African President Jacob Zuma told journalists two weeks ago that the three parties to the global political agreement had agreed to a package of measures to be implemented, they waited with bated breath for the list of concessions made that would resolve the country’s decade-long political crisis.
But to their disappointment he did not disclose details of the package and refused to take any questions from the journalists.
His one-page statement to the media was ambiguous and to this date no one has divulged any details of what Zuma persuaded Zanu PF and the two MDC formations to do.
All Zuma said was: “I am very encouraged by the spirit of cooperation displayed by the leaders and all the parties. The parties have agreed to a package of measures to be implemented concurrently as per the decision of the Sadc Troika in Maputo.”
Now that the deadline is expiring today, Zimbabweans are waiting for some disclosure on whether the negotiations have finally been concluded more than 18 months after the three political parties signed the global political agreement.
Zuma is expected any time from now to present a comprehensive progress report to the chairperson of the Sadc Troika, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza.
But what Zimbabweans want to know now is what package Zuma was referring to.
Recent statements from Zanu PF have compounded the confusion, with some people now beginning to question whether there was any package after all or whether Zuma was misled into believing that the three political parties were in agreement and close to concluding the talks and only needed to work out a matrix for implementation.
President Robert Mugabe told the Zanu PF central committee last Friday that his party would not reach an agreement with the MDC formations until sanctions are lifted.
“The position is that there cannot be any further concessions from us unless the illegal sanctions are gone. They are just paying lip service to the issue of sanctions and they need to do more,” he stated in a stance which Zanu PF’s politburo agreed on last Wednesday.
Analysts have however dismissed Mugabe’s utterances and the politburo’s position as mere grandstanding.
For Zuma to announce that there was a package, they believe that there must have been some agreed positions and Mugabe was just playing hard ball to give an impression to his supporters that he was not going to easily concede to the MDC-T.
The analysts pointed out that Mugabe would not deliberately try to humiliate his South African counterpart by reneging on concessions made during Zuma’s three-day working visit.
National Constitutional Assembly director Ernest Mudzengi pointed out that: “I don’t think that Zuma lied but could have been misled. Zanu PF may be playing games to mislead the nation. It’s a question of Mugabe trying to balance three balls in the air.
“These are just Zanu PF’s theatrics, well calculated tricks to create confusion and a way for Zanu PF to buy time.”
Leading political analyst Eldred Masunungure believes that Zanu PF is just grandstanding.
“I suspect that after making certain concessions to the other side, Mugabe may have been castigated by some hardliners in the politburo. This is part of grandstanding to his Zanu PF public to keep his audience appeased. He must have made some concessions but he has to adjust his language when relating to his public,” he said.
Musunungure said Mugabe would not want to undermine Zanu PF and would also not want to humiliate Zuma.
“I don’t think Zuma was misled. At his press briefing he was vague and ambiguous. They must have discussed and agreed on a number of things. I believe the package is there. I am cautiously hopeful but I think it is just a question of timing of implementation,” he said.
Mudzengi said there was some ray of hope judging by Zanu PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa’s statement at the weekend in the state media that negotiations would be concluded one way or the other and that a matrix of implementation of the agreed points would be agreed upon.
However, political analyst with the African Reform Institute Trevor Maisiri said Mugabe was no longer the sole voice of Zanu PF, who in the past used to have the last word which represented the party’s position and perception.
“What we have realised is that Zanu PF goes to the talks and agrees on certain frameworks but the moment there is internal consultations within the structures of the party, they then either reverse the points of agreement or simply stall implementation by throwing diversionary angles to the political scenario,” he said.
Maisiri pointed out that the politburo has become one of the power-broking mechanisms of the party.
“Mugabe and his negotiators no longer have the muscle to push through whatever they agree to at the talks as the politburo is the last checking mechanism before implementation. In most cases, it has come to reject whatever Mugabe and his negotiators will have signed and agreed to,” he said.
This is not the first time that the politburo has directed its negotiators not to make any more concessions. Talks stalled after the Zanu PF congress in December resolved that the party negotiators would not make any further concessions until the MDC factions removed sanctions and stopped foreign radio broadcasts into Zimbabwe.
By meeting with Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and state security minister Sydney Sekeramayi, Maisiri said Zuma was trying to shrewdly unlock the deadlock by tracing the “real and foundational power base in the party”.
“When Zuma had his talks, ironically he had to meet with the ministers of defence and state security. What this basically exhibits is that the negotiation power in Zanu PF does not entirely lie in the president’s hands anymore,” he pointed out.
Leaks to the media were that the three parties had agreed on the appointment of at least four MDC-T officials as provincial governors
On the governors, the negotiating teams were supposed to agree on a formula of selecting the resident ministers — either through popular vote or by the number of total seats in the House of Assembly and Senate.