Editor’s Memo: GNU must get its priorities right

IT’S a new year and the inclusive government turns two next month.

 

As we enter 2011 it is our hope that this creature called the inclusive government focuses on development rather than concentrating on bickering over positions and power as has been the case in 2010.

 

We hope that the inclusive government will be focused on urgent national issues such as the adequate provision of electricity, improving the welfare of civil servants as well as revamping the education system rather than fighting for high sounding titles such as “Head of State and Government”, “Commander-In-Chief” and “Right Honourable”. These titles do nothing to help the ordinary man and woman in the street.

We hope the year will bring about policy consistency within the fabric of the inclusive government. It was difficult to believe last year that cabinet actually met almost every Tuesday to discuss government policy judging by the contradictory statements blurted by various ministers on issues such as indigenisation and civil servants’ wages. These kinds of inconsistencies only increased scepticism over whether Zimbabwe is a conducive place for investors.

It is also our fervent wish that we have a people-orientated constitutional process as soon as possible. This should reflect the wishes of Zimbabweans and not one based on partisan lines. Last year, there were groups of people who thoughtlessly regurgitated rehearsed lines disguising them as the views of that particular area for inclusion in the constitution.

Some suggestions during the constitution-making process bordered on the bizarre such as proposing that journalists critical of President Robert Mugabe should be hanged. Others were intimidated and barred from giving their views with several incidents of violence with facilitators of the process in some cases running for dear life. This seriously damaged the credibility of the whole process.

It is such kind of incidents that placed Zimbabwe in the 51st position out of the 53 countries on the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance last year. This is despite the fact that the inclusive government had been in existence for over a year.

In 2011 we would like to see the outstanding issues of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) addressed and not again go round in circles over positions which were agreed to and signed by the three principals, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara months ago. It is tragic that the three principals cannot implement an agreement they negotiated for close to half a year. This appears to be causing as much exasperation to President Zuma as it does to us.

We hope that the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration is more effective in bringing about a peaceful environment and end political tensions that have ravaged the country since 2000. It’s a crying shame that one of the chairpersons of that organ, Sekai Holland, last year said they were operating on a vague mandate without an enabling law and had no guidance as to how to operate.

Besides a few meetings and one or two jingles, this vital organ has not achieved anything of substance. This is evidenced by increasing reports of violence in various areas in the country.

Finally and most importantly, we also hope that there is a clear roadmap to economic recovery before the inclusive government’s term comes to an end. We have seen calls from Mugabe for elections by June this year, constitution or no constitution. As we have always said this is a recipe for disaster and will drag the country back to the dark days of 2008 characterised by violence and decay.

We call upon Sadc and the African Union, as the guarantors of the GPA, to ensure that the year 2011 heralds a process that will finally bring about a free and fair election. That’s as much in their interests as in ours.