Unity govt appears terminally ill

Leonard Makombe

At two, the Government of National Unity (GNU) is showing all the symptoms that despite initial promise, it is headed for an inauspicious death, leaving behind a trail of abject failures and half- baked achievements.

Just two years ago there was hope that the inclusive government would provide solutions to Zimbabwe’s  decade-long socio-economic crisis.

It was expected that the government would play a key role in solving the country’s economic crisis, simmering political tension and restore its standing in the international community.

Furthermore, it was envisaged that the political creation would open the floodgates to much-needed investment and possibly lure the country’s skilled manpower — scattered in the diaspora — back home.

However — thanks to hindsight —these expectations have proved way too optimistic.

Zanu PF has started writing an epitaph of the inclusive government, declaring that elections are inevitable, signalling an end of the political arrangement which was characterised by a contestation for power.

Dewa Mavhinga, an analyst and regional coordinator with Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, said problems faced by the inclusive government were caused mainly by the way the global political agreement (GPA) was drafted.

“The GPA is a legal document full of loopholes, ambiguous statements and outright political gibberish and hogwash,” said Mavhinga. “It reflects more of political chicanery than legal acumen; this is why President (Robert) Mugabe and Zanu PF continue to get away with snubbing GPA provisions.”

The inclusive government has been known more for squabbles over the implementation of the GPA than policies which benefit ordinary people who had borne the brunt of the decade-long political and economic crisis.

Analysts agree that the biggest undoing of the inclusive government was the failure to agree on how to fully implement the GPA as more energy was spent on outstanding issues that centered on power and “jobs for the boys”.

Ricky Mukonza, a lecturer at Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa, said the conclusion of outstanding issues would have paved way for the implementation of real policies to benefit the people.

“This (full implementation of the GPA) will ensure coherence in the manner in which government articulate key national issues,” said Mukonza. “As things stand, there are two sides of government, MDC and Zanu PF, which at times churn out contradictory pronouncements on policy matters.”

The inclusive government could be credited for policies which saw schools re-opening, medical supplies improving in hospitals and clinics, capacity utilisation increasing to around 43%, up from 10% prior to  February 2010, and a 7,5% economic growth last year.

A 7,5% economic growth in a year could have earned the administration a pat on the back but not in the case of Zimbabwe, which had been experiencing a negative growth in the preceding years.
By the time the unity government marked its first anniversary, there were signs that things had stagnated as shop shelves were packed with foreign products and inflation had started to rise again despite the use of a stable currency.
Rodgers Matsikidze, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe Law Faculty, said the GNU saved the country as it was on “the brink of a situation similar to what is happening in Egypt.”
“However, while it was said the civil servants who were getting US$100 as allowances would be looked at, there was not much movement,” said Matsikidze. “What we actually saw was movement in bills such as Zesa (electricity). Even in the private sector, there was little salary increases and in the second half of 2010 there were many appeals in the courts in terms of collective bargaining as companies were no longer able to give increments.”
He said the workers, particularly the civil servants, had sacrificed a lot and the administration had to reward them using proceeds from resources such as diamonds as is the case in the Middle East where kingdoms and small states are built on returns from oil.
The institution of the GNU appear to have failed to induce an element of transparency as the nation is in the dark as to how much is realised from the sale of the precious stones.

The failure of the GNU in achieving goals for which it was instituted could also be attributed to the divergent backgrounds and ideological standings of the partners in the marriage.

Zanu PF, having transformed itself from a socialist party, continues to pursue command policies where government plays a very significant role while the MDCs are neo-liberal believing in the sacredness of the market.

Apart from these differences, Booker Magure, a post-doctoral research fellow at Rhodes University in South Africa, said Zanu PF went into the arrangement with a view to “recapture power and it did exactly that.”

“Things could have been better had all the parties to the pact shared a vision of what it is that would make Zimbabwe a better place for everyone,” said Magure. “The lack of a shared vision explains why things did not work out. What emerged was a power monopolising as opposed to a genuine power sharing arrangement.”

When the balance sheet of the GNU is prepared at the end of the two year period, it would be seen that there is more debit than credit and as the nation is being held hostage in the election mode and there would be further declines.

Zimbabweans who may have wanted to come back may postpone until after the elections and the same can be said by investors who will delay further in making any significant commitment to the country.

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