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GNU: The successes and failures

By Dumisani Nkomo

TWO years ago the Government of National Unity (GNU) was set up on the basis of the Global Political Agreement (GPA). The agreement came about as a result of inconclusive elections which had seen President Robert Mugabe being beaten by Morgan Tsvangirai and Zanu PF losing its parliamentary majority to the two MDC formations.



The GNU and its implementation framework achieved a number of things for all the three political parties and the people of Zimbabwe as a whole. However, two years later Zanu PF and Mugabe claim the inclusive government is not working well. This is in spite of the fact that the agreement and its attendant governance structure — the GNU — gave Mugabe legitimacy and the people of Zimbabwe room to breathe in a much better economic environment.

Has the Government of National Unity failed? Who says it has failed and why? What indicators can we use to measure its success or failure? Why does Zanu PF or Mugabe want the inclusive government to come to an end?

I’m convinced an end of the inclusive government may bring us back to the pre-2008 days and we may be back to another inconclusive election or disputed election. A quick-fix election and a premature end of the GNU together with the GPA may not be a step forward but rather may see us moving around in circles. The GNU can only be judged according to the framework that created it which is the GPA. Pertinently there are over 27 areas of the GPA which the GNU has failed to implement. This article primarily focuses on the successes and failures of the GNU as envisioned and anticipated in the GPA
What Zanu PF wanted from GNU
Mugabe and Zanu PF needed three things from the GNU and these included but are not limited to:

Time to retreat, re-organise whilst allowing the two MDCs to deal with the harder issues of reviving the government and getting the government to work again;

Removal of sanctions /restrictive measures or whatever one chooses to call them.
The GNU however has frustrated Zanu PF in the following ways:

It has forced them on the path of fundamental democratic reforms — a concept that they are quite alien to;It forced Mugabe to be more accountable to GPA partners although he routinely ignores them. Surprisingly he has been more than keen to consult the other principals on the Welshman Ncube – Arthur Mutambara saga;


It has limited their access to state resources.

The two MDCs strategic objectives were to gain access to the levers of power, to influence the economic and political direction of the country through fundamental democratic reforms. The MDC formations have not totally achieved these objectives as power has continued to be vested in Zanu PF and Mugabe as evidenced by his unilateral appointments of ambassadors and governors.


The MDC formations have managed to provide stability in the government through their control of critical social and economic ministries. It must be remembered that when the GNU was created the economy and the social sector had literally been decimated by Zanu PF. Whilst the MDC formations were religiously implementing most of the items of the GPA, Zanu PF was nicodemously rebuilding its structures and doing all it could to make sure the agreement failed. This worked for as long as it gave the party space to re-organise. This is not to say that all MDC ministers are angels or paragons of virtue and all Zanu PF ministers are devils and demons, but Zanu PF ministers represent and are part of an evil and mafia- like system whilst the two MDC formations purport to be part of a system that is epitomised by democracy (whatever their understanding of it).

Stumbling blocks for GPA
If we were to use measurable and verifiable indicators to measure the inclusive government’s success or failure rate the GPA is the most useful barometer to use. Obviously there were many intrinsic and extrinsic factors that influenced failure or ability to implement the GPA. Amongst these factors are:
Political will or lack thereof from the three political parties
Ineffectiveness of the GPA in implementation and lack of oversight structures.
External factors or mechanisms such as Sadc, the AU and the facilitator, South Africa, as envisaged in article 22.6
Achievements — economic policies

The GNU has managed to bring sanity to the economy through the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programmes — Sterp I and Sterp 2 — which have managed to address issues pertaining to runaway inflation and economic instability. Basic commodities such as bread, milk and mealie-meal are now readily available even though the country’s supermarkets have been flooded with foreign products to the detriment of locally produced goods. However four years ago the situation was completely different as it was not difficult not only to get relish for sadza but even to get sadza for the relish. The inclusive government must be commended for this.

The inclusive government is yet to effectively conclude the setting up of the National Economic Council which is supposed to consist of representatives of the parties, the manufacturing sector, commerce, finance, labour, academia and other stakeholders (Article 3 c of GPA).

Sterp as a GNU indicator

The inclusive government’s economic policy, Sterp, appears to have been rather over ambitious in that it sought to solve a broad spectrum of socio-economic and political issues such as politics and governance issues; social protection — food, health education and vulnerable sectors; economic stabilisation including capacity utilisation in all sectors; restoring the value of the Zimbabwean currency; ensuring availability of basic commodities and rehabilitation of collapsed social, health and education sector (as in the 2011 national budget statement).
However the economy was beginning to show some signs of life with investors showing interest in the country. Despite these positives, Zanu PF went on its usual path of economic suicide by tabling controversial indigenisation laws, demanding elections, engaging in an organised and confusing fresh spate of invasions and violence in and around Harare.

Failures of the inclusive govt
The GNU failed to implement the following aspects of its own bible — the GPA. These failures include;
The constitution making process as articulated in article 6 missed all its deadlines and was characterised by intimidation, disorganisation and chaos.
The govt failed to promote equality, national healing, cohesion and unity — it only managed to set up a structure and a secretariat of the organ.
War veterans and Zanu PF youths continue to disrupt free political activity as evidenced by the mayhem in Harare.
When it comes to the rule of law, respect for the constitution and other laws, the police have applied the law selectively and have stood by as Zanu PF youths engaged in looting and violence in Harare. The police instead as evidenced by Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri’s statements on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings show that they have taken sides with the perpetrators and arrested victims.

State organs such as the police and the army have failed to be impartial with senior officers openly siding with Zanu PF and declaring that change in Zimbabwe cannot be brought about by a mere pen (in reference to voting/elections). The GPA is abundantly clear in stating that state organs and institutions do not belong

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