MDC Secretary-General and negotiator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (PM) spoke to Zimbabwe Independent senior political reporter Wongai Zhangazha (WZ) on the successes, challenges and failures of the GNU. Below are the excerpts:
WZ: How do you rate the GNU performance over the past three years?
PM: I think the biggest success is that when we started the negotiations there was a belief that this thing couldn’t last because there were three political parties that were coming from completely different ideological and historical backgrounds.
The very fact that we have been able to work together this far is a success in itself.
I think the GNU deserves a pass. I wouldn’t say it has failed. It has however met many challenges. One of the challenges why most of the things have not been implemented is this nonsensical issue which I call the Arthur Mutambara factor which has basically made the principals’ forum dysfunctional. It has derailed the whole process.
The other challenge is that we came with different expectations in government. So to be able to deal with my own expectations about what I thought needed to happen and what is actually happening is a different thing altogether. We were not prepared for it.
WZ: Could it be because of these challenges you mention that you have so far failed to deal with the 24 outstanding issues?
PM: I think we need to separate the issues. What I am talking about are issues that government would do on a day to day basis.
Then you obviously have the challenges that were brought in by the fact that we got into government but continued to negotiate. We didn’t have a situation where you got into government after you have negotiated everything. Ours was to some extent a peace agreement; it wasn’t purely just a coalition agreement. We came together as part of a peace agreement to implement peace processes and therefore the negotiation didn’t stop.
WZ: And have you succeeded in your peace initiative as you put it?
PM: We haven’t succeeded largely because, like I said, if it is a process, it will not end soon. It will end on the day that we go for an election and you have a new government.
WZ: Is there any hope all these issues will be implemented before elections?
PM: Yes they will. I do have hope. Remember where we came from with President Robert Mugabe saying he will not negotiate with puppets but now we are working together. I believe we will be able to resolve remaining issues before the next elections.
WZ: Some have said your party has failed in this GNU?
PM: We need to reflect. So when somebody says people have completely failed to negotiate and deliver, that’s not totally true. It’s unfair.
WZ: Looking at the controversy over Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, is Zanu PF negotiating in good faith?
PM: This is why I said it continues to be an ongoing negotiation. The question is do you have the stamina to fight and the strategies to continue to push and make your arguments until there is such a point where there is an agreement. It’s not only the Chihuri issue but also ambassadors, judges, governors etc.
WZ: Does the MDC have the stamina to continue fighting on these issues?
PM: The MDC can fight in different ways, including mobilising Sadc to understand that there is a certain party violating the agreement so that they can ensure compliance.
WZ: Are you happy with the way President Jacob Zuma has handled the Zimbabwe situation?
PM: I think if Zuma had done anything more than he is already doing now there would have been a situation that somebody is trying to play headmaster. For our own dignity as a people we also need to be left to do the things on our own. We are not a province of South Africa. We are a government and we are a people of Zimbabwe and we need to stop always running to him each time there is a problem. Let the Sadc team deal with bigger and broader issues.
WZ: Has Jomic been strengthened as agreed at the Sadc troika meeting last year?
PM: You don’t strengthen Jomic by bringing people from outside. I know that there are people who were appointed sometime last year but it’s also the issue of bureaucracy even at Sadc. We don’t have the names of those appointed as yet but we know they have been appointed from various countries in the Sadc troika. I’m sure they will be appointed soon at the next Sadc meeting.
WZ: What is your opinion on progress made so far by Copac?
PM: Copac clearly remains a challenge because the time we have taken to come up with a draft constitution is not what we had anticipated. We also didn’t anticipate that the constitutional process would be a negotiated process in itself.