FZ: There have been contradictory statements on the expiry of the GNU among parties to the agreement. What is the lifespan of the GNU?
TB: Anyone who says the GPA had a lifespan of two years clearly did not read the agreement itself or constitutional Amendment No 19. The only sunset clause is the constitution which demands that whether we like it or not, elections must be held in 2013.
FZ: Tell us what have been the challenges to the GNU in the last three years?
TB: The GPA has been a forced marriage. Coalition agreements are a challenge but having said that I have absolutely no doubt that the deficit areas far outstrip the advantages of coming together. However, the decision to participate in the GNU was the marginally correct one: It gave our people some breathing space following the events of 2008.
FZ: The GPA is a roadmap towards elections. Is Zimbabwe ready for elections this year?
TB: Zimbabwe is not ready for elections. People don’t want an early and unsustainable election. I am talking about an election that is not going to deliver change and an election marred by violence –– an election that you will end up with us negotiating again. People don’t want that.
FZ: Why has there not been any movement on the 24 issues you have agreed on?
TB: I think one of the things frustrating negotiators is that we worked so hard but there is no implementation. Even the original GPA itself has not been implemented in key situations. We are tired and frustrated that we meet and things don’t get implemented. If we could implement all the things that we agreed on, we would be three quarters of the way to sustainable elections.
FZ: Why have those 24 agreed issues not been implemented? Is it lack of commitment on the principals’ part?
TB: I think the principals are committed but I get the feeling that there is a gap between the principals and the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy must implement agreements and directives of their principals. One of the greatest weaknesses of the GPA is that while we created an oversight role in Jomic, it operates at macro-level.
So in retrospect, maybe there should have been a sub-committee of cabinet consisting of vice-presidents and deputy prime ministers to deal with implementation.
FZ: But will you be able implement them in time for elections constitutionally due next year?
TB: Let me be honest that Zimbabwe will not be ready for an election in 2012. But if you want a blood bath, if you want a reproduction of instability and if you want a continuation of the long winter of despair, have an election in 2012. We are not ready from a financial point of view, we are not ready from a reform point of view and also not ready from a psychological point of view.
FZ: Where are we on the constitution-making process? There are reports that the drafters might be fired. What is the correct position?
TB: That is crazy talk. To say people were not consulted is an insult to the 1,3 million people who participated. I believe that we will get a constitution that is better than the current one. That is fundamental.
FZ: We have had parties saying with or without a new constitution there are going for elections this year. What is your comment on that?
TB: If anyone thinks he or she can call a unilateral election in this country under these circumstances they must either be drunk or insane or both. It will not happen.
FZ: Let’s say someone is insane enough to use your term and acts unilaterally, what happens?
TB: It will be unsustainable at so many levels. How will they be able to govern this country?
FZ: What do you think will happen if free, fair and credible elections are held? Who will win?
TB: If we go for elections tomorrow, there is no doubt that Morgan Tsvangirai will win. But that is not your problem. To create a sustainable Zimbabwe, you need to answer two things –– what happens the morning after when we have the handiende (refusal to relinquish power) syndrome. How do you manage that? That is the key issue President Zuma must deal with. With this election you need three things: Integrity of the vote, security of the person and security of the vote. Without that we will have a throwback to 2008.
FZ: How do you deal with a situation in which the military could intervene to thwart people’s will after elections?
TB: It’s an African problem. It is not just an issue for domestic law; it is also a test of international law. International law has reached a state where Article 2:7 of the UN charter –– non-intervention –– is nonsense. Democracy is the minimum bundle of rights –– the freedom of choice and the democratic right to change leaders. Politicians must come and go. That must be a universal language.