BESIDES the controversy surrounding the July 31 general elections won by Zanu PF, the post-polls discourse has also centred on the possibility of another government of national unity (GNU II).
Report by Herbert Moyo
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai last week said Zanu PF is courting him over a possible coalition while other unconfirmed reports suggested that some of his high-ranking party officials were being considered by President Robert Mugabe for possible appointment in his new cabinet.
While both the MDC-T and Zanu PF have been unclear on whether any such talks took place, the Zimbabwe Independent is reliably informed there are advanced moves towards top-level dialogue aimed at ensuring progress achieved during the tenure of the inclusive government from February 2009 to June 2013 is not reversed.
Sources say although Mugabe and Tsvangirai are acting belligerently in public, they both agree on the need not to plunge Zimbabwe into a new economic and political turmoil reminiscent of the pre-2008 elections.
A lot has been said about the necessity of another GNU of sorts to save the country from economic collapse, and such talk grew even louder after the local stock market declined sharply sparking a cumulative loss of more than US$1 billion within days of Mugabe’s controversial victory.
But analysts doubt that another GNU would have the desired impact on the economy citing the overwhelming Zanu PF majority they believe will severely limit the MDC-T’s impact.
They warn that joining such a GNU would be fatal for the MDC-T which dismally failed to dislodge Zanu PF having won the 2008 parliamentary elections and enjoyed regional and international support.
“What will be different this time around,” asked Eldred Masunungure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.
“This will be a David and Goliath type of coalition in which MDC-T is the midget while Zanu PF is the giant. MDC-T will not be allowed any policy space to make any changes even if they enhance the economy.”
He said it will not be prudent for the MDC-T given its four-year experience during which its reputation was severely damaged by associating with Zanu PF, which used the party as a scapegoat for every shortcoming of the GNU.
Masunungure said the MDC-T should self-introspect, re-organise and await the 2018 elections.
Even with representation in key local institutions and support from Sadc and the African Union (AU), the MDC-T failed to exert its weight to push for electoral, media and security sector reforms necessary to ensure free and fair elections.
Instead, there were policy gridlocks during the GNU and Zanu PF unilaterally pursued its controversial indigenisation policy while it retained control of the coercive state apparatus.
In the end, the July 31 elections were held without agreed reforms and that contributed significantly to the MDC-T’s defeat.
The example of other past unity governments should also suggest to the MDC-T that there is not much to be gained from being part of another one.
Unity governments are not a new phenomenon in Zimbabwe and through them all, Zanu PF has stood out as the common denominator.
From the first GNU in 1980, which had disparate ex-Rhodesian, independent white elements as well as Joshua Nkomo’s PF Zapu, Zanu PF was there and dominated them all.
Mugabe fired his PF Zapu counterparts from their ministerial positions in 1982, including party leader Joshua Nkomo, over the alleged discovery of arms caches at PF Zapu farms.
PF Zapu heavyweights and former Zipra commanders like Dumiso Dabengwa and Lookout Masuku endured spells in detention despite court orders for their release.
Masuku died as a result of incarceration.
In any event, Zanu PF’s claims about the arms have never been substantiated.
Even later, when PF Zapu joined Zanu PF in the much-celebrated Unity Accord of 1987, the latter still dominated the union.
Not only was that reflected in the retention of its name for the new amalgamated party, but PF Zapu leaders failed to pressure their Zanu PF colleagues into addressing concerns of marginalisation and under-development in the Matabeleland provinces.
PF Zapu even failed to get an apology from Mugabe — save for the remarks it was an “act of madness” — over the Gukurahundi episode in which thousands were reportedly killed by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade under the pretext of fighting dissidents.
In the end, the 1987 Unity Accord gave Zanu PF its desire for complete national dominance while PF Zapu leaders were rewarded with positions.
However, for all its shortcomings, the Unity Accord was better as Mugabe and PF Zapu’s Nkomo were contemporaries from the nationalist struggle for independence.
Mugabe could not question Nkomo’s nationalist credentials in the way he has done with Tsvangirai and the MDC-T over their Western neo-liberal leanings.
Neither could anyone else in Zanu PF question the credentials of Joseph Msika, Dumiso Dabengwa, Naison Ndlovu, John Nkomo and other PF Zapu stalwarts.
But even with these unquestionable nationalist and pan-Africanist credentials, Nkomo and his party were symbolically in the unity government and simply fed into the Zanu PF agenda for a one-party state.
Taking the cue from academic Brian Raftopolous who wrote that the 1987 Unity Accord “had as its explicit and sole objective the complete annihilation of PF Zapu as a separate entity”, Media Centre director Enerst Mudzengi said that “from a Zanu PF perspective, the whole point of such a government would be to swallow the MDC-T”.
“They (MDC-T) can only get in there from a position of great weakness having lost the elections,” said Mudzengi.
Against this background, it is inconceivable that the MDC-T will get anything from this latest initiative except for a few individuals who will be lucky enough to be brought on board the gravy train.
Lessons from history should warn the MDC-T that such a move would be a fast-track to doom and oblivion.