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Mugabe Diverts Unity Govt Review

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe this week used a meeting in Namibia to brief regional leaders on the progress of the inclusive government in a pre-emptive strategy to defuse tension on the non-resolution of outstanding issues.

Mugabe’s strategy, government sources said, was meant to prevent Sadc from taking a hard stance when it meets in Kinshasa to, among other issues, review the global political agreement (GPA) signed last September by the veteran leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara.

The GPA culminated in the formation of the inclusive government in February. Relations between the three parties were last week strained over outstanding issues of the pact after Mugabe’s party announced that it would not make any further concessions.

It is against this background that Mugabe seized the Namibia visit to brief regional leaders on the sidelines of the Boundless Southern African Expedition (BSAE) launch  in Oranjemund on his commitment to full consummation of the GPA.

The leaders who attended the BSAE were Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, Botswana’s Lieutenant-General Seretse Ian Khama, Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his Swazi counterpart Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini.  

Mugabe reportedly told the leaders that the inclusive government was working smoothly and assured them that despite the Zanu PF politburo’s stance on the sticking points of the GPA, he was determined to resolve the issues with Tsvangirai and Mutambara.

This, the sources said, was meant to render as a non-event the review of the GPA by Sadc in the DRC next month.

The sources said South African President and Sadc chairman Jacob Zuma’s visit to Harare on Thursday was not expected to yield any major breakthrough in resolving the current stalement between Zanu PF and Tsvangirai’s MDC.

Senior officials in the inclusive government told the Zimbabwe Independent that the country should not expect anything to come out of the visit by Zuma, who will be in the country to officially open the Harare Agricultural Show next Friday.

A Zanu PF official said: “This hype about Zuma’s visit is a creation of the media. Nothing is going to come out of that meeting. This issue about outstanding issues and rising tensions is not like that. Zuma is here for the agricultural show and that will be that. I wish we could continue for the next 10 years with this inclusive government to get the country out of the mess it is in.”

Tsvangirai met with Zuma in South Africa two weeks ago about Zimbabwe’s widening cracks in the GPA.
It was at that meeting that Zuma reportedly promised to address the outstanding issues during his Harare visit.

An official from one of the MDC formations said the GNU was “working well together”.

“The inclusive government is the best thing that has happened for Zimbabwe,” said the official. “If the stories about it collapsing were true, why has it not happened? We are working very well together both in cabinet and in our committees.”

Such statements contradict recent statements from the two main political parties over outstanding issues.
Zanu PF’s politburo last week claimed that the party had fulfilled all outstanding issues and that it was the MDC formations which had not met its obligations outlined in the GPA.

The sticking points the MDC formations were raising, the politburo said, were non-issues because the appointments of the Governor of the Reserve Bank Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana were done in accordance with the constitution and so was the appointments of provincial governors. The Zanu PF organ insisted Mugabe used his constitutional prerogative to make the appointments.

In what Zanu PF sources are describing as a defensive mechanism, the politburo said it was the MDC which had in fact not fulfilled key elements agreed to under the GPA.

The politburo accused MDC of not doing anything to address the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe and Zanu PF and to stop the beaming of anti-Zimbabwe messages by what it called pirate radio stations.

This, analysts say, was designed to prolong the negotiating process, making it impossible for the MDC to continue demanding the reversal of contentious appointments.

In response, the MDC issued a statement attributed to its spokesperson Nelson Chamisa saying Zanu PF’s statement was “nonsense” and that they were not responsible for correcting Zanu PF’s “barbaric” image.

“The world is clear that the so-called sanctions are a result of Zanu PF’s past sins of omission and commission. The onus is on Zanu PF to morph into a civilised political party that does not believe in the primitive and feudal coercive politics of machetes and knobkerries,” the statement read.

When quizzed at a recent meeting by colleagues in the inclusive government, Chamisa reportedly denied that he was the author of that statement, saying it was a junior officer at the party offices who released it without his authority.

This prompted Mugabe to remind ministers from all political parties that they should be careful what they say because such statements might give a wrong perception about the GPA and they may also overshadow achievements made by the inclusive government.

The MDC was accused of grandstanding to give an impression to their supporters that they were still fighting Mugabe and Zanu PF, when they were working well with them behind closed doors.

One such front on which they might appear to be at loggerheads is the constitution-making process, pertaining to the Kariba draft, which in the GPA is recognised as the basis for that process.

At the same meeting MDC-T’s chief negotiator Tendai Biti was said to have fumed at his colleague, Parliamentary and Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga for “misleading” the nation that the Kariba draft was not a factor in the process.

He asked Matinenga why he had not consulted him first as he was one of the co-authors of that draft.
The three principals and the negotiators from the three parties met briefly on Monday to find ways to reclaim the constitution-making process, which they felt they could lose control of if not careful.

The meeting had been due to define the process and direction of the constitution- making process.
One of the chief negotiators told the Zimbabwe Independent that they felt that there was need to rein in the parliamentary select committee on the constitution, co-chaired by the parties. The 25-member committee feels it needs autonomy as envisaged in the GPA.

Paul Mangwana has been accused by Zanu PF senior officials of forming an “unholy” alliance with MDC T.

In an effort to reach out to his former allies – Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, National Constitutional Assembly and Zimbabwe National Students Union – Tsvangirai last Saturday met with their executive committees to try to seek their support in the constitution-making process.

At that meeting Tsvangirai, in contrast to his position with colleagues in the inclusive government, agreed that the process was flawed and that using the Kariba draft was a mistake.

Faith Zaba 

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