What many had not foreseen was the parties — Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC — staying in the unity government for a year. So when the MDC-T announced a partial “disengagement” last year, many were not surprised.
A year later, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, are not smiling like they did exactly a year ago on the day of the inauguration of the unity government — February 13.
The government of national unity is faltering under tension. Zanu PF has resolved to make no concessions on the negotiating table because it accuses the MDC-T of doing little to have the sanctions imposed by United States, Britain and the EU lifted.
MDC-T feels that Zanu PF is fighting to destroy the unity government.
Although relations in the unity government have never been cordial, the past month has seen tensions heightening with both parties coming out publicly against each other.
Finance minister and MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti is not mincing his words about the state of the unity government saying last week the former ruling party should choose whether it is in government or not.
He said: “Zanu-PF cannot continue to have their cake and eat it. They (Zanu-PF) cannot continue to be normative members of this government when in fact they are working against it at every turn. It is simple; either they are in it or they are out of it. If they are in, the onus is on them to cease their violations of the laws of Zimbabwe, start respecting our party president and implement the commitments they signed up to in the GPA. If they are out, then bring on the election.”
Zanu PF deputy spokesperson Ephraim Masawi also announced his party would not make any GPA concessions and attacked MDC-T over its hypocrisy in the sanctions affair.
He said: “The hypocrisy of the MDC-T’s denial of its role in the evil saga of the imposition of illegal sanctions now stands exposed for all to see. The people of Zimbabwe, as the victims of the MDC-T and Western murderous collusion, now demand that Mr Tsvangirai and his Western allies remove their evil sanctions so that children can go to school, the sick can be attended to in hospitals, people can find jobs and farmers produce. These are the effects of the sanctions and not the ‘restrictive measures’ as Mr Tsvangirai euphemistically calls them. The Politburo therefore instructs its negotiators on the GPA to desist from making concessions in the negotiations until the sanctions are removed and the pirate radio stations cease to pollute airwaves.”
While Zanu PF had always maintained rhetoric that MDC-T had influence on the removal of sanctions, Britain gave the party the vindication it had always sought and never got.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s role in the fiasco cannot be ignored.
For the first time in over a decade, Zanu PF is out to prove to the world that its conspiracy theory — the British are behind a “sinister” regime change agenda and the MDC is their “puppet” — was no hoax.
After the first anniversary of the formation of the unity government, analysts do not see the agreement working any better.
In fact, many see the outstanding issues remaining tricky with Zanu PF playing hardball.
Observers say the appointments of central bank chief Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana will not be resolved especially now that Zanu PF is concerned about sanctions and pirate radio stations.
With the inclusive government birthday tomorrow, Tsvangirai had some good news to share — the names of the heads of human rights and electoral commissions.
But analysts feel that the piecemeal appointments were supposed to be made earlier. Analysts say, Zanu-PF wants to be seen to be making some concessions while dithering on key reforms such as security.
Under the surface, both parties feel that talks are going nowhere, judging by announcements from Biti and Masawi.
Publicly, Mugabe and Tsvangirai do not want to be the bearers of bad news and would continue pestering each other on the negotiating table to appease South African President Jacob Zuma, who is pressing for a resolution to all outstanding issues. This could further prolong talks until South Africa hosts the Fifa World Cup beginning June this year.
Already, they are arguments that an election could solve the stalemate but analysts say neither the environment nor the reforms instituted so far are ideal for a free and fair election.
And others such as Mutambara would not be happy at such a move. Mutambara is the weakest in the group and does not stand a chance against Tsvangirai, who still has a huge following while Mugabe is possibly the second favourate of the trio. Further, the election would mark the end of the MDC-M as a political party.
But a second anniversary might be a good judge of the parties’ commitment to a power-sharing agreement inked on September 15 2008 after an inconclusive presidential poll prompted a runoff.
MDC-T withdrew from the race citing escalating violence on its supporters.
But the three political principal protagonists only formed a government five months later. With reports that Mugabe’s chief secretary Misheck Sibanda ordered all ministers not to report to Tsvangirai, further exerting pressure on the coalition government going forward, it seems Zanu PF has quietly disengaged from the government of national unity.
On the economic front, the troubled government will not attract investment owing to lack of respect for property rights.
Investors are still in a wait-and-see mood. Chamber of Mines and Business Council of Zimbabwe president Victor Gapare believes Zimbabwe needs investment to increase gross domestic product (GDP).
He said: “Overall, the impression gained was that the economy now requires significant investment across the board for the phase to increase GDP. It is going to be difficult to grow the economy without major capital injections.
“Capital will flow into the country once a stable political and economic environment is put in place.”
Gapare had advice for the political parties too — put the nation first before party slogans and dogmas.
“To reduce perceived risk of Zimbabwe as an investment destination, the political parties are urged to put the interests of the nation ahead of their own interests and conclude the matters related to the full implementation of the GPA so that they can start talking with one voice,” Gapare said.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, says Zimbabwe’s political protagonists were too ambitious in agreeing to the GPA.
He said: “The trajectory to the anniversary was positive and would be consummated by the second year. But the second anniversary would be more difficult because there will be more stalling. This year, I foresee movement forward and backwards but basically it will be in circles.”
He added that the tragedy of 2010 and 2011 for unity government is that it will be a time for campaigning.