This not what the Zimbabweans voted for.

This is not what the Zimbabweans voted for.

If the rumours swirling round the press are anything to be believed, Morgan
Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and Robert Mugabe are on the verge of signing a
power sharing agreement between Zanu PF and the two formations of the MDC.

If these rumours are true, I’m impressed by both the speed with which the
negotiations have proceeded, and the fact that the talks stalled as
infrequently as they reportedly did.

I haven’t seen the reported 50-page draft of the agreement. And perhaps the
whole story is yet another fabrication for the press. But if the contents of
what is signed resembles what The Star’s Fiona Forde is reporting, I have
some deep misgivings.

Some key points of the proposed agreement include:

Morgan Tsvangirai to be appointed as a Senator and then to take up the role
of Executive Prime Minister
Robert Mugabe to be President – with a position-for-life of Founding
President, (if and) when he retires
Blanket amnesty for all Zimbabweans “who in the course of upholding or
opposing the aims and policies of the Government of Zimbabwe, Zanu-PF or
either formation of the MDC, may have committed crimes within Zimbabwe.”
Apparently the time frame is still at issue – the MDC envisages a 24-30
month time frame – which may make this arrangement feel like a long
transition, but importantly, it’s a transition nonetheless. Zanu PF, on the
other hand, is reportedly arguing for a 5 year time frame – this doesn’t
make it a transitional arrangement, it makes it the duly constituted
government until the next scheduled elections in 2013.

I’m a bit more at ease if, indeed, this is a temporary measure, with the
promise of a transitional Constitution, but I still believe that the
political parties are negotiating away certain fundamental issues, without
opening up the debate to public discussion and input.

One of my colleagues in civil society recently wrote in an email discussion

If the Zimbabwean citizenry vote in a government and a political party, and
most of those in civics voted in that party, and then the outgoing party
refuses to leave, why do the civics do anything but support the party that
they voted in?

But to me that question is missing the point. These negotiations aren’t
moving towards simply installing the party which most Zimbabweans voted for
in the March Harmonised Election into power. They’re moving towards some
form of negotiated settlement – about which there has been no election.
Zimbabweans haven’t voted for who they’d want in a “coalition government” or
whether they’d prefer a Government of National Unity as opposed to a
Transitional Authority, or how they’d want such an arrangement to be

And Zimbabweans certainly haven’t voted for a blanket amnesty for all
political crimes – from Gukurahundi onwards. To paraphrase Spinoza, “peace
is not the absence of war, it’s the presence of justice.” Zimbabwean analyst
Knox Chitiyo may be willing to make the long-term sacrifice of justice for
the short-term promise of peace, but is the rest of the country?

According to Forde, MDC and Zanu PF to divide key ministries – reportedly
Zanu PF to take Defence, and the MDC to take Home Affairs. This, she
speculates, would make campaigning in the next election more even: with
control of Home Affairs, the MDC would have control of the police force,
which would enable them to guarantee greater civic freedoms to demonstrate
and assemble. But what about the role which the army has played in clamping
down on public protest and gatherings? Not to mention groupings like the
so-called war veterans and youth militia. And what about other basic rights
like press and broadcast freedom?

Where is the referendum on these issues – and the independent body to
oversee such a referendum to ensure that it was not subject to the same
electoral machinery that Zimbabwe’s recent elections have suffered from?
Where is the process for developing a new Constitution for Zimbabwe – not
just the 19th Amendment, which would be required to, for example, (re)create
the position of Prime Minister and define the roles of the Executive

As ‘Mukoma Wa Ngugi’ wrote recently:

A power-sharing agreement that brings about a “Government of National
 Unity,” or a transitional authority, will in fact be undermining the most
basic and important principle of democracy: the vote.


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