The MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai is the Zimbabwean prime minister at last.
It has been an arduous and turbulent road to his inauguration, and
Tsvangirai is right to caution that it is not the end for Robert Mugabe
and Zanu-PF. The road remains long and beset with six key impediments.
First, the devil is not in the details about how the unity government
will actually work. The devil is in the lack of detail. These grey
areas threaten the unity government’s shelf life, and are sites for
power battles and competition over which party will be better
positioned to win the next elections, which are high on the list of
priorities for all parties concerned.
Second, Zimbabwe’s unity government has received a mixed reception
because of the considerable influence and control Mugabe still wields.
Many international donors are cautious about reengagement. They have
adopted a wait-and-see approach, meaning reconstruction will be slower
than anticipated. While Zanu-PF will have to reform its kleptocratic
and undemocratic practices for the unity government to attract external
aid, there is need for clarity about the nature of external assistance
that will be required. Short-term international donor aid is not a
silver bullet for turning around the Zimbabwean economy and
strengthening fragile institutions. Long term coordinated international
donor commitment fused with an active constructive role by local actors
will be the primary determinants of reconstruction instead.
Third, Zimbabwe has a large diaspora, estimated at 3 million, located
all over the world. The diaspora needs to be harnessed and its
resources fused with those in Zimbabwe to facilitate reconstruction.
However the term diaspora implies a cohesive community with shared
values. Contrary to this the Zimbabwean diaspora is a splintered one
because of ethnic and racial differences, gender, class, immigration
status, political affiliation and conflicting visions about the
constituent elements of a reconstructed Zimbabwe. As a consequence,
there was no coordinated strategy by the Zimbabwean Diaspora for
confronting the Zanu-PF government since the Zimbabwe crisis began in
2000. Presently the Zimbabwean diaspora is not coordinating on how it
can play a role in Zimbabwe’s reconstruction.
Fourth, Zimbabwean civil society, while still active, has been
paralysed by Zanu-PF-ordered imprisonment, violent attacks, political
assassinations, and the economic crisis. European and American donors,
and international NGOs, have supported civil society groups campaigning
for governance reforms and respect for human rights. These groups will
require further sustained assistance that should take into account
civil society’s struggles for improved economic rights. Land reform
especially is critical for furthering economic rights. Nonetheless
there is no articulate and widely agreed upon action plan for
addressing the disastrous effects of the Zanu-PF government’s "fast
track" land-reform programme. Moreover, institutional efficiency,
transparency and fairness in land reform have been non-existent. A
robust and engaged civil society will help to alleviate these
Fifth, the necessity of constitutional reform cannot be understated.
Indeed it would be the MDC’s greatest achievement in government if an
inclusive democratic constitution were drafted and enshrined as the
supreme law of the land. Much of Zimbabwe’s governance problems have
their genesis in a defective national constitution that, since 1985,
has been amended by Zanu-PF dominated parliaments to entrench the
party’s rule. Zanu-PF will look to frustrate meaningful constitutional
reform in ways that could cause the unity government’s breakdown.
Sixth, constitutional reform cannot go ahead in the absence of a
revision of Zimbabwe’s political values system. A political culture of
violence, intolerance and kleptocracy has been fostered by Zanu-PF for
decades to the extent that it is ubiquitous. It is manifest in
opposition and civil society circles. A fundamental crisis Zimbabwe
faces is a crisis of values. Technocratic intercession without tackling
the political values crisis will result in the unity government
reproducing the Zanu-PF regime’s destructive rule. Pernicious values
militate against effective and strong democratic and developmental