Oversight body redundant

mugabe_morgan_tensionHARARE, - Intervention by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to resolve a dispute between Zimbabwe's unity government partners has highlighted the redundancy of an oversight body specifically established to smooth the road of political reconciliation. (Pictured: Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Muga

The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) was constituted on 30 January 2009 by the SADC Facilitation Team to ensure that the signatories abided by the terms of Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement (GPA), signed on 15 September 2008.

According to article 22 of the GPA – which paved the way for the formation of the unity government in February 2009 – JOMIC would “ensure full and proper implementation of the letter and spirit of this agreement … [and] receive reports and complaints in respect of any issue related to the implementation, enforcement and execution of this agreement.”

JOMIC has been plagued by funding shortages and “does not have legal or statutory powers to enforce the implementation of the GPA. That therefore means it has limitations in terms of ensuring the full and proper implementation of the political agreement, and that forces everybody to work on consensus,” Elton Mangoma, economic planning minister and co-chair of JOMIC, told IRIN.

Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister and leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, “disengaged” from the unity government on 16 October in protest over President Robert Mugabe’s alleged refusal to abide by the terms of the GPA.

This, the most serious breakdown in the unity government so far, has been patched up after the SADC Troika on Defence, Security and Politics met in Maputo, capital of Mozambique, where all parties in the unity government were given a 30-day deadline to resolve outstanding issues.

Mangoma said one of JOMIC’s mandates was “to serve as a catalyst in creating and promoting an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding between the political parties, and to promote continuing dialogue … If everything was working according to plan, then the recent meeting in Maputo would not have taken place.” The secretariat now had “reasonable” resources and could not be dismissed as “toothless”.

If everything was working according to plan, then the recent meeting in Maputo would not have taken place

“We cannot change the mandate of the JOMIC without amending the GPA. For JOMIC to function smoothly, all outstanding issues to the Global Political Agreement and the SADC communiqu of January 2009 have to be implemented in order to give the country a fresh start,” Mangoma noted.

Among the outstanding issues was a transparent land audit to identify multiple farm ownership, halted by fresh farm invasions; the swearing-in of provincial governors, most of whom are MDC representatives, stalled by Mugabe since elections in 2008; media reforms; and the furore over deputy minister of agriculture designate, Roy Bennett.

Bennett, a former white commercial farmer who lost his farm in 2003 during Mugabe’s fast-track land reform programme, is currently on trial for weapons possession and intent to commit terrorism and banditry. Bennett’s defence team has dismissed the charges as based on a confession extracted under torture.

The MDC has also listed as a stumbling block Mugabe’s unilateral appointment of the reserve bank governor and the attorney-general, contrary to the terms of the GPA.

In turn, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF contends that the MDC has not done enough to persuade the US and European Union to lift sanctions against hundreds of senior ZANU-PF officials, as well as Mugabe and his family, and that the MDC has failed to stop radio stations funded by foreign governments from broadcasting into Zimbabwe.

Deadlocks

Ben Freeth, a Zimbabwean commercial farmer, told IRIN: “As far as we are concerned, JOMIC does not exist. They have not done anything to stop the fresh farm invasions taking place.” His farm was taken over by a senior ZANU-PF government official.

“The SADC Tribunal has ruled that some aspects of the land redistribution were illegal, and the government of Zimbabwe has been in contempt of that ruling since June, but JOMIC has not said or done anything about it.”

According to JOMIC communications manager Joram Nyathi, “It [JOMIC] cannot force parties to perform any specific provision. JOMIC can only persuade the parties to be faithful to the letter and spirit of the GPA. Where the parties hit a deadlock, JOMIC’s role is to try and break it or propose alternatives.”

In a recent newspaper column he wrote: “More importantly, because of its role as a ‘permanent’ negotiating forum of the parties to the GPA, JOMIC cannot afford the luxury of standing on hilltops to attack or condemn its constituent partners for the infringements of the GPA.”

Post published in: Opinions

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