The MDC did not enter into a marriage of convenience, but one of abuse. For all its goodwill, compromises and appeasement, the MDC has been repaid with contempt, provocations and lawlessness. Robert Mugabe has not just been reluctant to implement the provisions of the GPA, he has deliberately set out to sabotage and destroy it.
Yet, even as he flexed his muscles and hurled abuse, a battered and deeply compromised MDC smiled for the cameras, vowing never to leave its faithless partner. The Prime Minister soothed the worries of the Friends of Zimbabwe, reassuring them that its rocky marriage was still working, that Robert Mugabe was part of the solution, and that their marriage the Inclusive Government should be blessed by the removal of sanctions and rewarded with development aid for its achievements.
Having won the March 2008 elections, the MDC surrendered wide presidential powers to the very man, Mugabe, who had brought nothing but violence, ruin and misery to the people of Zimbabwe and left Western diplomats groping for an adequate response. How are the Friends of Zimbabwe to reward the MDC for its efforts to bring peace and recovery while pressuring Mugabe to restore human rights and the rule of law under the GPA? How can they provide development aid to the MDC while maintaining sanctions on Mugabe and Zanu(PF)? In truth, they cannot. The MDC and Zanu(PF) forged an Inclusive Government in which they became two sides of the same coin.
The International Crisis Groups sanguine belief that increased development aid would reward the moderates while isolating the hardliners was always illusionary. As long as Mugabe maintains his grip on power, any attempts to increase development aid or foster trade and investment will inevitably be captured by Zanu(PF).
Similarly, any development aid or the lifting of sanctions to reward the Inclusive Government for achieving a modicum of economic stability will send an unmistakable message to Mugabe: that he and his supporters will not be held accountable for continued human rights violations and their disregard for the rule of law. Their very impunity will be rewarded.
This conundrum for Western powers is now being played out within the EU. Divisions have emerged between Germany and the Denmark that want sanctions eased and Britain and the Netherlands that want them maintained. The expectation is that they will reach a tepid compromise and again urge the Zimbabwean parties to implement the GPA in full. Whatever their decision, the EU and the MDC should disabuse themselves of any hope that easing sanctions will coax Mugabe into meeting his GPA commitments. There is none.
Western donor countries face similar contradictions in their diplomatic relations with SADC and the African Union, which have repeatedly supported the Inclusive Governments call for the lifting of limited sanctions and the resumption of development aid.
How then do Western governments align themselves to the policies of African countries when SADC, as the guarantor of the GPA, has proved unable to enforce its provisions? Indeed, how can the donors align themselves to SADC decisions when the underlying reasons for imposing targeted sanctions in the first place remain unresolved? The question is: how can the Friends of Zimbabwe extricate themselves from these diplomatic dilemmas and realign their policies with SADC and the African Union?
The first is to face the facts. The international donor community should resist repeating the tired mantra that the parties must implement the GPA in full. The self-evident fact is that the GPA is dead in letter and spirit. Second, they should listen carefully to the voices for democracy.
When the MDC disengaged from their dishonest and unreliable partner in October 2009, Morgan Tsvangirai said that the obvious solution would be the holding of a free and fair election to be conducted by SADC and the AU and under UN supervision. As Mugabe still refuses to comply with the GPA, Tsvangirai now says that the only solution is to agree on a road map to an election.
This presents the international donor community with an ideal opportunity to realign itself with the MDCs democratic principles and with key advocates of a democratic transition within SADC, notably President Khama of Botswana.
Given South Africas frustration over the painfully slow implementation of the GPA, diplomatic efforts should be redirected towards convincing an increasingly impatient President Zuma that elections provide a compelling alternative to the GPA. It would not only bring finality to a festering regional problem, but it would enable Zimbabwes full reengagement with the international community.
Almost immediately, targeted sanctions could be lifted, debts rescheduled, and international development aid resumed. Crucially, it would bring the international communitys policy towards Zimbabwe into alignment with those of the SADC countries.
Responsibility to Protect
Yet, for all the possibilities of democratic elections bringing peace, recovery and growth to Zimbabwe, there stands Robert Mugabe, ready to unleash his dreaded state security and militia on any who dare challenge his self-proclaimed right to rule. And here the Friends of Zimbabwe should heed the words of Finance Minister and the MDC General Secretary, Tendai Biti, when he called for the holding of free and fair elections under the protection and supervision of SADC to ensure that the dreams of the people are never again dashed nor denied.
Unless the citizens of Zimbabwe are protected to cast their ballots in peace and security there can be no guarantee of free and fair elections: not now, not when we have a new constitution, nor in three or five years hence.
Gareth Evans, President of the International Crisis Group, has been the boldest advocate of the international communitys responsibility to protect citizens who are threatened with crimes against humanity by their own state. Having realigned themselves behind a democratic transition, western donors and SADC countries should immediately start building a Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect that allow Zimbabwean voters to cast their ballots in peace and security during the next election.
The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) has already called for the immediate deployment of a SADC delegation to secure an end to political violence. Theirs is an urgent appeal for a comprehensive, standing presence of SADC to be stationed in Zimbabwe until the draft Constitution has been submitted to a referendum and that free and fair presidential and legislative elections have been held.
The Voice for Democracy has gone further. We have called for this security presence to be in place until there has been an incontrovertible and peaceful handover of power to the winners of the next election.
We the Jury
The MDC has bravely endured endless public humiliations by its arrogant and abusive partner. It must now drop any pretence that its marriage is working and file for divorce by taking its case to SADC and the international community for adjudication, who must let the jury the people of Zimbabwe decide on its own leaders through free and fair elections. Therein lies our hope, dignity and freedom.Post published in: News