Open letter to GPA principals

Zimbabwe has been in the throes of political, economic, social and humanitarian turmoil since the beginning of the new millennium. It was against that background that everyone hoped against hope that the 29 March 2008 Election would bring some respite to the people and usher in an era of political stability.

Peoples lives had been ravaged by the breakdown of basic services, a collapsed currency and the attendant hyperinflation. Alas, come the post 29 March period, that forlorn hope was miscarried. The failure to respect the outcome of the election and proceed in terms provided by the Constitution in handling the outcome of the election precipitated not only an electoral nightmare but a legitimacy and constitutional crisis as well. The reign of terror and the unprecedented wave of violence that characterised the subsequent presidential election run-off are common cause and beyond dispute.

It is our understanding that the consequent Global Political Agreement (GPA) of 15 September 2008 was intended to address the resultant electoral, legitimacy and constitutional impasse that was engendered by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, ZECs ineptitude to handle the electoral outcome in terms provided by the countrys constitution. It is thus instructive to remind the parties to the GPA in particular and everyone in general of the fact that we ended up with the GPA and its offspring, the Inclusive Government, not as a result of the deficiency of the current constitution, defective as it is, but on account of an electoral process that failed to bring about a legitimate government. Granted, some may consider the route of a new constitution as an appropriate remedy to the electoral crisis. But, equally, others could use that route as a distraction and delaying tactic to divert attention from resolving the underlying problem. It is self-evident that Zimbabwe does not currently have a legitimate government based on the consent of the governed, not on account of a deficient constitution, but thanks to a failed electoral process.

It is our contention therefore, that the primary task of the inclusive government should be to address the factors that accounted for the failed electoral process. Everything else, in our view, becomes subordinate to and should further the paramount goal.

Postponement and deferment of the resolution of a problem should not be confused with its resolution. The current approach by the inclusive government is like getting to a point only a kilometre away by setting off in the opposite direction in the belief that since the world is round, we will get there anywhere, whenever; but at what cost in terms of resources, time and human suffering?

To us, the inclusive government should have been strictly a transitional arrangement, a means to a definite end i.e. the establishment of a legitimate government based on consent. That route can only be paved by addressing the attendant challenges to a credible electoral process and the acceptance of its outcome as inviolate popular will. We contend that this approach will lead, not only to the sustainable resolution of the political impasse but to the amelioration of the economic, social and humanitarian havoc as well and bring about lasting stability that is conducive to social prosperity and development. Taking the constitutional route as at present, only serves to accentuate political tension, destabilise the body politic and polarise the country before the shock absorbers of a stable and legitimate government are in place. In any case, given the best will, the outcome of the constitution debate would be another example of exclusionary elite pacting through bipartisan compromise; a far cry from a people driven product that should guide Zimbabwe for generations to come.

To this end, we hold that the road map to free, fair, transparent and popular elections should focus on addressing the glaring impediments to credible elections as the uttermost priority. We therefore call on the parties to the GPA to shift and realign their focus to this political imperative. – Kubatana

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