Without pressure the GPA will not bring change

It is three years since the signing of the Global Political Agreement and it has become obvious that it will not deliver political change as anticipated by its signatories who felt that it would help to resolve ‘once and for all the current political and economic situations and chart a new political direction for the country’.

Dewa Mavhinga
Dewa Mavhinga

It turns out the GPA is just a truce declared by political parties meant to provide breathing space for the parties to retreat to their garrisons and re-strategise for a fresh onslaught.

The GPA is the legal basis for the formation of the inclusive government between Zanu (PF) and the MDC formations – a government that has often been mistakenly referred to as a ‘power-sharing government’ when in fact president Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF) have the lion’s share of that power.

Fundamental weakness

The fundamental weakness of the GPA, is that the inclusive government neglected to fully transform it into law and align it with the existing Constitution. Only article 20 of the GPA, the framework for a new government, was made part of Zimbabwe’s supreme law through constitutional amendment 19.

This legal lacuna gives Mugabe leeway to manipulate the GPA, often interpreting the constitution to grant himself wider powers that he enjoyed prior to the inclusive government dispensation.

The constitutional amendment 19 operates for as long as the inclusive government continues to exist; should the inclusive government for some reason seize to exist, then Zimbabwe reverts to the old constitution without constitutional amendment 19 – a situation where, legally, President Mugabe would continue to exercise his powers outside the GPA framework.

Parties to the inclusive government clearly under-estimated the extent to which, over a period spanning three decades, Zimbabwe’s social, economic and political spheres had been Zanu-ized, that is, subjected to an elaborate system of patronage and partisanship to Zanu (PF). It will take significantly more than piece-meal reforms to dismantle Zanu (PF)’s infrastructure and culture. The extreme polarization that the inclusive government sought to bring to an end has remained, and intensified.

Far from taking decisive steps to heal Zimbabwe and permanently end political conflict, it appears Zanu (PF) only made temporary concessions without genuine commitment to democratic reform. The truce offered Zanu (PF) and its allies crucial breathing space to regroup, re-energize and re-strategize.

This they have done, and they are now financially resourced from the opaque Marange diamond revenue, placing them in a position where they are convinced that they can crank-up their violence and intimidation machinery for another election.

Violence flaring up

Public statements, and Zanu (PF)’s body language around a frenzied call for indigenization, shows they are now in election campaign mode. Violence is flaring up again across the country, particularly in Harare. A partisan and highly politicized police force has stepped up its politically motivated arrests and persecution of MDC supporters and rights activists while ignoring reports of violence.

Democratic space is shrinking fast. What many may have thought was the dawning of a new era was just a false dawn. Those holding the reigns of political power have no incentive to implement democratic reforms. The highly politicized and partisan military continues to pervade political and economic space – it is ubiquitous in political, civilian and economic affairs.

Given that the inclusive government has failed, and apparently collectively lacks both the political will and capacity to deliver credible reforms, Zimbabweans risk being dragged into yet another choice-less election marred by violence. The predictable outcome of the sham election is another disputed Zanu (PF) victory leading to further negotiations and another equally ineffective inclusive government.

GPA won’t deliver

The obvious conclusion that one reaches is that the GPA will not deliver. Zimbabweans must not be trapped in discussions of legalities and niceties. The crisis in Zimbabwe is a political question that calls for political solutions in the form of organized domestic pressure to demand change.

Not only should citizens reject elections in the absence of proper, credible reforms, we must demand the implementation of those reforms. Only significant political pressure from within will yield desired results, otherwise Zanu (PF) will not voluntarily reform.

Through actions within Zimbabwe and direct engagement, the pro-democracy movement must make demands on the political leadership, on SADC and on the AU to ensure that Zimbabwe goes for elections only when conditions on the ground are right, and that those elections are supervised by SADC and closely monitored by the AU and the international community.

Finally, pro-democracy political leaders in the inclusive government should carefully evaluate the performance of the inclusive government and consider alternative routes to democratization.

Post published in: Politics

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