As SADC lands, reforms must be emphasised

In less than two weeks, the Southern Africa Development Community Troika appointed team of three will touch down in Harare. Their task: to provide oversight to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee set up to ensure that the Global Political Agreement will be implemented fully and adhered to. The Troika is made up of South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania.

Although supermarkets are now fully stocked, the prices are beyond the reach of the poor.
Although supermarkets are now fully stocked, the prices are beyond the reach of the poor.

The GPA turned three last September, this time around with less significant attention from the local and international media and perhaps more revealingly, without much care from the people of Zimbabwe. Those who were at the Rainbow Towers in Harare on September 15, 2008 tell a tale of an atmosphere thick with hope.

Sadly, hope has been betrayed and replaced by crude disillusionment. The former ruling party, Zanu (PF), seen during the negotiations as a sincere and honest broker, proved that it was never prepared to make any concessions that would have seen the party legislating itself out of power. How come the other negotiating parties in both MDC factions failed to pick this streak up before signing the agreement, critics and commentators have asked.

And, although economic stability has returned, almost miraculously, operations under the United States Dollar regime have meant that although commodities are now available, it was not everyone who had access to such. There still remains a population in Zimbabwe, most of it rural, that is still shut out from full economic participation.

Dark cloud of despondency

Last year, a press statement issued by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition on the second anniversary of the GPA spoke to this disillusionment.

“The dark cloud of deep despondency synonymous with Zimbabwe in the greater part of 2008 seems to have made a quiet but ominous return and now hangs over us, making the future path of the country seem uncertain.

“Most Zimbabweans remain poor due to the meagre wages they receive and the inaccessibility of foreign currency. Scores of Zimbabweans are still battling to make ends meet on a daily basis with some living below the accepted minimum standards.”

Similar analyses then shone the spotlight on all parties to the GPA, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister, Arthur Mutambara. Such analyses sought more action from the principals, essentially asking them not to let the people of Zimbabwe down but remain true to them in the spirit and letter of the GPA, which had paved the way for the formation of a Government of National Unity.

SADC deadlines

In between all these developments, SADC Heads of State have met, set deadlines for the full implementation of the GPA and, not to many people’s surprise, those deadlines have been missed and have not been accompanied by any “deep sense of shame and guilt at yet another betrayal of Zimbabwean hope….” This is a wrong that SADC is now trying to right by sending its own people to assist in the pursuit of a lasting solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.

As the same press statement accurately notes: “SADC, as guarantor of the GPA, must be the midwife to help deliver democracy in Zimbabwe. Without that, there will be another stillbirth for democracy because the country’s institutions remain too weak and compromised to prevent state-sponsored violence or to deliver a democratic election.”

So, as these representatives of the SADC Troika enter Zimbabwe in less than two weeks, they have a double-edged task ahead of them. First to confront the demons that have made the JOMIC fail to execute its duties effectively and second, to make an honest, if not brutal, assessment of the current conditions prevailing in Zimbabwe, observing carefully how they are most likely to impact future elections.

Indeed, as the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition has noted before, “the prize for the worst form of betrayal of the majority of Zimbabweans goes to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee whose mandate is, among other functions, ‘to ensure the implementation in the letter and spirit of [the GPA]’.

That there have been repeated failures in the full implementation of the GPA is a result of this committee’s lack of sincerity, goodwill and genuine desire to see the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Zimbabwe.”

Taking elections seriously

The mere presence of people from SADC in Zimbabwe shows that the regional body is taking talk of elections quite seriously. In a way, it also shows victory on the part of the broad church of civil society organisations that have been advocating for a greater SADC mandate and role in seeking an end to the multifaceted Zimbabwe crisis.

Of course, it will be more than just technical assistance, but massive reforms that will be needed if Zimbabwe is to hold a credible, free and fair election that will result in a democratic transfer of power; SADC has positioned itself quite appropriately to demand such from Zimbabwe. – Levi Kabwato

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