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Blessing Vava** The defeat of the opposition by ZANU PF in the 2013 plebiscite eroded the once vibrant power of the opposition. Si...

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Zimbabwe's harmonised elections a 'delayed' match

Mugabe-The biggest winner in Maputo
By Blessing Vava
On the 15th of September 2008 Zimbabwe’s three political parties, ZANU PF, and the two MDCs signed the Global Political Agreement (GPA), a settlement aimed at resolving Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis. In signing this agreement ‘ALL’ the parties fully committed themselves and agreed to work together, to ‘create a genuine, viable, permanent, sustainable and nationally acceptable solution to Zimbabwe’s situation, reads Article 11 of that agreement. What this meant was that it was the responsibility of all the political parties in the unity government to ensure that Zimbabwe’s political and economic situation returns to normalcy.

Needless to say, the GPA encompassed reforms to create an even environment to lead us to a free and fair poll. The GPA was thus a temporary arrangement, all the parties were aware. The GPA had to address some of these issues, to mention but a few, economic recovery (Article III), Sanctions (Article IV), a new constitution (Article VI), Media Article (XIX). It also provided for implementation mechanisms, (that we will discuss later). But the question of the day that every democracy loving Zimbabwean is asking today is when the elections are going to be held since the country now has a new constitution, and also cognisant of the fact that parliament expires on the 29th of June this year.

Already we have had three significant events that happened in the past few weeks. The first one being the Jealousy Mawarire case in whose ruling, the constitutional court compelled the president to proclaim an election date by the 31st of July. The second event was the gazetting of the electoral amendment act and the invoking of the temporary powers by the President in gazetting the dates of an election. Third, was the Extraordinary SADC summit on Zimbabwe  held in Maputo over the weekend which then acknowledged and respected the ruling by the courts but at the same time ‘urging’ the government through Minister Chinamasa to approach the constitutional court for an extension of the election date as requested by the other parties in government. Already Chinamasa has done so. The simple message from SADC through their communique and previous summits held was its acknowledgement that Zimbabwe will resolve its own problems. In this case it is now Chidyausiku who is has technically substituted Zuma as facilitator; the decision now entirely rests in him not the ‘false victories’ we read about in the local media. The resolution on Zimbabwe was a victory on Mugabe; the communique was quite strong on Madagascar that SADC will not recognise any outcome on any election results with candidates who violated that country’s constitution and the Electoral Laws of that country. 

But was the SADC communique really about reforms?  Some local newspapers, political parties and civil society groups rang bells of joy, they rang loud that the summit had punished Mugabe. However, the sound is now low, and becoming faint by day as reality is now dawning that it was Mugabe’s victory not the other way. After the constitutional court ruling on the appeal by Chinamasa it will now be difficult especially to those whose bells have been ringing recklessly. We know theirs is not really about reforms. Maybe it’s a case of lack of preparedness, or the realisation that ZANU PF has already ‘technically’  rigged the election before it has been conducted but it is now difficult to prove or rather  discredit because the referendum and the coming of a new constitution left them with no moral ground to discredit the polls. A referendum held under such an environment was supposed to be a cause of concern to all these parties. Not even to mention the alarming figures of the YES vote especially in the ZANU PF strongholds despite the low turnout.

Hence the chorus of security sector reform and media reforms before we go for polls is a lost battle. One wonders then how they are going to achieve what they failed to push for during their disastrous though luxurious stint in the infamous government of national unity?

It would be grossly unfair if we fail to remind the MDC that during the referendum, they campaigned for the adoption of a new charter for the country giving us assurances that the new constitution would create a conducive environment for the holding of elections.

Whereas groups like the NCA vigorously campaigned for the rejection of the new document mainly citing Chapter 5 of the constitution which provided for the post of an executive president. A president with the sole responsibility of appointing judges, the judicial services commission and so on. The nine judges constituting the newly established constitutional court are all Mugabe appointees.

 We did raise our voices that the political environment was not level to ensure not just a credible referendum but an election as well. Only fools thought that the referendum was of a lesser importance probably that’s why they called us ‘nhinhi.’ Little did they know that nothing was as strong as the need to demand reforms to allow a free and fair referendum? In short, the referendum proved to be a dress rehearsal for ZANU PF to rig the coming elections. The contents of the draft and the environment in which it was passed under are fundamentally skewed. It was only the three parties that got favourable airplay in the media whereas those campaigning NO were shut out only to be invited on ZTV two days before the referendum.

But, the GPA’s mandate was to look into the issues of reforms, media to be more specific. It was provided for in article X1X of the GPA, but the parties chose to forward, lists of their people to compose bodies like the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission etc, it became political appointees rather than professional. And parties like ZANU PF will be saying, we now have your people in ZMC, ZHRC, JOMIC so we did reforms. Haaa!!    The reforms were supposed to start right at the inception of this GPA. This whole period till the 29th of June 2013 is indeed an election period.

Some parochial minds think they will achieve reforms in two weeks whilst they failed to push for the reforms in four years? It defies simple logic. Not even on a single day did they threaten to pull out of government because of reforms, not even about the Glen View 29 who are still languishing at Chikurubi Maximum Prison for dubious allegations,  but well, they did threaten to pull out after Mugabe refused to swear in Roy Bennet as Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

Turning back to the implementation mechanisms, provided for in Article XX11 of the GPA, which meant to address the following: 22.3
The committee shall have the following functions;
(a)  To ensure the implementation in letter and spirit of this Agreement;
(b) To assess the implementation of this Agreement from time to time and consider steps  which might need to be taken to ensure the speedy and full implementation of this agreement in its entirety
(c)  To receive reports and complaints in respect of any issue related to the implementation, enforcement of this Agreement
Just to remind that these were some of the responsibilities of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), but, alas, the fact that all the parties forwarded their personnel we hoped that this body was supposed to deal with the issue of reforms, the same withe Zimbabwe Media Commission and Human Rights Commission. Rather, JOMIC turned out to be a cash cow; instead, their implementation mechanism was in the form of amassing resources, sleeping in hotels and driving top of the range vehicles, which indeed became their pre-occupation.

As for the MDC-T, it became a cry-baby, always trying to get sympathy from the people of Zimbabwe now that the election is now around the corner. It has now turned to attacking any opposing viewpoint to it tending to label them either ZANU PF or sell-outs.

This I am referring to their attacks on the NCA and other individuals whom the party thought they were sympathetic to their cause. We have worked together fighting the ZANU PF hegemony in the past decade but they chose be part of a sinking ship, probably in the hope of reforming it. Rather it proved that they just joined ZANU PF’s gravy train of corruption and violence. So sad that the MDCt now want to criminalise those appearing in the state media labelling them traitors and yet they have been enjoying these spaces during the last four years in government. Ours is not a fight against the MDC as some narrow minded individuals are now viewing it, rather, it is a principled position in defence of the National Working Peoples Convention resolutions and the Peoples Charter.  As the NCA, we were against a government of national unity, rather we advocated for an independent body to be in charge of the transitional period. Hence to those in doubt, I do wish to set the record straight that the NCA will neither be MDC nor ZANU PF because the two parties have failed the people of this country, we are our own people and will remain guided by the Peoples Charter, which all these parties have failed to embrace as a guiding document towards a truly democratic Zimbabwe.

As we go forward we must know that reforms are not a two week event but a process that requires time, honesty and the political will. Not to talk of reforms on the eve of an election, it doesn’t work. Reforms were supposed to be the main agenda of the inclusive government, not Discovery 4 vehicles, not trips to Legends of the Seas, not the abuse of Constituency Development Funds, not even expensive and allocation of residential and commercial stands in local authorities that characterised their stay in government. The GNU did not benefit the people of Zimbabwe and hence it must not be extended, Zimbabwe does not belong to three political parties they have had their share and now they must allow Zimbabweans to exercise their democratic right.

Blessing Vava is a blogger from Chipinge. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com