The exclusive inclusive government – By Mutumwa Mawere

OPINION – The weak foundational principles that informed the formation of the eight-week old inclusive government legitimately compels any residual optimist on the future of the country to pose and re-think about the durability and viability of this creature of a flawed negotiation process that has no precedent anywhere else in the world.\r\n

The view that the introduction of the office of Prime Minister, as envisaged by Constitutional Amendment (No. 19) would have the net effect of producing a coherent policy framework and a consensus-driven policy formulation and implementation process has already been tested and the results so far do not augur well for the future stability of this unique form of governance.

Although President Mugabe knows fully well that he needs his contracting partners i.e. MDC-T and MDC-M to restore legitimacy and credibility, his supporters genuinely believe that residual executive powers in the transitional constitutional democratic order ought to be exclusively reserved and sovereignty must and should be exercised at the sole discretion of a partisan President.

It can be legitimately argued that there is nothing really inclusive contemplated in the eight-week old government. The Presidium remains exclusively a partisan and ZANU-PF preserve. If one takes the view that the President is the custodian of national sovereignty and in participating in the 2008 elections, citizens surrendered their power to a single individual that individual still remains Mugabe.

Vice Presidents Msika and Mujuru deputise President Mugabe and there can be no doubt that the Prime Minister and his deputies are constitutionally excluded from the supply chain of power. The legal link between the Presidium and the office of the Prime Minister is at best elusive but knowing the actors, provides a window for abusive political behavior with no discernible and straightforward legal recourse.

The power of citizens is legally and constitutionally vested in the President and not in the office of the Prime Minister.

To the extent that the constitutional order is a derivative of negotiations, it becomes absurd that there appears to be some confusion of what the President can or cannot do. From a purely legalistic position, the President suffers no impediment to behave in the manner that he has sought to behave.

Naturally, ZANU-PF has put a number of tests since the negotiations started to demonstrate that nothing really has and should change.

Remember the issues of detainees, the distribution of cabinet posts, the distribution of executive powers, the appointment of Gono and Tomana, the arrest of Bennett, the appointment of permanent secretaries, the sanctions issue, and now the ICT debacle.

So far ZANU-PF and President Mugabe can legitimately claim that when push comes to shove they will prevail and the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The score line so far is instructive and it appears that there is no alternative credible plan from the victims to assert the rights of the millions who voted for real change.

Notwithstanding the generally accepted view that the inclusive government ought to have produced an outcome that would lead to a genuine sharing of executive power, President Mugabe continues to conduct himself as if nothing happened on 11 February 2009.

After all, history is pregnant with valuable lessons. The Unity Accord of 1987 did not alter the distribution of executive power rather what it did was to assimilate former adversaries into a plane whose pilot did not believe power derived from the naïve and subjugated citizens can ever be shared in the national interest.

The approach to the inclusive government by ZANU-PF appears to have been premised on a notion that once in government the new players would become prisoners of the trappings of power. Only time will tell but it cannot be far from the truth that some of the new players may already have changed their worldview to the extent that they are no longer seen as threats to the status quo ante.

On the issue of sanctions, President Mugabe appears to be pleased that with the exception of the Prime Minister and a few of his misguided colleagues, the consensus view is that they must be removed and the executive must sign from the same hymnbook.

With respect to Bennett’s swearing in, it is obvious that President Mugabe using the rule of law argument, will not be persuaded that the choice to make him part of the team is in the spirit of an inclusive government whose legitimacy comes from an acceptance that each of the contracting powers has sole discretion in making its nominations.

With respect to Chamisa, it would be simplistic to draw a conclusion that this matter is purely a personal trust issue. It exposes just like the issue of detainees and Bennett, the contemptuous view held by President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF colleagues about the integrity and patriotism of any member of the former opposition including the Prime Minister.

President Mugabe is yet to buy the argument that MDC-T and MDC-M are legitimate Zimbabwean political actors whose actions are informed by any national interest. He continues to believe that he alone is the best judge of what the country needs.

This view is confirmed by his approach to the few issues that have so far tested the inclusivity of the new administration. Anyone who tries to assign blame for the collapse of the economy to ZANU-PF is automatically viewed as an enemy of the state.

Chamisa may have been targeted principally because he has been a consistent thorn in the flesh of ZANU-PF. The operating logic is that an enemy of ZANU-PF cannot, therefore, be trusted with state power that is not controlled.

In selecting ZANU-PF nominees to the inclusive government, there is no doubt that President Mugabe’s choices were informed more by what he saw as a threat to ZANU-PF’s hegemony on state power than on what kind of leadership the country needs or needed to move forward.

Bennett faces the same problem and the appointment of Minister Made was the first sign to all reform minded people to expect less from the inclusive government.

To President Mugabe, Bennett and Chamisa are the most unacceptable faces of change and, therefore, all steps must be taken to sufficiently alienate them from state power.

They are simply viewed as toxic assets who must be managed with care at the very least.

It is ironic that at the global stage, President Mugabe is a fierce critic of the policy of unilateralism but at the domestic level he sees no problems in approaching policy making unilaterally.

We now know that the decision to strip the ICT Ministry headed by Hon. Chamisa of control of all the parastatals was made without consulting the Prime Minister and his Deputy as would have been expected in any marriage.

President Mugabe obviously believes that Zimbabwe will be less secure with Chamisa/MDC controlling the assets that provide voice and data connections.

In any dictatorship, the control of voice and data necessarily becomes critical and defining. The decision to transfer the functions to a trusted ZANU-PF hand, Minister Goche, may have nothing to do with the person of Chamisa but more to do with a distorted view implanted in President Mugabe’s mind that only representatives of ZANU-PF are authentic and patriotic.

The key architect of Chamisa’s demise is obviously Charamba. Charamba sees Chamisa as a toxic asset that must be reduced to size. He orchestrated the whole drama and from the onset it was always expected that the two C’s would clash and to the extent that Charamba is prevailing it shows where the real power resides.

Charamba is at his best when there is a fight. He just must win at all costs even if it means undermining the inclusive government and compromising the country’s future.

President Mugabe has evidently accepted the view that Chamisa cannot be trusted and more importantly that all strategic ministries must be reserved for ZANU-PF given that elections are expected soon.

President Mugabe has already been warned about the implications of Chamisa in control of ICT for ZANU-PF’s future. By nipping the problem in the bud, it is expected that MDC will suffer the same fate as ZAPU.

If there was any fight that MDC-T and MDC-M should engage in, the Chamisa and Bennett matters are so fundamental and significant to ignore or give up on.

Charamba continues to masquerade as a civil servant when evidently he has more powers than Ministers.

The manner in which the restructuring of the ICT ministry’s functions was announced exposes that Charamba is still in charge but has decided no longer to be in the background.

The Herald is still the communication window for not only Charamba but also Gono.

Webster Shamu must have said to Charamba who ordinarily would be his subordinate that he cannot be used, leaving no choice to Charamba but to recommend that since Communications under previous ZANU-PF administrations was place in the Ministry of Communications, then the safest route would be to proceed in the manner they have done.

After all Goche managed to deliver an agreement that has left the king in control and his faith in the cause can never be doubted.

Charamba knows fully well that there is nothing illegal in what the President has done because the requisite constitutional powers are vested in him.

In challenging the unilateral approach to governance, it is important to invest in a new political morality. The inclusive government was framed on the basis of a ZANU-PF morality and approach to governance where might is always right.

By controlling all the key security and justice ministries, ZANU-PF has emerged from defeat with more powers to shape its future and probably to transform inclusivity into exclusivity with the constructive support of the very beneficiaries of the change agenda.