SADC's credibility at stake – Analysts

HARARE – The MDC said it would boycott the power-sharing government until sticking points have been resolved and a political deal is reached, sparking the biggest crisis since the administration was formed nine months ago.

Following are some analysts’ comments:

ELDRED MASUNUNGURE, POLITICAL ANALYIST, UNIVERSITY OF

ZIMBABWE, HARARE

"My impression is that this is a pressure point that MDC is exerting on ZANU-PF and Mugabe, and the big question is: will this have the intended outcome?

"But I really think this is directed more at SADC (Southern African Development Community). … In my view SADC should be engaged into action because it has been a moribund body post the formation of the government of national unity (GNU).

"But I do not think that this will lead to the collapse of the unity government. It is a difficult moment for the GNU but if SADC has any conscience still left it should move swiftly to salvage what is left of the unity government."

MIKE DAVIES, ANALYST, MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA, EURASIA GROUP,

LONDON

"The decision to boycott reflects the MDC’s concerns, but it also demonstrates to some extent the limited options which the MDC has in trying to increase pressure on ZANU-PF."

"The decision … will place pressure on the regional observers SADC to try and intervene and place pressure on Zanu-PF. A complete withdrawal, I think, … still remains unlikely at this point.

"The MDC has interests in seeing the unity deal remains in place and it will use the boycotting to put pressure on ZANU-PF, but it’s unlikely to take the extreme step of withdrawing completely."

CHERYL HENDRICKS, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, INSTITUTE FOR

SECURITY STUDIES, PRETORIA "You’re not going to see the disintegration of the government but you’re going to see a stalemate position where nothing is happening, basically.

"The MDC feel that they have a sufficient power base now, to actually say, we’re in this unity government, we are not going to leave this unity government … but it’s a stalemate position and nothing in terms of governance can happen.

"It means that the issues that the government is meant to be dealing with are not being dealt with. Attention is being diverted to other side issues and they’ve got a huge crisis on their hands."

STEVEN FRIEDMAN, DIRECTOR, Center FOR THE STUDY OF

DEMOCRACY, JOHANNESBURG

"I think it continues to underline the fact that this is not a stable settlement. It’s a settlement which Tsvangirai went into because SADC pushed him into it."

"Clearly there is a widespread feeling that this is not a viable agreement, but it’s essentially being held together because SADC is insisting on it.

"The way forward is that there has to be continued diplomatic pressure and international pressure on the Zimbabwean power holders to consider genuine democracy, and the difficulty at the moment is that the pressure is coming from Western powers who do not have an honorable history in southern Africa. (It) must start with SADC and the AU (African Union)."