2011: It’s make or break time for Zimbabwe

OPINION – This year’s political events could herald the beginning of the end of Robert Mugabe’s controversial grip on power. Some commentators believe this to be Zimbabwe’s make or break time on the political front.

That is precisely the case especially as we have learnt that South African President Jacob Zuma is drafting a roadmap to Zimbabwe’s elections due this year.

The document which every concerned Zimbabwean would like to lay their hands on will be presented at an extraordinary meeting of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security in the next few weeks. The reason for the excitement is not what we already know, namely the SADC or Mauritius Principles and Guidelines governing democratic elections but what diplomats say is or will be contained in the roadmap – mechanisms for the transfer of power.

Before we get too excited, a word of caution is that ‘the devil is in the details’. We have seen the true meaning of that saying since the signing of the so-called Global Political Agreement (GPA) in 2008. After the signing, there were allegations, counter allegations as well as denials about the ‘doctoring’ of the GPA and how some paragraphs went missing from the final document signed on the 15th of September 2008. It is useful to reflect on the experience of the GPA in order to put into perspective some of the coalition government’s problems and chart the way forward. ‘Forewarned is forearmed’ so goes the saying.

Responding to the allegations in an interview with Violet Gonda of SW Radio Africa in November 2008, Welshman Ncube Secretary General of the faction led by Arthur Mutambara said:

"The allegations can only be the product of people who are extremely malicious, who have no journalistic ethics who run with a stupid false story without even the decency of talking to the people who are accused of the fraudulent alteration of a document. As far as I know I did not take part nor participate in any alteration of any agreement at all. The fact of the matter is that yes there are alterations in the document which was signed by the principals on the 15th. Those alterations are three – I will come to that in a moment."

(There were three documents. There appeared to be no problem with the first two documents which formed the agenda of the negotiators and the agreement signed on the 11th September, respectively) my own emphasis.

"So the first two documents are correct ", Ncube said.

"The third document which was signed at the formal ceremony on the 15th of September has three alterations or three omissions – if I may call them that. As far as we know we have raised this with Zanu-pf and (Patrick) Chinamasa whose Ministry of Justice was responsible for producing the final document which was to be signed by the principals.

Minister Chinamasa has freely admitted that he made one of those alterations because – he explains – he was advised by his principal (Robert Mugabe) that the three principals – Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and Robert Mugabe had agreed to alter the document to that effect. And as far as we know that is not correct. We have checked with our principal (Mutambara) who denies that he ever agreed to change the document to that effect", he said.

"And that particular change is a change in the original that we negotiated and agreed. It was to provide that the five existing Senate seats shall go to Zanu-pf. There shall be created an additional six Senate seats – four of which will go to Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC and two of which will go to Arthur Mutambara’s MDC. It is that clause which Chinamasa altered to read that the existing five will go to Zanu-pf and nthere shall be an additional nine – three to be shared equally among the three parties.

"That was never part of the agreement. It is an invention of Patrick Chinamasa and he admits that he is the one who put it there. The South Africans were not involved. We were not involved. I was not involved So it is absolutely malicious for someone to suggest that some of us were involved when in fact the person who altered the document freely admits that he altered it and explains why he altered it, in that respect…", Ncube said.

According to Violet Gonda the second alteration is a paragraph that is completely missing in the final document. The missing paragraph says anyone appointed to the position of Deputy Prime Minister and Vice President would automatically be a Member of Parliament. If that person is already an MP his/her party will appoint a non-constituency MP. Ncube said this clause is missing and said Chinamasa claims it was "deleted by accident." (Welshman Ncube denies doctoring power sharing document, SWRadioAfrica, 03/11/08).

The third alteration comes in the form of another missing paragraph in the final agreement that said the Prime Minister and his Deputy Prime Ministers and the President and his Vice Presidents shall sit to make appointments of senior government employees like Ambassadors and Permanent Secretaries. Patrick Chinamasa allegedly claimed the paragraph was accidentally deleted.

Now my comments:

If the allegations about the doctoring of the GPA had not been made, the public would have remained in the dark about some of the problems which are threatening Zimbabwe’s coalition government. The information provided by Ncube was very useful in the sense that we can now understand what Zanu-pf is up to. In view of these disclosures, we can understand why Morgan Tsvangirai called Mugabe a crook, and why Morgan Tsvangirai was disappointed with Mugabe’s unilateral appointment of governors, ambassadors and so on.

We can also understand why Mugabe allegedly ordered the deletion of the two paragraphs in the final document well before the government was formed. Hopefully, MDC will be more vigilant next time. Given the bad faith shown by Mugabe and Zanu-pf and the ongoing persecution of Tsvangirai, the MDC should stick to the coalition government and attend cabinet meetings but ignore Mugabe’s Monday morning teas. We learn from chess about the tactic of ‘keeping our friends close and some of our enemies closer’. It may be what Mugabe is doing to Tsvangirai but it can work the other way round too.

Another observation worth making is whether Jacob Zuma will also submit to SADC the much awaited secret report on Zimbabwe’s election 2002 and the Army Generals Report on Zimbabwe’s Election 2008 for consideration by the Troika, now that two court orders have cleared the way for the release of the 2002 report to Mail and Guardian. This is because SADC has said an independent investigation is needed to verify reports of violence and intimidation before a general election can be held in Zimbabwe (Tichaona Sibanda, SWRadioAfrica, 23/11/10).

Before I close, I would like to apologise to my readers for omitting the word ‘not’ in my previous opinion paper: ‘2010 – The year when Zanu pf failed to bury the bad news’ published on www.zimbabwesituation.com; thezimbabwemail.com and zimbabwemetro.com

Part of the second paragraph on Land Reform should read:

"However, it does not make sense that Zimbabwe is relying on food handouts while experienced Zimbabwean commercial farmers are being denied access to land resettlement because they are not black like me. It is scandalous, in the wake of revelations that Mugabe’s elite controls an estimated 5 million hectares of Zimbabwean land, much of it unutilised."

Our next instalment will be on the shortcomings of the Kariba Draft which is being promoted by Zanu-pf for adoption as the country’s constitution.

Clifford Chitupa Mashiri is a regular Political Analyst for The Zimbabwe Mail, London zimanalysis2009@gmail.com.