GPA: Review of progress completed, election roadmap hits a snag

HARARE – Negotiations for a roadmap that will lead to free and fair elections have been adjourned after negotiators of the three parties in the inclusive government failed to agree and passed on contentious issues to their principals.

It also emerged that President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team, which was kept out of the protracted negotiations, was unhappy and left the country frustrated on Friday.

The facilitation team expressed its unhappiness when it met negotiators on Thursday evening, but negotiators reportedly said there were sticking points and wanted to find common ground first before involving the facilitation team on problematic issues.

Leader of the facilitation team, Lindiwe Zulu, left Harare while the negotiators were still discussing the roadmap.

However, she said her team was happy with progress made during their visit.

She said the team had received a review report from Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) and would hand it to Zuma.

“Yes we met negotiators from all political parties and received a review report by Jomic,” Zulu said.

“We will report to our principal and in May we will have a workshop with negotiators.”

She said the workshop would dwell on two issues, reviewing the Jomic report and discussing the roadmap. 

However, she said while they were encouraged by the progress, challenges of implementation of agreed issues remained.

The negotiators, Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC), Patrick Chinamasa, Nicholas Goche (Zanu PF) as well as Elton Mangoma and Tendai Biti of MDC-T, met on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday to evaluate the Global Political Agreement and craft a roadmap.

NewsDay sources privy to the discussions said negotiators covered a lot of ground but failed to agree on security issues. They however, handed their review of the GPA to the facilitation team on Thursday evening.

“The negotiations went very well, but there were some sticking points, particularly to do with security issues. Negotiators handed their GPA review to the facilitation team but are still working on the roadmap,” said a source close to the negotiations.

“On the roadmap, most of the areas were covered but again issues around security, which featured prominently in the review of the GPA, were a stumbling block. The police, army and other security organisations have been directly involved in politics and have refused to be professional, non-partisan and impartial.

“There is no way the country can hold free and fair elections if the security forces, remain partisan,” a NewsDay source said. “There were issues to do with the Public Order and Security Act, which the police is abusing to stop rallies and the feeling was that there should be an amendment to stop the police from deciding whether rallies should be held or not. Zanu PF negotiators however, insisted police should use their discretion to carry out their mandate.”

Negotiators were on Friday said to have referred issues they failed to agree on to their principals and agreed to meet later this month. They also agreed to seek the intervention of the facilitation team where they fail to agree.”

One of the sign posts agreed on was that elections could only be held after the constitution exercise was completed and a referendum held.

They also agreed media reforms should be carried out to ensure that the state media stopped demonising other players in the government while the private media should also be impartial.

On reviewing the GPA, the resurgence of violence dominated proceedings although Zanu PF raised voices on sanctions.

MDC also complained about interference by other GPA partners in its affairs, particularly President Robert Mugabe, whom they accused of refusing to recognise Welshman Ncube as party leader in an effort to promote conflict.

Mzila-Ndlovu and Chinamasa confirmed that there was still work to do on the roadmap although they refused to go into detail.

“The review of the implementation status of the GPA was completed and signed copies were handed over to the facilitation team on Friday (Thursday). We completed deliberations on the roadmap, but we will make further deliberations at our next meeting on April 20, where we also expect to produce the report,” said Chinamasa.

“We gave facilitators a progress report on the roadmap.”

Mzila-Ndlovu said: “We have completed the review but we are continuing our work on the roadmap. We will meet after the Independence Holiday.” – NewsDay