Zanu PF leaks undermine talks

HARARE – Zanu (PF) has violated the terms of its engagement with the two coalition partners by leaking details of last week's disagreements in South Africa to the state-run media.

The party’s negotiation team, comprising Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, met in Pretoria last week with Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma of MDC-T and Moses Mzila Ndlovu and Priscilla Mushonga of the Ncube faction.

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The talks failed to make headway as Zanu (PF) backtracked on its earlier commitments under the Global Political Agreement.

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Robert Mugabe’s party, which had been making public pronouncements about its position even before the meeting  began, then splashed details in The Sunday Mail. Political experts said the move confirmed the party’s desperation after failing to secure the sympathy of SADC leaders, who have openly condemned Zanu (PF) violence and ordered Mugabe to honour agreements he signed up to in September 2008.

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“Zanu (PF) knows it has lost on the diplomatic front. SADC leaders are gravely concerned about Mugabe’s violent tendencies and his brazen violations of the GPA. What they are doing now is to undermine the whole negotiation process by publishing the details,” said a political expert, who asked not to be named.

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“Political negotiations are delicate. Once you have one side passing information to newspapers, you risk a total breakdown in the talks. Zanu (PF) is doing this to get the sympathy of its less sophisticated supporters, who will most likely endorse Mugabe’s earlier threat to pull out of the talks and drag Zimbabwe out of SADC completely.”

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According to the leaked documents, one of the main areas of disagreement is the staffing of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission – full of CIO operatives planted to rig elections. Mugabe’s party insisted “there should be no changes of ZEC staff.” The MDC parties want the security forces to issue public statements denouncing violence and to withdraw those secretly deployed to cause violence during elections.

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Zanu (PF) responded during the talks: “Political parties have no right to direct uniformed forces to issue political statements. We have no knowledge of abuse and state-sponsored/sanctioned violence and we invite such evidence to be made available. We deny that there are serving members doing political work.”

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Another area of contention was the demand by the MDCs that a law be passed to regulate the operations of the CIO, which has carried out hatchet jobs for Zanu (PF), including murders, abductions and torture.

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Zanu (PF) claimed this was not an election issue, but an attack on the institution. Its negotiators also queried the demand by the MDCs that election monitors from the region should be deployed in Zimbabwe six months before the elections in line with SADC guidelines.

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In Zimbabwe there was never any proper legislation that governs the country’s spy agents and the legislation that governs the security services was designed to deal with a white rebellion during the 1965 UDI.

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In 1980, Robert Mugabe kept Ken Flower in the role of head of the CIO after majority rule and on his retirement Mugabe reduced the country’s spy agents into a Department in his office, in spite of the fact that he has appointed a Security Minister in his cabinet for years.

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Also there is compelling evidence for the complete overhaul of the legislation governing the Army and the police which are both operating under the Defence Act and the Law and Order Acts formulated by Ian Smith during the years of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the British.

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Faced with rebellion within his white minority supremacist racist government over the UDI; as some whites felt the need for express allegiance to the British government, Ian Smith formulated a Defence Act which held Rhodesian army Generals hostage to his personal ego and hence President Mugabe has held on to this legislation and used it to rough shod his opponents.

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Having indentified this as the core of Zimbabwe’s political problems, South African government as the mediator and other SADC heads of State have listened to the MDC’s call for security reforms in order to enable a level playing field, but Zanu PF is resisting.