Some Zimbabweans are reportedly worried the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) might betray ordinary masses at ongoing
peace negotiations. They say reports of regional and international pressure
being brought bear on the MDC to make significant concessions at the talks
would weaken the opposition. They say their fears were confirmed after a faction
of the MDC claimed the outcome of the peace negotiations might not necessarily
be the best, but that it would good for the interim as the opposing factions
find ways of solving the ongoing economic and political crisis.
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki met Sunday with Zimbabwe's President
Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai amidst reports of an
imminent power sharing deal. Glen Mpani is the regional coordinator for
the transitional justice program of the Center for the Study of Violence and
Reconciliation in Cape Town, South Africa. He tells reporter Peter Clottey the
negotiations seem to have lost focus.
"Without any tangible
information coming out of the negotiations, which have been shrouded in
secrecy, it is very difficult for Zimbabweans to be optimistic that the current
negotiations will yield anything for them because what they are looking at is
the characters and the true record of the two political parties. Zimbabweans
have experienced previous unity agreements before, and they have seen the level
of intransigence particularly on the part of the ZANU-PF, and they are quite
doubtful that anything is going to come out of these negotiations," Mpani pointed out.
said although Zimbabweans are doubtful of a solution that could be found at the
talks, they are hopeful of an end to ongoing violence in the rural areas.
of the level of suffering in the country Zimbabweans would want a solution to
come out of it. That is why they are waiting anxiously for it," he said.
concurs that the main objective of the negotiations between the ruling ZANU-PF
and the opposition has been sidestepped.
are quite right because over the last one and a half weeks, the focus of the
negotiations have been to say what is going to be Mugabe's role, what is going
to be Tsvangirai's role. How long is going to be the transition or the
government of national unity? And I think the most important thing in these
negotiations is to say who has got the mandate to be leading this process, and
what are the issues to be tackled? What are we going to do with the
perpetrators of violence? Are we going to grant them amnesty or is there going
to be justice or what is going to be the framework of the transitional
arrangement? So, all those issues have not been teased out," Mpani noted.
said the political parties might come up with an arrangement at the talks that
would only beneficial to their course, but not that of the suffering masses.
now worried that we are now having political parties coming up with a deal that
might be in their best interest, and leaving behind the people of Zimbabwe, who
should be major beneficiaries of it," he said.
said the main opposition is under strain to make significant concessions that
could weaken its position in future engagements.
think the MDC is under immense pressure because if you look at what has been
going on where the media has been talking about say there are very few issues
that have been left under the current negotiations they are about to sign. One
of the pressures is coming from South African President Thabo Mbeki who is
going to be taking on the chairpersonship of SADC (Southern African Development
Community) this week. He would want to go to SADC with a deal to show that the
negotiations of Zimbabwe has worked," Mpani pointed out.
said a division in the opposition could be an inhibitor of the negotiating
power that the MDC possesses at the talks.
second thing that we have is that we have got the Mutambara formation. The
Mutambara formation has positioned itself as an interesting part in the sense
that it has been quite malleable in inclining itself to the mediator and to
ZANU-PF. And if you read what the leader of the Mutambara faction wrote today
articulating the position that they would want a framework that is Zimbabwean
in nature, despite the fact that it might impact, but it should be acceptable
in the interim. So, there is already some position of conceding quite a number
of issues. And I think despite the amount of support that the MDC has, I don't
think they are in a position under the current circumstances to be able to say
we are pulling out of this deal other than them being subjected to the fact
that they are pandering to the whims of the west," he said.