News / Africa

    Zimbabwe’s Inclusive Government Stalls

    Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, right, chats to Prime Minister Morgan Tsavangirai during their end of year press conference at State House in Harare, saying they were dispelling rumors of disunity in the Government of National Unity, December 20, 2010
    Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, right, chats to Prime Minister Morgan Tsavangirai during their end of year press conference at State House in Harare, saying they were dispelling rumors of disunity in the Government of National Unity, December 20, 2010

    When Zimbabwe’s inclusive government came into being two years ago - the anniversary is  February 11 - after tough negotiations many Zimbabweans greeted its arrival with enthusiasm and had high hopes for political reform they believed would rebuild the shattered economy, get education back on track, reopen closed hospitals, bring products back to largely empty supermarket shelves, a new constitution and eventually, free and fair elections.

    Key supporters of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, were critical when he signed the political agreement which lead to formation of the inclusive government in February, 2009; and saw him become prime minster of Zimbabwe.

    Analysts say he easily won the first round of the presidential poll in general elections held in March 2008. But after five weeks election officials appointed by President Robert Mugabe announced a result that forced a run-off.

    During the five-week delay and after the result was announced there was widespread violence, overwhelmingly perpetrated against people who had voted for Mr. Tsvangirai. Independent human rights groups said supporters of Mr. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party were responsible, and that hundreds were killed and thousands injured.

    After several weeks, Mr. Tsvangirai pulled out of the run-off, saying he could not allow the violence against his supporters to continue. Mr. Mugabe won an uncontested poll, and was hastily sworn into office - but for the first time not a single African leader turned up to support him.

    Negotiations for an inclusive government followed this stalemate.

    Now two years later, experts and civil society organizations say the inclusive government is bogged down. Even some who wholeheartedly supported its establishment - mostly because political violence eased and hyper-inflation disappeared - are disappointed.

    The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, from which the MDC emerged in 1999, was particularly critical. Congress president Lovemore Matombo said the labor movement warned Mr. Tsvangirai and his party not to go into the unity government as he said it was impossible to do honorable deals with ZANU-PF. He said before the inclusive government came to power, ZANU-PF had no money, and even its supporters were angry as the party could not keep schools and hospitals open.

    "They misjudged ZANU-PF. Then they rescued ZANU-PF," said Matombo.

    In terms of the political agreement which established the inclusive government, one of its tasks was to reform many repressive laws imposed by Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF following independence in 1980. In 2010, Zimbabwe passed fewer laws through parliament than in any legislative year since independence.

    Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has been at the forefront of the campaign to promote democracy and protect those who are politically persecuted.

    Irene Petras, director of the lawyers group, said those who had high hopes for the inclusive government were particularly disappointed with parliament’s failure to reform repressive laws or write new laws for future elections.

    "We had a legislative agenda which was outlined by the president. And if you look at that legislative agenda almost none of the laws that were going to be either amended or repealed or new laws that were going to be brought in, none of those have gone through," said Petras.

    She said expectations for quick reforms by the inclusive government were high, and many were disappointed when they realized how long reform would take.

    She says one of the group’s main concerns is continued partisan policing and warrants of arrest issued by ZANU-PF Attorney General, Johannes Tomana.

    She said many MDC supporters arrested during the last two years, regularly gave the lawyers group the same message - that the police are wholly controlled by ZANU-PF.

    "[They say] we are not being protected, police are not helping us, they are not making sure there is order and that the real perpetrators are being arrested. So when you have that loss of public confidence in the police you have a very dangerous situation," said Petras.

    But Petras also tells VOA the last two years have  been useful for MDC cabinet minister members as they were able to learn how the government worked and how it had evolved under 30 years of Mr. Mugabe’s rule.

    Leading up to this anniversary, Mr. Mugabe says that the inclusive government would expire on its second anniversary and that fresh elections should be held soon.

    Human rights groups say this election talk has produced sporadic small-scale ZANU-PF violence against MDC supporters.

    ZANU-PF spokesman Rugaro Gumbo said this week his party is gearing up for elections this year. He told journalists in Harare Thursday, ZANU-PF is "fed up" with the inclusive government.

    The political agreement gives no deadline for elections but does now require a review of progress of the inclusive government with the Southern African Development Community which has guaranteed the multi-party political agreement.

    Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the MDC says new elections cannot be held now. He says voters feel insecure their vote will reflect their political choice, the voters roll is inaccurate and contains two million deceased people, and that the agreed reforms to electoral laws are still outstanding.

    "The starting point is, is this country ready for an election at the present moment - and I think that is the critical thing? And quite clearly this country is not ready for an election," said Biti.

    Biti, who is also finance minister in the inclusive government, says political violence has subsided since the high point of 2008, and hyper-inflation disappeared when Zimbabwe abandoned its currency in favor of the United States dollar and South African Rand.

    But he says it will be South African mediators, who report directly to President Jacob Zuma, who will produce a road map for fresh elections which will end the inclusive government.

    "So the fate of the next election, how credible it is, any omissions, any deficiencies any commissions clearly lies in the road map that is being drafted by President Zuma right now," he said.

    Tensions have been growing within the inclusive government since late last year. In addition to failure of legislative reform, many top jobs within the civil service which, in terms of the political agreement, should have gone to the MDC have been given to individuals known to be close to Mr. Mugabe.

    The country’s state-owned broadcast media, both radio and television, continue under the control of Mr Mugabe’s ZANU-PF in contravention of the agreement. Independent media monitors say coverage is biased toward Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF and denigrates Mr. Tsvangirai and the MDC.

    Some analysts believe that the MDC has not been sufficiently energetic or strategic enough to stop ZANU-PF from hindering political reform.

    Eldred Masunungure, senior political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe believes that some in the MDC have become comfortable with some of the trappings of political power.

    He also says Mr. Tsvangirai should not have deployed both his party’s secretary-general and deputy secretary-general to cabinet jobs as this had weakened the party.

    "You can do that when you have arrived. Not when you are in a heavily compromised position. To me it displays a lack of strategic direction, and that has been the major weakness of the MDC," said Masunungure.

    Although the inclusive government has made progress in education and health, as well as price stability, most businessmen, and ordinary people, are disappointed with the inclusive government. Many wonder if Mr. Mugabe is trying to provoke prime minister Tsvangirai into quitting the unity government.

    But unionist Matombo said it is impossible for the MDC to walk away now.

    "What is likely to happen is they are going to be arrested. They are going to die there in prison. And the MDC is aware about that," said Matombo.

    Political observers say the only chance of moving political reform along will come through President Zuma’s mediation team when it unblocks resistance to reforming repressive laws.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, here's what the history of take-out food tells us about changes in American society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora