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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid