Some Zimbabweans are expressing disappointment after negotiations between the ruling ZANU-PF government and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) reportedly reached a deadlock. They called on all stakeholders to help mediation efforts between the two opposing parties to reach a negotiated settlement. The talks, which are aimed at resolving Zimbabwe’s economic and political crisis reached a stalemate after the opposition MDC reportedly claimed it was becoming bogged down over what position its leader Morgan Tsvangirai would get in any government of national unity. Sydney Masamvu is a Zimbabwean with the International Crisis Group. From the capital Harare, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that although Zimbabweans are disappointed they are still hopeful there could be a solution to jumpstart the talks.
“I think by and large, nobody would have expected, given the polarization of the parties, that this was going to be a walk in the park. Be that as it may, I think it is a setback, which can be resolved if both parties approach these talks with sincerity, recognize the power balance of both parties, the ruling party and the opposition or the sincerity or the need to get the country through an economic and political recovery. So any delay of even a negotiated settlement of the Zimbabwe political situation is regrettable,” Masamvu, pointed out.
He said some Zimbabweans expressed shock and despondency after news reached the capital, and the rest of the country about the stalled peace talks.
“There is a sense of despair. And I want to restate and emphasize that when the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) was signed, there was a sense of optimism and hope. But with this immediate hiccup, everyone in Zimbabwe across the political divide is hoping for a negotiated political settlement to allow people to rediscover themselves, to heal, and to get the country moving on the economic recovery. But by and large, people have not lost total hope that the talks would soon resume and through a negotiated settlement a package agreeable to both political actors would be found,” he said.
Masamvu said the bone of contention is a result of a disagreement over which party gets what position in a proposed unity government.
“Well, ZANU-PF is offering Morgan Tsvangirai third vice president, which by essence would mean Mugabe would be maintaining the same power and yet the best line of the MDC proposition is that there be a title president, an executive prime minister and two deputy prime ministers. But what is important to note here is that the MDC has in principle agreed that the unity accord between ZANU-PF and ZAPU should be recognized. And as such, the MDC is amenable to an arrangement, which would see Mugabe being the president, Vice President Msika, who is the leader of ZAPU being the deputy councilor president, Morgan Tsvangirai being the executive Prime Minister, Vice President Joyce Mujuru maybe one of the deputy prime ministers,” Masamvu noted.
He said the MDC seems to be looking at finding ways to ending the political stalemate.
“It is important at this juncture to note that the MDC is not looking at the used government. The MDC is looking at a transitional government, which would work towards a new election within a period of two years under a new constitutional dispensation. And I think what is important to break this impasse is an equal recognition the Morgan Tsvangirai has the majority sentiment of the power to acknowledge the power and the leverage and the national sentiment in which the MDC is represented by Morgan Tsvangirai the all advantage of power,” he said.