Negotiators from Zimbabwe's three political parties are meeting in
South Africa to try to reach agreement on an amendment to the
constitution that would enable the formation of a government of
national unity. Peta Thornycroft, reporting from Harare, says in the
streets of the capital many people are aware that this is a crucial
make or break round of negotiations.
In Harare's streets, many
people know that a constitutional amendment is necessary to enable
formation of a government of national unity. If it is agreed upon, MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai will become prime minister of Zimbabwe.
in South Africa are faced with two amendments, one written by the
ministry of justice and one by Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC.
The two are
very different and this gap, analysts say, will be difficult to
overcome, as the amendment has to accurately cover the Global
Political Agreement signed on September 15 by leaders of the three
parliamentary parties, Mr. Mugabe, Mr. Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
Lawyers say that the 37-page MDC document is a well crafted
piece of legislation which widens the democratic scope of the
agreement, and addresses many of its imperfections.
warn, some of the clauses, particularly those involving human rights,
were not agreed by President Robert Mugabe during negotiations, and,
therefore are likely to be rejected again by Mr. Mugabe's negotiators.
In the streets of Harare, many people say they know these negotiations are crucial.
professional man said while these negotiations represent hope, if the
talks fail he believes the MDC will have to become more militant.
next round of talks is a ray of light of hope to the ordinary
Zimbabwean," he said. "This comes back to the core principles of the
MDC of narrowing their options of removing the dictator through
democratic means. Mugabe knows he cannot go it alone."
"The people are
frustrated. They have been stretched to the limit. It needs a stimuli
to put light into the frustrations of the people and that stimuli can
only come about by the people in the MDC presidium to mobilize the
people, in the bank queues everywhere, the people are ripe for change," he added.
A clerk at a security company said that these talks were crucial Zimbabweans.
think this should be the last round of talks, and if they are not going
to agree upon that amendment, then I don't think that it will be of any
use to have any other talks," the clerk said.
She was gloomy
about the future should the talks on the amendment fail and said
Zimbabweans would then have to wait until Mr. Mugabe, who is nearly 85,
"It means we are going to suffer more than we are
suffering right now if the UN is not going to do anything. If nature
doesn't take its course we are going to die," she said. "We don't want
to die and we don't want to fight anyone. Because we thought that he
was going to listen to reason on his own, and now we don't know what to
If these talks fail to produce a constitutional amendment
there will then be no basis for establishing a government of national
As a result, several people said they may have to go to war to end Mr. Mugabe's rule.
A street vendor selling vouchers for mobile phones said people would have to change tactics and fight for a new government.
are dying and the issue of having another round of talks should come to
an end and so many people are complaining about the credibility of the
talks," the vendor noted. "Mugabe needs a militant approach if he fails
the dialogue. The suffering and the crisis in Zimbabwe is
unprecedented. This must come to an end as soon as possible."
spokesman Nelson Chamisa cautioned against any optimism about the
outcome of the talks until all the party's demands were met.
the talks fail, no one is sure what the next step will be. If they
succeed then Mr. Tsvangirai will be sworn into office. The amendment
will be presented before parliament a month later where it will voted
on. A two-thirds majority is needed in the parliament for a
transitional government of national unity to be a reality.