Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will meet with the ruling ZANU-PF party today to resolve what it describes as outstanding issues ahead for a unity government. Today's meeting is expected to pave the way for a constitutional amendment, which would allow opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to be sworn in as prime minister. The amendment is set to be tabled in parliament Wednesday, amid calls from the African Union as well as South Africa for international sanctions to be lifted to help revive the country from an economic meltdown. MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa tells reporter Peter Clottey that he is hopeful for a compromise to be reached at today's meeting.
"Today our negotiating team from the three different political parties would be meeting to try and find common grounds on the outstanding issues; the issues of the allocation of governance, the issue of the National Security Council Bill, for which issues are still outstanding and have actually said to be issues that would want to be resolved before a government is formed. So this is basically in line with the SADC (Southern African Development Community) communiqué and it is to make sure that we then pave way for Wednesday where the amendment number 19 is anticipated to be brought to the floor of the house of the national assembly as well as the senate for passage and also enacted by the president," Chamisa noted.
He said it would not be easy to predict how fruitful today's discussion would be.
"It's very difficult to tell, but again it has to be located within the matrices of perception and within the matrices of commitment by ZANU-PF, and in fact we have witnessed a deficit of sincerity on the part of ZANU-PF. We are hoping that finally, there is a realization that there is profit and value in working together in an inclusive transitional government to try and create a democratic state. To try and create a platform for humanitarian assistance. To try and create a platform for national healing," he said.
Chamisa said there is hope that today's meeting would send a message to all Zimbabweans that state institutions are meant to serve them.
"After doing all that (creating the various platforms) we are then able to say to ourselves, indeed we have institutions that have been built to serve the people of Zimbabwe because this inclusive government is about responding to the desires and needs of the people," Chamisa pointed out.
He said the opposition MDC is grateful to SADC for its intervention in reviving the stalled power sharing talks. The revived talks facilitated next week's implementation of a unity government after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pledged his consent to joining the government.
"We are necessarily delighted at the fact that SADC made a communiqué, which communiqué fulfilled the issue of amendment number 19 to be enacted before the swearing in of the prime minister, which was a concession. As you may be aware, ZANU-PF was insisting on having the swearing in first, then amendment later, with the possibility of that amendment being forsaken. So that is concession number one," he said.
Chamisa said SADC also intervened for both opposing parties to discuss issues concerning the staunch positions taken by both parties on governance.
"Concession number two becomes the issues of the governance. ZANU-PF didn't want to have this matter opened for debate. But the fact that we are debating it is a significant shift on the part of the ZANU-PF. And of course, acknowledgment has to go to SADC for that movement, and we are hoping that finally we are going to resolve this matter and put it behind us," Chamisa noted.
He said the opposition was of the view that issues of national security need to be addressed to ensure accountability.
"Thirdly is the issue of the National Security Council, which we have said needs to be enacted as a bill in parliament because we need the composition and constitution of that National Security Council to be legislated. So that there is accountability by the security organs in terms of issues that have to do with the security of persons and the respect for human rights," he said.
Meanwhile, the parliament is expected to pass the constitutional amendment bill Wednesday to pave the way for the formation of an inclusive government comprising the ruling ZANU-PF and two wings, or formations, of the opposition MDC.
Lawmakers in both Houses are generally expected to support the proposed legislation, as their respective parties have already confirmed their participation in the inclusive government.