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The Politics of Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement

As the 31 July elections near, reflection on the period of coalition government under the 2009 ‘Global Political Agreement’ is useful. This severely tested the ability of a true ‘unity’ government, and the assessments of achievements are mixed. While economic stabilization was an important achievement, many other issues remain to be dealt with, leaving any new government a precarious situation.

A useful overview of this period is provided in a book edited by the leading academic and political commentator, Brian Raftopoulos. The Hard Road to Reform: the Politics of Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement (published by Weaver Press in Harare, and also available in e-format for Kindle) is a good guide, written by a number of leading Zimbabwean commentators, many of whom have been involved in the MDC formations over the past period. It is a sanguine account, confronting the real politik of Zimbabwe head on. While ZANU-PF’s machinations are critiqued, the MDC groupings are not spared either.

The book offers, from a set of particular perspectives of course, an important primer for thinking about the next steps. July 31 and its aftermath will give us more clues as to what may lie ahead.

Timothy Scarnecchia has offered a helpful summary overview and review on African Arguments that I reproduce here. It gives some helpful excerpts from the six chapters in the book, and highlights some of the main points very well.

The following is reproduced directly from African Arguments:

Chapter 1: Brian Raftopoulos: “An Overview of the GPA: National Conflict, Regional Agony and International Dilemma”

Here is Raftopoulos’ helpful summary of the GPA period:

“The GPA and its many challenges was the product of a convergence of factors, namely: the unwillingness of a party of liberation to accept electoral defeat; the inability of the opposition to claim state power due to the militarisation of the ruling party’s response to defeat a clash of different notions of state sovereignty in which the electoral wishes of the Zimbabwean citizenry were subordinated to selective nationalist claims of the ruling party; and the role of SADC in facilitating an agreement that attempted to balance the need for regional sovereignty against outside interference with the legitimate electoral demands of the Zimbabwean electorate. The results of this complex mix of ingredients was a brew that placed a short term halt on the rapid political and economic decline in the country and opened up some space for new political arrangements, while also providing an authoritarian regime with opportunities to regain lost ground. The period of the Inclusive Government generated a new set of dynamics that made it impossible for ZANU-PF to return to the status quo ante, while also exposing the strengths and weaknesses of the former opposition parties as they took part in unequally shared state power.” [28]

As Raftopoulos states in the introduction, it is important to focus not only on the MDCs’ ability to maneuver in the GPA years, but also to focus on how ZANU-PF has managed to use these 4 years to regroup. He writes: “The politics of ZANU-PF is not only one of destruction and obstruction; it is also constitutive of the new social and economic forces that have emerged in the last 10-15 years.” (xv). While the issue of ZANU-PF political violence is raised in the introduction and elsewhere in the collection, it is noticeably absent given the amount of emphasis the Solidarity Peace Trust’s Reports have previously given to this element of Zimbabwean politics. It is perhaps one of the book’s strengths, however, to focus on the shifting political landscape, especially the changing constituencies and interests represented by ZANU-PF and the opposition, rather than continue to focus solely on the repressive actions of the past 13 years.

Chapter 2: James Muzondidya, “The opposition dilemma in Zimbabwe: A Critical Review of the Politics of the Movement for Democratic Change Parties under the GPA Government Framework, 2009-2012.”

Historian James Muzondidya, a research manager at the Zimbabwe Institute, a think tank well known for its links to the MDC, takes a particularly critical look at the performance of the MDCs during the GPA, but he first notes the limits on their actions:

“…the ability of the opposition parties to use their leverage during this phase has been restricted because ZANU-PF is not interested in any reforms that would loosen its hold on power. While agreeing to some of the reforms negotiated in the GPA, ZANU-PF was bent on using them and the new institutions to legitimise itself and push its own agenda. The Zimbabwe electoral Commission (ZEC), for instance, appeared to be broadly representative but was, in fact, still dominated by ZANU-PF through their control of its secretariat and support staff. In addition, ZEC was starved of both material resources and manpower to carry out its tasks, and this has ensured that the partisan Registrar General’s office remains in control of the election processes, from voter registration in the counting of the votes. “ [49]

The above observation about the ZEC seems to be playing out at the moment, the lack of resources available to run this election is particularly startling, and will likely become a major issue in determining the outcome of the election.

Muzondidya explains just how stacked the GPA has been in ZANU-PF’s favor:

‘The ZANU-PF strategy, consistent with its hegemonic political culture, has been to engage in cosmetic political and economic reforms that will not result in further democracy or result in a loss of its historic monopoly over power. …Indeed, over the last four years, ZANU-PF has kept the strategic doors to its power, such as the security sector and the mining and agricultural industries, firmly closed.” [50]

Muzondidya does not hold back, however, in his criticisms of the MDCs’ performance. He gives a valuable analysis of the differences between the MDC-Tsvangirai and the MDC (formerly the MDC-M for Arthur Mutambara, then the MDC-N for Welshman Ncube, the current leader, and now simply the “MDC” under Ncube’s leadership). Muzondidya outlines the major differences between the two MDCs and most importantly describes ethnic factionalism that has developed between the two MDCs and within the MDC-T. Those familiar with the history of political parties in Zimbabwe and in the African nationalist parties before Independence will recognize a depressing pattern of divisions around personalities, perceived “intelligence” differences within party leadership, and the ever-present ethnic solidarities that at times seem exaggerated yet over time become self-fulfilling. This chapter will be very helpful to those new to Zimbabwean politics wanting to make sense of the divisions between and within the MDCs.

Muzondidya also summarizes the corruption charges against MDC-T urban councilors that have grown in number over the past few years, showing the vulnerability of a group of leaders tasting power for the first time. While subsequently censored by the party, these cases have damaged the MDC-T’s image as a party of “Change”. Such cases included:

“the Chitungwiza land scandal which resulted in the party firing all its 23 councilors in 2010; the mismanagement and looting of Council land and resources by councilors in Bindura; the Kwekwe audit report findings of 2012 which unearthed serious financial irregularities involving the under-banking of collected revenue and the Marondera corruption case which resulted in the suspension of the mayor by his party in March 2012 for receiving kickbacks from companies and individuals in return for tenders. The corruption among the party’s representatives in local authorities, MDC parliamentarians and government officials, as the MDC leadership itself has admitted, has the potential to cost the party dearly during the next elections.” [57]

For those who built the coalition of trade unions and civics in the late 1990s that eventually created the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the MDCs, the last four years have more often been a disappointment as the links between these formative groups and the MDCs has been strained or broken by the MDCs’ participation in government. Muzondidya concludes,

“ZANU-PF has, in fact, been more shrewd in its engagement with the transitional process than its political opponents, including both political parties and civics as well as international opponents such as the US and EU countries. It has been effectively using the transition arrangement to regroup and reorganise, and is now better organised than it was in 2009. “ [59]

Chapter 3: Gerald Mazarire, “ZANU-PF and the Government of National Unity”

Historian Gerald Mazarire gives us a helpful contemporary history of the splits both in the MDC and ZANU-PF that many people outside of Zimbabwe may not fully understand. He starts by providing a summary of the somewhat questionable MDC and ZANU-PF versions of the story. Based on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s own account of it in his autobiography, Mazarire suggests that then South African President Thabo Mbeki, along with “the support of some Western embassies in Harare”, had been involved in splitting the MDC in favor of Welshman Ncube’s faction and ZANU-PF in favor of Emmerson Mnangagwa. This strategy ultimately failed in 2004 but it did lead to major conflicts in both parties. Mazarire explains that Mbeki returned to intervene in Zimbabwean politics during the violent crisis of 2008, and the resulting Unity Accord was “hurriedly concluded” by Mbeki so that he could “attend to a crisis at home that led, in September 2008, to his own ouster from the leadership of the ANC and the South African presidency.” [73]

Mazarire then outlines ZANU-PF’s version of the story, based mostly on Jonathan Moyo’s writings, in which the GNU was carried out mostly to stop ‘regime change’ orchestrated from Washington and London, as the Security sector refused to go along with the MDC in declaring a government based on the original presidential election results. Mazarire then does an excellent job of showing how and why ZANU-PF managed to continue to dominate the GNU with strategies to keep the MDC out of key sectors of governance. In reference to ZANU-PF’s “Pursuit of Hard Power”, Mazirire writes:

“ZANU-PF’s display of power is traceable to its ability to lose an election and stay in power. Starting with the delays in announcing the outcome of the March 2008 Presidential Election as opposed to the efficiency and speed with which the winner of the 27 June Presidential run-off was announced, ZANU was already at work to make sure that whatever arrangement would obtain thereafter should find them securely in position. Contrary to the view that ZANU-PF’s arbitrary exercise of power and its assertiveness stem from increased confidence in the political and economic situation obtaining since the formation of the GNU, ZANU has always been determined to be a triumphant loser.” [88]

Mazarire explores some of the areas where ZANU-PF insiders have excelled at enriching themselves at the expense of the state, and as an historian he can’t help but point out the hypocrisy of this given ZANU-PF’s earlier socialist rhetoric in a section labeled “ZANU-PF: from Socialism to Capitalism.” Mazarire describes two main areas of this transition, namely the indigenisation and mining sectors. Pointing out as well that there were a key handful of white businessmen who have helped ZANU-PF insiders along the way to indigenization, he ends with respect for ZANU-PF Minister of Mines, Obert Mpufo, for his “almost single-handedly” winning the war against the “blood diamonds” charges from the Kimberley Process system. Mazirire’s final advice to readers is worth contemplating as elections near. “Readers are starkly reminded that with ZANU-PF, literally anything is possible.” [112]

Chapter 4: Bertha Chiroro, “Turning Confrontation into Critical Engagement: the Challenge of the Inclusive Government to Zimbabwean Civil Society”

This chapter by Betha Chiroro, a research specialist at the African Institute of South Africa in Pretoria, is essential for understanding the strained relations that have developed between the MDC parties and the civic organizations and NGOs that had been so supportive (and instrumental in forming) the MDCs in the first place. Chiroro is also the only contributor to address the fundamentally important role of women’s organizations in the continued opposition to ZANU-PF authoritarian rule.

“An equally important sector is the female voice: as expressed by the Women’s Coalition, (a network of women’s rights activists with chapters in Bulawayo, Masvingo, Beitbridge, Gweru, Gwanda, Bindura, Marondera, and Mutare) and WOZA during the term of the IG. Although some have expressed their frustration that their participation is no more than ‘tokenism and deception’, Zimbabwean women have continued to strive for a democratic political environment together with other CSOs [Civil Society Organisations].” [128]

“Zimbabwean civil society’s response to the IG [Inclusive Government] has continued to reveal ideological tensions between its human rights obligations and its need to deal with broader developmental requirements. Political advocacy around issues of human rights and violence often takes centre stage at the expense of developmental issues and issues of social and economic rights, rural development, poverty and inequality. While public service delivery remained very poor, with massive water and electricity shortages, poor waste management and poor sanitation remaining the order of the day, civil society has not made a clear and concerted effort to ensure that these issues are addressed by the IG.” [136-137].

Chapter 5: Sabelo J Ndlovu-Gatsheni, “Politics behind Politics: African Union, Southern African Development Community and the Global Political Agreement in Zimbabwe.”

Historian Ndlovu-Gatsheni provides a very clear and useful contemporary history of African Union and SADC attempts to mediate the political crises in Zimbabwe since 2000. One is simultaneously impressed by the number of these continental and regional interventions as well as by the lack of substantive results. There is a lot of value here for understanding the 2013 elections. In particular, the current head of the AU, South African Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has been outspokenly supportive of ZANU-PF’s drive for elections in 2013, while South African President Jacob Zuma’s lead SADC negotiator on Zimbabwe, Lindiwe Zulu, has recently come under heavy criticisms from Mugabe for her own stance that further reforms are necessary before elections could be held. Reading Ndlovu-Gatsheni’s chapter will help make some of these differences clearer.

Ndlovu-Gatsheni’s characterization of why GNU negotiations occurred offers a particularly helpful and succinct view:

“What led the political formations to negotiate were the stark political realities facing them: despite emerging victorious in the 29 March 2008 elections, the MDC political formations were prevented by ZANU-PF from ascending to power and its support base was exposed to unprecedented and unbearable violence. ZANU-PF clung to power by violence but its legitimacy was completely eroded. Added to this, the Zimbabwean economy continued to degenerate to its lowest ebb and international, continental, and regional pressure together with sanctions, contributed to ZANU-PF’s decision to accept negotiations as the only game in town if it was to survive politically.” [160]

Ndlovu-Gatsheni concludes his discussion of AU and SADC interventions:

“After 2008, the problem shifted from pushing for credible elections as a solution to the Zimbabwe problem to a search for a power-sharing arrangement in a context where there was no legitimate government in Harare. Currently, the Harare disputants have gone full circle to the issue of elections as a resolution of the Zimbabwe problem. This push for elections is taking place within a context in which SADC mediation and facilitation has lost momentum. The key facilitator is pre-occupied with local problems rocking the ANC, and ZANU-PF is taking advantage of the situation to push for elections before the completion of key reforms.”

Chapter 6: Munyaradzi Nyakudya. “Sanctioning the Government of National Unity: A Review of Zimbabwe’s Relations with the West in the Framework of the Global Political Agreement.”

Historian Munyaradzi Nyakudya’s chapter is an important one, especially as the Zimbabwe sanctions debate has been so contentious and often full of inaccuracies. Most importantly, Nyakudya details how ZANU-PF has effectively used the continuation of Western sanctions to its advantage during the GNU period. Nyakudya writes:

“The West has grappled with two scenarios: either to engage Mugabe, lift sanctions, and support the GNU, or to shun him completely and maintain, if not tighten the sanctions. The latter scenario has largely prevailed. It must be conceded that the US, EU and their allies’ various Sanctions Bills all stipulated the need for tangible progress in terms of establishing democracy, respecting human rights and upholding the rule of law before re-engaging. There has simply been no such progress, with the reform deficit clearly still outstanding. ZANU-PF has persistently and consistently refused to implement critical electoral, judicial, media and security sector reforms necessary before new elections can be held. “ [188]

Offering an insight into how determined ZANU-PF is to NOT carry out any reforms in the security sector, Nyakudya states:

“…on the issue of the security sector, the ZANU-PF Congress of December 2009 passed the following critical resolutions: ‘ZANU (PF) as the party of revolution and the people’s vanguard shall not allow the security forces to be the subject of any negotiation for a so-called security sector reform,’ ostensibly because the ‘security forces are a product of the liberation struggle’. The party thus argues that ‘calls for security sector reform violate Zimbabwean sovereignty.’ This simply throws spanners in the GPA implementation process: the MDC formations have vowed not to accept that general elections be held before security sector reforms are instituted, maintaining that the latter have been politicized, as revealed in their proclamations not to accept any leader without liberation war credentials.” [190]

As elections approach and following the Constitutional referendum in March this year, the EU, Australia, and the US have stepped down from their hardline on targeted sanctions, removing many from the lists and promising even further lifting should these elections be peaceful and “credible”. On the one hand this can be seen as assisting the MDCs in terms of letting them take credit for holding up their promise to work towards the lifting of sanctions. On the other hand, it also would appear to be a realpolitik hedging that ZANU-PF will win the elections and that Western powers are preparing for a full rapprochement with ZANU-PF in order to continue mining for platinum and dealing in diamonds there. The competition with China, who is fully involved with ZANU-PF on a number of economic and intelligence fronts, offers an incentive to back off on sanctions before the elections. Former US Ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young, travelled to Harare on the invitation of the State Department to visit Mugabe in April this year, which was a real sign of this hedging by the Americans, and even Reverend Jesse Jackson was in town on a “private” visit to meet with Mugabe and Tsvangirai, although he was accompanied by US Ambassador Bruce Wharton when meeting with Mugabe.

Chapter 7 Shari Eppel, “Repairing a Fractured Nation: Challenges and Opportunities in Post-GPA Zimbabwe”

Shari Eppel is a leading authority on transitional justice issues in Zimbabwe, particularly pertaining to the Gukurahundi period (1983-1987) when thousands of Zimbabweans were killed as part of ZANU’s consolidation of power and the crushing of former rival ZAPU’s power. Eppel is therefore highly qualified to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of truth and reconciliation efforts during the GPA, and in the future.

Like the other contributors to this volume, Eppel does not refrain from criticizing the opposition. In this case, she has in mind the difficulty observers sympathetic to the MDCs have in criticizing inter-party violence, as well as violence carried out by MDC supporters against ZANU-PF supporters.

“While the existence and extent of political violence by MDC in the last ten years remains an issue that civics in Zimbabwe is nervous to explore, at some point in the future it will be necessary to confront this issue if we are to avoid another cycle of impunity under an MDC government. The MDCs have undoubtedly had the odds stacked massively against them, with the police, army, and CIO all arresting, torturing and assaulting MDC supporters with impunity, as have war veteran groupings, you militia, Chipangano, and other informal arms of ZANU-PF. But on the ground in some rural villages and urban suburbs, inter-party violence has become much more evenly matched in recent years, and this is seldom admitted to by civics on the argument that the ZANU-PF elements of the state have dishonestly blamed much of their own violence on the MDC, and to produce forensic proof of some MDC violence would be to add credence to the patently false ZANU-PF position that most of the violence is by MDC.” [234, emphasis in the original]… “Clearly, there are some people in Zimbabwe who are justified in seeing MDC supporters as perpetrators. Furthermore, members of the MDC faction headed by Welshman Ncube would point to internal violence in the MDC as a major contributor to the split in the party: beatings and torture of MDC’s own activists have taken place in their political headquarters and structures over the years, as several—largely uncirculated—MDC commissions of inquiry reveal.” [234].

Eppel also explores the roles of two new institutions developed by the GPA . The first is the Organ of National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI) and the second is the GPA Joint Monitoring Committee (JOMIC), which is made up of representatives of all three political parties, and tasked with “investigating violent incidents together”. (238) Eppel analyzes the potential value of the ONHRI while exploring some of the fundamental difficulties facing any institution in Zimbabwe wanting to seriously deal with issues of transitional justice. The ability of the JOMIC to not only monitor but prevent future political violence is questioned, and although all three political parties have been sanguine about JOMIC’s abilities to make these upcoming elections “violence free”, questions remain over how a JOMIC without enforceable powers will be able to act beyond making public pronouncements.

***

This book provides an important account of this crucial transitional period. Where the transition is headed is a question that many would like to know, but the book helps us understand the political conditions that are shaping the future.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

 

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Zimbabwe has a new Constitution, but disputes over the land provisions continue

On March 16th, Zimbabweans voted on a new Constitution in a national referendum. The voting was largely peaceful, and the turnout higher than expected, with over 3 million people voting. With all major parties supporting it, the result was a resounding 93% ‘yes’. This endorsement paves the way for elections in the coming months. It is also an important signal that a new commitment to moving forward has been reached, one that international donors have agreed to respect with the removal of further ‘sanctions’.

The Constitution is naturally a compromise document, one hammered out in parliament by all the parties. It involved wide consultation, with inputs from the public. Given Zimbabwe’s immediate political past, it is in many respects a remarkable achievement. It is of course rough at the edges, and not everyone agrees with every section, but it now does exist, and should, in my view, by celebrated.

Of course one of the controversial areas has been the issue of land (see earlier blog). Some are very unhappy about the provisions, blaming the MDC in particular for conceding too much. Ben Freeth, the former farmer activist, is particularly outspoken. In a slightly more considered contribution, Dale Dore asks, can the new Constitution bring about a just, legal and transparent land policy? He answers, “The prospects, unfortunately, look decidedly bleak. Chapter 16 entrenches the outcome of land invasions and the seizures of farms and property. The draft Constitution also retains provisions under section 72 that are inimical to international law, human rights and the rule of law”.

What then are Dore’s complaints? He argues that the separation of provisions on property rights from rights over agricultural land is a big mistake, as the section on agricultural lands restricts rights, running against natural justice. He is particularly concerned about the long-talked about Land Commission, as he thinks it will not have teeth, and will be easily captured. He notes:

The most important retreat, however, has been to make the Land Commission an advisory body to Government rather than an independent parastatal organisation with executive authority. The Commission may make recommendations on a host of issues – including land tenure and compensation – but it lacks any real powers of implementation or teeth for enforcement. Decisions governing land remain firmly in the hands of the President and his appointed minister”

While Section 297(6)” tries to give the impression of independence and impartiality”, he argues that this is not sufficient. This he worries will mean that a Land Audit, also a requirement in the Constitution, will not be fair, as it will be overseen by the Commission.

Overall he argues, that the section on land – Chapter 16 – “maintains all the discriminatory provisions governing farmland found in the current Constitution”. He argues that there will be inadequate notice of compulsory acquisition and that compensation will be paid for improvements only, and not the full value of the land. He objects to the proposed dispute settlement mechanism, arguing runs against basic principles of ‘rule of law’, being an administrative not judiciary process. He argues that, as a result, the Constitution is not in line with earlier rulings by the now disbanded SADC Tribunal ruling. Yet, as I and others have commented before, this obsession with this particular ruling forgets that the proposed constitutional provisions are actually in line with much international practice, and perfectly compatible with ‘the rule of law’, as long as the rules and regulations are abided by. This of course is the critical point. The test will be in the practice, and the demonstrated impartiality and effectiveness of systems of land acquisition, compensation and dispute settlement. Given recent experience, Dore and others are right to be concerned, but have no real argument for rejecting the provisions as a whole.

Before jumping to excessively negative conclusions, we have to understand the political context for the new Constitution, in order to judge it properly. In a heated debate at the end of February on the new Constitution, chaired by Violet Gonda in the Hot Seat slot on SW Africa Radio, Professor Brian Raftopoulos commented:

“Well I think the first thing to point out is that this constitution was a central part of the mediation process. It was always therefore going to be a compromise document and part of a broader process of trying to establish the conditions for a free and fair election – which was the original objective of the SADC mediation. There’s clearly things in the constitution which are problematic; there’s also things which I think establish a very good basis for moving forward and I think that as part of a long term process of discussion between the parties which was established through the mediation, it’s a step forward and one should look at it as that”.

On land, he notes:

“This land process has produced many contradictory results. As recent research shows, it hasn’t been the complete failure people thought it was but at the same time it hasn’t ended the land question. It’s raised a whole series of new issues, which are going to confront Zimbabweans throughout – for the coming decades. So this issue hasn’t been resolved and there are harder questions ahead”.

Of course the land question is not going to be fully resolved by the Constitution. But hopefully the Constitution sets the basic parameters: the land reform is not reversible; rights to land are circumscribed by the state to avoid abuse; compensation for improvements are offered if land is acquired by the state; land administration and distribution is overseen by a competent authority in the Land Commission; and abuses are corrected through a transparent Land Audit. All of these provisions are actually good ones, and compatible with international practices, but will only work if the appropriate political and administrative conditions apply. Given recent experience, this is of course a concern, and why a wider political resolution of the on-going political impasse in Zimbabwe is so urgently needed.

However, given that it has now been approved by the referendum, and given that the Constitution represents an important moment in the mediation process to create such political conditions, surely its basic principles need now to be respected. Sure, there will be need for working out the details of the Commission, the Audit and the associated regulations to govern any land administration processes, but the overarching basis for these, surely, is now set.

Or is it? Dale Dore refers to a discussion with a ‘senior MDC politician’ who noted that: “The MDC had to make compromises. If it conceded to ZANU(PF) on the land issue, he said, “so what?” Anyway, he added, land is not a major issue for the great majority. The issue of land and land policy was something the MDC could fix once in power”. This seems more like a threat to unravel things that have been agreed, even as reluctant compromises. In an email exchange on Dore’s piece as part of probably the most bizarre email list I am copied in to, Eddie Cross MP, the MDC’s Policy Coordinator General (who supported a yes vote with 10 reasons), commented on 10 March, “Excellent as usual – but so long as everyone understands that this was the main focus of concession to the views of Zanu PF in the negotiation and was a compromise – it is not the final word on the issue of agricultural land”.

Yes the Constitution is a compromise. Yes it emerged through negotiation between parties that did not agree. And, yes, it is not the final word. As Brian Raftopolous pointed out in the SW Africa Radio discussion, “there are still a lot of issues around the land [issue] which wouldn’t necessarily be dealt with simply through the constitution – issues which will have to be dealt with through legislation coming afterwards and through political and technical processes that need to take place in the aftermath of what has happened”.

But does this mean that the basic tenets of the Constitution should be dismissed? Technical and administrative details will be required of course, but should a party go into an election essentially saying that key sections are up for grabs? What if ZANU-PF said the same? There would, quite appropriately, be uproar. Equally, for the resumption of international development assistance to be conditional on changes to the now approved Constitution, as Dale Dore seems to suggest, would be madness.

The new Constitution, with its inevitable flaws, now at last provides the basis for moving forward: hopefully towards the removal of sanctions and free and fair elections in a few months time. This is by no means assured, and the unlawful arrests of MDC officials and their lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, does not bode well, with a return to ‘brute power’ suggested by some. But equally we cannot succumb to fatalism, a trait so common among the commentariat. Let us also hope that after the elections, the parties respect the Constitution and the painful, slow, but ultimately successful, process of creating it, with all its difficult compromises, was not in vain. A process of healing, compromise and looking to the future is what all Zimbabweans need above all. If any party comes into power and rips up sections of the Constitution they don’t like, is this a good result? For this reason, I, for one, would favour another coalition government; one that, this time, is genuinely committed to national unity and development, so the spirit of compromise with all its awkwardness and faults, embedded in the Constitution provides the basis for a brighter future.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

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