Respect GPA, stop violence

May 9, 2011 at 1:42 am Leave a comment

INTENSIFIED violence against those deemed to be Zanu-PF enemies has exposed the limitations of Zimbabwe’s much delayed reform process and threatens to derail the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

President Mugabe’s call for early elections has increased fears of a return to 2008’s violence. Prime Minister Tsvangirai has appealed for help from the region.

Eventual elections are inevitable, but without credible, enforceable reforms, Zimbabwe faces another illegitimate vote and prospects of entrenched polarisation and crisis.

GPA guarantors – the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and its South African-led facilitation team – have an uphill battle to secure implementation.

Zanu-PF is increasingly confident it can intimidate opponents and frustrate reform, and there is waning faith, internally and externally, in MDC-T capacities. Mugabe’s health and Zanu-PF succession turmoil are further complications. Without stronger international pressure on Zanu-PF, the tenuous current coalition may collapse, triggering further violence and grave consequences for southern Africa.

The GPA, signed by the three political parties (Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC-M) in September 2008, was intended to provide a foundation for response to the multiple political and economic crises, but it has become a battleground for control of the country’s future.

As in 2008, Zanu-PF’s ability, in partnership with the unreformed security sector leadership (the “securocrats”), to thwart a democratic transfer of power remains intact.

The state media is still grotesquely unbalanced, and the criminal justice system continues to be used as a weapon against Zanu-PF opponents, in particular the MDC-T.

The centrepiece of GPA reforms is a parliament-led constitution-making process under the direction of the Constitution Parliamentary Affairs (Select) Committee (Copac).

That body launched an outreach program in the latter half of 2010, but several civil society organisations and the MDC-T criticise it for falling far short of being inclusive and open and accuse Zanu-PF of having captured and manipulated the process.

Many Zimbabweans, however, still consider the constitution-writing exercise important for moving the country forward. While drafting has begun, leading toward an all-stakeholders conference, parliamentary approval and a referendum, every step presents opportunity for opposition, delay and obfuscation.

Both MDC parties argue that Copac must finish its work before elections are held, but Zanu-PF says elections can proceed with or without a new constitution and links its cooperation on democratic reforms to removal of targeted international sanctions, over which the parties have no control.

In late February 2011, the facilitation team’s visit to Harare resulted in a commitment from the three party leaders to implement their August 2010 agreement on outstanding GPA issues. This did not include a commitment to the sequence of elections after a constitutional referendum.

Nevertheless, having failed to produce an agreed plan themselves, the party leaders deferred to the facilitators to produce a roadmap for pre-election action.

The GPA guarantors and the facilitation team have until very recently shied from addressing poor progress directly.

On 31 March 2011, however, the Sadc troika (Namibia, Mozambique and Zambia) took note of the lack of progress in GPA implementation and related matters and the rise in levels of violence and intimidation and laid out steps that must now be taken to address the situation

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