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yellow paper - A civil society position paper that sets out the conditions
and objectives of any talks today, tomorrow or in future
Crisis in Zimbabwe
the Zimbabwe presidential poll held between 9 and 11 March 2002, there
has been a flurry of diplomatic activity, to seek a solution to the Zimbabwe
crisis. It is clear that ZANU PF "stole" victory in this election, and
Robert Mugabe was installed as President. Countries in the SADC region,
with South Africa leading them, have repeatedly called for "reconciliation,
working together, and national unity in Zimbabwe." The central vehicle
through which this is to be achieved is Government of National Unity,
a sense, they reduce the very complex national crisis to dispute between
MDC and Zanu-PF political elites. This paper seeks to do three things
the crisis Coalition position on the process and content of achieving
an amicable solution
the weakness of the current process led by Mbeki, Obasanjo and Muluzi
a way forward that will be sustainable in the long run.
is a government of national unity?
a very basic level GNU is a coalition government, designed specifically
to accommodate all participating political players in governmental structures.
This includes, the civil service, cabinet, diplomatic posts, the judiciary
and in other instances, army, police and the intelligence arms. The logic
behind this is that equitable participation will diminish the potential
for conflict and enhance prospects for national, stability, integration
and development. The assumption behind this logic is that conflict arises
from mere exclusion of key political players in structures and processes
of national governance. This position does not take into account other
dynamics such as ideological differences and relational questions. It
also does not take into account the fact that exclusion is not merely
on the grounds of race or ethnicity. Issues of class, gender, age and
other factors are crucial, yet they are also often very elusive because
they straddle the obvious divides such as race and ethnicity. So mere
inclusion as a solution becomes problematic. Primarily because of its
short-term nature and the failure or refusal to address fundamental issues
that would have resulted in the exclusion in the first place.
is national unity?
unity assumes the achievement of national consensus on broad national
issues and vision. It further assumes the active recognition, participation
and inclusion of the broader spectrum of the nation’s political opinion.
The product of this is an integrated approach to national questions. The
process deals with the relational issues – how groups and sectors relate
to one another in search of national development. The product relates
more to the stake, which each group controls or owns within the process.
For example it is one thing to say MDC is participating in the talks with
reform exercise, but it is another to have it finally participating in
all levels of national governance. The assumption behind national unity
is that it must arise out of internal processes, based on mutual respect
and equitable participation. Of necessity therefore, is the need to deal
with issues of truth, justice and reconciliation. It is impossible to
achieve inclusion of the broad spectrum of society, without altering the
structural framework of an unjust society. Questions around economic disparity,
social marginalisation, must therefore be dealt with as a prerequisite
to the attainment of national unity. As must issues of constitutional
reform, repeal of all repressive legislation and opening up of political
has had several experiences with coalition governments intended to achieve
national unity. These include: The 1978 Muzorewa/Smith Zimbabwe-Rhodesia
coalition, the 1980 independence government, and the 1987 ZANU/PF-ZAPU
peculiar feature of these three examples they succeeded periods of severe
conflict, and were thus aimed at "buying peace at any cost". It is critical
to note that all three ultimately failed, in their espoused objective.
The 1978 arrangement faltered because it was state driven and not people
driven. It failed to reflect any sensitivity to the fundamental grievances
of the black populace. The 1980 arrangement also failed in that some of
the key structural issues that had led to the liberation struggle remained
unresolved; chief among them being the land question, and economic marginalisation
of the black majority.
1987 arrangement simply integrated the "vanquished" into the status quo,
without altering the structural and relational causes of the conflict
between ZANU and ZAPU. Zimbabwe subsequent degeneration is testimony of
the sterility of this arrangement which ended conflict but failed to build
a true democracy based on tolerance, peace truth and justice.
examples demonstrate the limitations of a parochially defined government
of national unity as well as its dangers. Fundamentally, all of these
processes failed to build durable peace. Unity is not just about accommodation
of the interests of political elites. For unity to succeed it must grow
upwards, from the people on the ground. It must deal with the structural
barriers to people’s economic and political participation.
state of the nation: Zimbabwe in 2002
Zimbabwean crisis is typified by pervasive constitutional and institutional
judiciary has been politicised and subordinated to the Executive.
bi-partisan parliament still functions as a rubber-stamp of the Executive’s
whims and policies.
army, police and intelligence are clearly partisan and have played a
key role in serious human rights violations.
leaders have been co-opted into ruling party structures and psyche.
civil servants have been manipulated to serve as handmaids of the system.
leadership has either cases identified itself with ZANU PF policies
and positions and has failed to exercise its prophetic and guardianship
role in the nation. Where the leadership has dared to differ it has
been met with scorn from the highest office in the land
business is largely an extension of ZANU PF’s primitive accumulation
tendencies in as much as white business was the sanitized face of Rhodesian
of sections of unemployed youths under the guise of national service
electronic and print media is used as propaganda machinery for the ruling
ruling party has at its disposal a highly defective constitution, and
an array of repressive laws, which it habitually uses to stifle dissent.
factors have resulted in a highly polarized society. Conflicts generated
hereby, play themselves out in the arena of politics.
polarization, is precariously situated within a progressively disintegrating
economy, characterized by:
upwards of 70%
70% of the nation lives below the poverty datum line
levels of corruption
rampant HIV/AIDS infection rate
Rights and Justice
has a dark history of impunity. Examples include:
of Africans were killed in cold blood by the European settlers at the
inception of the colonial state. None of the murderers were ever prosecuted,
nor were there reparations for the victims’ families.
1975 the Rhodesian Government passed an indemnity law excusing all past
and future atrocities committed by its officials.
transitional government of Lord Soames passed an indemnity statute,
which pardoned, without investigation all atrocities committed by both
during the war of liberation.
1990, following the Unity Accord, the Zimbabwe government passed Clemency
Order 1 of 1990, pardoning all atrocities committed by its own forces
and the "dissidents", in the genocide in Midlands and Matebeleland between
the years 1984 and 1987
October 2000, following a bloody parliamentary process election campaign,
the State president issued Clemency Order 1 of 2000, pardoning the perpetrators
of political violence and intimidation.
just ended Presidential election was attended by serious levels of political
violence and intimidation, which are yet to be prosecuted, (or pardoned?).
The key question that pervades our national conversation right now is
not who requires the benefit of our culture of impunity. Rather, it is
whether Zimbabwe can truly move forward if this contentious question is
not opened up for national debate. What guarantee is there that the gross
human rights violations witnessed over the last two decades will not recur
under a future government? What mechanism exists to deter future governments
from violating their citizen’s rights?
Agenda for Talks
crisis in Zimbabwe has reached desperate proportions. The failure of the
two major political parties to develop an amicable solution to the political
impasse has resulted in a worsening economic and humanitarian crisis in
the country. SADC member states, led by South Africa, have repeatedly
called for "reconciliation, working together and national unity in Zimbabwe."
The current political framework, however, is not favourable for a Government
of National Unity (GNU). Given Zimbabwe’s current situation, a GNU would
prove a grossly inadequate mechanism through which to resolve the national
is, however, a need for a process of re-envisioning the political prospects
of Zimbabwe, and bringing a democratically elected government to Zimbabwe.
Civil society supports current efforts by the church to act as a mediator
in this process. The key issues, which must be addressed in order to resolve
the crisis, go beyond a discussion of power sharing. Any process to ease
the multi-layered national crisis should include a participatory and comprehensive
constitutional review, and a review of the electoral laws and institutions.
This process must involve the full participation by civil society, political
parties, the business community and church groups. This process must entail
a comprehensive and equitable redistribution of resources. Through this
process, preparations should begin for fresh national elections, and a
truth, justice and reconciliation process that interrogates Zimbabwe’s
past and present injustices.
goals of this process include:
end to political violence and intimidation
repeal of repressive legislation and unjust laws
opening up of political space, including print and broadcast media access
the economic and humanitarian crisis
development of a people-driven Constitution that entrenches democratic,
just and accountable governance, as a prerequisite to new elections
establishment of an electoral and legal framework that ensures free
and fair electoral processes
principles of governance and a leadership code
defined process to achieve truth, justice and reconciliation
resolution of the humanitarian crisis, especially access to food and
emergency medical care
development of institutions that promote and protect human rights and
democratically governed Zimbabwe
and transparent governance
for human rights and tolerance for diversity
of resources and power to benefit the most marginalised sectors of the
and institutionalised values/systems that stop the abuse of power
unity, peace, truth and justice
Zimbabwe’s current political polarisation, the only way to move towards
these objectives and achieve genuine national unity is through a process
whereby a Transitional Government immediately takes over the running
of the country under a Transitional Constitution. The mandate of
this transitional government will be:
preside over a participatory process of creating a new constitution
and a new electoral law.
preside over the election of a new government
re-engage the international community regarding economic and humanitarian
addition, this Transitional Authority must prevent political violence
and intimidation, ensure that the rule of law is upheld, and ensure broad
access to all forms of the media. The Transitional Authority may also
discuss convening a Commission where questions of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation
can be addressed holistically and transparently. It is important that
all these processes be broadly inclusive, transparent and participatory,
as opposed to consisting of deals purely between political parties.
To monitor the process proposed above, a multi-stakeholder panel should
be established to ensure that the process is irreversible. Guarantors could
be drawn from SADC, AU, UN and the Commonwealth.
participants on this panel should include representatives drawn from the
broadest spectrum of actors, including:
addition, minority groups and historically under-represented constituencies
(e.g. the handicapped, albinos, etc.) must be accorded specific consideration.
In each case, representatives should be be identified by their respective
a panel would have to set definite time frames and objectives to be met
therein. The panel would be responsible for monitoring this process as
well as guaranteeing its success within a specific time frame.
immediate measures are taken, Zimbabwe’s crisis will continue to deepen.
Everyday, it becomes increasingly difficult for the majority of Zimbabweans
to meet their families’ basic needs. Economists estimate that by end of
the year, 99% of the population will be living below the Poverty Datum Line
(PDL). Clearly there is need for an urgent solution. Such a solution must
come from the generality of Zimbabweans, and not simply from political parties.
Similarly, while the support of Zimbabwe’s friends and neighbours is welcome,
it is up to the people of Zimbabwe to determine their national destiny.
Visit the Crisis in
Zimbabwe fact sheet
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