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PF-MDC talks, solution to the social and economic crisis in Zimbabwe or
a mere waste of time?
Yellow paper extract from Public Discussion
Series on Dialogue and Transition in Mutare, Masvingo and Harare
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
Due to the socio-political and economic degradation in Zimbabwe since
the February 2000 constitutional referendum, the people of Zimbabwe have
been and continue to be subjected to provoking situations by the ZANU
PF government on a daily basis. This crisis originates from the rigging
of elections-especially the presidential election of march 2002 and has
been exacerbated by continued state sponsored terror, a massive assault
on the peoples freedoms of association and expression, the freewill suspension
of the rule of law and the corruption-driven economic meltdown.
This led to polarisation
among the people of Zimbabwe. People identify themselves either as the
victims of the present political system or the beneficiaries of that declare
themselves patriotic and above the law.
The potential danger of this extend of provocation was a civil disobedience
that could degenerate into a bloody war. In their efforts to solve this
impasse of the government versus the people, major international multilateral
organisations like the Commonwealth, the European Union and the African
Union intervened with various strategies to help solve the Zimbabwean
impasse. The troika of presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun
Obasanjo of Nigeria and Prime Minister John Howard of Australia initiated
the process of dialogue chiefly between the opposition MDC and ZANU PF.
It is on this platform that the multi-layered crisis in Zimbabwe would
be discussed and the road map of returning to democracy signed. The world’s
hopes for a lasting and sustainable solution were raised. Most significant
was the hope of the people of Zimbabwe on the dialogue and transition
process that would address the contested issues of governance and legitimacy
and of course boost economic confidence leading to the revival of the
sick Zimbabwean economy.
Despite having been
unfaithful to SADC minimum conditions for free and fair elections and
declared the March 2002 presidential election as free and fair, some countries
in the SADC region became clearer on the Zimbabwean crisis. With South
Africa leading, they advocated for a Government of National unity (GNU).
The assumption here being that the sticking issues of governance and legitimacy
will be neutralised and consensus achieved on broad issues relevant to
the country. It also believes that the countries major political thinking
will be represented in major political, social and economic debate for
Learning from experience
of other coalition governments that were formed in Zimbabwe in 1978, the
1980 independence government and the 1987 ZANU PF –PF ZAPU unity accord,
the civil society in Zimbabwe through Crisis Coalition began to engage
the public in contributing to the process with clarity on the choices
of the road map that the country would follow in its transition.
On the 5th of July
2003, the coalition held a conference on dialogue and transition at which
the civil society in its broad form was represented. Debate centred on
the "yellow paper", which is a document which analyses the possible form
of transition and provide options from which the Zimbabwean road to democracy
will be pegged.
Part of the conference
resolutions were that the civil society were to involve the people of
Zimbabwe in this dialogue and transition process as the crisis in Zimbabwe
could not be reduced to a fight between two party political elites.
As a follow up to
the dialogue and transition conference and consistent with the Coalitions
objectives of seeking to ensure a participatory democracy in Zimbabwe
and to encourage the input of Zimbabweans into policy formulation and
governance generally, a series of public meetings were arranged for Mutare,
Masvingo and Harare.
The topic under discussion
sought to interrogate and initiate debate and get pointers on public opinion.
The people displayed a passion for democracy. The topic for discussion
was querying and led to a cognitive imbalance in the people. Despite being
denied alternative information packages other than the government’s print
and electronic media, the public displayed a consensus on the necessity
of dialogue, the way they want the dialogue to follow and were also clear
on the desired product of the process, sustainable democracy.
The Masvingo and Mutare
discussions raised strong sentiments that:
- to have dialogue,
however necessary it is, in the face of poverty, POSA, a dictatorship
and state sponsored terror is a mere puff. Some immediate demands were
made after whose address will dialogue proceed smoothly with the trust
and participation of the public.
- The issue of legitimacy,
obnoxious legislation, poverty and violence blocs dialogue and these
have to be urgently addressed. Harare, which has had the privilege to
host a number of public discussions, despite having adopted a non-engagement
gear, also came out clearly demanding the addressing of the anti-democracy
issues like the selective application of the law, state terror, poverty
and draconian pieces of legislation. Therefore, of the options presented
to the public in the yellow paper, there was agreement that there has
to be an opening up of democratic space, repealing of all unjust laws
such as POSA and the making of a new constitution leading to the holding
of free and fair elections.
"the talks are noise
to us. The two parties cannot speak for the entire population. However,
if they want short term benefits, let them go ahead"
"talks amid terror
and repression by one party to the other are a waste of time. POSA should
be uprooted and its seeds burnt"
"talks are a starting
point. Peace and Tolerance are all necessary for talks to prosper. The
choice is ours, especially ZANU pf to make war or peace"
"there is no legal
mechanism that forces the parties to adopt an agenda. There is no legal
mechanism that enforces the results of the negotiations. These talks must
not be mere power compromises between the two parties. Therefore, the
panacea is in a new constitution that gives an obligation to these parties
to commit to the agenda and results of these negotiations"
"we do not discount
the usefulness of talks if they are approached in a mature way, by mature
people, with no other motive but the good of Zimbabwe at heart"
"those that are engaged
in mediation between the two political parties in attempting to bring
them to the table for talks should be applauded and envied. They should
be encouraged in their efforts and be complemented in their endeavours"
- some members of
the Zimbabwe Republic Police present in the Masvingo meeting made exciting
contributory comments/remarks during the discourse especially where
the issue of the rising costs of food and the general degradation in
the peoples standard of living was being discussed
- the business community
was clear on the need for the rule of law, peace and the resumption
- The challenges
faced in Masvingo and Mutare, despite the discussions having been lively
and well attended, is to focus the people on the necessity of concentrating
on issues and perspectives rather than political party or personal patronage.
In other words, to, without being bound by the political obligation
of patronage, clarify issues on the basis of truth, justice and in peace.
- The massive enthusiasm
and passion of the people to engage and discuss these national issues
presents the Coalition with a challenge of capacity, if the plan of
localised public discussions is to be successful.
- For Harare, the
challenge is of rejuvenating the idea of the necessity of public discussions
as they have been categorised as mere talk shows, thus not worthy the
time. The challenge is to reverse this thinking amid progress through
the introduction of localised suburban meetings. Suburban meetings are
small, focused, less expensive and rather inviting to the public both
in terms of time and cost.
It was recommended that:
- Public discussion
speakers/presenters per meeting be reduced to one or two at most to
give the public time to debate and discuss issues, rather the lecture
method of meetings
- Crisis Coalition,
notwithstanding the restrictions of POSA, mount a series of public discussions
nationwide to discuss possible options of tackling this national crisis.
- Capacitate provincial
Crisis Coalition sub-committees to drive the process of these public
- Concentrate on
small suburban meetings for discussions and focus on dialogue and immediate
packaged components of this crisis such as hunger, poverty, public health
and education, prices of basic commodities and shortages of food.
- Engage the international
community and the local political parties to note the Civil Society
as a partner in the resolution of the crisis
List of presenters:
Trust Maanda -Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
S.Marewangepo -Womens Coalition
Clr. I.Takana -Councillor Mutare City Council
B.Mangodza -Advocacy Commiittee Vice Chairperson
J.Mudzumwe -Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions-Facilitator
E.Samundombe -Zimbabwe National Students Union
F.Chinobva -Masvingo Residents Association
S.M Zvarebwanashe -N.C.A
Crisis Coalition secretariat
Visit the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition fact
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