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Zimbabwe Briefing - Issue 106
in Zimbabwe Coalition
April 04, 2013
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spoilers torpedo Zimbabwe’s elite pact
In the past
weeks Zimbabwe has seen seemingly well-orchestrated incidents of
intimidation targeting civil society institutions and actors. The
targeting followed a month of harassment of civics at Zimbabwe
Peace Project that culminated in the arrest
of its director Jestina Mukoko.
Since then these
attacks have been
intensified to target civil society members in Bulawayo and members
of the MDC-T including officials in the Office of the Prime Minister
together with their lawyer Beatrice Mthetwa. The Prime Minister,
at the time, issued a statement to the media stating that among
other things they were not clear of the motive and agenda of the
swop on his office. What could possibly be happening here? What
are the motives and possible implications to the reform process?
Even as Zimbabweans
are celebrating the successful referendum and subsequently the opportunity
to have a new constitution that is likely to transform its culture
of politics (at least to the extent that there will be new political
rules and in some instances new institutions) political violence
and intimidation is souring the mood of the people. It is plausible
that there are fears in the authoritarian camp in the face of a
sobering reality check brought about by the fact that their illicit
affluence and patronage is fast coming to a halt. What is shocking
though, is the fact that the conspirators and perpetrators of these
attacks have taken their fight directly to the doorstep of the Prime
Minister, the Head of Government business in the Inclusive
There is a high
risk that a concerted manoeuvre to undermine the outcome of the
referendum could take place given that there hard-line remnants
within the ZANU PF regime also called the political “spoilers’’
are determined to fight their battles to the bitter end. Ultimately
the success of the constitution
making process thus far, even in its limited sense and scope,
is a massive threat to their interests threatening the political
protections that the corrupt enjoy and impunity in the event of
a new regime emerging after national elections.
With so much
to lose for these political hardliners, we are likely to see more
intimidation and political violence as we get into electioneering.
Quite clearly some actors in the faction riddled former ruling party
are totally not interested in any form of change and therefore they
might resort to desperate acts to scupper any form of reform.
and the mediation process should therefore closely seek to identify
these pockets of spoilers and ensure that their anxieties are not
allowed to derail the reform process that everyone so desperately
wants achieved. Furthermore, there is need to ensure that President
Mugabe’s Zanu PF party is firmly held accountable for any
acts of violence associated directly or indirectly with his party,
and as leader of his party, as President who in actual fact appointed
the heads of the military, police and central intelligence. He should,
indeed, be pressured to come clean on violations of the rule of
law, intimidation and persecution of ordinary citizens.
and mediators should also be sure that Mugabe is still in control
of his present and former allies in his party and that his guarantees
that peace and stability will prevail can be trusted.
the only sure way to secure the will of the people, even at such
a late stage, would be to continue to push for security sector reforms.
Without trusting President Mugabe to rein in his partisan heads
of the security service, and ensuring that Zanu PF does not benefit
from political violence - whether intended as its political strategy
or driven by spoilers - the mediator and pro-reform political parties
will have to do more in terms of pushing for further reforms with
SADC mediation on the negotiation table while conducting massive
political mobilization on the ground. It looks like it might be
too late to reverse or scuttle change.
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