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Public reluctance to engage on key Global Political Agreement (GPA) issues might cost us in future. Some reports about Zimbabwe will make you think we are heading for hell.
While there are public discussions amongst politicians on the GPA issues, I get the feeling that the same discussions are lacking among the general public. Itâ€™s rare on public forums like Facebook and Twitter to see us substantially engaging on what is the real status of key issues in the GPA letter. So much is being said about a few outstanding issues but less is said about whether rest of the agreements are making a change for the better as we all were hoping. From this, I would like to share my understanding of the agreements and please feel free to engage me if I am inaccurate or you disagree.
My understanding of the GPA
15 September this year will mark four years since the three main parties in Zimbabwe declared their commitment to work together to resolve the political and economic problems of the country by signing a GPA letter, reflecting a shared desire to uphold, defend and sustain Zimbabweâ€™s sovereignty by sharing governance responsibilities through a coalition government. I think it is important to discuss what has worked and what hasnâ€™t because next year will also mark the end of a five year term for parliament and as it is, we donâ€™t know whether GPA will continue or not, and if so in what form. There are key economic, political, communication and security issues that were prioritised for reform before we vote in the next elections, and further reinforced by the Elections Road Map.
Over the past year, both MDC T and ZANU PF have been arguing back and forth over the pros and cons of disbanding the GPA and calling for elections. Both sides have accusing each other of breach of agreements. To deal with issues of compliance a Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) was set up to review these key issues on annual basis. However, I must confess that I havenâ€™t seen an annual review from JOMIC since the formation of the coalition government. My searches on the JOMIC website have been fruitless and I would appreciate if someone could tell me where I can find these reviews.
Prioritising the Economy!
The GPA sets out the economic issues to cover restoration of stability and growth, dealing with the questions of land and sanctions. The governmentâ€™s strategy of developing and implementing ideas for economic stability and growth has yielded some results. They managed to set up a Short Term Recovery Program, introduced a multi-currency system and removed duty on the import of basic commodities. These actions have stabilised prices and stopped inflation from rising high, at the same time helping shops to restock.
Questions around Sanctions and Land remain highly contested, however. ZANU PF thinks MDC is not doing enough to help remove sanctions but I am not sure if thatâ€™s the case because we have seen over the years MDC calling for theremoval of sanctions. The problem here is that MDC has no control over this issue and the power remains with the countries that sanctioned ZANU PF politicians to remove them. Also, the reasons why they were introduced in the same place remain contested because of late there have been reports of increased intolerance within political parties, leading to a rise in violence. Multiple farm ownership remains a challenge as far as the land issue is concerned. The GPA calls for a transparent and non-partisan land audit but we have not yet seen movement on this issue. Little progress on these issues together with lack of clarity on issues such as empowerment through indigenisation threatens to reverse the economic gains made by the coalition government. Also, there seem to be some government threats to foreign investment. For example the Central Bank of Zimbabwe is said to have directed local banks to stop offering services to Zimplats, allegedly for defying an order to bring back money in offshore accounts. After borrowing money from overseas lenders, the company now risks defaulting on loan agreements which might threaten its future operations. This threat lies not only to Zimplats but other foreign companies and I believe the government can do better by improving relations with these companies to allow business flexibility.
The political gains
Last year when I visited Zimbabwe, the general feeling was that things were improving politically. On several occasions I witnessed former political enemies discussing current affairs over drinks. The parties in the GPA have agreed â€“however reluctantlyâ€“ to work together to deal with matters related to a new constitution, promotion of equality, national healing, free political activity, rule of law and state organs and institutions amongst other things. The matter of a new constitution is being dealt with and although there are significant challenges and limitations, many feel good progress has been made. While there have been disturbances in relation to free political activity, all parties involved seem to be coping well in terms of organising and addressing their public gatherings. National healing started at a good pace but we hear about breaches from ZANU PF where they are disagreeing on how to compensate those that have been wronged in the past. Also, the victimisation and continued harassment of one of the co-ministers of national healing raises questions about the rule of law. Some army generals have increased their public threats about not accepting leadership other than that of ZANU PF, raising questions about reform of state institutions. In the last meeting of the SADC head of states in Angola, Zimbabwe was told to resolve the issues outstanding on the political front of the GPA and to date, there is no sight of a solution. I strongly believe that without a way to resolve these issues, we might jeopardise the progress made but at the same time it would be unwise to ignore that progress. Of course a truer test will be whether progress is sustained as tension builds in the next pre-election period.
Who are the culprits?
When I follow the political debates in Parliament, I cannot avoid noticing the blame games being played by the parties as they all seek to deny being a stumbling block when it comes to full implementation of the GPA. I think that by doing this they are wasting our time and as the public we must find means to warn politicians that our votes will not be given to people who donâ€™t take our concerns serious. Considering the fact that there is a visible good life for legislators, we are left with suspicions that these are just delaying tactics to benefit those in power. While the blame can be shared across the parties, according to several independent media reports ZANU PF remains the main culprit in the share of GPA breaches. On July 1, the NGO Sokwanele posted a pie chart of cumulative share of breaches which indications that ZANU PF takes 92%, MDC T 5% while the MDC has 3%. Rome wasnâ€™t built in a day but can be destroyed it in one â€“ we are challenged to find a balance that will allow us to continue building on the successes made and to tackle the real issues outstanding, without being distracted by self-serving raising of disputes by ZANU PF and others . In my next blog, I will discuss the communications and security sectors and I hope we can share thoughts on lessons learnt from the whole GPA arrangement as we go on.
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