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The end of Mugabe Tsvangirai's marriage is nigh

19 Jul 2012 at 04:11hrs | Views
It is clear on both sides of the divide that the political marriage is over in all but name. Everyone is manoeuvring for the best position ahead of elections.

There are no demonstrators waving placards outside the imposing parliament building in central Harare to announce that 'The end of the coalition is nigh!' There's no need. Frustrations with the enforced power sharing of the past three years run so high that early elections look attractive to all. Schisms over policies and personalities are blocking many key reforms.

Despite a promising first year of economic recovery led by finance minister Tendai Biti, no party emerges from the coalition with much credit. Hyperinflation has been defeated, but the government is struggling to raise the investment funds it needs to accelerate growth and create jobs. After much finger pointing, all parties are calling on the European Union and the United States to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe. Negotiations started in early May but will take many months.

"Let's get the world thinking beyond the next election," complains Kenias Mafukidze, who has launched a business-led campaign for Zimbabwe to de- velop a $100bn economy by the year 2040. Mafukidze has managed to get his initiative endorsed by both sides, which is unusual when most ministers are stuck in the short term.

Much of government business is at a standstill. There are 34 constituencies without sitting MPs, and no plans to hold by-elections before a national vote. "It's a completely dysfunctional government," says Tony Hawkins, head of the University of Zimbabwe Business School. He says there is unlikely to be progress before an election on economic issues such as collapsing parastatals, unemployment and public-sector ghost workers.

Money will be critical in the vote, a Zimbabwean academic said: "ZANU-PF [Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front] will rely on their old networks. Before [Reserve Bank governor Gideon] Gono was paying the militias for their intimidation from the central bank, now Biti has the purse strings and is weeding out ghost workers."

Internal ructions
ZANU-PF is now strapped for cash when compared to the brutally violent second round of the 2008 elections. Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists claim hardline securocrats are financing militia groups from the proceeds of diamonds from Marange. There has been a lengthy stand-off between finance minister Biti (MDC) and mines minister Obert Mpofu (ZANU-PF) about the failure of the diamond mines to yield their projected revenues to the state coffers.
Alongside the clashes between ZANU-PF and the MDC, each party is trying to manage its internal ructions. For President Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF, the overarching question is succession. Although the party's congress last December confirmed that 88-year-old Mugabe will be its candidate in the next elections, there is no consensus on his successor.

While the main contenders are the old guard â€" a battle royale still rages between vice-president Joice Mujuru and defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa â€" a younger generation of loyalists such as indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere is arguing that it is time for the party to skip a generation. A new ZANU- PF group known as Generation 40 (G40) is trying to influence the succession.

Party spokesman Jonathan Moyo reacted sharply to the rise of G40: "Our youth who now make up at least 70% of the electorate and who are therefore in a position to peacefully and democratically shape their future through the ballot should understand that succession is not about individuals and is certainly not about age but about ideas, ideologies, policy programmes and generations," he wrote in late April. Party backers would read that as another defence of Mugabe, even though Moyo once tried to ease him out in favour of Mnangagwa.

Yet for the G40 faction, a younger leader makes sense when they contrast their party â€" dominated by sexagenarians and septuagenarians â€" with the two factions of the MDC led by politicians in their 40s and 50s. ZANU-PF's great political asset â€" that it is the party of national liberation â€" has been undermined by the economic chaos over the past decade and worsening reports of state corruption.

Others see Joice Mujuru as a transitional leader who would be able to work better with the MDC, whether in government or opposition. Some Western diplomats see her as more capable of leading Zimbabwe's political transition than MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

There are cracks on the other side too. There is little prospect that the two factions of the MDC â€" the one led by Tsvangirai and the other led by Welshman Ncube â€" will reunite. Tsvangirai has dismissed Ncube's party as a regional faction, referring to its strong support in the southern provinces of Matabeleland. More seriously for Tsvangirai are the growing signs of impatience with his leadership.

Within the MDC, there is a group that wants change at the top, whose candidate would be finance minister Biti. Biti himself assured The Africa Report that such talk was nonsense and said the party is "4,000% behind Tsvangirai". Yet few can see Tsvangirai surviving if he fails to win the presidency in the next elections.

Meanwhile, the power-sharing government hobbles on. In April, it agreed a draft code of conduct for political parties meant to prevent electoral violence, but it has been largely ignored.

Under the power-sharing agreement, elections must be held by March 2013. Before that, Zimbabweans have to vote in a referendum on the new constitution, and the still-contested electoral commission has to demarcate constituency boundaries and organise a new voters' roll. The Constitution Select Committee delivered a draft in early May. "The draft is decent," said Biti, adding: "At this stage we will tell our supporters to vote yes."

Such a strategy would allow the MDC to campaign on the same platform as ZANU-PF and, its strategists hope, give its activists the ability to do so in areas
where they would not normally dare venture. "We will go and sit in Mashonaland," said Dennis Murira, principal director of public affairs in Tsvangirai's office.

South Africa sits on the fence
Big questions remain over whether the military would accept an MDC victory. The death of Solomon Mujuru in August 2011 deprived both sides of a credible intermediary. Tsvangirai's proposal in parliament in December to compensate the victims of the Gukurahundi massacres of 1983-1987, in which some senior officers were implicated, has reinforced military suspicions of the MDC.

Changing dynamics within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mean that Mugabe can no longer rely on the protection of South Africa. President Jacob Zuma does not have the same intellectual connection with Mugabe as did his predecessor Thabo Mbeki. Zuma has been expected for months in Zimbabwe, but his negotiating team say they have yet to receive an official invitation from all three signatories to the power-sharing agreement. Zuma's daughter is married to the son of the MDC's Ncube, and he is set to be more pragmatic on Zimbabwe policy.

South Africa's lead on Zimbabwe is vital. Botswana and Malawi range from sceptical to hostile towards Mugabe, while Angola and Mozambique are frustrated and unlikely to back tough action.

Now Mugabe's closest ally is the newly-elected Zambian populist President Michael Sata, who likened Zimbabwe and Zambia to "Siamese twins" during a state visit to Harare at the end of April. To get the SADC onside, the MDC will need all its tactical skills to fend off its far more experienced adversariesâ'

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