28 August 2009

Zimbabwe: Zuma Publicly Acknowledges GNU Problems


South African President and SADC chair, Jacob Zuma, arrived in Zimbabwe on Thursday evening to try and break a political deadlock between the rival parties in the inclusive government. Observers say while Robert Mugabe has been implying there are no major problems with the Global Political Agreement Zuma made it clear there were issues, when he officially opened the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show on Friday.

Speaking at the Glamis Stadium, Zuma urged the parties to respect the commitments made when they signed the GPA and to 'remove any remaining impediments to the agreement' so as to meet conditions set by international donors for economic aid to be restored.

Journalist Peta Thornycroft said: "He made it clear that there were problems and that these needed to be resolved and that a lot hangs on resolving these problems. Whereas he called the international community to drop sanctions he also said the international community did have benchmarks and he did talk about human rights."

"He did say that Zimbabwe had been the regional breadbasket and regretted that it wasn't now and hoped that it would recover. So there was enormous recognition of what has happened and ZANU PF cannot write this off and say there are no outstanding issues. Zuma recognised that there are, in a very tactful way, and he brought them into the public at the Harare Show today."

But as usual there has been no official statement from the inclusive government on the outcome of the meetings Zuma held with the principals, Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and Robert Mugabe. The meetings took place behind closed doors and reports say the South African leader is likely to refer the matter to the SADC summit in the DRC next month.

While there have been some changes in Zimbabwe since the formation of the power share government in February, such as the return of food supplies in shops, a drop in hyperinflation and a slightly better political environment, the political parties are still wrangling over the same issues that divided them before they signed the Global Political Agreement.

ZANU PF has made it clear that as far as they are concerned there are only two outstanding issues that are hampering the full implementation of the GPA, 'the sanctions and external interference through pirate radio stations'.

The targeted sanctions on the key figures in the regime are obviously doing their job and the regime is still obsessed with the private radio stations that have been forced to operate from exile, due to the media clampdown in Zimbabwe.

There have been no real attempts by Mugabe to release his iron grip on the media and seven months into the coalition government the state media is still allowed to spew out venom against perceived enemies of the state, including the MDC. Many Zimbabweans say there is no difference between the coalition government and the old government, because of this total control of the media.

ZANU PF is now also reported to be reneging on an agreement by the principals that the appointment of governors and ambassadors would be done on the basis of last year parliamentary election results.

The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper reported on Friday: "Zanu PF was now insisting that provincial governors were representatives of President Robert Mugabe and hence the octogenarian leader should appoint people of his choice."

The MDC-T maintains there are a number of outstanding issues and central to their complaints is the issue of the appointment of the Reserve Bank governor and the Attorney General, an issue that ZANU PF says is not up for negotiation, claiming that Mugabe has the power to make these appointments without consulting his co-partners in the unity government.

Zanu PF Secretary for Administration Didymus Mutasa told the Zimbabwe Independent: "The MDC must grow up. What they are saying is absolute nonsense. They are behaving like small babies. There will be no negotiations on those appointments."

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