16 May 2012

Zimbabwe: Zuma Mediation Could Be in Limbo

Photo: GCIS
President Zuma meeting with President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare (file photo).

SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma has for several months been rumoured to be on his way to Harare to engage the principals in Zimbabwe's coalition government over the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which gave birth to the current government.

While the three principals, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara have admitted that the inclusive government, which came into being in 2009 is dysfunctional, ZANU-PF has heightened calls for the arrangement to be terminated.

The two MDC formations have said the coalition government could only be dissolved after the implementation of vast reforms agreed to in the GPA, paving the way for elections.

But to date, no media reforms have been implemented. For instance, none of the requisite changes identified as critical before the staging of the next polls has been implemented to bring closure to government of national unity (GNU).

The constitution-making process, which was touted to be a precursor to elections, has repeatedly hit snags and is on the brink of collapsing as ZANU-PF has threatened to pull out of the Parliamentary Constitution Select Committee (COPAC).

In fact, ZANU-PF has repeatedly lambasted COPAC's draft constitution and has said they will declare a deadlock and force elections under the old Lancaster House Constitution.

This has fuelled speculation on whether Zuma's mediation is in limbo.

Critics say ever since he took over from his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, in 2009 Zuma has struggled with his mediation.

Despite the countless trips made by his facilitation team to Zimbabwe, the rift in the GNU has been widening.

They say because Zuma has preferred to engage the coalition partners through his facilitation team comprising Charles Nqakula, Mac Maharaj and Lindiwe Zulu, his role has been reduced to that of an observer.

On their part, the facilitation team has also failed to nudge ZANU-PF and the two formations of MDC formations into honouring the GPA.

"Zuma has tried but you see, he can't keep on stressing himself on issues that are proving difficult to conclude and also the lack of seriousness and will from Zimbabwe's leaders to agree on anything to move this country forward," said political analyst, Blessing Vava.

"Mind you President Zuma also has serious issues to deal with in his country, such as the upcoming Mangaung congress where some hawks within his party, especially the Youth League, are pushing for his ouster," added Vava.

However, another political analyst, Dewa Mavhinga, said Zimb-abweans should not wait for Zuma to come and solve their problems.

"It is wrong for Zimbabweans to expect salvation to come from President Zuma of South Africa because Zimbabwe is not a province of South Africa. The main drivers of positive political change must be us Zimbabweans who must take our destiny in our own hands with Zuma and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) only coming in to assist but not to be the main actors," said Mavhinga.

"Blame for lack of progress in Zimbabwe is on Zimbabweans in general and the political parties in particular, especially ZANU-PF which is frustrating electoral and constitutional reforms," added Mavhinga.

But Zulu, Zuma's mediation spokesperson, is adamant Zuma's facilitation was on track, albeit at a tortoise pace.

She denied that her boss' mediation efforts were in limbo due to the failure to unlock the log-jam in the GNU.

"There is no way it is in limbo. Mediation efforts are continuing. The facilitation team will come to Zimbabwe soon. We have all been travelling. We will come after their visit to the European Union (EU)," said Zulu referring to the recent EU visit by a team from Zimbabwe appointed to lobby for the lifting of sanctions.

"Secondly, mediation cannot be in limbo because the principals are talking. What the facilitator is expecting is that the principals must be working on a day to day basis. We are in constant touch with the principals," added Zulu.

There are however, those who feel that SADC has a strategy on Zimbabwe and were keen to pursue it. Political commentator Mavhinga is one of them.

He said: "SADC has a strategy for Zimbabwe, and Zuma is a SADC appointed facilitator on Zimbabwe advancing a SADC strategy that includes the full implementation of the GPA and of reforms leading to the levelling of the political field and the holding of credible, non-violent, free and fair elections. But the SADC strategy that Zuma is implementing depends on political will and sincerity by Zimbabwe leaders," said Mavhinga.

So, with the intense warring between ZANU-PF and MDCs, a lack of progress in implementing the GPA and Zuma's no show, one can be justified to conclude that the South African President's mediation is in trouble.

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