Zimbabwe: Give an Inch They'll Take a Mile

opinion

AFTER the high drama that engulfed the constitution-making exercise, the soon-to-end journey that is the Government of National Unity finds itself in the alien realm of cooperation.

From the Zanu PF-inspired fracas that rocked the First All-Stakeholders Conference to the intra and inter-party ructions amid charges of "selling out", and the endless amendments and countless "deadlocks", the road to the new constitution has been as bumpy as it has been costly and fractious.

The exasperating four-year saga came to a rather anti-climactic end with the announcement GPA parties had finally "found each other", leading to the resolution of all contentious clauses, thus clearing the road to a referendum on the draft and elections this year.

All of a sudden we have strange bedfellows - Zanu PF and the MDC formations that normally would not agree on even the most mundane of issues -- cosying up to each other, putting on a grand show of unity of purpose as the campaign for a "Yes" vote from their supporters picks up speed.

Given the parties' intractably disparate interests and the history of acrimony that pervades their association, it would be impossible to shake off the nagging suspicion that someone is being had.

Make-or-break elections are nigh; we'll find out soon enough!

The current unity of purpose, if you will, is bound to make it that much more difficult for the MDCs to wring any further concessions from Zanu PF in any subsequent bargaining, not that they have met much success up to now.

Right from the first flashpoint over ministerial allocations at the outset of the unity government the MDCs have rarely had it their way with Zanu PF which has at times rode roughshod over them, leaving no doubt as to where power lies. Viewed from the MDCs' standpoint that the July 2012 draft was final and there would be no more amendments, Zanu PF could be whistling merrily yet again.

Crucially, the MDC formations have all but given up on the implementation of the outstanding issues spelt out in the GPA, whose aim is to facilitate free and fair elections, instead outsourcing the task to Sadc -- guarantors of the GPA.

Sadc has evidently taken up the mantle, with African Union leaders on Monday again urging President Robert Mugabe to implement outstanding provisions of the GPA before elections are held.

That, and the visit by South African President Jacob Zuma's facilitation team on Tuesday, roused the MDC-T from its long slumber to demand reforms at a press conference the same day.

Apparently going through the motions, MDC-T said it would continue calling for major reforms before elections are held in order to ensure there is no repeat of the violence that took place in 2008, leading to a sham election.

Such demands have been too few and far between to have the desired effect, with the impression the MDC-T is only sporadically paying lip-service to reforms.

As reported elsewhere in this issue, Zanu PF's response to the reform demands has been swift and unequivocal.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said the parties had agreed elections would follow soon after the new governance charter is enacted and they had not discussed reforms among themselves or with Zuma's team.

"We agreed that the completion of the constitution is the only stumbling block towards the holding of elections. The renewed calls for reforms by the MDC-T are an agenda to try and avoid elections," Chinamasa said.

His colleague Ambassador Chris Mutsvangwa added: "The MDCs have failed the people and any attempts to bring other issues are an excuse to remain in government."

There you have it. As the saying goes, give them an inch and they'll take a mile!

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