1 February 2013

Zimbabwe: President Tsvangirai's Address to Jomic

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Ladies and gentlemen, Allow me to begin by recognising the important milestone that has been achieved by the party and the people of Zimbabwe over the constitutional agreement that is designed to usher a new democratic dispensation.

We must never shy away from claiming our victories. The MDC traces its political DNA to the constitutional movement, which, through the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) initiated and drove the constitutional reform agenda.

The new constitution is therefore our baby; we created it and fought hard to ensure its successful birth and going forward, we must continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the written text is supported by the spirit of constitutionalism.

We have chosen the path of constitutionalism as opposed to arbitrary rule and militarism. It is important to recognise that we have done so without abandoning our cherished ethos of using peaceful and non-violent means to achieve transformation. We want a new political culture in which the government is limited by law and respects the people; indeed, in which the Rule of Law is the predominant principle of governance. The era of Rule BY Law must become a yesteryear phenomenon.

I am advised that this workshop has been convened to discuss and deliberate over the role of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), one of the most important bodies created under the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

JOMIC, is in my opinion, a fundamental body with an enormous potential to positively affect the political landscape and benefit the people of Zimbabwe. Nevertheless, I also believe that its potential is yet to be fully realised and it is our obligation to ensure that it is fulfilled.

When we signed up to the GPA, we were alive to the fact that the implementation of the GPA would not be a stroll in the park. We appreciated that an agreement does not work by itself and we therefore undertook to put in place a mechanism to monitor implementation of the GPA. The mechanism is the inter-party JOMIC, which is the subject of today's deliberations.

Our partners in SADC have been forthright about the issue of full implementation of the GPA. The Facilitator, President Jacob Zuma in his report to the AU recently repeated the call for full implementation of the GPA as a precursor to the next elections.

Our partners in SADC and the AU are fully conscious of the fact that the full implementation of the GPA is critical as it would set forth the right conditions for a credible and legitimate election in this country.

The strategic importance of JOMIC is recognised by SADC hence their resolution to commit representatives to work closely with JOMIC.

JOMIC has worked hard under difficult conditions. However, the fact that 5 years after the signing of the GPA, there remain numerous provisions whose implementation remains outstanding suggests that JOMIC could have done better in executing its broader mandate.

Where JOMIC has done relatively well is in the area of political violence where it has highlighted cases of violence, intimidation as well as selective application of the law.

I have had the advantage of reading reports by our liaison officers, who have done a good job of chronicling cases of violence and selective application of law by the police and prosecution authorities. With the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better if JOMIC had been granted greater enforcement powers in the GPA to ensure that its decisions and recommendations are carried out.

The record in other areas of monitoring of the GPA could however, have been better and can still be improved. The scope of work has been narrow whereas the mandate that is contained in the GPA is broader.

Going forward, we believe JOMIC can take a greater strategic position in the election process and we must take it more seriously than we have done so far. JOMIC has the potential to become a key institution exercising the election observation and monitoring function.

As we proceed towards the next election, local and external election observation systems will be crucial. In addition to calling for external observers, we must build local election observation and monitoring systems. JOMIC presents a perfect opportunity to build a local, long-term election observation and monitoring institution, especially in the area of violence and intimidation.

JOMIC has already built a reservoir of experience and knowledge base which places it in a better position than most other observers. JOMIC now possesses extensive local knowledge which it can rely upon in carrying out its mandate as a long term election observer and monitor.

In fact, as it is, JOMIC is a De Facto monitor of the electoral environment. The reports that are generated by JOMIC must be shared with SADC, as the guarantor of the GPA, so that the regional body and the Facilitator can have a better grasp of the issues actually obtaining on the ground in Zimbabwe. By playing this role, JOMIC is already carrying out a broader mandate as a local monitor of the electoral environment.

We must however support JOMIC by enhancing its capacity. Without the requisite resources, it is unlikely to fulfil its mandate.

We could also explore broadening JOMIC so that it becomes more inclusive of other political parties that are participating in the elections. Our biggest challenge, however, is attitude. Our collective attitude towards JOMIC must be more positive and more serious. If we fail to make better use of JOMIC we will have failed our people who look to us to create institutions that protect them and give them greater confidence.

Those of us who have a role in JOMIC must therefore take it more seriously and ensure that they devote greater time and resources to meet its demands. Unless our attitude changes, JOMIC will remain with a narrow focus and will not be able to achieve its full potential.

As we approach the next elections, let us take advantage of JOMIC to create an effective local observation and monitoring institution.

In closing, I hope, therefore, that as this group deliberates on matters of strategy, the strategic importance of JOMIC in the electoral process is recognised. I hope that strategic steps that will emerge from this workshop will be targeted at ensuring that JOMIC is more effective in the execution of its broader mandate.

Thank you,

M. R. TSVANGIRAI

PRESIDENT, MDC-T

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