Mugabe's Party Demands More Than US$4 Million From Inclusive Government
The strategy behind the disruption of the Constitutional Conference is now clear, despite Mugabe calling a press conference together with Tsvangirai and Mutambara to say he would not "tolerate such nonsense" in future. He is working on his own strategy, which is at variance with the other parties to the GPA, but they all take his assurances at face value
Harare, Zimbabwe, 09 September 2009
In a move clearly calculated to scupper all efforts to establish a new Constitution in Zimbabwe, ZANU PF is holding the process to ransom, demanding that the Inclusive Government give more than US$4 million to the Parliamentary Committee in charge of the process if ZANU PF is to participate.
Munyaradzi Mangwana, a ZANU PF minister and parliamentarian sitting on the Select Committee charged with leading the process, made the announcement day before yesterday.
Explaining the "strike" on which the Committee has embarked, he said that "As ZANU PF", they had taken the position that, even though there are donors who want to fund the process, they will not take part if those donors are allowed to do this.
"We want government to give us that money," he told the local press.
To put this in context:
Mugabe's party is unhappy that all the money pledged to Zimbabwe so far is circumventing government structures and going to NGOs. Mugabe wants more money sent through to his government, where he still reigns supreme, so that he continue with his old ways of patronage and buying loyalty.
Therefore, the ZANU PF component of the Select Committee is essentially scuppering the deal as part of a wider effort to get sanctions lifted and get aid flowing into government coffers.
Mugabe keeps repeating that he does not want the travel bans lifted, but he wants cash, hard cash in his government's bank account.
The MDC and its Western allies, on the other hand, know for certain that once Mugabe gets this money, there will be no incentive for him to behave well at all and he may even do the unthinkable and dissolve the GNU by some means.
You will recall that Mugabe had even amended the GPA after it was signed so that it gave him and only him (the president) to dissolve the arrangement "if it proved unworkable."
That change was spotted and removed by the MDCs.
Now, this demand for US$4 million. Notice that the ZANU PF parliamentarians are specifically asking that the money SHOULD come from government. They do not want it from any other source.
They know government is broke and can not meet this demand.
They also know that there are donors willing to fund this process.
So, what they are actually saying is that these donors should hand over the assistance to Mugabe's government, otherwise Zimbabwe does not get a new constitution.
It is called blackmail.
The same applies to all the other Commissions that are supposed to be put in place.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission recently came out in the State newspapers saying they, also, are broke, and can not hold by-elections.
The Zimbabwe Media Commission, which is supposed to licence newspapers to start operating, thereby widening the space provided for freedom of speech and information access, is also in limbo now because, although names have been forwarded, Mugabe wants Mahoso to retain his Chairmanship.
Instead of coming out in the open about this, he is now using the excuse that he can not appoint the Commission because there is no money to run it. Yet Mahoso's old commission continues to function to this day. They are getting their salaries.
The issues of the Ambassadors and Governors is another front on which ZANU PF is fighting in order to get money from the outside world.
"We have no money to post ambassadors," they have now said. They also claim that there is no money to pay off the ones already in their posts as agreed with the MDC, therefore, they can not leave without their packages, otherwise they will start legal proceedings, which will consume even more of the money that the government does not have.
So, people must understand that there will be no movement at all on any of the things that are holding back progress because Mugabe is of the view that if he gives in on them, then he is left with nothing with which to bargain: The MDC would have got all they wanted.
He would still be without money, still under sanctions, and he would look a fool, he thinks.
So, unless a miracle happens and the outside world suddenly starts pouring the US$8 billion he needs into the Reserve Bank Account, there will be no resolution of any issues considered outstanding.
SADC can hold a million meetings, people can shout from the rooftops, dance and stand on their heads, but Mugabe is now prepared to see this government collapse because he thinks that all the MDC wants is to grab as much power in the GNU as they can and then sit there looking at him and saying they can not anything about the sanctions.
He believes that money is already coming in, and will continue to come in, but it will be directed towards NGO which he, only last month, publicly labeled "MDC-T-aligned". Mugabe sees this as a strategy from the MDC to bring in money and start operating projects in the country that benefit the people, while making it clear that the help is coming through the MDC.
He may be right, and it would be a campaigning tactic for the MDC, so that they can say to people: "you see what we and our friends can do? What more when Mugabe is not there, can you imagine how much more money we can get to help you."
Mugabe does not want them to succeed with this at all. He told a Conference in Uganda two months back that he is even thinking of banning NGOs from operating in Zimbabwe.
Previously, the MDC did not have the space to pursue this strategy because they were not government and an NGO working with them would suddenly find its licence revoked and its workers kicked out of the country.
But now, with Tsvangirai in government, he has more room to actually pursue this strategy and Mugabe is determined to do everything in his power to ensure he fails.