Zimbabwe Talks In Disarray

Morgan Tsvangirai adresses party supportersin Harare on Sunday during an MDC-T 10th Anniversary rally. Tsvangirai publicly gave Mugabe until 30 November to resolve all outstanding issues but the deadline has now passed with the Prime Minister quiet as a mouse. The talks themselves are in disarray, as the two parties keep piling on new issues that were never mentioned in the GPA or the SADC Communique of January this year. These talks will go on for another six months!

Harare, Zimbabwe, 01 December 2009

The talks in Zimbabwe amongst the three parties to the country's Inclusive Government have degenerated into so much disarray that a South African mediation team yesterday threw its hands into the air in frustration.

The talks, which were supposed to focus only on the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed by the parties on September 2008 and a subsequent Southern African Development Community (SADC) Communique, now encompass issues outside of these documents.

The ill-disciplined approach to the talks by the parties' negotiators has seen such things as "parallel government" injected into the agenda. Also put on the agenda by the MDC-Tsvangirai is the issue of security sector reform (as if there is any chance in hell that this will be addressed), provincial governors (Tsvangirai now realises that Mugabe pulled a fast one on him here), ambassadors (an admission by Tsvangirai and the MDC-T that they know their ambassadors are not going to take up their posts any time soon) and a host of other things.

It is a recipe for failure and one begins to wonder if the parties want any of these resolved.

But, most tellingly, the MDC-T are now asking Mugabe to agree not to contest any upcoming parliamentary by-elections as one of the conditions for the MDC-T to stay on in government.

The GPA stipulated that the parties would not contest against each other in by-elections for a year, which expired on 21 September 2009. Mugabe has still not set dates for these by-elections and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

It is is also important to note that we are still at the earliest stage of any negotiations, with the negotiators only at the beginning of their talks. No agreement has been reached on a single issue and it is already 01 December now.

The deadline set by Tsvangirai expired yesterday. He talked tough. The gullible lapped it up and they will not notice that no action has followed.

The mediation team sent in by South African president Jacob Zuma to monitor progress was said to be dismayed at the new list of issues to be discussed by the negotiators.

They realise what the Zimbabweans appear oblivious to: the addition of new agenda items means that the talks could actually drag on for the next six months or more.

During that time, Mugabe will not be under any pressure to anything meaningful. He will not swear in Roy Bennett, the governors will not be sworn in as well, ambassadors from the MDC-T will also be asked to continue twiddling their thumbs.

Mugabe will say all these things are under discussion and that he can not move on any of them until there is a conclusion to the talks and agreement on the issues.

He has managed to buy time and the MDC-T appear clueless as to what it is that Mugabe is trying to do.

With Tsvangirai not complaining about the foot-dragging, with the lack of discipline and focus amongst the negotiators, we are likely to remain in a state of tension for the foreseeable future.

This foot-dragging is unforgivable in a nation trying to get back on its feet, trying to rebuild shattered lives.

It appears that the politicians in the Inclusive Government are not keen on finally getting on with the job of delivering real change to Zimbabweans.


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