3 yrs on, Zim unity govt 'still dysfunctional'

2012-02-17 12:43

Harare - When Zimbabwe's unity government was formed three years ago, the unlikely coupling of long-ruling Robert Mugabe and his rival Morgan Tsvangirai was seen as a stepping stone to new elections.

Now the electoral preparations are two years behind schedule, and analysts say the rocky coalition could hobble along for yet another year.

"We will have to continue with the dysfunctional inclusive government for much longer than it was supposed to last as long as the parties keep arguing," said John Makumbe, a political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai have described their power-sharing regime formed February 2009, as "a difficult marriage", "a strange beast", and "a two-headed snake going in no particular direction".

The two remain sharply divided over reforms of the security forces - still under Mugabe's control - as well as a new constitution and the sharing of key government posts.

After years of economic contraction, the unity deal has helped Zimbabwe's economy to grow again, but poverty and unemployment remain endemic.

Human rights activists and members of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), from ministers and to ordinary supporters, still suffer arrest and harassment.

Victims of political violence, which has marred every election since 2000, have received no redress.

Poverty alleviation

"As a result of the tug-of-war, nothing meaningful has happened in terms of poverty alleviation and the implementation of government policies," Makumbe said. "The inclusive government is not working and this standstill situation will continue for the rest of the year."

Mugabe and senior members of his Zanu-PF party want elections this year, but legal experts say that's impossible.

"We may have elections by June next year," said top lawyer Lovemore Madhuku said. "To try to have them before the end of December is not possible."

"The government will continue despite its faults and fissures because none of the players want it to collapse."

"Whether or not the government collapses depends on whether the MDC feels it can't continue in an arrangement where it has got no power," he added.

Before any polls, the regionally-brokered unity deal requires a new constitution, but work on it has run in fits and starts, hindered by attacks on meetings by Zanu-PF supporters.

The minister in charge of the process said on Wednesday that a referendum on the charter could not be held before August, meaning elections would likely take place only next year.

"My assessment is the earliest we can have a referendum is August or September," Eric Matinenga told journalists.

Matinenga, a lawyer and MDC member, said the government would then have to clean up the voters' roll and mark out constituency boundaries.

Outstanding issues

A national census set for later this year was likely to further delay the process, the minister said.

"One hopes the politicisation of this process will be reduced to a minimum," Matinenga said. "This is a national process rather than a party process. Unfortunately we have people asking, ‘to what extent does this process advance the cause of my political party?'"

"As of now we don't have a deadlock," Matinenga said. "There is a desire to move forward on issues which are outstanding.

The Financial Gazette newspaper said in an editorial on Thursday the inclusive government has had little impact as the parties spent more energies grappling over outstanding issues.

"At the rate the coalition government is going, it risks the epitaph on its tombstone having these words inscribed: "Here lies the government of national unity whose only achievement was to bring together two strange bedfellows to milk a sick cow while the proverbial Rome was burning."

  • Bryan - 2012-02-17 12:52

    Dysfunctional....Really? WTF..., with Mad bob and his cronies still raping the bread basket it will continue to be a disaster. As soon as that crazy old coot is gone then the country will begin to recover!

      criticallyhonest - 2012-02-17 13:38

      Bryan: I doubt that you will see everything come right when Bob eventually goes. I wait and watch to see how the next lot behave, whatever their political party. Hoping for functional democratic processes in almost any country in Africa is like expecting a boxing match to end in a draw. Sure, it is possible, but no one wants it.

      Francois - 2012-02-17 16:23

      They are not only raping the bread basket, but also the women and probably the girls and men and boys too. This is an African solution for an African problem that does not honour Mbeki's stance of self determination or South Africa's ruling party's stance on human rights, but as this is an African solution brokered by Mbeki himself, he should brag about it every day and say how good things are in Zim. When Bob goes and Mnangagwa takes over it will be worse as the latter literally carried out the Metebele land slaughtering. Thus I think the easiet and quickest and least bloodiest way out it to close all borders and trade with Zim, then eventually the 10 that remains will work together.

  • Kobus - 2012-02-17 13:05

    This is old news!!! They have never been functional anyway. Only when they were still known as Rhodesia did things still work.

      Gerhard - 2012-02-17 14:01

      Wait, how does the reply usually go??? You are a racist! You are an agent! It is because of the whites that Zimbobwe is the way it is. The white people took everything before our brothers took over. We took our farms back from the white people that took them from our forefathers. You whites must all go back to Europe where you came from on a boat. We cannot produce on those farms because the white man hid the keys for the tractor and the other one ran out of diesel and we are now waiting for more free diesel from those foreign companies. The white man has poisoned the land with his white tendencies and nothing will grow on it. We have all of the seeds in the barn but the colonialists have stopped the seeds from going from the barn to the ground by themselves. We will fight this third force that is out to destroy us and will overcome the white supremist mafia that controls everything and we will continue to fight for our freedom from tyranny. Never again will a murdering white man be in power and we will rather have a corrupt government than a government that has killed millions of Zimbobweans. We do not want to be reminded of our painful past where the white slave masters prevented us from getting an education. I think that about covers it.

      Heiku - 2012-02-17 14:06

      Gerhard you just ruined EVERYTHING. This is why we can't have nice things

      criticallyhonest - 2012-02-17 14:40

      Gerhard...You forgot the most important issue.....Whatever is wrong it is not my fault!

      Gerhard - 2012-02-17 15:16

      Where's Phumi? This story is right up his alley. The words of wisdom he usually shares with us really hits home with me sometimes....

  • Annelise - 2012-02-17 13:13

    And Europe says we can't look after ourselves! Africa what a joke.

      Annelise - 2012-02-17 13:18

      Time for Robber Mogabe to go. Just hope Zims see it also!

  • E=MC2 - 2012-02-17 13:23

    thats nothing... 16 years in & SA's government is 'still dysfunctional'

  • Gustav - 2012-02-17 13:28

    Because its all a farce...

  • desertratbkf - 2012-02-17 13:41

    Perhaps Mal-Emma could have a politcal career over there. He's dysfunctional!

  • Terry-Lee - 2012-02-17 13:43

    How many Zimbabweans have already fled to SA?? 3 million and counting. Mr Zuma go and tell your pal its time to step down do the right thing these people want to go back home. This needs to end NOW people are suffering!!!!

  • Mary-Ann - 2012-02-17 13:50

    .... and everyone seems to forget that Mugabe shouldn't even be there in the first place; there shouldn't even be a coalition government. He lost the last election.

  • Graham - 2012-02-17 14:06

    Africa has a competition, “Which Government is more dysfunctional" Bob first, and we in the TOP 10 but climbing steadily !

  • cosmo4n - 2012-02-17 14:40

    It wil never work, that madala BOB is so hardheaded, stubborn and inconsiderate, i hope this new constituion will eliminate him whether he likes it or not. We are sick and tired of him controlling Zim as if its his homestead!!

  • Gavin - 2012-02-17 14:47

    Unity government my ass. Mugarbage never intended on sharing power. He's a crafty old bugger (he has to be to have stayed in power for so long) he gives an inch then takes a mile back. Only death will end his reign and I have a bottle of bubbly on ice for that special day.

  • Grant - 2012-02-17 14:54

    Well so much for Mbeki's 'African solution for an African problem'. A black co-worker in Zim said to my father, "What is the use of a change of government? They will be just as bad." Mbeki's 'quiet diplomacy' has done nothing for the people who voted against ZANU-PF it only allowed a few more snouts in the trough. Lets face it, Africa is a failure from Cape to Cairo. The AU (and its predecessor the OAU) have never sorted out a single war or situation on the continent be it war, famine, drought etc. Lets face it, if it wasn't for the West we would stiil have white rule in SA and Zim. The only thing African leaders do is gather at top hotels to eat and drink. At the end of the conference a resolution is passed and the matter is soon forgotten.

  • gregory.f.dean - 2012-02-17 16:19

    Of course it is - Zanu PF (read Mugabe) had and has no intention of making the coalition work. The AU input was designed to keep Mugabe in power.

  • Mona Grant - 2012-02-17 20:53

    Honestly, as long as that country is run by a dictator it will stay dysfunctional. It's not rocket science.

  • Alan - 2012-02-19 18:06

    I'm shocked! You mean that Mugabe has not had a sudden Road to Damascus experience and turned from a genocidal, racist, homophobic, corrupt, tyrant into a wise, benevolant, liberal, law-abiding, democrat? I'm so disillusioned!

  • Peter - 2012-02-19 19:59

    This is an open challenge for the two major political parties. Having elections this year before attaining what the parties have agreed is somehow a none starter and the rest of the world is looking forward to what has been put down in the Zimbabwe Government Unity for the best way forward before elections. If ZANU-PF is to force elections this year then they will have to resort to violence-intimidating and beating people so that they vote for them. History will have to repeat itself just as what happened in the 2008 elections. Without that there is no way ZANU-PF can win a free and fair elections. On the other hand Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) should not be seen to pull out of this unit till victory is certain. Let us wait and see who is going to be a coward. By Pythias Makonese

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