Zim Transition Barometer - CRISIS Coalition

Issue 02

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (SA Regional Office)
December 14, 2012
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Executive Summary

As we approach 2013 it is likely that this will be an election year. Outstanding reforms (as highlighted in the election road map of 2011) and the constitutional process continue to lag behind. National security institutions continue to function in a partisan manner with senior officials and some politicians making statements that impact negatively on security towards, during and after the election. This tends to “crowd out” civilians and the general citizenry from occupying their natural political space as security sector interests in politics become over projected. Given the marked interest of the security sector officials in politics and elections there is a high potential for increased state sponsored violence and intimidation. The credibility of the election itself is threatened by threats of military involvement should eventual results not fall in favour of ZANU-PF. SADC’s role in arresting this misnomer as well disciplinary measures for aberrant officers and politicians (as stipulated in the GPA) are required. The National Security Council must be operationalized forthwith in order to align security matters to GPA guidelines.

The enactment of the Electoral Amendment Bill has injected some hope in carving out a credible electoral framework. If implemented fully and without any political interference; the new law has potential to limit some of the deviant cases in the June 2008 election while improving the electoral environment. All is however dependent on political will to ensure that the new law is applied. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has made strides in partnering with a reputable regional electoral institute which is assisting with capacity building. Meetings and training for the media, political parties and other election stakeholders have been undertaken there-by imparting some levels of transparency in the current operations of ZEC. It is however hoped that at the crucial time of election tallying; and results tabulation and announcements, ZEC will discharge its duties with impartiality; professionalism and according to its guidelines and the laws of Zimbabwe.

One of the greatest limitations in the current process is the lack of concurrence on election timing. Whereas Mugabe has called for election in March 2013; other GPA parties and broader civil society have objected. The outstanding constitution process and the key election road map issues are seen as major hindrances to an election in March 2013 as inferred by Mugabe. One key tenant of a democratic society is the citizens’ capacity to predict political processes; in terms of when and how these take place. By virtue of being kept in the dark on election timing and being subjugated to politicians’ preferred self-serving election dates; the citizens of Zimbabwe are being denied a fundamental democratic entitlement. Should SADC fail to insist on an election timing that is determined by the reform process and the MDC parties relent on their road map demands; an election in March 2013 may still materialise. However the most convergent timing is seen as June 2013; given the most likely compromise timing that GPA parties and SADC are likely to settle for.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission bill has been enacted paving the way for the operationalization of the commission. The Act however restricts the commission to considering only those cases falling after the 2009 cut-off date; the period in which the IG was formed. Although this limitation excludes other periods of gross human rights violations such as: Gukurahundi; the 2002 elections; and 2008 election period it is seen as a first step in preparing a sound political environment towards and beyond the next election. As much as the enactment of the bill provides a trajectory towards democratisation; the limited extend of its scope precludes other components of our society from accessing full redress of historical deprivations; which in itself is a denial of democratic rights. Civil society is however still urged to lobby and advocate for other mechanisms that would still consider the pre-2009 periods of concern. Political will remains key to the full operationalization and committed application of the Act and this must be demanded.

In the constitution writing process; although the second All-stakeholders’ meeting proceeded and ended peacefully; it is the post-meeting processes that have become of concern. The GPA parties have been grappling with how to address the ZANU-PF objections to the draft that were raised during the second All-stakeholders’ meeting. Mugabe indicated that the GPA principals will have to take-over the process and agree on how to tackle the impasse. This has been objected by broader civil society and some political players as it is seen as creating conditions for the executive to impose its will on the draft constitution; a scenario that would further dilute the “people-centeredness” intended out of the constitution process. The procedures highlighted in the GPA are clear on parliament and the referendum being the only two post-second All-stakeholder meeting processes. Cabinet has however established a sub-committee to address the impasse; which again is an abrogation of the stipulated GPA process. The tension and gridlock in the constitution process has a high likelihood of sustaining process stagnancy; which can lead to the total collapse of the writing and adoption of a new constitution. Completion of the constitution process must be prioritized and the citizenry must be allowed an opportunity to put to test the draft through a democratic referendum.

The case of “sanctions” and measures imposed on Zimbabwe seems to be progressing. The EU has relaxed “sanctions” and measures and is to restore support to Zimbabwean government under the European Development Fund in the 2014 funding calendar. The IMF has restored Zimbabwe’s voting rights and the government’s inter-action with the Bretton Woods institution has increased over the last four years. The political parties in the GPA also seem to be in concurrence over the need to lift the “sanctions” and measures; given the joint Ministerial team’s harmonised approach in engaging with the EU earlier in 2012. The US government has however remained persistent on the conditions it set under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001. The US sanctions regime has also extended to the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC); which is highlighted as government’s top most diamond revenue channel. The US has incessantly questioned the lack of transparency in the diamond industry; Zimbabwe government has justified its reluctance to comply on the need to bust the imposed “sanctions” and measures. Although the remaining “sanctions” and measures have potential to inhibit further political reforms in Zimbabwe; their inducement for such reforms is also unclear.

Based on our empirical evidence, it is clear from a theoretical premise, that the Zimbabwe Political Transitional process is not reflective of a transformative, replacement or interventions process. The trajectory we have, as of early December 2012, is one of transplacement. From this premise, advocacy interventions from stakeholders have to continuously target all four major actors in the transition for maximum leverage. We refer here to hard-liners and soft-liners, as well as moderates and radicals.

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