A QUESTION I am frequently asked these days is: What is Jomic? The simple answer is that Jomic is an acronym for Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee.
It was constituted under Article XXII of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed on September 15 2008 between the leaders of Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC. That is where the “joint” comes from.
The committee is composed of 12 senior members, four each from the three signatory parties to the GPA. The committee is co-chaired on a monthly rotational basis by leaders of the parties’ representative members. It needs to be stressed that all 12 members of Jomic are senior members in their own political parties.
In summary, the functions of Jomic are to ensure the full implementation of the GPA, create mutual trust between the parties, promote continuous dialogue and to receive “reports and complaints” relating to the implementation of the GPA. Jomic is the “principal body dealing with issues of compliance and monitoring” of the GPA.
The three political parties themselves also undertook under the GPA to “channel all complaints, grievances, concerns and issues relating to compliance with this agreement through Jomic and refrain from any conduct which might undermine the spirit of cooperation necessary” to fully implement it.
Jomic has in the past few months been criticised for not “doing anything” or “not doing enough” to enforce compliance with the provisions of the GPA by the signatory parties. Many have called it a toothless dog or suspect it of being an agency of one party or the other. It is not clear why a committee composed of four senior members each from all the three parties to the GPA should be an agency of one of them. Jomic is in fact the collective face of the three political parties in action.
It is, however, vital to clear the air on the “toothless dog” tag. This to me is a result of either genuine misreading and therefore misunderstanding of the functions of Jomic or a deliberate distortion of the same for some unknown motives.
The reality is that Jomic is not the implementing agency of the GPA. Rather, the operative verb should be “monitor” to ensure “compliance” by the signatory parties with the provisions of the GPA. An undue emphasis on “implementation” has tended to create false expectations among some members of our community who come demanding solutions which are beyond Jomic’s legal mandate.
A pivotal function of Jomic is to monitor compliance with the GPA. It is also there to receive complaints from any member of society or group, including political parties, about the implementation or lack thereof of the GPA. It must then “sensitise” the principals to the GPA, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara about these complaints and deficiencies in the implementation of the GPA. It cannot force parties to perform any specific provision.
Jomic can only persuade the parties to be faithful to the letter and spirit of the GPA. Where the parties hit a deadlock, Jomic’s role is to try and break it or propose alternatives.
More importantly, because of its role as a “permanent” negotiating forum of the parties to the GPA, Jomic cannot afford the luxury of standing on hilltops to attack or condemn its constituent partners for infringements of the GPA. It operates by way of “continuing dialogue” between the parties.
If Jomic is relatively “invisible” as some critics tend to say, it is because by the nature of its mandate, it cannot draw light unto itself. What Jomic seeks to make most visible is the GPA. We want to make as many members of the public as possible more acquainted with the GPA and its provisions.
Jomic cannot be expected to monitor the implementation of the GPA alone nor can members of the public raise pertinent complaints about non-compliance with the GPA when they have not read it, let alone be familiar with its provisions. In the interests of transparency and inclusivity, we believe it is only when people have turned the GPA into a bedtime story book that they can make informed comments and decide for themselves what they believe to the top priorities of the new government. It is lack of familiarity with the provisions of the GPA which has led to either misdirected accusations against Jomic or misplaced expectations of its role and functions.
We believe it is because a majority of the people are not familiar with the provisions of the GPA that we have not been getting any direct complaints or comments about its implementation, except what newspapers tell them are the priorities. To date the only direct complaints the Jomic secretariat has received since it was set up in July have been about “fresh” or “continuing” farm invasions or “disruptions” from the Commercial Farmers’ Union. Some farmers have personally brought their cases to our offices. We have complemented these initiatives through site visits to randomly selected farms from the list we have to find out the situation on the ground.
It is these farm tours which have revealed a gap between what the media report and the situation on the ground, and the chasm between Jomic’s mandate under the GPA and people’s expectations on the acquired farms.
For instance, the most embarrassing question we have had to face is a farmer whose land was acquired by the state as early 2002. He is excited about the Jomic team’s visit, clearly hoping that finally his “troubles” are over. What do you tell him when at the end of his narration of the history of the farm, he asks the Jomic team what he should do? “Should I continue farming or not?” asked several farmers we have visited in Mashonaland West, Central, East and Manicaland.
Where I have been able to comment on this question, the truth of it has left most of them disappointed. My observation has been that Jomic is not taking over the role of the police, the courts or the Ministry of Lands. Cases which have to be reported to the police must be reported, those in the courts will be handled by the courts and the Ministry of Lands, not Jomic, executes government policy on land reform and farm allocations and the issuing of offer letters.
Jomic’s power is limited to what the principals to the GPA decide based on the information placed before them.
Joram Nyathi is Jomic communications manager