THERE are two kinds of different but equally shocking and reprehensible developments witnessed in Harare and Marikana within 24 hours of each other this past week whose damning consequences threaten to haunt, if not define, the legacy of South African President Jacob Zuma who is also the Sadc mediator in Zimbabwe’s GPA process whose end is now there for everyone to see as electoral clouds begin to gather in earnest.
The first development happened last Wednesday when Zuma used his much-awaited night visit to Harare ostensibly to review GPA progress ahead of Friday’s Sadc summit in Maputo to unilaterally install Welshman Ncube, who is also an in-law of his, as a GPA principal in a manner that shockingly violated Zimbabwe’s Constitution and sovereignty.
Less than 24 hours after Zuma’s opprobrium in Harare, at least 34 mine workers in Marikana were massacred in cold blood while at least 78 were critically injured, some in life-threatening ways by trigger-happy South African police whose lack of professional restraint was nauseatingly palpable as they unleashed an unnerving volley of gunfire from their state-of-the-art automatic weapons which were captured by television cameras and repeatedly broadcast worldwide.
While these two incidents, one in Harare and the other in Marikana, are indeed different they are nevertheless unified by quite important, legitimate and growing public concerns about President Zuma’s leadership or lack thereof on key South African and regional issues with wider cross-border implications on matters of the rule of law, constitutionalism, non-violence, accountability and respect for human life among many other related concerns.
One does not have to be a malcontent of any kind to point out that President Zuma’s handling of the Marikana massacre has seriously undermined his position as a legitimate or authoritative voice against state-perpetrated or sanctioned violence.
No matter how one looks at the Marikana tragedy, a cold-blooded massacre cannot be an appropriate police response to a labour action by down-trodden workers, even if their action is deemed illegal. By definition, a massacre breeds a culture of violence and entrenches institutional hatred.
It is for this reason that the August 16 Marikana massacre will go down in South Africa as a very dark day along with the apartheid massacres in Sharpeville and Soweto. A massacre is a massacre. Full stop. It must be condemned as a matter of course.
In civilised democracies that respect the rule of law and are committed to protecting human life, heads would have rolled by now through the immediate resignations of those who have already claimed responsibility for the Marikana massacre.
Against this backdrop, it should be said without any prejudice, fear or favour that President Zuma’s mediation capacity not just in Zimbabwe but also elsewhere in Sadc and beyond is now tainted and seriously compromised by the Marikana massacre beyond foreseeable recovery. Mediation on these matters is not about pontificating on the basis of lip-service or presumed superiority.
The integrity of mediation to foster non-violence is credible only when it is done by those who practise what they preach. This truth might be uncomfortable to some among us, especially in the solidarity front, but their discomfort cannot be as important as the truth.
There is no commission of inquiry which can erase this reality and that is why there’s no need for decent people, especially within Sadc, to wait for the findings of a commission of inquiry to unreservedly condemn the Marikana massacre in the strongest possible terms as a vulgar and intolerable attack on our moral sensibilities not just as Africans but as human beings. The tragedy speaks for itself.
People who do or defend a massacre like that in broad daylight will do or scheme worse things at night.
It is an unfortunate coincidence that the night before the Marikana massacre President Zuma was in Harare apparently scheming to install Welshman Ncube as a GPA principal in an illegal, unconstitutional, intrusive and impolitic attempt to use Sadc processes to get Welshman Ncube to replace Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara in the forum of GPA principals that is set to finalise the ill-fated Copac draft constitution one way or the other. The whole effort is informed by a plot to influence the conclusion of the draft constitution through Welshman Ncube being used as a GPA principal when he has already played his part as a member of the Copac management committee.
Last Tuesday prior to President Zuma’s Wednesday evening arrival in Harare, South Africa’s International Relations and Co-operation Deputy Minister, Ebrahim Ebrahim, told the media at large that “President Zuma is scheduled to undertake a working visit to Harare, Zimbabwe, on Wednesday.
“President Zuma undertakes this visit as the Sadc-mandated facilitator to the Zimbabwe political dialogue. During his visit, President Zuma will meet with political principals namely His Excellency, President Mugabe, Honourable Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Honourable Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara”. How and why then did things change within 24 hours?
It should be noted and emphasised that this widely circulated and quoted media statement whose contents confirmed the legal position on the composition of GPA principals did not come from any Zimbabwean but from a leading member of President Zuma’s foreign ministry team and that the statement was issued the day before President Zuma’s visit last Wednesday.
In a dramatic public display of intolerable inconsistency apparently driven by an equally intolerable big brother “knows it and does it all” mentality, upon arrival in Harare President Zuma somersaulted from the legal position given by his Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation and decided to unilaterally recompose the forum of GPA principals by removing Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara and replacing him with Welshman Ncube, who is his relative through the marriage of their children, thereby opening himself to growing allegations of nepotism that are now beginning to stick given the unsatisfactory manner in which President Zuma has used his dual role as facilitator and outgoing chairman of the Organ Troika to mislead the Sadc summit into imposing Welshman Ncube as a GPA principal.
Lindiwe Zulu hopelessly sought to explain President Zuma’s embarrassing somersault by claiming to some sections of the media that Mutambara “. . . wasn’t invited to the meeting because the President (Zuma) was meeting with leaders of political parties as in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, President Robert Mugabe and Welshman Ncube”. What party does Welshman Ncube lead and how does Lindiwe Zulu know that since she is not a Zimbabwean and is not in charge of Zimbabwean courts that are yet to settle the dispute between Ncube and Mutambara?
Lindiwe Zulu’s rant was therefore not an explanation at all. In the first place, it is notable that her claim shamelessly contradicted Ebrahim Ebrahim’s official statement that President Zuma had been scheduled to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara in his capacity as a GPA principal. This very public contradiction clearly shows that all is not well in President Zuma’s facilitation team with Zulu’s unofficial hand clashing with Ebrahim’s official hand. It is not right that the ensuing internal differences within Zuma’s facilitation team should take a toll on the GPA.
The conflicting statements issued by Ebrahim Ebrahim and Lindiwe Zulu about one and the same thing and the fact that President Zuma went with Zulu’s unofficial line shows beyond doubt that the wheels are now falling off Zuma’s mediation in Zimbabwe as it is being clouded and compromised by nepotistic considerations.
But there is something much more fundamental here which needs to be unravelled and dealt with candidly and resolutely as it speaks to what is quintessentially wrong about what has been particularly wrong with President Zuma’s mediation in the wake of the departure of former President Thabo Mbeki.
The record will show that one major outcome of the Polokwane December 2007 ANC conference on Sadc mediation in Zimbabwe which had started in March 2007 under Mbeki was that after President Zuma’s facilitation team took over, it became a determined and discernible programme of what could be best described as the “erasing of the Mbeki legacy from the Zimbabwe mediation”.
In other words, rather than building on Mbeki’s work by undertaking or facilitating a mediation informed by the political situation in Zimbabwe, the mediation done by President Zuma’s team was informed by a political agenda to undo the Mbeki legacy right or wrong.
This explains, for example, why all the members of Mbeki’s facilitation team were summarily replaced by Zuma even though common sense and good practice would have dictated the retention of at least one of them for reasons of institutional memory at the very least. A clear evidence of an anti-Mbeki stance adopted by President Zuma’s facilitation team is the megaphone approach of Lindiwe Zulu, which is apparently intended to be the antithesis of Mbeki’s socalled quiet diplomacy.
Since diplomacy pursued by former President Mbeki is by definition not only quiet but also formal, procedural and legal, its opposite pursued by President Zuma’s facilitation team is by definition loquacious, informal, unprocedural and even illegal as epitomised by Lindiwe Zulu’s conduct.
As a result of its anti-Mbeki orientation for reasons that are entirely internal to South African politics arising from Polokwane that have nothing to do with Zimbabwe or Sadc for that matter, President Zuma’s mediation has, right from its inception, sought to renegotiate the GPA itself.
In this connection, the so-called Sadc Roadmap to Zimbabwe’s Elections is an unashamed attempted renegotiation of the GPA as if the facilitation team is unaware that the GPA as signed on September 15, 2008 under Mbeki’s facilitation is in fact a very clear election roadmap with very clear benchmarks or milestones and their timelines in Article VI.
Indeed, Zuma’s facilitation team has not understood that the GPA is an agreement to form a government and not an agreement to run a government. A government must run itself in terms of the laws of the land. There is no example of a government in the world that has been run on mediation.
But even so, a major difference between Mbeki’s and Zuma’s facilitation teams is that Mbeki’s team was very sensitive to matters of the rule of law and legality as central to its mediation to the point of having a lawyer within its ranks - Mojanku Gumbi - whereas Zuma’s team, which has no lawyer, has not given a damn about using the mediation to engender and foster the rule of law in Zimbabwe but has instead done things in accordance with the whims and caprices of the law of the jungle where anything goes regardless of the legal position.
It is in this context that President Zuma’s mediation in Zimbabwe has been unmistakably loud through the media where Lindiwe Zulu typically says whatever comes to her mouth as if she or her boss is part of the Zimbabwean political process and the mediation has also been informal, unprocedural and insensitive to legal or constitutional considerations and requirements with the imposition of Welshman Ncube on the forum of GPA principals as the latest despicable example.
In the past Zuma’s mediation has used unprocedural and informal channels through the forum of GPA negotiators to make illegal decisions that are supposed to be rubber-stamped by Cabinet and implemented by line ministries but all of which have been resisted in defence of the Cabinet process and the rule of law.
One case in point are the so-called media reforms whose shocking essence is that the GPA parties should share among themselves the spoils of board members in BAZ, ZBC and Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust against very clear legal provisions and requirements for the appointment to these boards.
Another example of how the GPA has been abused by Zuma’s facilitation team through the forum of GPA negotiators is the misapplication of Article XXI which provides that, “The Parties hereby agree that for a period of 12 months from the date of signing of this agreement, should any electoral vacancy arise in respect of a local authority or parliamentary seat, for whatever reason, only the party holding that seat prior to the vacancy occurring shall be entitled to nominate and field a candidate to fill the seat subject to the party complying with the rules governing its internal democracy”.
Under the tutelage of Zuma’s facilitation team amid Sadc silence, the legalities of this provision have been ignored while the provision itself was unprocedurally extended for another 12 months and has been illegally used to deny other political parties and unrepresented constituencies their constitutional rights by not holding parliamentary by-elections whose number is now over 30 and over 500 local government by-elections across the country.
Because it is not concerned with the legal and constitutional consequences of its actions, made worse by the fact that it does not have a lawyer in its ranks, President Zuma’s facilitation team has not understood the constitutional implications of a terrible situation that has been developing under its nose with GPA chickens now coming home to roost from a constitutional point of view in terms of the rule of law which requires that the elections must now be held. This is not a matter for negotiation or mediation, it is a requirement of the law and has nothing to do with who is or is not a GPA principal.
And so it is that while some well-known GPA creatures who have no chance in heaven of winning a free and fair election and who can only possibly come back to Parliament through nomination by their parties on a gender ticket under a controversial system of proportional representation can make their usual empty noises, claiming that the Sadc summit has declared that Welshman Ncube is a GPA principal in place of Mutambara, law-abiding Zimbabweans know better. The elections are coming because the law says they must come.
GPA creatures should put this reality in their thick and empty heads and they must understand that nobody is going to become a GPA principal or political leader in Zimbabwe on account of a Sadc communique made and facilitated by an important inlaw. That cannot be right no matter how many times it is written in as many Sadc communiques.
One does not have to hold a brief for Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara to understand five very clear things about why he is a GPA principal in terms of Zimbabwe’s laws and why only a court of law can change that.
First, Mutambara is a signatory to the GPA and that counts for something at law, especially given that his legal status as a GPA signatory has not been challenged in any court of law.
Second, the only matter that is in dispute before the courts is whether MDC-M held a lawful electoral congress through which Welshman Ncube was elected to replace Mutambara. That matter is on appeal at the Supreme Court and is yet to be finalised such that the issue is still to be settled legally.
Third, there is no legal challenge in any court of law to Mutambara’s GPA position as the Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe and he is therefore secure in that regard whatever is the outcome of the challenge pending in the Supreme Court.
Fourth, it is not legally clear at all as to what party Welshman Ncube now leads and the status of that party in the GPA. Is it the same party that Mutambara represented under his name and signature when the GPA was signed on September 15, 2008?
How many elected MPs, if any, does Welshman Ncube - who does not want by-elections - actually have, given the indubitable fact that some of those he has previously claimed in the past have effectively crossed to the MDC-T while others swear that their loyalty is with Mutambara?
Fifth, it is now common cause that Welshman Ncube is one of the authors of Copac’s final draft produced on July 18 2012 and he did that not as a GPA principal but as a GPA negotiator because he clearly knew and understood that he is not a principal otherwise he would not have stooped that low.
Why then does Zuma’s facilitation team think it is right or legal under the false cover of Sadc to enable Ncube to now double-dip by posing as a GPA principal? Welshman Ncube has had his say on the Copac draft constitution as one of its drafters.
He must now let the GPA principals do their work unhindered and he certainly must refrain from pushing his in-laws in South Africa to bid for his politically hopeless and illegal cause.