By Leopold Munhende
ELECTION Resource Centre (ERC) executive director, Tawanda Chimhini does not believe a political settlement between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa will help Zimbabwe’s reform agenda.
Mnangagwa is under pressure to bring changes as well as sanitise the country’s tainted electoral regime that has resulted in successive disputed polls in the country.
“A political settlement alone has never been an effective vehicle of strengthening democratic processes. So, whatever kind of establishment that has to happen going forward must have intention on what it wants to achieve,” Chimhini said at a recent Harare launch of his organisation’s report on the country’s poor electoral policies.
“If it is a political settlement where people share power, it will not address the core challenges facing the country.
“Even when we had those political settlements, we still had key election issues not addressed in the settlements, the conduct of state institutions; that did not happen.”
Mnangagwa is also under pressure from both locals and foreigners to close ranks with his political rivals amid claims a political settlement of any kind in Zimbabwe will be the first major step towards fixing the country’s myriad problems.
Former South African President and broker of the 2009-13 Zanu PF-MDC unity government, Thabo Mbeki was in the country few days ago with signs of a renewed interest to bring together the country’s feuding political parties.
In his comments, Chimhini cautioned against a repeat of the 22 December 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu and PF Zapu that promised reform and a 2009 Government of National Unity (GNU) he said was devoid of any substance.
“With the hindsight of the experience we have had before we contribute to a cautioning against any sort of push for a political settlement but genuine consensus building defined by an agreed vehicle to deliver on the reforms to strengthen future democratic processes, key sign posts on successful political reforms and timelines on when must what be achieved.
“The idea is to move away from the politics of dialogue to the substance of dialogue. As long as it is a very exclusionary kind of settlement, we will be back to square one as we came back to square one after the 2009 settlement.”
Chimhini blasted government’s selective approach to reforms.
“We are worried about the very exclusive approach to reforms. We have already heard government say ‘we are bringing a raft of changes’ but the question is, have you discussed these changes with anyone besides yourselves?
“Has there been an acceptance that these issues that you are changing are the priority issues.
“The problem is that our system of governance, with the whipping system makes sure that laws that are repealed are done so with politics in mind,” said Chimhini.