ZIMBABWEANS, SADC and the AU policymakers including neutral observers around the world who have commended Zimbabwe’s successful referendum on the new Constitution as the most fundamental and inclusive reform to pave the way for the next harmonised elections must have been shocked beyond belief when Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai came out like a bolt from the blue at a Press conference last Thursday screaming that “there’ll be no elections without reforms”.
Tsvangirai’s bolt from the blue is shocking to well-meaning people in Zimbabwe, SADC and the AU because it is not just hard but impossible to imagine any thorough-going and comprehensive constitutional and political reform milestone that has been undertaken by Zimbabweans since independence whose content and impact are greater than the adoption of a new Constitution through the democratic process of the referendum held only last month.
The new Constitution is the mother of all reforms. You cannot wish for better than that. It is also significant that the critical chapters of the new Constitution which will govern the conduct of the forthcoming elections are set to become operational as the fundamental law of the land within the next 14 or so days. The historical importance of this achievement by the people of Zimbabwe is something that even charlatans cannot ignore.
Yet here we are, with Tsvangirai displaying false bravado to hallucinate at a Press conference that “there’ll be no elections without reforms” when the fact is that far-reaching constitutional and political reforms have actually been negotiated and agreed between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations resulting in a compromise agreement in the form of a new Constitution which has been endorsed by Zimbabweans in a historic referendum.
What should be remembered or understood — especially by President Jacob Zuma and his SADC facilitation team that includes Charles Nqakula, Mac Maharaj and Lindiwe Zulu — is that all of the so-called outstanding GPA issues which at their highest number reached 29 were in fact incorporated and collapsed into the constitution-making process under which they were negotiated and agreed.
As things stand today, there is no single issue which was previously claimed to be outstanding by any of the three GPA parties which did not find expression in the new Constitution one way or another. This applies to all the issues that Tsvangirai outlined at his Press conference last Thursday which he said he would be taking to SADC and the AU this week.
Among those issues are the so-called security sector reforms, media reforms and electoral reforms. But all these issues and more have been agreed in the new Constitution and there is absolutely no need to revisit them unless somebody somewhere has gone mad and wants to join Tsvangirai to inflame the political situation in the country to provoke conflict from the blue.
Section 3(1) of the Sixth Schedule of the new Constitution deals with 10 key parts of the new Constitution which in fact cover virtually all of the previously outstanding GPA issues that have been resolved and provides that, “This Schedule, together with (a) Chapter 3, relating to citizenship; (b) Chapter 4, being the Declaration of Rights (which includes media reforms in Section 61 on “Freedom of expression and freedom of the media”; (c) Chapter 5, relating to the election and assumption of office of the President; (d) Chapter 6, relating to the election of Members of Parliament and the summoning of Parliament after a general election; (e) Chapter 7, relating to the jurisdiction and powers of the Constitutional Court; (g) Chapter 9, relating to principles of public administration and leadership; (h) section 208, relating to the conduct of members of the security services; (i) Chapter 12, in so far as it relates to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission; and Chapter 14, relating to provincial and local government; come into operation on the publication day”.
What this means is that all these 10 key parts of the new Constitution whose sum and substance summarise all the GPA issues that were outstanding but which have since been resolved through the Copac process are going to be part of the law within 14 or so days on the day the new Constitution will be published by President Mugabe in the Government Gazette after its assured passage in Parliament. Furthermore, the same 10 parts of the new Constitution listed in 3(1) of the Sixth Schedule as outlined above will directly govern the conduct of the forthcoming elections that are due by June 29.
It is therefore very clear that reforms have been negotiated, agreed and included in the new Constitution and they will be implemented within the next 14 or so days but what now remains is the holding of the general elections which will be held in terms of the law and not according to GPA negotiations. In fact, the GPA process is now dead for all intents and purposes. The GPA, including JOMIC, must now be replaced by a national process that includes all political parties interested in contesting the next elections in accordance not with the GPA but the Constitution of the land whose signatories are all the people of Zimbabwe and not just three political parties whose tenure to govern together is approaching midnight.
While SADC and the AU had a mandate as guarantors of the GPA, they surely cannot claim a mandate over the now unfolding all-inclusive national process for the next elections which are guaranteed by the Constitution of Zimbabwe. One hopes reason will prevail about this otherwise very straightforward matter.
Against this backdrop, and while Tsvangirai’s Press conference bravado that “there’ll be no elections without reforms” was apparently choreographed to give MDC-T media mouthpieces the impression that he is “finally getting tough with President Mugabe”, the unspoken but self-evident fact that permeated the Press conference and the news reports it generated is that Tsvangirai cannot be concerned about reforms which he knows are in the new Constitution whose implementation is only two weeks away.
Last Wednesday, the day before his Press conference full of hot air, Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe read a speech on his behalf at a national business conference on the eve of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo in which Tsvangirai charged that “To those investors still sitting on the sidelines, I say to them the time to invest in Zimbabwe is now. There has not been a better time and opportunity to invest in Zimbabwe than now, rather than adopt a wait-and-see attitude, waiting for the election outcome”.
In the same speech which was widely quoted in the local and international media, Tsvangirai told his business audience that “Zimbabwe is in its final phase of the Inclusive Government and an atmosphere of stability and tranquillity is prevailing at the back of a very successful Constitutional Referendum”. Yet the next day at his Press conference in Harare last Thursday Tsvangirai was singing a different song of war aimed at misleading SADC and the AU into thinking that there is no peace and tranquillity in Zimbabwe and that, instead, conflict is brewing up as “there’ll be no elections without reforms”.
The contradiction betrayed a Tsvangirai who has become so hopelessly out of step and out of touch with everything that is happening in Zimbabwe, including his own utterances such that he once again exposed himself as a cloud nine politician who speaks with an open mouth and a shut mind. For example, the Prime Minister’s website is running a poll whose survey question is “What do you think is the biggest obstacle to a free and fair election in Zimbabwe?”
As of yesterday, the results of the poll were not anywhere near supporting any of the false claims that Tsvangirai made at his Press conference last Thursday and which he wants to take to Sadc and the AU this week in the vain hope of getting their assistance to provoke conflict in Zimbabwe. According to Tsvangirai’s poll, 57,4 percent of his respondents cite “potential violence and intimidation”; 13 percent say “partisan election administration”; 10,6 percent think it’s “a deeply flawed voters roll”; 6,9 percent allege it’s “oppressive election laws” 4,8 percent say it’s “extreme media bias”; 3,7 percent mention “possible voter despair and apathy” while 3,6 percent cite “other unspecified reasons”.
What is instructive about Tsvangirai’s own poll is that it does not include any concern about the so-called security sector reforms at all and his poll respondents who worry about the so-called media reforms are a paltry 4,8 percent while those who are spending sleepless nights about election reforms are only 6,9 percent. So where is the provocative push for reforms demanded by Tsvangirai coming from if his own poll on his own website does not support him? And why should anyone let alone Sadc and the AU take Tsvangirai’s push for conflict seriously when it has no basis even in MDC-T polls and when the apparent motive of the push is to destabilise Zimbabwe?
Parenthetically, and prior to Tsvangirai’s foray last Thursday, the MDC-T had indicated that it was going down the garden path of inciting conflict when its secretary-general Tendai Biti declared on March 26 that he would risk arrest at the next general elections by illegally announcing from the Meikles Hotel’s Stewart Room manipulated and false results that Tsvangirai has 75 percent of the presidential vote based on an illegal parallel voter tabulation process currently being set up by the UNDP-funded Election Resource Centre (ERC) which also serves as the MDC-T’s election directorate. These MDC-T fellows and their funders are up to no good and Sadc and the AU better start keeping a close eye on them and not be blinded by Tsvangirai’s open-mouth-and-shut-mind pranks.Advertisement
It is notable and in fact very telling that the statement which Tsvangirai read at his Press conference last Thursday did not have even one thing, just one thing, about the economy or the plight of the people in high-density and rural areas including his previous supporters whom he has irretrievably forgotten and abandoned.
But why is Tsvangirai making a fool out of himself in such a self-humiliating manner? Why is he calling for reforms when the fact is that every Zimbabwean and everyone in Sadc and the AU knows that Zimbabwe has undertaken the most important, the most comprehensive and riskiest reforms that any country can do in the form of a new Constitution just ahead of an election? Why is Tsvangirai lying through his teeth as he did last Thursday that “the major stumbling block to the implementation of agreed reforms remains a palpable deficit of political will to implement agreed issues” when the fact is that the making of the new Constitution involved untold political will to negotiate and compromise on all reform issues that are in the new Constitution?
Have Tsvangirai and his Harvest House mandarins been so harvested out of their minds by the trappings of luxury they have found from their positions in the GPA Government that they have become blind to developments around them, including the fact that the new Constitution is still a Bill whose passage in Parliament will need and depend on the political will of all the parties in Parliament which constitute the GPA Government? What “palpable deficit of political will” is Tsvangirai talking about and does he really expect anyone in Sadc and the AU to take him seriously when the whole world, including the regime-change countries that have imposed illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe, can see that the country has gone through fundamental and constitutionally important reforms ahead of the forthcoming harmonised elections which must be recognised?
Given the momentous constitutional reforms that have been achieved through the new Constitution which is set to start taking effect within 14 or so days, is Tsvangirai’s so-called push for reforms in Sadc and the AU under the inflaming banner that “there’ll be no elections without reforms” a push for reforms or a premeditated push for conflict in the hope of using that conflict for political gain at the expense of Sadc and the AU? Tsvangirai’s declaration that “there’ll be no elections without reforms” makes him a pathetic law unto himself. It would be tragic for Zimbabweans and for anyone else who is well meaning in Sadc or the AU to be associated with the ranting of a desperate politician who imagines that he can avoid the impending electoral defeat by provoking conflict.Tsvangirai’s conflict-inciting outburst that “there will be no elections without reforms” speaks to clear and present evidence that the embattled MDC-T leader has become desperate and dangerous. More specifically, and this is what the leaders in Sadc and the AU should understand when they receive him, Tsvangirai is now in a panic mode because it has finally dawned on him that the next harmonised elections are due by June 29 in terms of section 58(1) of the Constitution and all polls and indications are that he will lose those elections.
According to section 58(1), “A general election and elections for members of the governing bodies of local authorities shall be held on such day or days within a period not exceeding four months after the issue of a proclamation dissolving Parliament under section 63(7) or, as the case may be, the dissolution of Parliament under section 63(4) as the President may by proclamation in the Gazette, fix”. While there have been various interpretations of this section of the Constitution regarding the timing of the elections, its indubitable import is that elections must be held by the time or by the day after the automatic dissolution of Parliament and of all governing bodies of local authorities at midnight on June 29. This is a legal necessity which must take place by operation of law as it is not subject to negotiation or to anything called “political will”.
Tsvangirai and his MDC-T have become so scared of this impending eventuality that they have resorted to a combination of unprecedented accumulation and looting of material things at a personal level and the use of dirty tricks at the political level, including the scorched earth tactic of provoking conflict to induce what the MDC-T sophomorically calls “a paradigm shift” from peace to chaos and disorder all in order to taint and discredit the elections at the expense of Sadc and the AU.
The fact that Tsvangirai is now in the process of purchasing a $4,5 million mansion along with his official Mercedes-Benz which he is set to snap at book value raises questions about where that kind of money is coming from and provides the clearest evidence that Tsvangirai is now investing in his permanent exist from government. Meanwhile, somebody must tell Tsvangirai to go peacefully.