Saturday, November 15, 2008

(TALKZIMBABWE) Time out for Morgan Tsvangirai

Time out for Morgan Tsvangirai
Open Editorial: Namibia's New Era paper
Fri, 14 Nov 2008 09:28:00 +0000

TIME is fast running out on Zimbabwe’s Morgan Tsvangirai. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Johannesburg last week threw down the gauntlet – share the highly contested home affairs ministry, full stop.

This unequivocal message from the SADC regional summit to the parties in Zimbabwe comes in the wake of protracted negotiations and an impasse on the division of ministries between the ruling Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of Tsvangirai.

After tough negotiations between the parties and shuttle diplomacy involving former South African President Thabo Mbeki, the issue of sharing ministries was settled except for home affairs under which the police and customs and immigrations falls.

The SADC decision for the contending parties is for them to co-manage the ministry of home affairs in order to break the deadlock and ensure the implementation of the power sharing agreement that was signed by President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Designate Morgan Tsvangirai and his Deputy Arthur Mutambara two months ago.

The co-management of the ministry is subject to review after six months by the two parties, SADC, the African Union and mediator Thabo Mbeki. SADC further urged the parties to implement the Constitution of Zimbabwe amendment no19.

Tsvangirai has balked at the idea of co-running the ministry of home affairs, as per the SADC decision. In fact, he has gone further to criticise the regional body.

“SADC approached this summit without any strategy and did not have the courage to look Mr Mugabe in the eyes and tell him that his position was wrong” said Tsvangirai after the just-ended regional summit.

He went on, “ The issue of co-sharing does not work. We have said so ourselves. We have rejected it and that’s the position.

“It is about power sharing, it is about equitable power sharing, it is about giving responsibility to the party that won an election and has compromised its position to share a government with a party that lost.”

Clearly, the Zimbabwe opposition leader is behaving as though he is owed something. This, of course, stems from his misplaced view that he is the rightful winner of the Zimbabwe presidential election.

Tsvangirai and his backers are under the illusion that because his party won the parliamentary election, he automatically won the presidential election.

What the opposition leader does not acknowledge and would not concede is that he messed things for himself. He had the opportunity to win or lose the presidential election in an open contest but decided to pull out at the last hour. This was a tactical blunder on his part and he has to learn to live with it for the rest of his life. If anybody snatched victory from the jaws of Tsvangirai, it was Tsvangirai himself.

The MDC’s refusal to co-manage a ministry with Zanu-PF is illogical and makes little sense. Hence the party has to reconsider its position and put Zimbabwe first.

If the MDC is prepared to share power with Zanu-PF, there is no reason why the two cannot co-manage a ministry. Shared power of necessity means sharing responsibilities. It requires the two parties to run government through consensus and not unilaterally and individually.

The fact that certain ministries will resort under the leadership of a political principal from Zanu-PF or MDC does not give them carte blanche in terms of decision-making.

The MDC should understand that many countries in the world are currently grappling with major internal problems. Subsequently, they have become inward looking.

President-elect Barack Obama is inheriting multitudes of problems and would have little time to spare for a dispute over the sharing of a single ministry. So is everybody else including South Africa that must deal with its own internal wrangling and runaway cost of living.

The war in the DRC where one of the regional powers, Angola is to dispatch troops is a more pressing problem. SADC and the African Union will have to mobilise resources and time to avert a major catastrophe in that country.

Tsvangirai must come to terms with this new reality. The world has not remained static. It is moving past Zimbabwe. There are now new challenges and new priorities. Zimbabwe is becoming less of a priority for the world including the US and Britain and the sooner the MDC leader understands this, the better.

The world financial crunch and the potential for a meltdown have partly created these new conditions.

It is therefore desirable that Zimbabweans themselves come together and implement the power sharing deal that they agreed upon and save their own country and people. Control over a single ministry cannot and should not be allowed to undo what has so far been achieved. And that is why Mr Tsvangirai has to rise above petty politicking and show great leadership and statesmanship.

Article first published in Namibia's New Era newspaper

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