JOMIC in turmoil as Political tensions and violence spike

The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), which was established at the behest of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) as a mechanism of dealing with matters to do with enforcement and non-compliance to the Global Political Agreement (GPA), has slid into turmoil at a time when political tension in the country appears to be on the rise.

On Wednesday 14th November 2012, Zanu-PF JOMIC co-chair, Nicholas Goche, wrote to JOMIC, stating that that ZANU PF was contemplating pulling out of the JOMIC. Goche alleged that the Zimbabwe Institute (ZI), which provides technical support to the committee, was interfering in the work of JOMIC However, the Civil Society Monitoring Mechanism (CISOMM) Advocacy Chair, Mr Thabani Moyo, has warned ZANU-PF against the decision to pull out saying that,

"ZANU-PF cannot pull out of JOMIC. This is a high stakes game as SADC is the guarantor and facilitator of the Global Political Agreement (GPA). In that capacity, SADC is the one which instructed the political parties to form a joint monitoring committee called JOMIC. ZANU-PF cannot behave like it is waking up from a bad dream."

He added that,

"If they have any grievances which the political parties in the GPA have failed to address, they must write to SADC who are the mediators."

ZANU-PF is reported to have already absconded some JOMIC meetings before the letter by Goche. These developments in JOMIC come at a time when the political atmosphere is moving towards more tension between political parties across the country as elections draw closer. This deteriorating situation is illustrated by a myriad of cases involving politically motivated intimidation of one form or another involving traditional leaders, members of the military and political operatives from political parties. These places include but are not limited to Hurungwe, Masvingo South, Bikita and vast swaths of Manicaland province.

To illustrate, on Tuesday 20th November 2012, the Crisis Report learnt that the MDC-T chairperson for Hurungwe Central, David Mutambirwa, had been arrested by the Chinhoyi police after an altercation with a ZANU-PF supporter. The ZANU-PF supporter had allegedly been caught, and reported to the Karoi police for defacing an MDC-T poster; ahead of a peace rally which was supposed to be addressed by MDC-T Secretary General, Hon. Tendai Biti in Karoi on Sunday 18th November 2012. This incident was in addition to alleged intimidation of Hurungwe residents by traditional chiefs and members of the military, ostensibly on behalf of ZANU PF leadership.

In Masvingo South, ZANU-PF "village chairpersons" and traditional leaders in the Mbangamabwe area in Nyajena are said to have been told to identify and list down names of perceived MDC activists in their respective areas. Former Zanu PF Chairperson Joseph Matakanure of ward 30, Village 1 is said to have announced the identification crusade at a gathering, which had purportedly been publicised as an agricultural inputs meeting at Nyajena Mission.

In an interview with the Crisis Report team, Councillor Charles Mzembi of ward 2, Mbangamabwe village 3, confirmed the meeting at Nyajena Mission and reported that it seemed that in addition to known residents of the area, there were also strangers who had been deployed there to intimidate people, some of them who are alleged to have instigated violence in 2008 Councillor Mzembi added that;

"There are people who have been deployed here in Masvingo South. So far we have identified the owner of a Toyota Radius Kombi, and some groups of which some of them were involved in the 2008 violence in our area. The same people have also been identified by local people in ward 23, in the Muchibwa and Rupike area, together with village head Kwangware Mukazi".

Councillor Mzembi lambasted how Zanu PF is unwilling to co-exist peacefully with supporters from other political parties as initiated by JOMIC. He reported that when JOMIC visited the constituency on the 8th of November 2012 at the Renco Mine Community Hall Zanu PF did not send its representatives to the JOMIC meeting.

Meanwhile, people in Nyanga have called for JOMIC to intervene after War Veterans leader, Jabulani Sibanda, is alleged to have stated to intimidate people in the area again in cohorts with traditional leaders since he arrived there around the 16th November 2012.

Narratives from different parts of the country seem to suggest that intimidation and sometimes overt violence are on the increase. In some areas, people have reported that the visits by JOMIC and the existence of Inter-party committees have helped to ease tensions and outbreaks of politically motivated violence. However, with JOMIC seemingly in turmoil over several issues, it would seem that, if one of the few working institutions (albeit not perfectly) that the GPA had established succumbs to internal squabbles, the challenges for communities will increase as the country gets into an election year.

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