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Two years on, the GPA proves to be the betrayer of hope

Two years on, the GPA proves to be the betrayer of hope

On the 15th of September 2010, the Global Political Agreement was signed by the three main political parties in Zimbabwe. Most people hoped that the signing of the agreement would usher in much needed reforms in the socio-economic and political arenas. In the words of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) President, Morgan Tsvangirai, the day marked "the return of hope" borne out of "painful compromises".

However, two years after the signing of the historic pact, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition expresses its disappointment at how the hopes of many Zimbabweans have been shattered and betrayed by the inclusive government.

The dark cloud of deep despondency synonymous with Zimbabwe in the greater part of 2008 seems to have made a quiet but ominous return and now hangs over us, making the future path of the country seem uncertain.

While The Coalition acknowledges the positives witnessed particularly in the economic sector, as evidenced by the availability of commodities at trading points and increased stability of the economy, most Zimbabweans remain poor due to the meagre wages they receive and the inaccessibility of foreign currency. Scores of Zimbabweans are still battling to make ends meet on a daily basis with some living below the accepted minimum standards.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition also expresses its disappointment at the continued failure by the three principals of the GPA to successfully implement the agreement in full. The former ruling party, ZANU-PF in particular, has continued on the treacherous path of promoting hate speech, fanning violence and abusing various state media resources as platforms for such diatribes.

The 2nd anniversary of the GPA also falls close to the deadline set by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at its Heads of State Summit in Windhoek, Namibia last August. Whilst it comes as no surprise that this deadline will expire without the three principals - including SADC itself - feeling any deep sense of shame and guilt at yet another betrayal of Zimbabwean hope, we remain adamant that SADC still has a key role to play in the quest for a more sustainable solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.

SADC, as guarantor of the GPA, must be the midwife to help deliver democracy in Zimbabwe. Without that, there will be another stillbirth for democracy because the country's institutions remain too weak and compromised to prevent state-sponsored violence or to deliver a democratic election. The chaos, violence and intimidation authored predominantly by ZANU-PF around the on-going constitutional outreach program clearly indicate that instruments of repression remain active and that they are likely to be used again in future elections.

Under Article VII of the GPA, parties to the agreement agreed to 'give consideration to the setting up of a mechanism to properly advise on what measures might be necessary and practicable to achieve national healing, cohesion and unity in respect of victims pre and post independence political conflicts' resulting in the formation of the Organ on National Healing. That the Organ on National Healing has not begun its work is not only inconsistent with Article VII of the GPA but also provides fertile ground for further proliferation of politically motivated violence without actually having put in place mechanisms to avoid such and to deal with cases of the past.

But the prize for the worst form of betrayal of the majority of Zimbabweans goes to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) whose mandate is, among other functions, "to ensure the implementation in the letter and spirit of [the GPA]". That there have been repeated failures in the full implementation of the GPA is a result of this committee's lack of sincerity, goodwill and genuine desire to see the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Yet, Zimbabweans cannot continue to be held at ransom forever. With an election looking the most plausible avenue of resolving the political crisis, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, therefore, reiterates calls for technical support to be provided for the newly appointed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission by more experienced regional electoral bodies such as the South African Electoral Commission.

Also - and as hinted above - SADC must supervise Zimbabwe elections to ensure full compliance with SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections - including impartiality of electoral institutions, prevention of state-sponsored violence and non-interference in electoral processes by the state security sector. In addition to this, SADC must immediately deploy monitors in Zimbabwe to closely assess the ongoing constitution-making process and to investigate reports of widespread violence, intimidation and the setting up of militia bases across the country.

Lastly - and in order to avoid a repeat of negotiating electoral outcomes - the Crisis in Zimbabwe calls for guarantees that there will be a peaceful and democratic transfer of power to the eventual winner of the proposed elections. In tandem with this, SADC must also use political and diplomatic pressure to ensure that that the Inclusive government prioritises security sector-reform in Zimbabwe to ensure that security forces are non-partisan in the execution of their duties.

The Coalition on the 2nd anniversary of the GPA, therefore, challenges this prevailing rainbow-like illusion that graceful beauty has been successfully restored to Zimbabwe and the beasts of poverty, corruption, violence and hate have been exiled.

Another Zimbabwe is possible.

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