Zimbabwe’s controversial power-sharing Agreement, termed the “Global Political Agreement” (GPA), was signed by President Mugabe’s ZANU PF party and the two Movement for Democratic Change formations – led by Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and Arthur Mutambara (MDC-M) respectively - on September 15, 2008 in Harare.
The objective of the South African-mediated Agreement was to "create a genuine, viable, permanent, sustainable and nationally acceptable solution to the Zimbabwe situation." Integral to this was the restoration of democracy and the garnering of international support to revive the country’s collapsed economy.
Commenting on the negotiations, Tsvangirai stressed at the inception: “This is not about power sharing. It is about a return to democracy.” He made it clear that the MDC-T was not prepared to agree to anything which did not restore democracy and the rule of law.
On the other side of the coin, “Mugabe could not agree to anything which did”, wrote Derek Matyszak of the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) in his report: “Losing Focus: Zimbabwe’s ‘Power-Sharing’ Agreement”, released by IDASA in October 2008.
The result of the frequently deadlocked and increasingly acrimonious negotiations was a 22-page Agreement comprising 25 Articles. It is against these Articles that Sokwanele’s “Zimbabwe Inclusive Government (ZIG) Watch” has monitored violations of the GPA by the three partners since its inception.
The ZIG Watch issues demonstrate conclusively that, throughout the four years during which the Global Political Agreement has been operational, President Mugabe and the ZANU PF hierarchy have continued to employ repressive strategies in order to retain supremacy in the transitional government and neutralise its partners. These include media repression, human rights violations, political violence, abductions, arrests, torture and the murder of opposition politicians and activists.Furthermore, with another election on the cards for next year, ZANU PF is intensifying the onslaught to ensure not only its political survival but an election victory.
The way that ZIG Watch was set up was this: On a daily basis, we tracked media articles and reports which provided examples of violations of the GPA by Zimbabwe’s three main political parties, the partners in the GPA. These were logged on our website and below each we listed the GPA Articles that had been violated. To view this resource, log onto: http://www.sokwanele.com/zigwatch
For each media story logged, we listed the GPA Article/Articles that had been breached. For the entire monitoring period, ZANU PF’s highest percentage of breaches was 98% and the lowest was 86.4%. The MDC-T was 7.1% and 1.4%, while the MDC-Mutambara/Ncube was 6.5% and 0.26%.
Our report analyses the Top 10 GPA Articles breached by the coalition parties throughout the monitoring period. The list starts with the highest number of breaches we recorded and gives the total number of breaches in brackets. The report concentrates on the top five Articles for which the majority of violations were recorded and gives a cross-section of violations of the remaining five.
Since Article VI of the GPA, The Constitution, does not fall into the top ten category, it is referred to but not analysed in detail in the report.
The rule of law in Zimbabwe has been replaced with rule by law. Instead of government power being subject to the law, Zimbabwe has become a police state in which government both invokes the law – and has created law – to justify excessive use of government force.
Examples that we profile include the selective and arbitrary arrest of MDC supporters; riot police breaking up peaceful protests; abductions; the assault of MDC activists, supporters and demonstrators; human rights abuses in prisons and the prosecution of commercial farmers.
We also include examples of corruption and self-enrichment; the manipulation of Constitutional Amendment No. 19, which could jeopardise the constitutional referendum; the random shooting and arrest of farm workers; the arrest of a prominent human rights lawyer; the shocking beating of police recruits; the burning of homes of MDC activists; the denial of killings in the Marange diamond fields; the promotion of hate speech and the threats faced by journalists, as well as the failure of the police to arrest known ZANU PF murderers and perpetrators of violence.
A Catholic Bishops’ Conference pastoral letter released earlier this year stressed that Zimbabwe does not need a mere armistice but a comprehensive and honest national healing and reconciliation in which perpetrators of violence are made accountable and society is reconciled so as to bury the culture of violence. “It should not be reserved for a few officials, it needs the whole community to be involved and must include everyone.”
There has been considerable criticism of the Organ on National Healing and Reconciliation which been widely described as a “failure”. However, in the organ’s defence, some commentators have said that the major problem is President Mugabe’s relentless hold on power and continued protection of ZANU PF thugs who mastermind the political violence and murder.
Examples of Article VII violations include the use of prisoners as slave labour; the manipulation of food aid; bribery and corruption; the police raid on an MDC Chief of Staff; the arrest of activists; harassment, violence and extortion. Despite the fact that the GPA commits the parties to encourage and assist Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to return home, virtually nothing has been done in this regard and, in some cases, the partners have displayed ineptitude and incompetence.
The issue of security sector reform remains highly contentious. The Zimbabwe Europe Network and its National Reference Group released a report in September 2012: “Zimbabwe’s Political Agreement Implementation: 4 Years On – at best faltering… at worst failing….” In it they note that “Calls for reformation of the military, police services, prison services, the State intelligence services and other critical arms of the security sector have gone without anyone giving audience to them.
“Despite clear provisions in Article XIII of the GPA which stipulate that ‘State organs and institutions do not belong to any party and should be impartial in the discharge of their duties’, senior top ranking military personnel have been quoted on several occasions openly supporting ZANU PF…. while clothed in uniform and on official duty. The case is similar with the police and prison services, which have gone on a rampant derelict of duty to openly declare their political interests and positions while on duty.”
Examples of breaches of Article XIII include the deployment of 80,000 youth militia; war veterans and soldiers also being deployed across the country ahead of elections in 2013; the resuscitation of torture bases; brutal intimidation; the ongoing militarisation of the diamond fields; dereliction of duty with respect to court cases; the removal of police dockets implicating senior ZANU PF officials; abductions; torture; arrests on trumped up charges; the blocking of bail for extended periods; control of food aid by the military; the protracted onslaught on the independent and foreign media and the snubbing of EU and UN funding for the next elections.
Article XVIII brazenly understates the seriousness of the situation, notably with respect to internal displacements. While the parties profess to be “gravely concerned by the displacement of scores of people after the elections of March 29, 2008 as a result of politically motivated violence”, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre reports that tens of thousands of people were displaced. This excludes the 570,000 people made homeless by Operation Murambatsvina (2005) and the violent land invasions that began in 2000, as well as other arbitrary displacements….” The General Agriculture and Plantation Workers’ Union (GAPWUZ) reported that a new wave of farm invasions which began in February 2009 had by September of that year left 66,000 farm workers homeless.
Despite Article 18.5 (h) committing the parties “to work together to ensure the safety of any displaced persons, their safe return home and their enjoyment of the full protection of the rule of law”, the displacements have continued. For example, in the Chiadzwa district of the highly contentious Marange diamond fields, communities have been evicted by soldiers and dumped in areas with minimal/inadequate accommodation and no facilities.
Murderers, torturers and thieves continue to live freely within terrorised communities and the lives of opponents of ZANU PF and the independent media remain under threat in the face of ongoing harassment, arrests on trumped-up charges and vicious persecution.
“As the reality of the Agreement began to intrude, the euphoria that had ensued after the signing morphed into a view that Mugabe was reneging on the Agreement,” Derek Matyszak wrote in his analysis of the ‘Power Sharing’ Agreement in October 2008. He noted that “Mugabe (had) closed democratic space through deployment of the military, the militia and a partisan police force which is both unwilling to act against human rights abuses and crimes against humanity as well as a participant in such offences. An extensive web of patronage keeps this system in place.”
Pronouncements by Mugabe that he would operate unilaterally include: insisting in November 2008 that ZANU PF would draft a constitutional amendment and form a government; demanding the right to cancel the power-sharing deal; refusing to fire the controversial Attorney General and Central Bank Governor; attempting to annex the role of the Information Communication and Technology Minister and the appointment of governors.
Despite President Mugabe’s commitment to allowing free political activity with the signing of the GPA, efforts by former opposition parties to canvass and mobilise freely for political support are still being thwarted. Examples include: censorship of information concerning the reformation of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU); a blackout of the Prime Minister’s press conferences and events in the State media; blocking MDC rallies; beating up demonstrators; paying gangs to commit acts of thuggery and violence; arresting MDC officials on trumped-up charges and denying bail.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition comments as follows on the land issue in its “Zimbabwe Transition Barometer – ‘Trekking the Transition’” of October 2012: “This is one indicator where almost nothing has literally happened as the IG partners have all remained silent on the land issue. The land question got relegated and forgotten as the MDCs focussed more on political reforms. On the other hand, ZANU PF has also been conspicuously silent about Article V.”
Farm invasions – with ZANU PF’s trademark violence and ruthlessness – have continued throughout the tenure of the GPA. In February 2009, more than 100 productive farms and 50 small holdings were raided, many at gunpoint, with regional governors, MPs, senators and high ranking officials forcing the owners to leave. As a result, resident farm workers have been stranded or bundled into army trucks and dumped in remote areas with no facilities or the means of growing their own food. Tsvangirai came under fire for describing the ongoing invasions as “isolated incidents”.
8. ARTICLE III : Restoration of Economic Stability and Growth (666 breaches)
The GPA mandated the Inclusive Government to prioritise the restoration of economic stability and growth and to urgently address the issues of production, food security, poverty and unemployment and the challenges of high inflation, interest rates and the exchange rate.
WithFinance Minister Tendai Biti (MDC-T) at the helm, laudable progress has been made although he has faced massive challenges throughout his turbulent tenure. ZANU PF has consistently thwarted his efforts, notably to reduce unrealistic government spending and to access income from mineral resources - mainly the Marange diamond mines – for the benefit of the entire country, as well as to crackdown on massive corruption and audit State companies.
Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere’s chaotic indigenisation programme has continued to frighten off international investors and destroy local business confidence. His threats in February to nationalise 30 foreign-owned mines were described by one commentator as being part of ZANU PF’s election strategy and a move that would be disastrous for the economy. In June, Mugabe exacerbated the situation by announcing that he wanted indigenous Zimbabweans to have 100 percent control of the economy, but foreigners could come in as “partners”.
9. ARTICLE XII : Freedom of Assembly and Association (541 breaches)
Despite the commitment made by all three signatories to the right of freedom of association and assembly enshrined in the GPA, Article XII continues to be violated systematically by ZANU PF.
Less than three months after the signing of the GPA, Zimbabwean security forces vowed in December 2008 to crush demonstrations planned for the following day against the Reserve Bank. The ZCTU had called for peaceful protests against debilitating limits on bank withdrawals.
In June 2009, it was reported that minutes after the Secretary-General of Amnesty International, Irene Khan, had accused elements of the Zimbabwean Government of “persistent and serious human rights abuses”, riot police had broken up a peaceful demonstration only yards from where she stood. Ms Khan had earlier described the human rights situation in Zimbabwe as “grim”. She also criticised Prime Minister Tsvangirai, saying she saw “no sense of urgency” in implementing human-rights provisions in the power-sharing deal.
Violations of Article XII have not only continued but are escalating in the run-up to the next election. For example, a truckload of about 20 armed riot police officers disrupted a Praying for Peace to Save Zimbabwe church service in Harare in April 2011. Police in riot gear have also blocked MDC-T rallies, including one that was due to take place at St Paul’s Mission Hospital in Lupane in October 2011. The following month, members of international charity group Oxfam were detained by the police
10. ARTICLE VIII : Respect for National Institutions and Events (418 breaches)
Despite agreeing that all Zimbabweans, regardless of political affiliation, have the right to participate in all national programmes and events, ZANU PF continues to operate in a blatantly partisan manner that demonstrates flagrant disrespect for national institutions, programmes and events.
Examples of violations of Article VIII include the Reserve Bank Governor enriching his ZANU PF cronies in a looting strategy; the prevention of Parliament’s Mines Committee from embarking on a fact-finding mission to the controversial Marange diamond fields; the blocking of public participation in the constitution-making outreach programme and the violent invasion of Parliament by ZANU PF thugs to disrupt a public hearing on the Human Rights Bill.
Our ZIG Watch overview closes with extracts from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition’s “Zimbabwe Transition Barometer – ‘Trekking the Transition’”:
“The Zimbabwe political landscape is gravitating from the GPA yard into political turmoil with potential to replicate the June 2008 presidential election run-off. There is a shift from the commitment to fulfil the GPA as political temperature rises. The thread that seems to hold the GPA together is now only meant for the convenience of election leverages rather than creating sustainable democratic processes…. There is a rise in political violence and intimidation cases mainly related to militia groups connected to ZANU PF leaders as well as growing violations of democratic tenets by the security sector and other political party members….
“However, the trajectory is not cast in stone. With the appropriate interventions by civil society, the regional and international community as articulated in (our) report, Zimbabwe can still head towards a democratic transition, at least in the sense of the instalment of a democratically elected government…,” the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition concludes.