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Mugabe must stop grandstanding


PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is talking tough – vowing that the Government of National Unity (GNU) will end on June 29.

Addressing his party’s central committee meeting at the weekend, Mugabe said:“Whether anyone likes it or not,” the GNU will not be extended.

Well and good, Cde President, for a country superintended by a three-headed animal, disagreeing on virtually every important detail, a watershed poll that catapults one political party to the leadership of the country would be a worthwhile solution.

However, contentious issues afflicting the unity government remain unresolved and one can only wonder how polls would be held next month if bottlenecks like security sector and media reforms remain unresolved. Sadc, the guarantors of the Global Political Agreement, have made it clear that no elections would take place until the issues have been addressed.

MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last week embarked on a regional tour, trying to convince Sadc leaders to force Mugabe to implement the reforms. The question is: Will the veteran leader stick to his guns and proceed to proclaim election dates, minus reforms? Will the MDC-T participate under protest? What would be Sadc and the African Union (AU)’s position? What form of action are the regional and continental bodies likely to take should their directive be snubbed by Zanu PF?

How free and fair will the polls be and what chances are there for the country not to slide back to the dark past where it hogged the international limelight for all the wrong reasons?

All these questions have gripped the nation as June 29 beckons. For starters, the new constitution, a prerequisite for fresh polls, is yet to see the light of day.

It has not yet “sailed” through Parliament and Mugabe himself is yet to assent to the Bill. The estimated $85 million required for the elections is yet to be secured amid bickering between political parties over United Nations demands before releasing the funds. Finance minister Tendai Biti is on record as saying the national fiscus cannot sustain polls as the corporate world, which recently funded the referendum, cannot take further strain.

Now in view of these bottlenecks, how feasible is a national election in Zimbabwe in 60 days’ time? Is Mugabe’s position well thought out and possible? Or is he merely grandstanding to confuse opponents and scuttle their strategies?

Security sector reforms, which both MDC parties are calling for, appeared to become more urgent over the weekend when Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga openly told a gathering that the army and Tsvangirai were like “oil and water” which do not mix. So if the two institutions cannot work together, who is likely to throw in the towel first? If Chiwenga and his like-minded commanders remain adamant and refuse to recognise Tsvangirai, would this not be tantamount to a coup, resulting in a constitutional crisis? The world is watching and 60 days is not far from now.

Mugabe must stop grandstanding and allow the country to move on. Carelessness wastes time.

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