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Philip Barclay and Grace Mutandwa

Zimbabwe

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Thursday 14 May, 2009

One hundred days of more of the same

This week the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) marked their first 100 days in an inclusive government with ZANU PF.

This was a union of convenience, most people agreed, and a lot more people had no faith in the whole Global Political Agreement (GPA) that saw the birth of this inclusive government.

The sense of hope that came with Morgan Tsvangirai's promise that the era of impunity was over has been erased by the events that have taken place since the "new" government started working.

There is total confusion. We have no idea where we are headed. The only people who probably know what they intend to achieve are the ZANU PF politicians and their leader. They continue to do everything in their power to ensure that this arrangement fails.

Outstanding issues on the Global Political Agreement remain sticking points. The appointments of permanant secretaries, provincial governors and ambassadors remain on the discussion table. The man Tsvangirai chose to be his deputy agricultural minister, Roy Bennett, has still not been sworn in. Political and human rights activists and a freelance journalist are still in detention. Harrasssment of journalists continues unabated.

The unilateral re-appointments of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana are still a major area of political battle.

The telecommunications ministry led by MDC's Nelson Chamisa has had its main role stripped. It is now a theoretical ministry while the real functions lie within a ministry led by ZANU PF. Taking a firm grip of the country's communications gives ZANU PF the capacity to snoop into our communication through the Interception of Communications Act. Chamisa has been left with the technical bits, ensuring infrastructure works but having no control on how it is used.

In the past three months we have seen the Parliamentary Standing Committee establish commissions: the Zimbabwe Media Commission, the Constitutional Reform and Humanrights Commission. All have been dogged by controversy.

Farm invasions and theft of crops from the few remaining productive commercial farms goes unchecked. In fact, impunity reigns even more than before.

While the winds of hope that swept in with Tsvangirai saw schools and major hospitals re-open, the sense and feeling of a better tomorrow around the corner has evaporated. No-one including the politicians can honestly tell where exactly we are headed.

This week the inclusive government was expected to announce progress on the outstanding issues around the GPA but this has been postponed. A meeting that should have come up with decisions on the various points failed to take place early in the week. Reports from Tsvangirai's office say that the meeting failed to take place because President Robert Mugabe was hosting a delegation from the People's Republic of Korea.

If you ask me, our future is more important than playing host to a group of people whom we only know through their link with one of Zimbabwe's political parties. We could have told the Koreans we had better things to do or if we were inclined to be polite we could have told them we needed to clean up our house first before we could receive guests. I am sure the Koreans would have understood that the business before our political leaders is more important to the people of Zimbabwe than their visit.

If we succeed in solving the problems around the various GPA issues it will be easier for us to play host to all our friends from the East, West, North or South. We will in fact be better hosts as we will not struggle to explain away human rights abuses although I am sure some of our guests are not squemish about various abuses.

The MDC leadership is still hopeful and maintains it is in this strange relationship for the long haul. Civil servants are trying to crumble the US$100 allowance they get into sensible amounts that can pay their piling bills. The job market is still dry and the food situation on the farms is not looking very encouraging.

For us, the ruled, this has been one nerve-wrecking 100 days. We do not know if what we at times see as a faraway light signifies help on the way or a high speed train coming to crash us. The next 100 days will just be more of the same non-stop nightmares.

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Comments:

Not at all cheering news, but we've seen that the people of Zimbabwe have great courage and endurance.

Posted by OwenE2 on May 14, 2009 at 06:39 PM BST #

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