Zimbabwe poised for another coalition?
IN the aftermath of bitterly-contested election between them and a disputed result, President-elect Robert Mugabe is likely to engage outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai after the finalisation of his court petition in a bid to preclude the country from plunging into renewed turmoil
MDC party has dropped its legal challenge to President Robert Mugabe’s re-election, saying it could not get a fair hearing.
The withdrawal of its challenge paves the way for Mr Mugabe, 89, to be inaugurated for another five-year term.
He has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.
Mr Mugabe won with 61% of the presidential vote against 34% for MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who called the 31 July election a “huge farce”.
The MDC-T court withdrawal has rocked and confused its supporters. This has also fuelled speculation for another government of national unity between the prontagonists with some even suggesting that the President Mugabe will drop a retirement bombshell and leaving with Vice-President Joyce Mujuru taking over and deputised by the outgoing Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Zanu PF national Chairman Simon Khaya Moyo as two Vice-President.
A source privy to the secret talks said both President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai are likely to face resistance from members of the parties and already ZANU PF faction aligned to Vice-President Joice Mujuru is reportedly lobbying President Robert Mugabe for key Cabinet posts, among them Finance, to consolidate its position after losing grip in the parliamentary race to Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s camp in the July 31 harmonised polls.
Both Mujuru and Mnangagwa have publicly denied leading factions.
Speculation within and outside the party is rife that the Mujuru camp, which allegedly includes Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya-Moyo and secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, is pushing for Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono, whose term of office ends in November, to be appointed as Finance minister.
Mugabe is empowered by the new Constitution to appoint to Cabinet five people outside Parliament.
Last night a source in the MDC-T said Tsvangirai whose career is not well secure, was desperate for last chance saloon tactics because vultures will soon be sniffing around for leadership renewal and so he knows he has much more leverage to gain for the control of his party in a new coalitition government than to lose to stay outside.
On Wednesday last week Tsvangirai claimed that President Mugabe and his Zanu PF party had attempted to talk to him after last month’s elections.
But the MDC-T leader, who has dismissed the July 31 election as a “farce”, ruled out any negotiations with his rivals.
“After stealing the vote, they don’t even know where to start,” Tsvangirai said.
“They are now asking ‘where is Tsvangirai, so that we can talk?’ Talk about what?”.
However, the claim was immediately denied by Zanu PF officials who dismissed the MDC-T leader as “daydreaming”.
During the Government of National Unity (GNU), the economy stabilised and signalled to businesses and investors that there is the potential for a more stable economic enviroment.
Ahead of the July 31 elections, many Zimbabwean political analysts and NGOs spoke about Zimbabwe heading for another prolonged transition if elections out come were disputed.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (Cizc) barometer’s researcher, Phillan Zamchiya at the time said Mugabe and his Zanu PF would still be in a position to manipulate state institutions and electoral systems in order to retain power.
“In this context, the incumbent will find it difficult to gain political legitimacy due to the fact that SADC, other political parties, civil society and the independent media keep trekking the transition to expose Zanu PF’s election manipulation strategies, subtle or overt,” he said.
Zamchiya said this would mean that if elections were disputed, Mugabe would need co-operation of protagonists (MDCs) post the general elections, which would further prolong the current transition.
Under a prolonged transition, Zamchiya said, the incumbent is faced with two options to gain legitimacy. The first is to form a government of national unity with the protagonists for an effective government.
The second option would be for the incumbent to be bold enough to dump the opposition, and seek legitimacy through committing to advance the democratic gains that were made during the transition.
The need for talks between the two has become even more urgent in the wake of the loss of more than US$1 billion in the economy within days of Mugabe’s victory as a result of a sharp dip in the local stock market and panicky withdrawals from banks since last week.
Sources also said some neighbouring countries have withdrawn power supply credit lines resulting in a massive power-cuts across the country in the last week.
There was profuse haemorrhaging of the economy as the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) reacted negatively to Mugabe’s victory, with major counters on the local bourse crashing as their prices plummeted. The result was a loss of over US$1 billion in an economy whose Gross Domestic Product is unofficially US$7 billion, although official estimates claim it is US$11 billion.
The ZSE’s market capitalisation was US$4,99 billion as at the close of trade yesterday, down from US$6,04 billion a day before the July 31 polls. The ZSE has two indices, namely the industrial and mining which remained largely depressed yesterday due to continued market uncertainty and volatility.
As of 2009 Zimbabwe’s economy has been recovering from the ravages of a decade of hyperinflation and an attendant economic meltdown. The introduction of the US dollar as the primary means of exchange in February 2009, together with other base currencies, brought relative currency and exchange rate stability which in turn resulted in renewed investor confidence and increased investment flows.
Amid fears Zimbabwe is sliding back to the era of empty shops and chaos, sources say Mugabe and Tsvangirai will meet soon to chat the way foward.
Sources said serious overtures were already underway. Tsvangirai hinted on the issue at a funeral in Harare on Wednesday.
However, presidential spokesperson George Charamba said there were no talks between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, although he indicated the Zanu-PF leader could have been benevolent to the premier if he had accepted defeat and not accused him of rigging.
Charamba said contrary to claims by Tsvangirai that Mugabe initiated talks for a possible inclusive government, it was the former who made a passionate plea through an African ambassador, who cannot be named now for diplomatic reasons, to ask the veteran leader to include him in the new government.
“We are still fighting in the courts and if there are any talks, it can only be after the pending case in which the MDC-T is seeking to reverse the election outcome,” said Charamba. The MDC party has since dropped its legal challenge to Mugabe’s re-election.
Even after four years of recovery, Zimbabwe still faces power and water shortages, crumbling infrastructure, and high levels of poverty, with the IMF estimating annual per capita income, adjusted for currency variations, at US$589, the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa after the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Given the vagaries in commodity prices, whose rise boosted recovery, economic growth is expected to slow to 3,4% this year, from 5% in 2012, according to official estimates — a gloomy picture of the situation which could turn Mugabe’s victory into a new political nightmare.
Sources said Zanu-PF has started making overtures to the MDC-T, with two senior ministers reaching out to their former counterparts in what insiders say is actually a two-way process behind the scenes amid a growing realisation by Mugabe and Tsvangirai that they need each other now more than ever before in recent years.
Although Mugabe won the election, his controversial win rattled the markets and ravaged the economy within a fortnight. While Tsvangirai is said to be exasperated by his defeat and is thus publicly playing hardball as shown by his remarks at a funeral on Wednesday.
Tsvangirai initially threatened to boycott all state institutions after the elections, but was forced to retreat in the face of a looming revolt against his leadership in his party.
Although Tsvangirai indicated Mugabe was trying to reach out, Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo described the pronouncements as daydreaming.
However, the Zimbabwe Independent is reliably informed there are moves towards top-level talks aimed at ensuring progress secured during the inclusive government is not reversed.
Sources say although Mugabe and Tsvangirai are acting belligerently in public, they both see the need to avoid plunging Zimbabwe into a new economic and political turmoil reminiscent of the 2008 period.
Mugabe is seeking to salvage his legacy in preparation for a grand and decent exit after being blamed for running down the economy for three decades, while perpetrating human rights abuses on a grand scale, including the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s, Murambatsvina and the 2008 electoral killings. He seems keen on dealing with the situation before he leaves.
“Mugabe may have won the political war, but he knows it will be difficult for him to win the economic war, hence his move to accommodate Tsvangirai. He is keen to move the country forward,” said a Zanu-PF official.
Even before the elections, there were indications Mugabe already had a plan to include MDC-T top officials in his new government to ensure political and economic stability. Sources said Mugabe and Tsvangirai were likely to meet after the finalisation of the election petition, while senior officials from both parties were understood to have recently met for talks over cabinet posts.
But Charamba warned Tsvangirai could be shooting himself in the foot by refusing to accept the results as he was removing the goodwill that had developed during the life of the coalition government. He added the outgoing premier could “have been in a better position if he had accepted the results”.
“Tsvangirai has two worries: to keep his divided party in shape, hence the creation of false initiatives, and feeding his supporters with illusions. He has asked African diplomats to make sure they negotiate with the president to include him in the government,” Charamba said.
MDC-T organising secretary Nelson Chamisa said there were no talks, warning overture signals by Zanu-PF were part of its trick to divert attention from the controversy surrounding Mugabe’s win.
“Zanu-PF is diverting attention from the election fiasco. The issue is not about negotiations, the issue is about rigged elections and not positions in a sinking ship,” he charged. “There are no and will never be discussions between the MDC-T and Zanu-PF. There has never been any contact between us; we will never entertain Zanu-PF because they rigged the elections.”
However, Tsvangirai on Wedne-sday said Mugabe had attempted to talk to him after the controversial July 31 elections. Other sources also confirmed this as well.
“After stealing the vote, they don’t even know where to start. They are now asking ‘where is Tsvangirai, so that we can talk? Talk about what?’” he said. Source: thezimbabwemail