Civic leader concerned over lack of consultation over Zimbabwe crisis

By Violet Gonda
5 April 2007

The chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly Dr Lovemore Madhuku has expressed concern that civic society is not being consulted on initiatives that are taking place to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis. At the disappointing SADC meeting in Tanzania last week South African President Thabo Mbeki was appointed to help negotiations between the ruling party and the opposition and on Wednesday South African government representatives met the Secretary Generals of the two MDC factions. This is the second meeting in less than three weeks. Vice President Joyce Mujuru also held talks with her South African counterpart recently.

Dr Madhuku said all stakeholders need to be involved in this consultation initiative, as the Zimbabwe crisis is so deep and so complex. Dr Madhuku is also concerned that the opposition parties, as members of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, are not talking to civic society about these latest developments, as the only way forward is if all players work together.

He said: “First of all we need to be clear that we do not know what is happening in terms of the so called initiative where the Secretary Generals of the MDC are traveling to South Africa for talks to South African authorities.”

Mbeki was tasked to facilitate dialogue between the Mugabe government and opposition to agree on how to hold free and fair elections next year. But the civic leader believes that if there is to be any sensible resolution to the crisis, the democratisation process has to involve the many players who have been at the centre of the crisis. “So we would not expect just the political parties would be the only players in the game and that is what we have seen in the past few days.”

All pro-democracy groups, including the two MDCs, have been working under the Save Zimbabwe Campaign banner and it is this platform that people like Madhuku say should be used to engage any outsiders who want to get involved in resolving the crisis. The civic leader said the only information they are getting is through the media, with the latest being that the Secretary Generals Tendai Biti and Professor Welshman Ncube had been asked to prepare a way forward document and had returned to South Africa with a written document. “There has been no consultation whatsoever between the two MDC and other players in the Save Zimbabwe Campaign. That is why I believe it is a different initiative from the initiative that we have been working together on.”

He added: “This is one of the problems we continue to have in Zimbabwe. I would be very disappointed if there are opportunistic tendencies by the political parties in Zimbabwe. The crisis in Zimbabwe is just not about political powers. It is about creating a better future for all Zimbabweans.”
Furthermore, the outspoken civic leader criticised opposition parties who seem to get involved with pressure groups only when it involves protest actions. “But when it comes to them trying to get a way forward and what to do with next year’s elections, the opposition always chooses to be opportunistic and we condemn that kind of approach,” he said.
The NCA chairman said it would be ‘foolish’ for any politician to think they can be a spokesperson for all players in the broad movement, saying that the suffering that people have gone through is something political parties should not take advantage of.
Observers have also warned that just because the regional leaders have initiated this process it does not mean that some of these African countries have stopped backing Robert Mugabe’s hold on power.
Madhuku says perhaps the isolation of civic society could be because the SADC leaders are aware that once they involve all stakeholders then the issue would be resolved in a more comprehensive manner, which might not be agreeable to Mugabe.
He said: “Once you involve the civic players certainly the central issues will be a new people driven constitution, fundamental reforms and this is what the SADC leaders fear because once these issues are raised Mugabe would become difficult.
Some observers believe SADC leaders are hoping that if they narrow the issues and simply talk to the opposition political parties, hopefully they will come up with a settlement which may not be satisfactory to the majority of Zimbabweans, but which may create the impression there has been a resolution.

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