By Tichaona Sibanda
18 January 2010
ZANU PF negotiators Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche failed to attend Monday’s rescheduled start of the Global Political Agreement talks.
Talks were supposed to have restarted on Saturday but were postponed to Monday because of the absence of ZANU PF negotiator Nicholas Goche who was in Tanzania, reportedly on government business.
MDC-M lead negotiator Welshman Ncube confirmed to SW Radio Africa on Monday that the talks were due to begin on Monday evening but ruled out any time frame or deadline for the negotiations. Ncube told us the talks were due to start at 6pm. But at 7pm we contacted Elton Mangoma, the co-negotiator from the MDC-T, who told us of the no-show by Chinamasa and Goche.
‘There are no talks tonight. We were supposed to have started but there is no-one from ZANU PF,’ Magoma confirmed.
Earlier on Monday Ncube had told us of the difficulties they were facing during negotiations.‘Things are not easy during these talks. We constantly hear of deadlines or time frames from the media whenever we meet but I can assure you that there are no such things as deadlines or time frames. The key is to find a solution and not put ourselves under pressure to work on a timeline,’ Ncube said.
‘Even if there is a deadlock or conflict we still must come up with a solution to that problem for the sake of progress so that’s why I’m saying these talks are not easy at all,’ Ncube added.
While Ncube’s statement appears to be a message for Zimbabweans to be patient, a former militant student leader, Promise Mkwananzi, told us the three political parties lack conviction for an agreement in the prolonged negotiations.
‘Unfortunately the belligerents’ current lack of confidence in each other makes for slow progress in the GPA talks and for an end to hostilities in the country,’ Mkwananzi said.
The talks, supported by SADC and facilitated by South African President Jacob Zuma, have failed to find a comprehensive resolution to the outstanding issues in the GPA. The impasse continues to be the failure by Mugabe and his ZANU PF party to implement in full the GPA reached with the two MDC formations in September 2008.
Tsvangirai objects in particular to Mugabe’s unilateral re-appointment of Gideon Gono as Governor of the central bank and Johannes Tomana as Attorney-General. Gono is regarded as being directly responsible for the destruction of the economy and for helping to fund the repression. Tomana has been one of the main architects of the ongoing harassment of MDC and human rights activists.
Other issues at stake include the appointment of provisional governors, and the delay in swearing in MDC treasurer Roy Bennett, who is the nominee for the post of deputy Agriculture Minister.
Mkwananzi condemned the delays which have for so long blighted attempts to resolve the remaining issues, adding that Zimbabweans were becoming increasingly restive over the slow pace of the negotiations.
‘You get a negotiator like Goche failing to turn up for the talks and yet all the parties knew they would begin on Saturday. It exposes the reluctance or the partial commitment on the part of ZANU PF to implement the GPA in its true spirit and form. It also vindicates those who suspected or feared that ZANU PF would not be willing to work alongside other political parties to implement the GPA,’ Mkwananzi said.
The former ZINASU student leader said comments attributed to Zuma, that Morgan Tsvangirai should be flexible on some of the issues in the GPA, were appalling.
‘If anything it should be Robert Mugabe who should be flexible because he lost the elections. Tsvangirai won the elections and SADC or anyone else should not be arm twisting him to capitulate to ZANU PF demands. It should be the other way round,’ he said.
Mkwananzi added; ‘I can tell you right now that here in Zimbabwe there is a lot of agitation, people of Zimbabwe have become impatient and restive. All they want is a speedy implementation of the GPA and if this is done it would open a lot of doors in terms of economic opportunities and economic prosperities for Zimbabweans.’
Zuma is reportedly now pushing for the holding of fresh elections in Zimbabwe as the only way out of continuous disagreements by the parties.
Media reports over the weekend said Zumas plan was already at an advanced stage and that he would propose that Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara ‘park’ some of the outstanding issues and concentrate on those that would affect the holding of elections.
Zuma is reportedly now convinced that the only way out is an election, to be held in 2011, as agreed when the inclusive government was formed in 2008.