SUMMARY REPORT: THE GPA, INCLUSIVE GOVERNMENT & CIVIC SOCIETY: POLITICAL PROCESSES & EXPECTATIONS.
FRIDAY 06TH MARCH 2009
This meeting was hosted by the Zimbabwe Institute in conjunction with civic society and Church Organization of which the Institute of Theological Reflection and Liberation Today (ITRT) was a part. The purpose of the meeting was to appraise the Civic and Church Organizations on the nature of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and functions of the Inclusive Government as well as to afford the Civic and Church Organizations the opportunity to be in dialogue with the political processes. The meeting provided space for the Civic and Church organizations to hear first hand information, from the GPA negotiators, on the nature of the GPA and its implications for Zimbabwe. An opportunity to engage the Inclusive Government was also availed so that the Civic and Church organizations are part of the political processes toward National Healing and Values, Constitutional Reform, Human Rights, Media & Security of Persons, Economic Recovery, and attending to Humanitarian Crises.
Summary of events
Advocate Mojanku Gumbi a member of the facilitation team in the process toward the GPA emphasised the important role of the Civic society and Church organizations in the political processes toward peace and political stability and economic recovery. She also noted that the GPA is a product of the Zimbabwean political parties hence the need for the Zimbabwean key players to give it the necessary support. Advocate Gumbi also emphasissed the need for a bi-partisan approach and vigilance on the part of the Civic society in their attempt to critique the GPA and the inclusive government.
Hon. Professor Welshman Ncube (one of the GPA negotiators) gave a detailed process of the Constitutional making process in the light of the GPA. Prof. Ncube also pointed out that the constitution making process will be spearheaded by a parliamentary select committee which will be composed of members from the civic society and Church bodies. Prof. Ncube implored the meeting to give their 100% support to this process since the attempt was to come up with a constitution which was democratic and acceptable to all citizens of the country. This process was expected to last for 19 months.
Dr. Lovemore Madhuku, the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) argued that what the civic society wants is an independent body which would oversee the whole process and not a parliamentary select committee. He also argued that the NCA would not be part to strategies that promote certain political ideologies which do not follow the democratic values and principles.
Hon. Tendai Biti (one of the GPA negotiators), finance minister, noted that there was great need for all players to be aware of the state of the economy so that there is oneness toward a concerted effort to restore the country back to a normal economy. Hon. Biti noted that the country’s economic collapse is worse that of Europe in 1945 (after World War 2). He observed that Zimbabwe had negative growth rate of -5% by 2005 when the country stopped issuing credible statistics, GDP of -30%, and electricity production is 30% of the normal requirements and to-date the country has removed 25 zeros from its currency since August 2006. Life expectancy has fallen to 34years for women and 37years for men. Hon. Biti identified the need for:
a) Transparency and accountability by all stakeholders.
b) Need for hard work to restore positive growth in the economy
c) International help toward solving the humanitarian crises.
d) Recovery of health and education sectors.
e) Respect of people’s rights and freedom.
f) Need to allow for free media.
g) Respect for the rule of law.
h) Rationale land policy that will make sure that the land is productive.
i) Restoration of international confidence in Zimbabwe’s economy.
An economist, Mr. John Robertson, noted that the Inclusive Government must build international confidence and respect the rule of law for it to get international assistance. Mr. Robertson also emphasized change of mentality by the business community toward capacity building and production orientation. He also reminded the government of the urgent need to deal with redundant staff and the restructuring of the RBZ.
Rev. Dr. Goodwill Shana, president of the Christian Heads of Denominations, noted that the country’s worst enemy was the breakdown of law and order. Dr. Shana further argued that the shortage of essential commodities and services in the public institutions was to be attended to as first priority. Rev. Shana also noted that the number of displaced persons was alarming hence the need for National healing and restoration of the displaced citizens. Currently, Zimbabwe is a dysfunctional society; fear despair and shame engulfs the nation. A collapsed economy does not help matters; people need food, healing and reconciliation for the nation to be healed from this trauma.
Ms. Shari Eppel, a psychologist working with the victims of Zimbabwe crises from 1980 to-date, noted that as long as there was no deliberate thrust to deal with the effects of trauma then every effort to captivate the people of Zimbabwe would achieve little results because people were spiritually wounded and needed healing for them to fully function. Ms. Eppel argued that Zimbabwe was a broken country that needed urgent attention. Ms. Eppel called for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to be put in place at the right time, and not during the transition period.
Dr. David Kaulem argued that conditions for National healing must disband the ambiguities of partisan politics. Dr. Kaulem called upon all civic groups to promote the traditional cultural values which are enshrined on the moral values of life, respect, promotion of common good, solidarity, subsidiarity, universal participation and stewardship.
Rev. Dr. Philemon Chikafu argued that National healing was indeed a responsibility of the varied religious institutions. He noted that a National healing ritual has to be deliberately undertaken to deal with such matters of the spiritual man and the private pain. Dr. Chikafu called for the:
a) Creation of peace zones.
b) De-politicization of space.
c) De-politicization of National Institutions.
d) Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Religious Institutions.
Ms. Irene Petras, the president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, argued that as long as there was continued violation of the basic rights and freedoms of the people, Zimbabwe would not get any International support. Ms. Petras noted that the spirit of the GPA was being violated by the police through the continued arrest of individuals and civic groups such as Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA).she called upon the Inclusive Government to act and walk the talk and spirit of the GPSA.
Mr. Innocent Chagonda and Hon. Prof. Welshman Ncube gave a detailed presentation on the role of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC). Mr. Chagonda noted that JOMIC’s role is to ensure that the politicians keep to the spirit and letter of the GPSA. It was however noted that JOMIC has no power to compel but simply puts the facts of the GPA before the political parties’ principals. In response, Prof. Lloyd Sachikonye appreciated the spirit of JOMIC but went further to implore the principals of the GPA to make sure that the law enforcement agents adhered to political guidance as it pertains to the spirit of the GPA and Inclusive Government. Prof. Sachikonye also encouraged the civic society to approach the JOMIC for redress on all matters that seek to violate the spirit of the GPA.
Dr. Mark Simpson, of the UNDP, observed that the challenges facing the nation are clear and obvious but require a sincere political commitment by all political players. He noted that it was important for the country to move away from the self-serving interests to a truly economic recovery framework. Dr. Simpson called for balanced programs and serious consultations with all stakeholders.
The dialogue between the Inclusive Government on one hand and Civic and Church organizations on the other is indeed a fruitful effort toward National engagement in search of a democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe. It is imperative for our partners to realize that the watch dog role of the civic and Church organizations is critical in the political processes toward building a new Zimbabwe. The demand for a host of empowerment programs toward National healing is a number one priority.