Part of Thabo Mbeki’s toxic legacy could well prove to be the disastrous unity deal he engineered between Zanu-PF and the MDC in Zimbabwe.
Democracy has been defeated in Zimbabwe, and this largely due to Mbeki’s willingness to legitimise Mugabe’s tyrannous regime through his chairing of the power-sharing negotiations. It was a marriage doomed from the start — and it’s not surprising that about four weeks after the deal was signed, there is still a deadlock over Cabinet positions.
On the weekend, Mugabe announced that Zanu-PF will control the state security apparatus as well as the most important ministries: defence, justice, media mines, land and home and foreign affairs.
It is clearer than ever that Zanu-PF has no intention of relinquishing power, and only acceded to the unity deal as a survival strategy. Mbeki was either too callous or delusional to realise this. However, that is beside the point; more importantly, Zimbabwe’s people are needlessly suffering thanks to our erstwhile president’s self-interested meddling.
The results of the March 29 elections have not been respected. Had they been, and had the MDC been allowed to form a government, aid and investment would be flowing into the country and reconstructing the decimated nation would begin.
Zimbabwe remains without a functioning government, its economy in freefall with inflation skyrocketing to an incomprehensible 231-million percent. Inter-account transfers have been banned by the Reserve Bank and queues for ATMs are hundreds of metres long. People are desperate, starving and unable to afford even the most basic goods needed to survive.
There are severe shortages of seed and fertiliser, so the country will be unable to feed itself. All in all, the outlook is spectacularly bleak.
President Kgalema Motlanthe has a responsibility to resolve the situation exacerbated by the machinations of his predecessor. The unity deal should be canned. He should step in to ensure that Zanu-PF surrenders its illegitimate power. He can do this by freezing bank accounts, implementing smart sanctions and slapping travel bans on the Zanu-PF elite.
On March 29, the Zimbabwean people voted for change. It is about time their decision, and democratic right, was respected.
This was first published on Alex’s Thought Leader column.