[R-G] NGOs Move to Sideline Tsvangirai
critical.montages at gmail.com
Thu Jul 17 13:46:20 MDT 2008
Zimbabwe CSO's call for a transitional authority
Zimbabwe Civil Society Organizations (2008-07-17)
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We, civil society organizations acting on behalf of the people of
Zimbabwe, today reassert our commitment to the struggle for a
transition to democracy. In doing so, we stand firmly by the
principles of democratic constitutionalism that are embodied in the
People's Charter and which represent the birthright of every
Given the present environment of fear and oppression, we declare that
democratic reform must be preceded by the cessation of violence,
restoration of law and order, and facilitation of humanitarian relief.
If such conditions are met, we are prepared to support the
installation of a transitional government created after consultation
with all stakeholders.
We believe that a transitional government would provide an appropriate
vehicle for ushering democratic reform. The transitional authority
would have a specific, limited mandate to oversee the drafting of a
new, democratic and people-driven constitution and the installation of
a legitimate government. We wholeheartedly reject the suggestion of a
power-sharing agreement that fails to immediately address the
inadequacy of the current constitutional regime.
The transitional government must be established in line with the following:
1. Leadership by a neutral body. The transitional government should
be headed by an individual who is not a member of ZANU-PF or MDC.
2. Broad representation. Individuals from a broad sector of
Zimbabwean society should be incorporated into the transitional
government. This should include representatives from labor
organizations, women's and children's rights groups, churches, and
various other interest groups.
3. Specific, limited mandate. The transitional government should be
tasked with facilitating the drafting and adoption of a new
constitution and then holding elections under the new constitutional
framework. It should only govern the country until such time as the
government elected under the new constitution is installed. The
negotiating parties should provide a very clear timeframe for this
process, with no more than 18 months of rule by the transitional
4. People-driven constitutional development. The process of drafting
a new constitution must include broad-based consultation with the
public. Interest groups such as women, labor, churches, and media
should be given special opportunities to provide input. The draft
constitution should not be enacted until it has been ratified by the
public in a national referendum.
5. Restoration of good governance. State institutions such as the
judiciary, police, security services, and state welfare agencies
should be depoliticized and reformed. Steps should be taken to fight
corruption and promote accountability for public officials.
Restrictions on press freedom should be lifted and access to state
media outlets should be opened.
6. Transitional justice initiatives. The transitional government
should design and implement a system to bring to justice the
perpetrators of gross human rights violations. This framework for
transitional justice should be embedded in the new constitution. In
the event of the above conditions not being met, civil society commits
itself to continue in actions that increase pressure on whosoever will
be holding state power to embrace people-centered democratic process.
NGOs Move to Sideline Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai insists he must head any transitional
administration, but opposition-aligned pressure groups say they want a
more neutral figure.
By Jabu Shoko in Harare (ZCR No. 155, 17-Jul-08)
The announcement by several influential non-government groups in
Zimbabwe that they wanted a transitional administration headed by a
neutral figure has dealt a severe blow to opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, who has been seeking support to take on the job himself.
In a surprise move, a group of civil society organisations said on
July 15 they would reject a transitional government led by either
Tsvangirai or President Robert Mugabe. They included the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions – which gave birth to Tsvangirai's Movement
for Democratic Change, MDC, in 1999, the Zimbabwe National Students'
Union, Women of Zimbabwe Arise, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, and
As preliminary discussions take place in Pretoria to lay the
groundwork for talks on a power-sharing arrangement, the MDC has made
it a precondition that Tsvangirai should head any "government of
South African president Thabo Mbeki, appointed by the Southern African
Development Community, SADC, as negotiator in the Zimbabwe crisis, is
thought to be putting the final touches to a negotiated settlement
between ZANU-PF and the MDC. Those privy to the Pretoria talks say the
deal would see the establishment of a presidency with scaled-down
powers and an executive prime minister, and both factions of the MDC,
of which Tsvangirai's is the larger, would be awarded senior posts.
Following consultative meeting on July 15, Lovemore Madhuku said the
non-government organisations, NGOs, had agreed that a transitional
government would provide an appropriate vehicle for ushering in
democratic reform, but that "such an arrangement must not be headed by
a person from ZANU-PF or the MDC".
"We want a neutral person," said Madhuku, who heads the National
Constitutional Assembly, an influential body that presses for
The NGOs, he said, envisaged a transitional authority with a specific,
limited mandate to oversee the drafting of a new democratic
constitution and the installation of a legitimate government, leading
to a fair presidential election.
"We wholeheartedly reject the suggestion of a power-sharing agreement
that fails to immediately address the inadequacy of the current
constitutional regime," he added.
Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in the first round of the presidential election
on March 29, although election officials said he failed to win the
required absolute majority. He boycotted the June 27 run-off vote,
citing violence against his supporters.
His demand to take charge of a caretaker government has been backed by
the European Union. the United States. Britain and several members of
the African Union and Southern African Development Community, SADC.
Outraged MDC officials said the civil society groups' plan to ditch
Tsvangirai, their ally of the past eight years, was tantamount to
stabbing him in the back.
"The problem with civic society is that they are not being realistic,"
said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa. "Tsvangirai won the presidential
elections, based on the [March 29 poll] results. For all intents and
purposes, he should lead any transitional arrangement or whatever
government you choose to call it.
"Why would they need a neutral person, who was not voted for by the
people, to be in charge, when facts are that the people of Zimbabwe
made a choice on March 29 in a legitimate election?"
Useni Sibanda, coordinator of the Christian Alliance, a coalition of
church groups, accepted that the NGOs' announcement might be
interpreted as meaning Tsvangirai's allies had ditched him.
"Mugabe might use it for propaganda purposes to mean that Tsvangirai
has been abandoned by his allies," he explained.
At the same time, he said, "Tsvangirai must understand it's time to
put national interests first before personal interests".
Eldred Masunungure, a politics lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe,
said the opposition leader should come to terms with his allies'
"Tsvangirai might see it as a political blow that his allies want him
out of the transitional arrangement so that he concentrates on solving
the political crisis…. I think he must not feel ditched. It will give
him time to re-strategise," he said.
Masunungure noted that given the degree of political polarisation in
Zimbabwe, it would be very difficult to identify a neutral figure.
According to Madhuku, Zimbabwean NGOs believe a transitional
government should represent a wider segment of the population than
just the political parties.
"Individuals from a broad sector of Zimbabwean society should be
incorporated into the transitional government. This should include
representatives from labour organisations, women's and children's
rights groups, churches and various interests groups," he said.
He insisted that the NGOs' support for a power-sharing deal was
conditional on an end to political violence, the restoration of law
and order, and the resumption of humanitarian relief operations.
Jabu Shoko is the pseudonym of a reporter in Harare.
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