CL/175/11(a)-R.2- 9 -
Geneva, 1st October 2004
a bit slowly and they had not yet reached the point where formal negotiations could be opened. In this context, the Minister insisted that he only accepted to talk to the opposition if he believed they would show tolerance in matters such as the national anthem, the raising of the flag, or receiving President Mugabe in Parliament.
The Leader of the Opposition confirmed that talks were being held without providing any further detail.
During the delegation’s stay, “The Herald” published an article on 30 March 2004 entitled “No basis for ZANU-PF, MDC to engage in talks; Parties have different goals” which cast the question of negotiations in a somewhat pessimistic light. The author recommended that “those asking for talks to take place between the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC should be told that the best way for talks to occur is for the MDC to dissolve and become part of the progressive and patriotic ruling party”. Talks could not take place because the two parties neither spoke the same language nor pursued common goals: “ZANU-PF speaks the language of patriotism, nationalism, total independence and economic emancipation of the majority. The MDC speaks the language of sell-outs, individualists, puppeteers and neocolonialists.” While ZANU-PF was “in the process of building up the country, empowering the masses and leading Zimbabweans in an economic revolution”, the MDC was “bent on engineering and abetting economic chaos, promoting unrest, disturbing peace and usurping the legitimate and sovereign power of the incumbent leadership. In fact, the MDC leadership was presently under trial for high treason.” The divergence between the two parties was “as wide as between an architect and a demolisher. One builds and the other destroys”. The paper concluded that there was “no dishonour in dissolving the MDC or in moving back to ZANU-PF. It was more honourable to take a new path of light in humility, than to remain in darkness with pride”.
The Speaker referred to the question of codes of conduct. He stated that a committee had been set up to examine how the political violence could be resolved. The MDC, having initially refused, later joined the discussions which led to the adoption of an informal code of conduct during the 2002 presidential elections, a gentleman’s agreement between the parties which remained in force for future elections. In the Speaker’s view, Zimbabwe was becoming less violent, and people were now more prepared to accept members of a family belonging to different parties. He referred to a recent by-election (the delegation understood this to be the Zengeza by-election; see below) where there had been no violence until the final stage. The Speaker affirmed that the aim was to promote a culture of tolerance as “we are all brothers and sisters”.
The Leader of the Opposition confirmed that there had been talks about codes of conduct, but they had not led to any concrete action. In fact, he said, the situation had worsened as shown by the Zengeza by-elections.
Both Chief Whips told the delegation that Parliament should be “the starting point” in efforts to ease tensions, for example by setting up bi-partisan commissions to look into allegations of political violence, such as in the case of the Zengeza by-election. The Government Chief Whip said that the party’s decision-making bodies took decisions, the Politburo in the case of ZANU-PF, and not by the parliamentary groups. Both expressed the view that the spirit of tolerance should percolate from the parliamentary groups to the political parties.
4.4.1.Electoral violence and the arrest of MDC MP Tumbare-Mutasa
During the delegation’s stay in Harare, a by-election took place in Zengeza to replace MDC MP Tafadzwa Musekiwa who, it was told, had gone into exile in the UK fearing for his safety and later resigned. According to newspaper reports, two men were shot in “skirmishes” outside a polling station between ZANU-PF and MDC supporters in the morning of Sunday 28 March. One of them, 22 year old Francis Chinozvinya, an MDC supporter died later in hospital. He had been shot in the chest. Allegations