Zimbabwe's toothless bulldog

The role of Zimbabwe’s Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) is increasingly coming in for criticism due to its failure to ensure that the three parties in the Inclusive Government (IG) fully implement the power-sharing pact. Political analysts and civic activists have dismissed the 12-member committee as a ‘toothless bulldog’ because of its inability to deal with the numerous violations of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

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Strategic communications for WWF

December 8th, 2011

The role of Zimbabwe’s Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) is increasingly coming in for criticism due to its failure to ensure that the three parties in the Inclusive Government (IG) fully implement the power-sharing pact. Political analysts and civic activists have dismissed the 12-member committee as a ‘toothless bulldog’ because of its inability to deal with the numerous violations of the Global Political Agreement (GPA). However, the committee has dismissed these criticisms saying there is a misconception about its mandate and the power at its disposal.Jomic, which comprises four senior members from each of the two MDC formations and the former ruling party ZANU PF, insists it is carrying out its mandate as specified in Article XXII of the GPA – the principal function of which is to ensure the implementation of the agreement in its letter and spirit. It is also supposed to serve as a catalyst in creating an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding between the parties and in promoting dialogue between them.However, in the past three years, it has become increasingly clear that the will of the principals, especially President Robert Mugabe, always prevails and recommendations from Jomic are largely ignored.With no powers to summon a person who breaches the GPA and forced to rely on persuasion to deal with offenders, it is little wonder that Jomic is widely perceived as emasculated. Indeed, it has largely been reduced to issuing mundane press statements urging the parties to abide by the GPA, which no one seems to take any heed of.In view of escalating politically-motivated violence in the country, non-fulfilment of 24 agreed GPA issues, hate speech in the state press and continuing harassment of independent media, the question on the minds of many Zimbabweans is whether Jomic is still relevant or has become a white elephant.It is generally agreed that the biggest mistake made during the creation of Jomic was its composition. How can Zimbabweans expect those implementing the GPA to be the ones to check on their compliance? They can’t, as they are interested parties and they are bound to sing from the same hymn books as their political parties’ leaders and membership.The ideal situation would have been to set up a committee made up of apolitical people, mainly from civil society, working closely with an impartial police force and Attorney-General to ensure the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of violence. There is need for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to urgently deploy its own Troika team delegates to the organ, as promised at the Livingstone summit, to bolster Jomic’s capabilities and give it much-needed teeth.To make matters worse, there is no law or Act of Parliament that backs Jomic in any way – so Jomic simply cannot enforce any decision. I believe that turning the body into a statutory organ would give it enough muscle to enforce its decisions and have effective oversight over the implementation of the GPA.Despite all evidence to the contrary, Jomic believes it is still relevant and that no institution has done as much to ensure that Zimbabwe does not slide back into chaos. For example, in an effort to end politically motivated violence, Jomic has set up inter-party liaison committees at provincial and district levels.MDC-T supporters who were forced to flee their homes in Chimanimani early this year by ZANU PF activists returned home in October after Jomic’s intervention. Jomic has also organised inter-party weekly meetings in Harare to find a solution to end the violence that has rocked the capital city and Chitungwiza in the last few weeks. Jomic also organised the anti-violence indaba on November 11 between the three parties’ top leadership.However, Jomic co-chair Elton Mangoma has admitted that all Jomic can do is talk and try to persuade violators of the GPA to alter their behaviour. “How do you define power or real power? As long as there are still issues that are not implemented, Jomic remains relevant. Jomic remains the negotiation forum where political parties meet and resolve issues,” Mangoma said.He added, “There is no other institution that can do it or that has the power to deal with these things.”Mangoma said Jomic is not there to police or prosecute people because there are institutions responsible for this.Jomic has said it will meet with Police Commissioner-General, Augustine Chihuri, to discuss why there is selective application of the law by the police, allegedly in favour of ZANU PF supporters. It is also planning to talk to the Information Minister to discuss the issue of hate speech and the state media’s partisan approach.But Jomic still has to deal with the implementation of the 24 agreed – and outstanding – issues. And the political parties remain deadlocked over these remaining issues. While ZANU PF has insisted on the removal of travel restrictions, which it says are hindering full economic recovery, as the number one outstanding issue, the two MDC formations have been accused by ZANU PF of raising new issues at every sitting including the security sector reforms.It is a classic example of what is wrong with Jomic. It can talk and point out violations. It can bring the parties together to discuss issues. But that is all. It has no power to enforce its recommendations so the full implementation of the GPA is dependent on the will of the political leaders – and they have not shown much will in the past three years. By Faith Zaba, Zimbabwe Independent

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