ZIMBABWE’S Robert Mugabe is about to announce a government, effectively shredding the multi-party negotiations which represent his country’s last hope of unifying the fractured country and rebuilding its international credibility.
This is despite a massive compromise apparently offered by the MDC that the two bitter rivals co-chair Cabinet. Here’s an extract from our story on this:
“The only new but absurd suggestion from the MDC was that the cabinet be co-chaired by President Mugabe and Tsvangirai,” state daily The Herald quoted a source by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF as saying, referring to MDC opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“ZANU-PF dismissed the suggestion, not just as insolent, but also stunning ignorance on how government works.”
South Africa, which has been leading the mediation process via the person of President Thabo Mbeki, must not recognise such a government unless it wishes to once more create the impression that it quietly condones Mugabe.
The multi-party agreement which Mugabe will destroy was crafted with South Africa acting as midwife. We must defend it against the assault that Mugabe is mounting.
PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki was set to head out to Harare, Zimbabwe, today to try and salvage the talks between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai over the future of that country.
He does so following a dramatic turn of events in that country as the MDC won a vote for the position of Speaker and as opposition MPs jeered Mugabe as he delivered his opening of parliament speech.
Mbeki, already regarded with some suspicion by the MDC, goes to Zimbabwe with his legitimacy as a mediator at an all-time low.
This follows the decision by the recent SADC summit that the Zimbabwean parliament should be allowed to convene despite a memorandum of understanding between Mugabe and Tsvangirai in which it was agreed that such institutional action be suspended until a settlement was reached.
It seemed the decision was designed to pressure Tsvangirai into caving in because Mugabe had, at the time, cobbled together an alliance with an MDC splinter group that would give him a majority in the house.
This is largely academic now as it appears that the MDC splinter group has thrown its lot in with Tsvangirai.
But Mbeki will not easily be trusted again by the MDC.
Fortunately he has a ready opportunity to demonstrate his neutrality. Mugabe is now planning to tear up what remains of his agreement with the MDC by unilaterally forming a government.
This, coupled with the repeated detention of opposition MPs, suggests that he has decided to go it alone.
Mbeki must refrain from holding hands with Mugabe. He must refrain from grinning through garlands of flowers at Mugabe’s side. He must refrain from continuing the charade that Mugabe is a legitimate head of state.
He must stand up to Mugabe and deliver one simple message: Step aside, the game is over.
THE arrest of three opposition MDC MPs at Harare’s Parliament this afternoon represents yet another slap in the face for democracy by the ageing self-appointed president, Robert Mugabe.
Perhaps he was smarting from the roasting he took from opposition benches as he tried to make his way through his opening of parliament speech.
Unused to criticism, never mind open heckling and accusations that his party was “rotten”, Mugabe may be responded as he knows best – with repression.
Southern Africa must stand united against this petty tyrant. He must go now.
Zimbabwe’s self-appointed president, Robert Mugabe, is out in the cold. His final bid at for legitimacy – by getting parliament to endorse his presidency – has failed and the MDC of Morgan Tsvangirai has taken control of the legislature. If Mugabe’s isolation and steeply declining fortunes needed a symbolic moment, it occured this morning when, for the first time in 28 years, he endured heckling, booing and open aggression from the MDC’s benches as he tried to open Zimbabwe’s Parliament. This from Sapa:
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was heckled by the opposition on
Tuesday as he opened parliament and declared that “landmark agreements”
were expected to be signed by the country’s political rivals.
“Landmark agreements have been concluded with every expectation that
everybody will sign up,” Mugabe said to boos and jeers from the house.
While recognising ” regrettable and isolated” incidents of political
violence, Mugabe went on to say that “happily all political parties in
the country have acknowledged culpability in this violence” to further
“I acknowledge the inordinate delay in opening this session of
parliament, hoping you will appreciate the delay owed to a praiseworthy
search for peace and greater amity for our nation.”
Opposition MPs chanted “ZANU (PF) is rotten” with a number of senior
Movement for Democratic Change leaders present despite the party
earlier indicating it would boycott the opening over the lack of
progress in power-sharing negotiations.
The parliament was adjourned to October 14.
It will take a great and costly effort by President Thabo Mbeki to keep Mugabe in power, but even he won’t be able to pull it off.
AN hour is a long time in politics, to rewrite a well-worn catchphrase. Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s plan to cobble together an alliance in parliament to preserve his power appears to be unravelling before his eyes.
The MDC has won the position of speaker and deputy speaker in the Zimbabwean parliament, signalling that the two MDC factions (The large one led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the small splinter group of 10 MPs) have stood together despite intensive flirtation by Mugabe.
The Sapa report reads:
Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
national chairman Lovemore Moyo was elected speaker of parliament on
Monday, five months after disputed elections.
Moyo got 110 votes of 208 ballots cast, parliamentary clerk Austin
The Zimbabwean parliament met for the first time Monday since
parliamentary and presidential elections in March which led to months
of political unrest that has still not been settled.
The MDC now controls parliament for the first time but MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai claims President Robert Mugabe fixed the result of
the presidential election and pulled out of the runoff second round
because of allegations of violence against his supporters.
This signals that Mugabe’s plan to have his executive presidency proclaimed by parliament is doomed to fail. Which means that Zimbabwe will remain in crisis until he is prepared to compromise and hand over executive authority.
ROBERT Mugabe’s strategy to hold onto power at all costs has just gone into high gear. This morning his security forces arrested two opposition MDC MPs as they entered Parliament to be sworn in.
An extract from the Sapa report:
Two Zimbabwe opposition politicians were arrested Monday as they
entered parliament to be sworn in, their party said.
The arrests and a government announcement Monday that President
Robert Mugabe had appointed loyalists to several posts were likely to
fuel opposition accusations Mugabe is undermining stalled power-sharing
One of the men arrested Monday, Eliah Zembere, was among seven
Movement for Democratic Change activists police have said they were
seeking, alleging they were involved in election violence. The other,
Sure Mudzingwa, was not on the list, and the two uniformed and three
plainclothes officers who made the arrests did not say why nor where
the two were being taken.
In a statement, the opposition party said police also tried to
arrest a third member, who is on a team trying to negotiate the
power-sharing agreement, but he “was rescued by other MDC members of
Mugabe is laughing in the face of those who are trying to mediate a solution to Zimbabwe. How long can he be humoured?
THIS is truly unbelievable: Morgan Tsvangirai has been arrested at Harare International airport. This after several days of negotiation with Robert Mugabe about a compromise dispensation for Zimbabwe. What this proves is that Mugabe is a seriously delinquent nutter who cannot be trusted to tie his own shoelaces without stabbing himself in the back. If you know what I mean. An extract from our story:
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been prevented from travelling to Johannesburg to attend a Southern African Development Community summit.
Tsvangirai’s spokesman George Sibotshiwe said the MDC president, party secretary-general Tendai Biti and international relations head Eliphas Mukonoweshuro were briefly detained at Harare International Airport and their travel documents were confiscated.
“The three were part of the MDC delegation that was going to South Africa for the SADC summit to be held this weekend,” Sibotshiwe said.
An MDC statement said the three were stopped by operatives of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) who said their names were “on the list.”
“They did not reveal what so-called list was about,” said the MDC.
Sibotshiwe said the Zimbabwean state’s action showed “that the regime is not sincere on the dialogue process.”
He said the action was an “affront to SADC, to the AU and to the broader international community who are working hard to peacefully resolve Zimbabwe’s crisis.”
Sibotshiwe said they had asked president Thabo Mbeki and SADC to intervene.
The MDC leaders are still at the airport waiting to hear if they will be allowed to leave for South Africa.
IT looks increasingly likely that Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will not find each other in the talks being hosted by President Thabo Mbeki. The Times this morning reported the breakdown was around this issue.
Tsvangirai is said to want full power to appoint his cabinet and insists that Mugabe should play a ceremonial role, given that the MDC won the most votes in the March 29 elections. He wants the prime minister to be appointed by parliament, not by the president, as suggested by Mugabe.
If these talks fail, the question arises as to how to go forward from here. What is immediately obvious is that a Mugabe-led Zimbabwe should not be accepted by Mbeki or the SADC. Tsvangirai garnered more votes in the March election and this must remain the cornerstone of any deal that is negotiated. Mugabe and Tsvangirai must lead a government while a proper free and fair election is planned to once and for all sort out who should lead the country.
It’s time for Mbeki to call in the many years worth of favours that Mugabe owes him. He could try this line: “I’ve only got a few months before the unions and Zuma take over. Then you can kiss quiet diplomatic ass goodbye. Best you listen up and carve out a deal or find yourself in the Haige trying to explain to Richard Goldstone why you should not be jailed for life.” Might work.
SCENARIO planning is an inexact science at the best of times.
In an environment of political transition with a rampaging oil price and confusion about which statistics are an accurate reflection of what’s going on, things become even less predictable.
But there are some certainties which we can draw on to try and start painting a picture of where this nation is going.
The first and most immediate of these is that somewhere near Tshwane today leaders from Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC are meeting to try and solve Zimbabwe’s problems.
That this meeting is happening at all is a small miracle, one which President Thabo Mbeki can justifiably chalk down as a diplomatic triumph.
Then there’s that report from Investec which suggests that inflation may be overestimated by more than two percentage points.
Although this has led to a row with the Reserve Bank, it is nonetheless cause for some celebration.
These positive factors should not be lost in the sea of negativity around crime and the looming Jacob Zuma presidency.
But we are about to enter dangerous times.
Crime remains a major concern and one which is yet to be tackled with any conviction by the authorities who are instead disbanding the Scorpions.
And Zuma’s August court date promises to deliver the most dramatic public assault on the judiciary by those that will kill for him.
There will be high-profile killings that will dim our view of this country. There will be political madness and negative stereotypes.
Brace yourself for angry mobs whipped into a frenzy by militant rhetoric as the Zwelinzima Vavi’s and Julius Malema’s lose what little self-control they have left.
But remember that the majority of loyal, hard-working South Africans want a winning country. And we will fight for it.
This picture just in from Harare, Zimbabwe, shows Thabo Mbeki and Robert Mugabe holding hands again. But, as I have observed on previous hand-holding occassions, all is not as it seems. To my untrained eye, it is clear that Mbeki is very reluctant to have his hand held. His fingers are closed, denying the palm to Mugabe. But Mugabe, keenly aware of the propaganda value of having a head of state in his presence and, perhaps, just a little desperate, has grabbed the next best thing – Mbeki’s wrist.
Mbeki has a look on his face that says to me: “Oh, no! Not another handshake ambush. Watch the media turn me into a Mugabe puppet by tommorrow morning … eish!”