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.
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?
Finally there are reasons to be cheerful. There are the small things like the fact that the petrol price seems to have arrived at some sort of ceiling and may even start falling, and the fact that we beat the All Blacks at the House of Pain (Ok, that’s not a small thing). But then there are some bigger picture factors which are encouraging:
1. Some eight months after Polokwane, the sky has not fallen on our heads. President Thabo Mbeki and Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel, appear confident that South Africa will hold its economic policy line. The voices of the left are sounding increasingly shrill. Silly rantings about the zero-rating of foods that are already zero-rated and calls for killing in the name of Jacob Zuma are not causing alarm so much as tut-tuts.
2. Zimbabwe is now involved in serious talks aimed at settling that country’s political crisis. It has only been a few days, so chickens ought not to be counted. But the fact is that Mugabe’s people and Tsvangirai’s people are right now seeking a way forward together. As soon as there is any advance on this front, the dividend for South Africa and this region will be phenomenal.
3. South Africa’s civil society is finding its voice once more. The likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu are speaking out fearlessly about what is wrong in the country and there is once more a sense that a democratic center is holding. There are other voices, such as that of former Education Minister Kader Asmal, who is spearheading a petition aimed at demonstrating support for our constitution.
And, new addition:
4. Inflation has been overestimated by two percent according to Investec. This means that we are in a whole lot better shape economically than we previously thought. This will have a positive effect on the interest rate climate and may even signal the top of that cycle.
Use it, don’t use it.
THIS has got to be the best news to greet this country – and this region – for many years. Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, have signed an agreement to sort out the country’s problems through dialogue. This just in from the SA Press Association:
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai signed a framework agreement Monday which paves the way for
fully-fledged talks on ending a protracted political crisis.
The two men signed a memorandum of understanding at a ceremony
overseen by South African President Thabo Mbeki, the region’s long-time
mediator between Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s rival parties.
Mbeki said all parties wanted a rapid resolution to their dispute
sparked by elections in March.
“It commits the negotiating parties to an intense programme of work
to try and finalise the negotiations as quickly as possible,” said
“All the Zimbabwean parties recognise the urgency of the matters
they are discussing and all are committed to trying to complete this
process as quickly as possible.”
Now let there be peace.
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!”
NOW that Robert Mugabe has held his sham election in which he was the only candidate, the world must take action to end his regime.
This action should include diplomatic efforts aimed at creating a transitional caretaker state which should oversee legitimate, free and fair elections.
But steps need to also include some real pressure on Mugabe to recognise the need for a transition.
These should include a strong global statement that Mugabe’s is an illegitimate government which is not recognised.
Sporting isolation, led by the global cricketing fraternity is already on the cards.
Economic isolation, which was so effective against apartheid, ought to also be considered.
The notion that Mugabe can be somehow cajoled into negotiating a settlement with the opposition because he will at some undefined point in the future undergo a change of heart is frankly laughable.
He is playing a game of power politics and he needs to feel the steel of isolation and shame if he is to be forced from office.
South Africa needs to step out from Mugabe’s shadow and lead the world on this matter if it is to regain its credibility.
The ANC has finally begun to make the right noises on Mugabe, but government appears to be lamentably behind the times.
President Thabo Mbeki’s failure to grasp the Mugabe nettle is becoming a source of embarrassment, even within the ranks of his ruling party.
He must continue to lead the diplomatic effort to deal with Zimbabwe, but he needs to realise that his powers of persuasion are not equal to Mugabe’s powers of manipulation.
If the truth be told, Mbeki has been played like an out-of-tune second fiddle by Mugabe because he has not properly grasped the power dynamics.
There is precious little time for him to make up for this and he should start right now.
NEWS agency Reuters is reporting that US Democratic candidate, Barak Obama, has called on South Africa to up its criticism of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.
The agency quotes him saying:
“What’s happening in Zimbabwe is tragic. This is a country that used to be the bread basket of Africa. Mugabe has run the economy into the ground. He has perpetrated extraordinary violence against his own people. Not only do I think that the United Nations needs to continue to apply as much pressure as possible on the Mugabe government, but in particular other African nations, including South Africa, I think have to be much more forceful in condemning the extraordinary violence that’s been taking place there.”
Obama went further saying African leaders had been “quiet for far too long” on Mugabe
“What is remaining of this election is a complete and total sham,” he said.
A hilarious blog post by Charles Onyango Obbo of Kenya’s Daily Nation. He makes the case that Mugabe is not as bad as many other African dictators. It is a great piece of damning with faint praises. An Extract:
When Mugabe decided to take Grace as his, he didn’t do as Uganda’s former dictator (and friend of Mobutu) Field Marshal Idi Amin did when he set eyes upon the beautiful Sarah Kyolaba. Idi was immediately smitten, but like a good general, he first inquired about the competition.
He was told Sarah had a boyfriend, a fashionable musician of the time. Idi sent his boys round to the fellow’s house a few nights later, and he was never seen again, leaving him to take Sarah as his youngest (she reportedly also became his favourite) wife without any rival lurking in the shadows.
Compared to Mobutu who grabbed many people’s wives, Mugabe stole only one. And compared to Amin, he didn’t kill Flt-Lt Guririza. He exiled him to China as a diplomat. So in those two regards, Mugabe is far better than Amin and Mobutu.