The words of a government mouthpiece may betray a change of thinking at the top
An article in today's (April 23) Herald, the state-run newspaper normally considered to be the direct voice of the Zimbabwe government, appears to concede that Zanu-PF cannot claim victory in the current elections, and calls instead for a "transitional government of national unity."
It criticises leaders of Zanu-PF, and seems to suggest that for the first time the government must accept the prospect of sharing power with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
The author of the article is Dr. Obediah Mukura Mazombwe, and much of his piece rehearses the familiar arguments that blame all Zimbabwe's ills on the West, particularly what he calls the "Anglo-American establishment."
But he goes on to say this: "Indeed the Zimbabwean situation is 'dire', but not all is lost. Zimbabwe and Africa and the progressive international community can turn it around."
He then apears to dismiss the prospect of a run-off election. "The current socio-economic environment in Zimbabwe is not conducive, and the country's political dynamics so distorted, that holding a free and fair election run-off in the immediate term is literally impossible."
He goes on to suggest a new constitution for the country be written, with the help of SADC and the "international community", to be adopted after a national referendum.
Then, in co-operation with SADC and "invited" members of the international community, fresh free and fair elections should be held. Meanwhile, he maintains - and this is no surprise - that any government of national unity should retain Robert Mugabe as President.
Then, unusually for a government mouthpiece, Dr. Mazombwe's article goes on to criticise the leadership of both main political parties. With a possible eye on the violence currently being wreaked by Mugabe's men across the nation, he says this:
"The peace and independence of Zimbabwe, that it has enjoyed since independence, is at great risk. Whilst the ruling party must stop behaving like a wounded buffalo, the opposition party must stop its hysterica and lapses into delusion.
"The ruling party, as the senior and more experienced organisation, both nationally and internationally, needs to show greater self-restraint and maturity..."
The criticisms of Morgan Tzvangirai and his MDC are swingeing, of course, while those of Mugabe and his men remain mild. But the fact that they are there at all is something to behold. And one wonders what the "wounded buffalo" in State House makes of it.