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Tuesday, 11 November 2008

How it feels to negotiate with Mugabe

An insight into the oppressive atmosphere of the power-sharing talks

The world has seen that the latest international effort to resolve the power sharing impasse in Zimbabwe - the Johannesburg meeting of the leaders from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) - has ended in confusion once again.

Now a source who sat in on this tumultuous conferenceshas described to me exactly what it's like to try and persuade Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF lieutenants to see reason. He says the sessions were uniformly noisy, quarrelsome, and even scary.

Things began well. South African President Kgalema Motlanthe didn't pull his punches. He spoke firmly to the three Zimbabwean principals: Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, and Arthur Mutambara, leader of the breakaway MDC faction.

"You have to think of your people, not yourselves, and therefore your negotiations should be for their good, not about you getting power," he told them.

All well and good. Then Tsvangirai made his opening presentation, saying that Mugabe should not be allowed to cling on to the powerful ministries in a new government, because he had lost the presidential election, and was therefore President in name only.

At this, according to my source, Mugabe went ballistic. "You did not win the election, no you didn't," he bellowed. "You are a liar!"

Some of the SADC leaders tried to intervene, but Mugabe shouted them down. "He did not win those elections. This is just a Western machination. He is a western puppet... I cannot allow him into my government."

My source says that at this point he would have expected firm words in opposition to the President and his rantings from Botswana and Zambia, who have both been critical of Mugabe's rule. But neither of the leaders of these countries was present. And the others seemed cowed, afraid that any criticism of Mugabe would be deemed to be in some way anti-African.

Meanwhile Mugabe raged on. "I am president of the country... I am the one who decides what he gets, not him. We are not equals in this. As President, I am in charge."

In the end, the humiliated and intimidated SADC leaders came up with the suggestion that Zanu-PF and the MDC should share the disputed Home Affairs ministry - an idea so ludicrously unworkable that Tsvangirai dismissed it out of hand.

So what now? Mugabe is threatening to form a government in the very near future, whether anyone else likes it or not. Arrogantly, he has demanded that Tsvangirai submit of list of the men and ministries he wants, for Presidential approval. Tsvangirai, too long in the tooth to play that game, has pointed out that in a government of national unity Mugabe must also submit a list to him, for his approval.

MDC leaders meet on Friday to consider what to do next. But it was perhaps the party's spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, who summed up the future most succinctly.

"Zanu-PF is on the warpath," he said. "Now we have rejected the carrot, the next thing will be a very very big stick."


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This is much to be expected of an insane, delusional old tyrant who's lost all touch with any concept of reality. But, his lieutenants are no closer to reason than he is. When he's gone, however that happens, they will feel the country is then "theirs" by some imagined right... and thus "entitled", will continue down the exact same ludicrous path with their own distorted version of an "African solution to an African problem".

Maybe the best hope is that when that happens, there'll be much confusion due to in-fighting for control and power that the military won't know to whom to post their loyalty... and that's when the mid-ranks could put their plan into play and take over.

Anyone have any thoughts along those lines?

The forcible overthrow of governments or social order nearly always start from within the country concerned. But remember in Mugabe's case, he probably still has the backing of his formidable Chinese masters. Also much of the population in Zimbabwe is now starved, weakened, spiritless and subservient to who ever wields the biggest stick which at this moment in time, is Zanu PF.

Truly shocking that nobody stood up against Mugabe at this meeting. Where was Banda of Zambia and Khama of Botswana? It's all well and good being critical of Mugabe, but at least have the backbone to say it to his face.

An "African Solution" for Zimbabwe does not exist. It requires a Zimbabwean solution, if only we had the leader to do it.

Alex, I am a firm adherent of the principle that 'people get the government they deserve'. It is a crude generalisation but it applies completely to Zimbabwe and probably most of Africa too.

Leaders come from the people and people drive their own leadership. Leaders merely provide the initial vision and possibility for the people to exercise their rights.

An example: Barack Obama made history recently in the US. But he cannot claim under any circumstances to have lead his country to that position. He provided the opportunity to make it possible to have a young charismatic black US president. But it was the people who campaigned for him, voted for him and supported him that ultimately brought him to power.

Now to Zimbabwe. For almost a decade now the MDC and Tsvangirai have held a candle up to Zimbabweans showing them the possibility of a new life. Yes, some people campaigned and voted for him. But where are these people now?

If Barack had been denied victory you can bet there would have been huge opposition to that in the US. In Zimbabwe the people meekly go back to their lives and accept the status quo.

By any rights Mugabe should have been captured and killed by the mob like his friend Ceaucescu the Romanian dictator. But no, he maintains his grip on the country and has the support of SADC who seem completely unwilling to reject his idiotic proposals.

So I say that leadership, whilst not the best we could have, is there. What we don't have is the passion and vigour in the population of Zimbabwe to back it up.

Tsvangirai must immediately withdraw from the GNU. He is lending credibility to Mugabe and SADC by remaining in it. He needs to form a government in exile in Botswana or Zambia and begin prosecuting a new liberation war. There is nothing 'legal' left to do.

You are correct in what you say DC and only in Africa could a situation like this persist for such a lengthly period.

This really says it all. Mugabe has no intention of 'sharing' his government. Never intended to and never will.

A sad state of affairs. And particularly when the SADC could have put him in his place. What on earth are they afraid of? Zimbabwe invading Sth Africa or something? I can't imagine Mugabe's army ever having any effect in any invasion or conflict.

And the biggest worry would have to be his state of mind. A demented dictator could snap and lash out, and do even more horrible damage to the country.

People do not always get the government they deserve.
You're wrong DC.
People are not the same.
Dictatorships are not the same.
And events do not run the same courses at the same speed.
In africa leaders have a way of consolidating their grip on power that its a very tall order to go against it and expect a quick path to freedom.
Worse still if the leader has some brains in his evil cranium like Mugabe.
If Barack Obama lost the election in the US there wouldn't have been an uprising so don't try telling us different when Al Gore got his ticket stolen by Bush in plain sight.
Adhering to a principle nomatter how firmly you do doesn't make it a truth.
Media, police, army, transport, elections, business are all run by Mugabes relatives or blood loyalists.
And they just showed us that they're to an extent, immune to losing elections.

Paspa, read my comment carefully. I did not suggest that if Obama had lost to McCain (through fraud) that there would have been an uprising. But when Gore was cheated by Bush Jr, there WAS widespread opposition.

During the first term there were marches, movies, books, internet articles and a massive onslaught to topple the Bush cartel after his first term. It failed for a number of reasons that are not important to this discussion.

In the US, a bad politician is a blot on the landscape. Kids still go to school, people still go to work and they can still spend their money on plasma TVs and meals out.

In Zimbabwe and much of Africa a bad politician is a matter of life and death. Yet Africans are content to watch their brothers, sisters and children die and even feel some sympathy when told that it is the fault of the west or 'sanctions'.

Bush is a villain no doubt. But compared to the average African leader he ranks as a saint. How much more effort must therefore go into ousting these thugs?

So what if Mugabe controls all the arms of the state? My point is that under such conditions - repeated all over Africa - other societies would have reached breaking point years ago.

If the West treat Africa and Africans like dirt it is because they are being taught by the best - by Africans.

Paspa, "in Africa leaders have a way of consolidating their grip on power" etc. As mentioned before, among the majority of people in Africa their appears to exist under a civilised veneer, a medieval mindset whether they are rulers or the ruled. To understand Mugabe, Mbeki or Zuma's thought processes for example, people from the west should study 14th or 15th century history, or better still the life and times of Shaka or Mzilikazi.

This little roll model by WFDeedes, between a British minister and Humphrey, his civil servant adviser says it all.

"Humphrey, we must take action against Mugabe's destruction of Zimbabwe."
"No. minister, it would do a disservice to our best interests in Africa."
"Why- not, for heaven's sake'? He's a villain.'
"Not in the eyes of all Africa, minister." Humphrey, are you mad?"
"No. minister. I'm only suggesting that many Africans do not see him as we do."
"Why not? He's starving his own people. Humphrey."
"Yes, minister, but he has managed to hold power in Africa for longer than any other leader. That earns him high esteem."
"From other African leaders, perhaps, but not from most Africans."
"Minister. for many years most Africans were under European rule. When Mugabe rants against 'imperialism' he strikes a chord with many of them."
"No imperialist. Humphrey, behaved as brutally as Mugabe does."
"That is as may be, minister, but he is 'one of them', which gives him a certain licence to behave badly, In Africa, it is recognised that `the winner takes all."
"Humphrey, you're doing Africa a gross injustice. The vast majority there would cheer if we gave Mugabe a hiding."
"'No, minister, the majority would resent the intrusion. African governments are sensitive about outside interference. They would rally round Mugabe, and we would lose valuable interests there."
-So you are saying that we must stand idly by?"
“Yes, minister.”

RM, there is a parting note to that exchange between Hacker and Humphrey:

Minister: "But what happens when there is a complete meltdown, a human catastrophe as a result of this?"
Humphrey: "WE have to bail them out!"

check out posting on...


Indeed, SADC leaders are all stinking cowards. Their cowardice stinks to the very heavens above. Just how they can be so scared of a dry old piece of excrement like Sekuru Mugabe deeply vexes me. Especially for South Africa, just what the hell has South Africa go to gain from leaking the smelly butt of this devil in a tea spoon? My only wish is that Zimbabwe concentrates hard on exporting chorela and crime to South Africa until those stupid idiots realise their government's policy in Zimbabwe is killing the country.

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