My Fellow Zimbabweans:
The Movement for Democratic Change has always been a people's project. We seek nothing but the best interests of the people of our country.
Tragically, Zimbabwe has become one of the worst man-made humanitarian disasters of a new and hopeful century. At least two million Zimbabweans have already fled our homeland. An estimated half million Zimbabweans have already died of starvation, malnutrition and preventable disease.
Because of the failed policies of ZANU PF, five million Zimbabweans
now face starvation and famine. We cannot allow this to happen. All of us must provide decisive leadership.
My Fellow Zimbabweans, on March 29 you voted for change. You have been clear. We will not betray you. In this respect, the MDC entered these negotiations full of hope. We put aside our grievances and reached out to ZANU PF for the good of the people.
However, any dialogue to save our country must take place in an
atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance underpinned by our shared patriotism and desire to stop the suffering, and build a prosperous future for our children.
Let me be clear, MDC entered these negotiations seeking a
transformative and healing solution to the deep-seated political and
economic crisis facing our country. Our objective is simple – a
peaceful resolution to the crisis that respects the will of the people.
The MDC remains committed to participating in any meaningful and
genuine dialogue that urgently moves this process forward.
We knew negotiations would be difficult, but a resolution that
represents anything other than the will of the Zimbabwean people would be a disaster for our country. We are committed to a solution that recognizes that the people spoke on the 29th of March 2008 - a solution that ensures tangible deliverables are put on the table of Zimbabweans. A solution must thus put the people first, not leadership positions and titles.
Our members of parliament and councilors, indeed Zimbabweans of all political persuasions, are part of the transformative process. We need a government that transfers power to the elected representatives of the people to carry out the people's mandate for change.
In the immediate days ahead, we have a historic opportunity to choose between hope or hatred, cooperation or conflict, prosperity or
poverty, the will of the people or selfish interests. In short, we
seek a new Zimbabwe that will provide food, jobs, dignity and healing
to all our people.
To accomplish this, we need to look forward together. Only by working together can we transform our society. Only by working together can we rebuild our nation.
Although there are many dimensions to our crisis, there is one
immediate and urgent step that is required:
Our people continue to face a profound humanitarian crisis. We know you are suffering. Without further delay, we are demanding that NGOs be allowed to resume humanitarian assistance – distributing food, medicines and life-saving assistance. This destructive policy of banning humanitarian assistance can be reversed with one letter.
The Zimbabwean problem is an African problem that requires an African solution. This weekend's SADC Heads of State Summit in Johannesburg is yet another opportunity for our African brothers and sisters to offer us a hand at this decisive moment. In his role as facilitator and as incoming SADC Chairman, President Thabo Mbeki must insist on ensuring that the Zimbabwean issue is put to rest. Most importantly, President Mbeki must ensure that humanitarian assistance is resumed immediately. In addition, civic society that has been barred must be allowed to operate.
We hope that as facilitator, President Mbeki will ensure that the issues that continue to divide us at the negotiation table are resolved as soon as possible. Creativity, leadership and vision is essential in this delicate stage.
In closing, let me reiterate three points – first, we have always been
committed to dialogue as the only way to resolve the current political
impasse; second, we remain committed to reaching an agreement that upholds the will of the people; and third, we remain urgently concerned about the humanitarian crisis and ask for President Mbeki and SADC's immediate assistance in securing the resumption of aid to our starving, sick and dying people.
I thank you.
May God Bless Zimbabwe.
Aug 13, 2008, 13:27 GMT
Harare - Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway faction of Zimbabwe's
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), on Wednesday denied reports
that he had signed an agreement to share power with President Robert Mugabe
as 'totally false and baseless.'
Reports emanating from Mugabe's party on Tuesday and repeated in
state-controlled media Wednesday said Mugabe and Mutambara had forged ahead
with an agreement to form a unity government without opposition leader,
'There is no way you can extract a bilateral agreement from a tripartite
negotiations,' Mutambara said a day after three days of talks mediated by
South African President Thabo Mbeki in Harare ended in deadlock.
Sources close to Tsvangirai said he was still far apart from Mugabe on the
question of how they would share power if, as had been proposed, Mugabe
remained president and Tsvangirai was made prime minister.
Mutambara, like Mbeki, downplayed their disagreement however, saying the
three men had agreed on all but one issue, which he called a 'non-issue.'
While ruling out any negotiated deal that did not include Tsvangirai,
Mutambara, whose MDC faction holds the balance of power in parliament, said
if the talks that were adjourned Tuesday ultimately failed 'we'll then
consult and see if we can engage Zanu- PF or the party led by Morgan
Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai last night insisted that any
political settlement in the country had to reflect "the will of the people".
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare And Sebastien Berger
Last Updated: 7:02PM BST 13 Aug 2008
The opposition in Zimbabwe denies a deal's been signed with Robert Mugabe
which snubs MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. ;
As talks with the octogenarian leader Robert Mugabe were put on hold and
Thabo Mbeki, the South African president who is mediating the process, left
the country, it was clear that Mr Tsvangirai was unhappy with the proposed
division of power in a government of national unity.
In a message to Zimbabweans he said: "On March 29 [the first round of the
presidential election, which he won] you voted for change. You have been
clear. We will not betray you.
"A solution must thus put the people first, not leadership positions and
titles. We need a government that transfers power to the elected
representatives of the people to carry out the people's mandate for change."
Mr Mugabe want to retain as much authority for himself as he can, and
sources said the negotiations had stalled over a document entitled "the
powers of the prime minister" - the post Mr Tsvangirai is expected to take
if a deal can be reached.
It is understood that the key phrase in the paper is a reference to the
president being the "head of government", rather than the prime minister.
If Mr Mugabe retains his position as head of government as well as head of
state it is not clear whether Mr Tsvangirai's supposed "executive" prime
ministership would have meaningful power - particularly if the president, as
head of government, chairs cabinet meetings.
Sources said that the meeting became bad-tempered as the talks foundered,
but Mr Mbeki, who had been hoping to present a diplomatic triumph to a
regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in
Johannesburg this weekend, insisted: "We are indeed convinced that it is
possible to conclude these negotiations quite quickly."
On Tuesday night Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party claimed to have signed an
agreement with a smaller faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, but its leader Arthur Mutambara yesterday denounced the claim as
"totally false and baseless".
"We are at a crossroads in our country," he said. "The leaders of our
political parties must rise up to the challenge to provide leadership."
In a sign that pressure is being put on Mr Tsvangirai to agree to the
proposals on the table, he added: "Morgan Tsvangirai has requested time to
reflect and consult. Three times he agreed to this one aspect and three
times he changed his mind.
"On our side, as a party we have no problems on that aspect."
He said any agreement from the negotiations had to include all three
parties, but left the door open to the possibility of a two-party deal if
the talks collapse.
Analysts, though, said such an outcome was doomed to fail. "Going with the
MDC faction of Mutambara will not create a scenario which the international
community can buy into," said Olmo von Meijenfeldt, of the Idasa think-tank
in South Africa.
"That's a very thin veneer that everybody can see through."
The official Herald newspaper said that Mr Mugabe would call parliament next
week and form a government, whatever happened.
"Oh what a tangled web Bob weaves," said an international development
official. "I think it's a good thing Tsvangirai walked out and let SADC
stew. This is not a deal without the MDC."
International Herald Tribune
By Celia W. Dugger Published: August 13, 2008
JOHANNESBURG: After three days of intensive negotiations to resolve the
political crisis in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe and the main
opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, were deadlocked Wednesday on the most
fundamental issue: Which one of them would lead a new unity government.
The talks, which began last month with high hopes for a quick settlement,
were adjourned with no date set for a resumption of negotiations. President
Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, the official mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis,
left Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, on Wednesday without the power-sharing deal
he had hoped to broker.
In the meantime, hunger and hyperinflation worsen across Zimbabwe, which has
sunk into a deepening economic morass under Mugabe's leadership.
Mugabe, who won a presidential runoff election against Tsvangirai that
independent monitors said had been neither free nor fair, has yet to lift a
two-month-old ban on humanitarian assistance by nongovernmental
organizations, which he accused of colluding with Western nations to remove
him from power. More than 1.5 million people in Zimbabwe, which has a
population of 12 million, have lost access to food and other basic
assistance, donor nations say.
It is not clear what could break the current political impasse. South
African trade union officials, human rights groups and leaders of Botswana,
which has refused to recognize Mugabe's legitimacy, contend that the
Southern African Development Community, which will meet this weekend to be
briefed by Mbeki on the situation, must take a harder line on Mugabe's
refusal to relinquish power.
The latest round of talks at a hotel in Harare ended on a note of confusion.
Speaking anonymously, officials of Mugabe's party, ZANU-PF, told news
agencies and The Herald, a state-owned newspaper, late Tuesday night that
Mugabe had cut a separate deal with a splinter opposition faction that
controls enough votes in Parliament to swing the majority his way.
But Arthur Mutambara, the faction leader with whom Mugabe had reportedly
signed the deal, denied any such arrangement Wednesday, though he did say he
was ready to support a proposed power-sharing agreement that had been
hammered out in recent weeks.
"We are here basically to say it's totally false and baseless that we've
struck a deal with ZANU-PF," Mutambara said at a news conference in Harare.
The story in The Herald on Wednesday suggested a possible motive for the
erroneous leak from ruling party officials. It quoted an anonymous source as
saying that if Tsvangirai took too long to sign the agreement Mugabe wanted,
Mugabe would "simply go ahead and form the next government." The aim seemed
to be to press Tsvangirai to settle.
But opposition sources close to Tsvangirai said he was determined not to
sign a deal that left Mugabe in charge. Tsvangirai believes he should lead
the government because he won more votes than Mugabe in the March general
election, generally considered credible, and boycotted a presidential runoff
in June because of widespread state-sponsored violence against his
"We need a government that transfers power to the elected representatives of
the people to carry out the people's mandate for change," Tsvangirai said in
a statement released by his party Wednesday.
A reporter in Harare contributed to this article.
Wed 13 Aug 2008, 14:43 GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - Power-sharing talks in Zimbabwe can still succeed soon
despite disagreements over leadership, South African President Thabo Mbeki
said on Wednesday after failing to secure a deal at marathon negotiations.
President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai met in
Harare for three days without reaching agreement, dimming hopes of an end to
a post election crisis that has worsened Zimbabwe's economic decline.
"We are indeed convinced that it is possible to conclude these negotiations
quite quickly," Mbeki, the chief mediator in the negotiations, told
reporters in the Angolan capital Luanda.
Mbeki appealed for patience, saying the crucial issue of leadership
positions was still under discussion.
"They are working on a truly inclusive government," he said.
Negotiations followed Mugabe's unopposed re-election in June in a poll from
which Tsvangirai withdrew because of attacks on his supporters. The ballot
was condemned around the world.
Mbeki said earlier in Harare that Mugabe had agreed on sharing power with a
breakaway faction of the Movement for Democratic Change opposition, but the
group's leader Arthur Mutambara said on Wednesday that no agreement had been
"This is a tripartite negotiating framework. You cannot get an agreement
where only two parties agree," Mutambara said, adding that talks were likely
Leadership posts are a very sensitive issue for old foes Mugabe and
Tsvangirai. But Zimbabwean political commentator Eldred Masunungure said
concessions are unavoidable.
"The distance that President Mbeki and the Zimbabwe negotiators have
travelled in these talks is quite long and if it is only one sticking issue,
no matter how critical or strategic, it will be overcome," he said.
"All parties have invested a lot in these negotiations. The talks can't
collapse on this last leg. Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai are condemned to a
political settlement, they are sizing each other up, as it were, but there
is little doubt the two will find a compromise."
Political uncertainty given the murky negotiations is likely to make
investors even more cautious.
They want strong evidence that any new government will safeguard their money
in a country where critics say Mugabe has used nationalisation of foreign
companies as a political weapon and helped to wreck the economy by seizing
A protracted political stalemate would likely hinder efforts to give
Zimbabweans relief from the world's highest inflation rate of over 2 million
percent and severe food, fuel and foreign currency shortages.
The crisis has acquired a regional dimension. Millions of Zimbabweans have
fled 80 percent unemployment and other hardships for neighbouring countries,
straining their economies.
Mugabe is expected to convene parliament next week and plans to form a
national unity government with Mutambara, a ZANU-PF official said earlier.
Mutambara's 10 seats would give the coalition the majority in parliament
that ZANU-PF lost in March elections for the first time since independence,
but excluding Tsvangirai would be unlikely to end the crisis.
The picture may become clearer at the weekend, when Mbeki hosts a summit of
the 14-nation regional SADC group of countries, which mandated him as
mediator in the Zimbabwe talks.
Mbeki has dismissed criticism that he is too soft on the defiant Mugabe,
saying pressure will only aggravate tensions.
13 August 2008 13:52 UK
There is a ghost at the table around which the four principal negotiators have been sitting these last three days, trying to resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis.
The talks are haunted by the spirit of the late Joshua Nkomo, whose fate stands as a warning to anyone trying to strike a deal with President Robert Mugabe.
Joshua Nkomo was, broadly, Mr Mugabe's contemporary, and a Zimbabwean liberation leader of impeccable credentials.
In 1980, at independence, he emerged as an alternative leader to Mr Mugabe.
His support base was in Matabeleland in the south and west of the country.
Mr Mugabe fought him for five years.
He destroyed him in two ways. First he sent into Matabeleland the ruthless, North Korea-trained Fifth brigade.
Thousands of Mr Nkomo's supporters were murdered and their bodies dumped in mass graves in a two-year operation known as Gukurahundi.
Then - and this was a master stroke - Mr Mugabe reached an agreement with Mr Nkomo: a power-sharing agreement.
Mr Nkomo was brought into the government as vice-president.
Officially, the two political parties merged to form Zanu-PF, but in reality Mr Mugabe's party swallowed Mr Nkomo's Zapu party whole.
Mr Nkomo was neutralised, destroyed.
Mr Mugabe used what, on the face of it, was sold to the world as a power-sharing agreement to consolidate his own one-party state.
It entrenched his dictatorship for 20 years.
If Mr Nkomo - who died in 1999 - could speak from the grave, would he warn the opposition Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai not to walk into the same trap?
Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai have agreed on the need to share power.
Mr Mugabe stays as president, Mr Tsvangirai becomes prime minister.
But they are deadlocked on how much and what kind of power Mr Mugabe should retain.
Mr Mugabe has in mind what you might call the Nkomo solution: he retains control of the military and security services that he has used so successfully to terrorise his way to successive election victories.
In other words he retains the coercive instruments of real executive power.
Mr Tsvangirai gets the economy to sort out.
Mr Tsvangirai is not weak enough to have to accept this poisoned chalice.
For one thing the European Union and the United States have both made it clear that they would not help fund a recovery package under a deal like this.
Mr Mugabe makes hay with this, accusing his rival of being the candidate of Western interests, of resurgent British imperialism.
This plays well in much of Africa, but it no longer plays well in Zimbabwe, where there is now real economic privation.
On the contrary, the evidence is that there is immense pressure on the MDC from below, from the millions of ordinary Zimbabweans who have risked much and endured more.
If they are afraid of anything now it is that Mr Tsvangirai will be tempted to settle.
Many would see such a deal as an unforgivable betrayal.
At the negotiating table it has been three against one - with Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Arthur Mutambara, who leads a minority faction of the opposition, joining forces with Mr Mugabe to put pressure on Mr Tsvangirai to accept the Zanu-PF power-sharing plan.
Brave as he is, constancy is not one of Mr Tsvangirai's virtues.
The talks have hung on whether he would bend to this pressure.
There is much dark talk in MDC circles of intolerable bullying.
But Mr Tsvangirai has not caved. He has shown more backbone than the other three had hoped.
What he wants is the transfer of real executive power from the president's office to that of the prime minister.
Mr Mugabe would stay on as head of state in a largely ceremonial role.
The odds are stacked against that. The hardliners who run the military and security services are implacably against it.
Mr Mugabe is negotiating for them as well as for his party.
But Mr Tsvangirai has two strong cards: the first is that he holds the key to an internationally funded recovery programme, which cannot happen without him; and time is on his side.
In South Africa, Thabo Mbeki has less than a year left in office. His likely successor, Jacob Zuma, has been much more critical of Mr Mugabe, and his party, the African National Congress, has openly accused Mr Mugabe of bringing the liberation tradition into disrepute.
It is in Mr Mugabe's interests to strike a deal before Mr Zuma takes over.
The parallels are not exact - this is not 1987.
Joshua Nkomo did not, then, hold the cards that Morgan Tsvangirai holds now.
Robert Mugabe is finding that it is no longer so easy to swallow the opposition whole and go on governing, unchallenged.
August 13, 2008 | By Metro Investigations Unit
On top of the balance of executive power another issue Arthur
Mutambara,Thabo Mbeki and Robert Mugabe agree on save for Morgan Tsvangirai
is that Mutambara must be Tsvangirai's deputy.
ZANU PF shifted goal posts on an earlier agreement in which the two posts of
deputy prime minister would be allocated to two members from ZANU PF and MDC
Since the talks began ZANU PF insists that instead of a deputy from MDC
Tsvangirai, Mutambara must deputise Tsvangirai.
"Mutambara has no mandate from the people, clearly that is not acceptable to
us,talks will rather collapse", said an MDC official close to the talks.
Mutambara is reportedly ecstatic about the unsolicited offer,telling
Tsvangirai today to "put national interest before self-interest".
"We are at a crossroads in our country," Mutambara told a news conference.
"The leaders of our political parties must rise up to the challenge to
He charged that Tsvangirai was indecisive,"Three times he agreed to this one
aspect and three times he changed his mind."
Despite earlier patronising Mugabe and attending the highly political Heroes
day celebration before a deal was struck Mutambara insisted that he had not
signed the deal.
"All three parties must agree if there is to be an agreement. There is no
way you can extract a bilateral agreement from a tripartite process," he
If the three-way talks do not deliver, then "we are back to the drawing
table", "This dialogue must not be allowed to crumble," he said.
The Mutambara faction despite an alliance with Simba Makoni failed to garner
more than 10% of the vote in the presidential election.
In the House of Assembly and senate election the MDC led by Tsvangirai won
seats in all provinces in the country while the Mutambara faction recorded
wins only in Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North and a single seat in
Bulawayo. Despite the wins ZANU PF led the popular in the two provinces.
Political pundits noted that ZANU PF 's offer of deputy Prime Minister to
Mutambara is a strategy to stealthy dilute Tsvangirai's influence and
sideline him in which they would be working with Mutambara and avoiding
The main sticking point still remains the balance of executive power,the MDC
wants the inclusive government to reflect the March 29 election result which
the MDC warn.
Tsvangirai says he's still committed to Zim talks
"The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) remains committed to participating
in any meaningful and genuine dialogue that urgently moves this process
forward," Tsvangirai said in the emailed statement.
"We are committed to a solution that recognises that the people spoke on the
29th of March 2008 - a solution that ensures tangible deliverables are put
on the table of Zimbabweans. A solution must thus put the people first, not
leadership positions and titles."
Meanwhile shortly after the talks broke down last night, MDC media support
staffer Andrew Chadwick was arrested at the Rainbow towers, but was released
a few hours later.
Last in his weekly column "Nathaniel Manheru" George Charamba,Mugabe's
spokesperson accused him of leaking a document to The Star last week which
outlined a proposal he called him a 'rapist of truth'.
By Lance Guma
13 August 2008
Zimbabweans reacted angrily to press reports suggesting Arthur Mutambara and
his breakaway MDC faction had signed a power sharing deal with Mugabe, soon
after Tsvangirai walked way from the talks on Tuesday night. Officials from
the party spent the whole of Wednesday denying the deal, while some
expressed ignorance at developments unfolding. A political commentator told
Newsreel 'deal or no deal Mutambara and his party have been severely
compromised by these reports.'
The state owned Herald newspaper ran a front page headline, 'Deal Sealed'
and our correspondent Simon Muchemwa reports that thousands of anxious
people snapped up the paper within minutes. They were to be bitterly
disappointed after perusing the contents of the article which said
Tsvangirai, the victor of the March 29 election, had been left out of a
unity government. Although the newspaper does not have a reputable history
for telling the truth, observers say the article would not have been
published without authorization from senior officials within ZANU PF.
Officials from the Mutambara MDC completely deny any deal was struck with
Mugabe but it has been alleged that the threat of resignation from 7 of
their 10 MP's might have forced a u-turn. Trudy Stevenson, a senior official
from the party, sent a statement saying; 'What has happened is that there is
one issue on which two of the parties are agreed but which Morgan Tsvangirai
has requested more time to consult.' South African President Thabo Mbeki
weighed in to clarify the confusion, saying no deal had been signed between
the Mutambara group and Mugabe and that Tsvangirai had simply left to
reflect on the deliberations.
If indeed Mutambara's party has been a victim of malicious propaganda it did
not help matters that on Monday Mutambara joined Mugabe at the Heroes Acre
commemorations. This was despite longstanding acknowledgement that ZANU PF
usually hijack the occasion for their own interests and most of the 'heroes'
buried there were selected by it's politburo. An article from Mutambara
attacking the West in the same week added to growing suspicions that he was
now singing from the Mugabe hymn book.
Writing in his column, journalist Innocent Chofamba Sithole said, 'by
regurgitating Mugabe's political rhetoric and flawed anti-imperialism in
this article, Mutambara is merely confirming to us that he has endorsed
Mugabe's ideological position.' Sithole questioned why Mutambara chose not
to speak about the 'tragedy of oppression and violence that still stalks our
land.' He argued that Mutambara chose to berate the West and never once
'mention Mugabe's friends in the East who have continued to pour in weapons
and lend diplomatic succour to a regime that is guilty of brutalising its
own people.' Sithole ends, 'One gets the sense of someone in a hurry to bolt
in before the back door is bolted. This is opportunism of the worst kind.'
People interviewed on the street were equally damning in their assessment of
Mutambara. A Chitungwiza resident asked, 'who voted for Mutambara and why
should he be Prime Minister as suggested? The people of Zengeza West
rejected him at constituency level so how can he parachute himself to such a
top position.' Another resident in Harare said, 'its amazing all those who
lost in elections, Mbeki in Polokwane, Mutambara in Zengeza West, Mugabe in
Zimbabwe are all ganging up against the victor in Tsvangirai.'
Other people interviewed were oblivious to the political games taking place,
with one man telling us 'I'm more worried about finding food, queuing for
cash at the bank than keeping track with this nonsense. We voted for
Tsvangirai in March, and Mugabe and Mbeki know that.'
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
AFP | Updated: 13 August, 2008 10:25:00 GMT(-10)
Analysts are warning Mugabe and Mutambara that a government of national
unity that excludes Morgan Tsvangirai won't work fro the start
Harare -- A power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe that excludes main opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai would do nothing to solve the country's political
and economic crises, analysts said on Wednesday.
After three days of negotiations between Zimbabwe's political rivals, the
talks broke up on Tuesday night without a deal that includes all three
participating sides. However, the leader of the smaller faction of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Arthur Mutambara, said
there was "agreement on everything except on one aspect".
He added that Tsvangirai, the head of the main MDC trunk, had asked for
"time to reflect" on the issue, which he did not name, and that Mutambara's
branch had "no problems on that aspect."
Major problems for a new government
Excluding Tsvangirai, who finished ahead of President Robert Mugabe in the
first round of the March presidential election, would pose major problems to
a new government, analysts said.
Tsvangirai boycotted the June presidential run-off, saying dozens of his
supporters had been killed, but Mugabe pushed ahead with a one-man poll,
handing himself a new term.
"The deal is not sustainable and it is not going to solve the crisis the
country is experiencing," said Eldred Masunungure, a political scientist at
the University of Zimbabwe. "Zanu-PF is not prepared to concede power. They
would rather divide, conquer and rule."
Takura Zhangazha, an independent political commentator, said: "Whatever they
do, they should not ignore the Morgan Tsvangirai faction as this would
result in a serious legitimacy crisis for any government that will be
formed." If the Zanu-PF ruling party and Mutambara's MDC faction were to
combine forces, they would hold a majority in parliament.
The ruling party had lost its majority for the first time since independence
in the recent elections. But solving the country's deep problems, including
an official inflation rate at 2.2 million percent and major food shortages,
would be another matter.
Sanctions will remain
Analysts say having Western countries lift sanctions against Zimbabwe would
be key to solving the economic crisis, and that is unlikely to occur without
a deal that includes Tsvangirai. "There is no way the economy will recover
if sanctions imposed by Western countries are still in place," said
Masunungure. Besides that, leaving Mugabe in charge likely means changes in
economic policy will not occur, they say. Some critics blame the 84-year-old
leader's chaotic land reform programme at the turn of the decade which saw
some 4000 white-owned farms expropriated by the state for Zimbabwe's
"The economic crisis will continue," said Laurence Caromba of South Africa's
Centre for International Political Studies. "To put it mildly, Mugabe's
government has displayed very poor economic management, and Zimbabwe's
economy will not recover until his disastrous policies are reversed." But
Tsvangirai now faces a tough choice on whether to accept a deal that favours
Mugabe, as he may be left with few options that would allow him to gain
leverage in the negotiations, some analysts say.
"Tsvangirai has no good options," said Caromba. "His only option is to
participate in the negotiation process, but there is not much he can do to
force Mugabe to make concessions." Some argue any power-sharing deal between
the country's arch-rivals will pose problems since it will be difficult for
them to work together. "A power-sharing arrangement on its own will not
solve anything," said Lovemore Madhuku, a law expert from the University of
By Peta Thornycroft
13 August 2008
The leader of Zimbabwe's smaller opposition faction says negotiations on the
country's political crisis are a three-way affair and no one party can sign
a settlement deal with another. Peta Thornycroft reports from Harare.
The leader of the smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change,
Arthur Mutambara, says reports in the state-run media that he has signed a
deal with the ruling ZANU-PF are not true.
Mutambara says the negotiations were set up following the signing of a
memorandum of understanding last month between his party, Morgan
Tsvangirai's larger MDC and President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF.
He said therefore that a deal was only possible if it is signed by all three
leaders, Mr. Mugabe, Mr. Tsvangirai, and himself.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been trying to mediate a
resolution to the crisis, left Zimbabwe for Angola to report to Southern
African Development Community head Eduardo dos Santos. Mr. Mbeki says there
has been no breakdown in the talks.
"There is no break down and as everybody has said, I will talk to all of the
negotiators and reconvene them," he said.
Mr. Mbeki said he would continue to push for a solution to the crisis, even
if it takes six months.
Arthur Mutambara says Zimbabwe is at a crossroads and that the country's
leadership must be up to the challenge to find a settlement to begin to end
the humanitarian crisis which he said was engulfing the country. He said the
leaders must put national interest before self-interest.
Mutambara said he hoped all three leaders would attend the summit of the
Southern African Development community in South Africa this weekend.
He said he hoped a deal could be reached before then.
Published: August 13 2008 19:47 | Last updated: August 13 2008 19:47
To have a chance at recovery, Zimbabwe needs a clean break. This is
something the long-suffering Zimbabwean electors proved only too aware of
when they voted in a first round of presidential elections in March to
retire Robert Mugabe. At the least, they now need a strictly defined,
internationally monitored, timetable that brings a near-term end to his
Yet the power-sharing formulas on offer at Harare talks mediated by Thabo
Mbeki, South Africa's president, have fallen short of this goal. Morgan
Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, has come under pressure to accept the
position of prime minister, with the lead in managing the economy in a
national unity government. Mr Mugabe may be willing to relinquish some of
his powers. But he has sought to retain the trump card - a grip on the army
and police. It is hubristic on his part to think that simply handing over
the ruins of Zimbabwe's economy will be sufficient to persuade the
international community to step forward with a rescue package.
There are those, including Mr Mbeki, who doubt Mr Tsvangirai's ability to
lead Zimbabwe out of the terrible mess it is in. The former trade union
leader has another chance to prove them wrong. He left negotiations in limbo
on Tuesday night, asking for time to reflect. By standing firm, he will
prove his mettle. If there is no prospect that he can dismantle the
institutions underpinning Mr Mugabe's dictatorship, he has nothing to gain
from a deal. On the contrary, he has everything to lose: respect among his
supporters, credibility in the region, and the leverage he enjoys in the
negotiations through his ability to sway international opinion on whether to
refloat the economy.
In the event that Mr Mugabe fails to entice his main rival into government,
he has a Plan B: to co-opt Arthur Mutambara's breakaway opposition faction
into a coalition. This would give Zanu-PF the 10 seats it needs in
parliament to form a slim majority, and allow Mr Mugabe to cling on.
This is a preposterous idea that provides no hope of an end to the misery
facing Zimbabweans. Mr Mutambara should have no truck with it. Nor should
regional leaders when they meet to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis at a summit
this weekend. Instead, they should take a cue from South Africa's unions who
are promising to obstruct the flow of goods into Zimbabwe should Mr Mugabe
remain in power. The wily autocrat is turning negotiations into a means of
preserving the status quo. At this point, the talks are only worth pursuing
if they establish a peaceful way for him to go.
Robert Mugabe - not yet ready to give up power
However, her excitement quickly turned to disappointment because as far as she is concerned, "there is no deal at all".
"Let's make no mistake about this - a deal that does not involve [opposition leader Morgan] Tsvangirai — the man who won the free and fair election in March — is null and void, and it seems the old man [President Robert Mugabe] is just not ready to hand over power to those that have legitimacy," Mukurazhizha commented. "We are moving in circles and that makes me sick; very frustrated."
The two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the ruling ZANU-PF have been locked in power-sharing talks for over three weeks to break the political impasse after a controversial presidential election re-run on 27 April.
Tsvangirai, leader of the main MDC faction, won the first round of presidential elections on 29 March but pulled out of the presidential run-off, citing a campaign of violence in which he claimed over 100 of his party supporters had been killed.
Mugabe, leader of ZANU-PF and President of Zimbabwe since independence 28 years ago, was left as the sole candidate in the run-off and installed as head of state, but agreed to talks mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
But, according to the Herald, Tsvangirai walked out of the talks on 12 August, while Mugabe and the leader of the smaller MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, whose party won 10 seats in the parliamentary elections, signed a deal.
But Mbeki told IRIN on 13 August that Tsvangirai had asked for time out and the talks had been adjourned.
"There has been a disagreement with one element of the talks which has to do with an agreement with power sharing. Morgan Tsvangirai asked for time out in order to reflect on this matter so that we reconvene them later," he said.
Tsvangirai won the first presidential poll in March with 47.9 percent of the vote against Mugabe's 42.7 percent, but did not get enough votes to avoid a second poll for the presidency.
"Just like in the run-off, where Mugabe 'contested' alone, this empty deal is in all essence a ZANU-PF agreement," Mukurazhizha said. "Mutambara did not run in the presidential elections and is just too happy to have some relevance in Zimbabwean politics."
Mukurazhizha had hoped that a deal giving Tsvangirai executive powers, possibly as prime minister, with Mugabe as a ceremonial president, would set Zimbabwe's economy, now in its eighth year of acute meltdown, on a path to recovery.
"All my hopes of returning to a normal life in the near future have been dashed by Mugabe's unwillingness to relinquish power," John Rukweza, 28, a shop manager in the capital, told IRIN.
"Prices keep going up as our pockets shrivel. There is no electricity, no water, and unemployment will rise even further as industries close - all because of an obsession with power, an obsession that benefits a few people at the expense of the majority," said Rukweza.
He predicted that many Zimbabweans would leave the country after hanging on, hoping that the talks would bring political and economic stability. "Many in formal employment thought that an internationally accepted deal would bring back the spark to their jobs, but there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel."
Rukweza is afraid that if no agreement involving Tsvangirai is reached soon, the country will slide back into political violence. "I am convinced that Mugabe is living in perpetual fear, and the brave face that we see on television masks a man who is in a deep quandary," he said.
"Even if he [Mugabe] wanted to give Tsvangirai some executive powers, there are many powerful people within his party who would lose out, and these people seem to be pressuring him to deny the MDC leader what rightfully belongs to him and to the people."
Divide and rule
There has been a disagreement with one element of the talks which has
to do with an agreement with power sharing. Morgan Tsvangirai asked for time out
in order to reflect on this matter so that we reconvene them later
"However, with the stance taken by Mutambara, the opposition is now divided. There are some in the opposition who would grab any chance to be in positions of power, and I am afraid that Mugabe might announce a cabinet that includes members from Tsvangirai's party, a development that could further weaken his party if some of those members decide to accept what is offered."
However, Tsitsi Zambuko, a 55-year-old widow and veteran of the liberation war, urged Mugabe to forge ahead without Tsvangirai. "Since January, everyone has been talking about elections and nothing has been moving; we have gone for too long without a parliament," she said.
"And who is Tsvangirai to think that he can hold us to ransom? After all, he is nothing but the mouthpiece of Britain and the United States, and is responsible for all the suffering we are experiencing today," Zambuko told IRIN.
She said Mugabe was the "legitimate leader of Zimbabwe because he won the 27 June run-off, and led the war against imperialism, while he spends sleepless nights trying to find ways of totally empowering the people of this country".
Deal still in sight?
Mbeki told IRIN that he was confident though that he would be able to wring out a settlement.
Despite claiming victory in the June run off, Mugabe has not sworn in parliament or announced his cabinet in the hope of securing an all inclusive government.
"The political leaders acknowledge that none of them on their own with their political parties have the capacity to solve these problems and so they have to work together," said Mbeki.
He declined to spell out details of the disagreement.
One of the negotiators involved in the talks told IRIN that the talks hit a hitch after Tsvangirai had been offered a non-executive prime minister's post with no meaningful responsibilities.
"Tsvangirai was not happy that he would have presided over a few social and economic ministries while Mugabe retained executive powers as executive president while security ministries would have fallen directly under the control of Mugabe," said the negotiator.
Mugabe told IRIN that the talks had not broken down. "No, the talks have not collapsed. They can never collapse as long as we have tongues for talking."
Mutambara confirmed at a press conference that while they had not signed any document, they were in agreement with the power sharing proposals.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
By Tichaona Sibanda
13 August 2008
The commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Robert Mugabe, on
Tuesday honoured the generals responsible for the post election violence
that has seen 125 MDC activists killed and left at least 10 000 injured.
Retired members of the defence forces said the move by Mugabe to decorate
and promote some of the generals acknowledges the fact they were responsible
for 'fixing' the election results and spearheading the political violence
against the MDC.
Among the beneficiaries were George Chiweshe, chairman of the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission, the organization that ensured Mugabe 'won' a second
round of voting by denying Morgan Tsvangirai an outright majority in the
first vote in March. Chiweshe retired from the army as a brigadier.
Central Intelligence Organisation director-general Happyton Bonyongwe was
also rewarded. He also retired from the army as a brigadier to head the CIO
which ran killer squads responsible for the deaths of many MDC activists
before the second vote in June. Paradzai Zimondi, the prison service chief
who said he would never recognise a Tsvangirai victory, was also decorated
Retired army colonel Bernard Matongo described the promotions as a first in
the history of the military in the country.
'At retirement, we know officers from the rank of Lieutenant Colonel are
promoted to a rank higher. This was introduced in the 1980's as an
inducement package for soldiers wishing to leave the army to accommodate
forces from the liberation armies of ZANU-PF and ZAPU,' Matongo said.
He added; 'but to promote retired officers is unheard of, this is a first
and I don't think this has ever happened anyway else in the world unless one
belongs to a reserve force.'
'To decorate a retired soldier is nothing new, but it should be done in
accordance to what that person's role is in civil society. But decorating
the chairman of ZEC and CIO boss is a farce,' Matongo said.
Apart from the promotions, Mugabe promised the military better remuneration
and housing, and praised them for the 'alert, vigilant and patriotic manner
in which they have conducted their day to day duties.'
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Zimbabwe’s pre-independence white supremacist leader, Ian Smith once declared: “I don’t believe in black majority rule ever, in Rhodesia, not in a thousand years.”
Less than 10 years down the line his colonial government was swept away by two liberation war movements led by President Robert Mugabe and the late Dr Joshua Nkomo, ushering Zimbabwe’s independence on April 18, 1980.
Mr Smith was forced to eat humble pie and even had a short-lived stint in a parliament controlled by the majority blacks for the first time in the country’s tortuous history.
The major lesson the rebel leader learnt was that even a day in politics is too long for you to make permanent enemies.
But decades down the line the architects of the 15-year bush war that cost thousands of lives seem to have learnt nothing from Mr Smith’s embarrassing political miscalculations.
In the run-up to Zimbabwe’s historic March elections, the security chiefs who are veterans of the liberation war declared that veteran opposition leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai will never rule the country because he was a “stooge” of Western countries.
Even after Zimbabweans voted overwhelmingly for Mr Tsvangirai the generals remained defiant and went on to spearhead a campaign of terror all in an effort to reverse Mr Mugabe’s embarrassing defeat.
But after the 84 year-old leader posted a pyrrhic victory in the June 27 presidential run-off election where he ran alone, the generals are now being forced to eat their words with their tails firmly tuck between their legs.
After weeks of intense negotiations, Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai have agreed to share power with the finer details of the power-sharing arrangement still having to be thrashed out.
But what is certain is that the commander of the Zimbabwe national army, General Constantine Chiwengwa, police chief Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, Retired Major General Paradzayi Zimondi and Mr Happyton Bonyongwe the director general of the feared intelligence services would be forced to relinquish their positions.
“The generals have no choice but to resign because they took an undertaking that they will not work under Tsvangirai in whatever circumstances,” Mr Oswald Ndlovu a political analyst said.
“I see them resigning as soon as a new government is installed to save face and if they wait to be pushed out, I foresee a situation where Zimbabweans will demand that they should be prosecuted for human rights violations.
“It would be wise for them to make hay while there is still sunshine and negotiate their exit with guarantees that they will not be prosecuted.”
Last week, there were reports that President Mugabe was facing stiff opposition from the Joint Operations Command (JOC), a shadowy but powerful cluster of security chiefs over his decision to cede executive powers to the MDC in an all inclusive government.
The national security think tank made up of the army, police, prisons and the Central Intelligence (CIO) chiefs was accused of plotting the violent campaign to secure Mr Mugabe’s victory in the discredited election.
“The service chiefs don’t want Tsvangirai to have executive powers,” the Zimbabwe Independent weekly newspaper quoted unnamed sources as having said.
“They wonder how they will relate to him after they issued statements before the elections that they would not salute him if he won.”
The JOC members were last week invited by the talks’ negotiators so that they could spell out their position on the negotiations and their likely outcome.
The paper said the security chiefs were also concerned about their security amid fears that they would be arrested for alleged human rights abuses during the violent run-off campaign.
“They are against the ceding of too much power to Tsvangirai,” the paper added. “They are also afraid of being punished for human rights abuses.”
The JOC was said to have been fiercely opposed to any deal that would demote President Mugabe to a ceremonial role and give executive powers to Mr Tsvangirai.
But with the economy in free-fall and the need for a realistic compromise deal having become imperative, the JOC was forced to relent.They now appear powerless to influence the fast moving political developments.
Mr Mugabe’s spokesman, Mr George Charamba described the unexpected cooperation between the ruling Zanu PF and the MDC – parties that seemed to be like oil and water only a month ago – as “a milestone.”
“This is an important milestone that has been registered in the inter-party dialogue,” Mr Charamba said.
He was speaking ahead of a visit by the mediator in the talks South African President Thabo Mbeki for a meeting with Mr Mugabe, Mr Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara of the smaller faction of the smaller faction of the MDC to wrap up the dialogue.
Last Saturday, a bomb explosion rocked Harare’s main police station and police officers were said to be the main suspects.
Although the motive of the blast has largely remained a mystery, it was rumoured that some security chiefs opposed to the talks could have been responsible.
There were also reports that the police could be trying to destroy evidence of human rights violations anticipating change.
The MDC says more than 100 of its supporters were killed and thousands left homeless during a wave of state sponsored violence in the run-up to the June poll.
Senior police and army commanders were fingered in the violence and there have been growing calls for them to be tried.
However, the draft agreement between the MDC and Zanu PF reportedly provides for amnesty for those who were involved in political violence.
They can still retire
Although there are strong feelings within Zimbabwe that the security chiefs must face international justice at one point, they can still retire in the comfort that it would not happen soon.
Zimbabwe has not ratified the Rome Statute, which launched the International Criminal Court (ICC) where they can be tried for crimes against humanity.
Only the Security Council of the United Nations or Mr Mugabe’s government can launch prosecutions for war crimes committed during the run-up to the elections and the massacres in Matabeleland in the 1980s.
By Violet Gonda
13 August 2008
The confusion over the status of the talks has increased with reports that
Morgan Tsvangirai will attend the SADC summit this weekend, with Robert
Mugabe. Arthur Mutambara would neither confirm nor deny that he is also
going, saying he has signed a confidentiality clause. Tsvangirai had walked
out of the talks Tuesday night, fuelling speculation that the talks had
collapsed. Observers say that South African President Thabo Mbeki has failed
and that SADC is now intervening.
On Wednesday Mbeki was forced to return to South Africa without a deal in
the bag, because of fundamental differences over determining the functions
of the Prime Minister and the President, and who would chair the cabinet.
The proposal by ZANU PF is that Tsvangirai should be a senior Minister
responsible only for certain ministries and without the power to call
meetings of the cabinet. It's said the other unresolved issue is over the
Lovemore Moyo, the National Chairman of the Tsvangirai MDC, told journalists
and civil society in Bulawayo on Wednesday that other hurdles included the
duration of the power sharing government. He said Mugabe wants the process
to last for 5 years while Tsvangirai is saying it should only last for two
Moyo was speaking at a de-briefing meeting organised by the Bulawayo Agenda
and he said it was because of the unresolved issues that Tsvangirai had
walked out of the talks. Moyo added that the talks have reached a deadlock,
but have not collapsed.
As a result of the media blackout and the lack of information, rumours and
opinion filled the vacuum on Tuesday evening. There were a number of
versions about the status of the talks and who had signed what. There were
reports that the talks had completely collapsed, while the Herald newspaper
said ZANU PF and Mutambara MDC had signed a bilateral agreement, without
The confusion extended to the Mutambara camp with MPs allegedly threatening
to cross the floor to the Tsvangirai MDC if their leaders signed a deal that
Trudy Stevenson, a senior member of the Mutambara led MDC said in an emailed
message; "I have absolutely no idea what has really happened or why. It is
inconceivable that we could have signed any agreement with Zanu PF without
the Tsvangirai group also signing, since we have been negotiating as one
team since July last year." She said a deal had not been signed and Arthur
Mutambara would not be in a position to sign anything without full agreement
of the National Council.
Another senior MDC official from the Mutambara camp said there is no way
that Mutambara would sign a bilateral agreement as the party's national
executive committee had said the agreement is conditional to Tsvangirai
The Mutambara MDC holds key seats in the legislature that can sway the vote,
sources in the party said out of the 10 parliamentarians and 6 senators the
majority will not support a pact with ZANU PF, that excludes Tsvangirai.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 13 (AFP)
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been invited to a weekend summit of
southern African leaders, the head of a regional bloc said Wednesday,
despite calls that he be barred from attending.
The political crisis in Zimbabwe, exacerbated after Mugabe's one-man
re-election in June, is expected to be among the top agenda items at the
14-nation Southern African Development Community summit in Johannesburg.
"All SADC heads of state and government were invited including his
excellency Robert Mugabe," SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salomao told
"Now it's up to the relevant authorities in Zimbabwe to decide who is going
to represent Zimbabwe."
As the SADC-appointed mediator for Zimbabwe, President Thabo Mbeki will
brief the regional bloc's security troika on Friday on the talks between
Mugabe and opposition factions in Harare this week.
Salomao said he did not know if main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai would be coming.
"What we have to do is encourage the parties to find a solution. We believe
the difference might be solved as we go... and what we have to do is support
the role that the mediator is playing."
South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said the host country
would be "sad" if Botswana followed through on threats to boycott the summit
if Mugabe participated without a negotiated deal having been reached.
"Between South Africa and Botswana there is really no problem. The problem
that they may have is not within South Africa's control. It's a problem that
South Africa is spending a lot time, energy and resources trying to
Tsvangirai boycotted Zimbabwe's June presidential run-off, saying dozens of
his supporters had been killed, but Mugabe pushed ahead with a one-man poll,
handing himself a new term.
A SADC observer team said the run-off in June "did not represent the will of
the people of Zimbabwe".
South African trade unions are planning a march this weekend against
Mugabe's participation in the summit.
13 August 2008, 17:00 GMT + 2
THERE can be no deal on Zimbabwe without the agreement of both president
Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Period.
Any deal less than that will not be acceptable to such a large portion of
the population that it will be recipe for continued conflict.
The fact that Mugabe believes he may have a deal with a breakaway faction of
the MDC is neither here nor there.
The fact is that President Thabo Mbeki's negotiation efforts have come very
close to forging an agreement between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, something
thought impossible until very recently.
But the final hurdle - an effective shift in the power balance from Mugabe
to Tsvangirai - remains elusive.
There is the danger that Mugabe is once more playing the diplomatic game he
has become so adept at: Engaging and then withdrawing just when progress
appears to be made.
That is why it is right that the world continue to apply pressure on his
And that is why Cosatu is right to see his planned visit to South Africa for
the SADC summit as an opportunity to air the displeasure of this country at
his anti-democratic regime.
The argument that Mugabe ought to be treated with kid gloves because he is
negotiating, doesn't hold water.
Now is the time to remind him that he cannot return to the community of
nations until he has accepted that he must give up power in Zimbabwe.
Rewarding Mugabe for failing to reach an agreement by welcoming him to South
Africa would be to send an inappropriate signal.
If the Zimbabwean opposition, which won the most votes in the March
election, decides to reconcile with Mugabe, such a call should be seriously
Until then, Mugabe remains a pariah that must be isolated by the world.
August 13, 2008
By Tendai Dumbutshena
THE SADC summit in Johannesburg this weekend was supposed to be the moment
of triumph for South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki. He was set to cock a
snook at his detractors by presenting a deal signed by all parties to
With praise ringing in his ears he would have savoured the moment he proved
critics of his Zimbabwe policy wrong. Stung by accusations of bias in favour
of Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe Mbeki wanted to have the last laugh in front
of his SADC peers and the world's international media.
It is a measure of his desperation for success that he spent an
unprecedented three days in Harare nudging Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai to sign a deal paving the way for a government of national unity
(GNU). A room at the Rainbow Towers hotel was suitably decorated for the
signing ceremony. According to reports a deal in which Mugabe would retain
the executive presidency with Tsvangirai as a token prime minister was on
the verge of being signed. Mbeki wanted to kill two birds with one stone -
secure an agreement that keeps Mugabe in power. The only concession Mugabe
would have made was to have some MDC cabinet ministers.
But things went terribly wrong. At the last minute Tsvangirai refused to
sign a document that would have legitimized Mugabe's rule for a full five
years and condemned the MDC leader to a meaningless subordinate role. Mbeki
must now face the summit to report failure. He will put a positive spin on
it but few will bite. Once again the Zimbabwe issue will overshadow all
others on the agenda. His critics at home and abroad will have a field day.
Thousands of demonstrators led by the labour federation COSATU will be there
to voice their opposition to Mugabe's presence if he dares attend. There
will be renewed calls for tougher action against Mugabe's regime. Botswana
is likely to boycott the summit if Mugabe is invited. Mbeki can no longer
count on the support of his ANC party for his Zimbabwe policy. It is a mess.
Mbeki's intervention in Zimbabwe was flawed from the start because it never
sought to find a fair solution to the crisis. Its strategic objective was to
keep Zanu-PF in power. As a result his mediation degenerated into shameful
appeasement and collusion. The mediator became part of the problem. His
foreign affairs ministers and officials moonlighted as Mugabe's defenders at
various international fora. Mugabe saw in Mbeki a staunch ally not a neutral
broker. This only strengthened his resolve not to yield any ground. It is
this obduracy that forced Tsvangirai to walk away from the talks.
It is so easy to forget recent events. Mugabe lost the March 29 elections.
Faced with certain defeat in the June 27 presidential run-off he used savage
violence to force Tsvangirai out of the race. The African Union and SADC
urged him to form a GNU. It was a polite way of telling him that they could
not recognize the farce of June 27.
The MDC took the reasonable position of proposing an inclusive transitional
government of limited duration to perform specific tasks culminating in a
free and fair election. Mbeki should have nudged Mugabe towards this
eminently reasonable position. Instead he tried to railroad the MDC into
accepting a Mugabe led GNU with Tsvangirai a pathetic sidekick.
Mediators try to find compromises that are fair to all parties to a
conflict. They do not bully and cajole one party to sacrifice its interests
and principles to the point of capitulation. Unconfirmed reports say the MDC
had accepted Mugabe's executive presidency. If that is true it was a grave
mistake. Predictably there was no big reciprocal concession from Zanu-PF.
All power belongs to them.
A derisory vice-presidency was offered to Tsvangirai joining a queue behind
Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru. When this was rejected Tsvangirai was offered
an empty shell - a prime minister with zilch executive powers. They might as
well have offered him the post of minister without portfolio in Didymus
Mutasa's office. The MDC leader was expected to sign such a humiliating
What the MDC was expected to do was validate the June 27 run-off in exchange
for cabinet posts. Mugabe's enormous powers underwritten by the military
would have remained intact. In Zimbabwe cabinet ministers do not carry much
Ask former finance ministers Simba Makoni and Herbert Murerwa. The MDC was
indulging in self- delusion if it thought the allocation of certain
ministries to it would make a difference to the governance of the country.
It is a point they have to note seriously. The only issue of critical
importance as far as power politics goes is the position of Mugabe and the
generals who underpin his rule. If that is not addressed the MDC will be
sucked into a shameful agreement that will achieve nothing but its eventual
humiliation and demise.
By Clare Byrne Aug 13, 2008, 16:20 GMT
Johannesburg - The man dubbed the 'bridesmaid' in any political settlement
in Zimbabwe has emerged as a key player in deadlocked talks between
President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on a
government of national unity.
Mutambara, who leads a splinter faction of Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) that is also party to the talks, on Wednesday denied
reports he had agreed a deal with Mugabe over Tsvangirai's head on sharing
But the 42-year-old robotics professor tightened the screws on Tsvangirai,
indicating he was open to working with Mugabe's Zanu-PF party if the
tripartite talks failed.
Born in May 1966, Mutambara was a student leader at the University of
Zimbabwe, where he headed up anti-government protests in the late 1980s.
He later studied at Oxford University in Britain, where he obtained a
doctorate in robotics and mechatronics, going on to lecture at several
universities in the United States, including the Massachusetts Institute of
He has also worked as a business consultant with the renowned McKinsey &
In 2005, Mutambara fell out with Tsvangirai over whether the MDC should
contest elections to the newly-formed Senate. Tsvangirai overruled a
decision by MDC members to contest the elections - a decision labelled by
some in the party as autocratic.
Mutambara formed a separate MDC faction in early 2006, with constitutional
lawyer Welshman Ncube as his deputy.
By contrast with Tsvangirai's faction, his formation is perceived as more
elitist and has failed to garner much support outside the southern
opposition stronghold of Matabeleland.
In March 2007, the tall, well-spoken politician was among the MDC leaders
arrested in a police crackdown on an opposition prayer rally, during which
Tsvangirai was badly beaten.
Months later, he and Tsvangirai attempted to reunify the party to create a
common front to Mugabe in March elections.
But the reunification talks ended in failure - Mutambara's faction accused
Tsvangirai of making excessive last-minute demands - and the two MDCs went
their separate way at the polls.
The divisions hurt Mutambara's faction, which took only 10 out of 210 seats
in elections to the lower house of parliament, against 99 for Tsvangirai's
MDC and 97 for Mugabe's Zanu-PF.
In the simultaneous presidential election, Mutambara also backed the wrong
horse. His preferred candidate, former Zanu-PF finance minister Simba
Makoni, came in a distant third.
After the elections, Mutambara and Tsvangirai struck a pact to work together
in parliament, giving the combined MDC a comfortable majority.
Mutambara also continued to defy Mugabe, describing his bid to hang onto
power as 'illegitimate and illegal.' The remarks saw him arrested and
charged with producing information prejudicial to the state but later
In recent days, however, his allegiances appear to have shifted.
In remarks echoing Mugabe, Mutambara took aim in a weekend opinion article
at Western powers, who have called for Tsvangirai to lead the unity
government, accusing them of 'meddlesome interference' in Zimbabwe's
Mutambara was also conspicuously present at Heroes' Day celebrations in
Harare this week, where Mugabe officiated. Tsvangirai stayed away.
While ruling out entering any deal that did not include Tsvangirai,
Mutambara, said Wednesday, if the talks failed, 'we'll consult and see if we
can engage Zanu-PF or the party led by Morgan Tsvangirai.'
While Mutambara could give Mugabe the parliamentary majority he needs to
govern, analysts say only Tsvangirai can deliver Mugabe what he really
needs - aid and investment from the West.
'Mutambara will be nothing more than the bridesmaid in this marriage, if
Mugabe and Morgan make it to the altar at all', Sydney Masamvu, a
Harare-based analyst for the International Crisis Group, told South Africa's
The Star newspaper.
Alex Magaisa Scene:
Harare, Zimbabwe, Corner Samora Machel Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way,
three people standing, Prudence, Fanwell a.k.a Funny and Reason.
August 13, 2008
fallen! Did you hear? Funny
Are you sure? Who said
I am serious. Ask
Reason, who told you that
Karigamombe has fallen? Reason
Yes it’s true. They said
Karigamombe fell last night. Funny
Who said? Prudence
Didn’t you hear? I thought
you had a television. Don’t you have access to the internet? Reason
You are so yesterday, my
friend! It’s everywhere! Everyone is saying Karigamombe fell last night. You are
the only one in Jerusalem who does not know what has happened! Prudence
He does. He has everything
– TV, Internet, buys the papers … but he is here professing ignorance! You’re
playing with our minds, boy. Reason
So how come he doesn’t
know? Oi, how come you don’t know what everyone else knows? Ask all these people
passing by - bet you even that old beggar knows Karigamombe fell last
You talk too much, guys.
But tell me, where are we right now? Reason
Harare! You know we are in
Harare. Why do you ask silly questions? Maybe, that’s why you don’t know that
Karigamombe fell last night. Everyone has heard it except you. You worry me,
young man - you used to be an intelligent fellow, up-to-date with news and all
but these days, Goodness Gracious! you have become so out of touch with reality
– you think too much, that’s why! Funny
No, I mean where are we
standing right now? Is that hard to answer? Prudence
Is that not obvious? I
thought you are the one who called and said let’s meet paKarigamombe? That’s why
we are here and now you ask where are we? Trying to run away from the issue, are
So, tell me my friends, if
Karigamombe fell last night, as you say you have seen everywhere, on TV, on the
Internet, from friends and impeccable sources, when exactly did Karigamombe rise
again? Because, as you yourself have just said, we are here at Karigamombe. Or
is it a modern-day miracle, that Karigamombe fell just last night and has now
risen so swiftly? Reason
No wait, let me check my
Blackberry (pause while he scrolls on his Blackberry and continues, face lit
up with excitement) – Here - Look! Reuters says Karigamombe is, in fact,
still standing. They have heard from a source very close to Karigamombe that
Karigamombe is still standing. And here, also AP have it from an impeccable
source that Karigamombe is still standing. Prudence
They must be right. These
are reliable sources – even the BBC, CNN, and that other new channel, al Jazeera
- they all had it as breaking news late last night. Maybe there is a mole who
fed them wrong information. Funny
(A heavy sigh) But
are we not here, my friends, standing at Karigamombe? Reason
No wait, I will call my
friend at the private newspaper to see if he can confirm that Karigamombe is
really still there. He usually has very reliable and impeccable sources to call
upon for inside information … (Funny begins to walk away, shaking his head
and mumbling to himself, “Where is this world coming to? ….”) ... Ey!
Funny-boy, don’t you want to wait for the
Scene: Harare, Zimbabwe, Corner Samora Machel Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way, three people standing, Prudence, Fanwell a.k.a Funny and Reason.