HOW THE TALKS HAVE DIED
Today is Monday. SADC Heads of State have started arriving as I write. It is a futile mission, primarily because Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC, as well as Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF, have lost interest in saving Zimbabwe and in these talks.
As stated previously, Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC have abandoned these talks. No compromise from Mugabe, short of virtual resignation, handing over power in total to the MDC-T, will convince Morgan to sign the deal. Even if he gets Home Affairs, Finance, Local government and 12 (twelve) other ministries on top , Morgan Tsvangirai is still not going to sign. At the heart of his intransigence is the dossier he will present to Heads of State today, in which he accuses Thabo Mbeki of being virtually a card-carrying member of ZANU PF. Although an agreement is in place, Morgan wants it all reversed because, with Mbeki no longer president in South Africa, the MDC believes it is worth its while trying for a new mediator and starting the process again
from scratch. In other words, they no longer want the agreement they signed. New elections is what they want. Or, failing that, a new mediator who will read the riot act to Mugabe, set aside the June 27 election results and installs Morgan as president on the basis of March 29 results, in which he thrashed Mugabe soundly.
On the other hand, Mugabe feels humiliated, cornered and is aware that no compromise short of hand-over of power will assuage the MDC leader. He is obviously not prepared to do this, or to carry on talking when he knows that there is now no hope. Psychologists and even just ordinary Joes will tell you that, when a man is humiliated, you can only push him so far, and Mugabe is humiliated right now. His face in Swaziland told the whole story (see picture): the man was fuming. Just watch the footage and look at the photographs. This is quite apart from what he told senior party members when he came back. According to the briefing he gave senior party members on his return from Swaziland, Mugabe now knows for certain that even if he was to give Defence, Home Affairs, Finance and a Vice Presidential slot to Morgan, the MDC leader will still not sign. The opposition party wants a new election. The opposition party wants the presidency. Morgan wants total control and the only impediment he saw previously was Thabo Mbeki. Now he is no longer there. So Morgan sees his chance. This is what Mugabe is now saying. His attitude today is going to be extremely dismissive. There is a deal on the table and Morgan can either sign or tell the truth that he is no longer interested in anything short of being appointed president, since he won on March 29.
What this means for Zimbabwe is simply too difficult to put in words. By this time next week, people in Harare, Bulawayo and other cities will be starving to death. Previously, only the rural areas were touched, but now, the cities themselves are under siege. With shops refusing to accept anything but US dollars and rands, and only 1% of the population in Harare, as an example, with access to this foreign currency, the rest will not be able to buy even the most basic of the basic foodstuffs. By mid-November, Zimbabwe will be a few weeks away from being a Somalia of Southern Africa.
Put no hope in the promise of aid from South Africa, which is going to give us seeds and fertiliser for the current agricultural season. Giedon Gono himself said yesterday, "senior government officials know where the ships and trains carrying these supplies are and they have already set their traps." All those inputs will be vandalised, pillaged, stolen and flogged off on the black market. No more than 2% of actual farmers will see any of these supplies.
This is of little concern to Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe. Their focus is on power, nothing else. The tug-of-war has to do with who gains ascendacy over whom. It is not about the people. Cynically, cruelly, both parties still talk about the people being "hungry", "suffering" yet they seem bent on doing everything in their power to prolong that suffering.
To close, then: there is going to be no agreement this year in Zimbabwe unless there is a seismic change in attitude by the two leaders, which is unlikely. Morgan Tsvangirai is getting extremely bad advice and Robert Mugabe ceased long ago to feel anything for the people of Zimbabwe. Against this background, those out there in the diaspora with relatives back home must now prepare to airlift them out of Zimbabwe. Those in the country with no other route to leave should now make preparations for being thrown back into the stone age: electricity will dry up,as will water and other things vital to life, basic foodstuffs, already in short supply, will now dry up completely. Aid agencies which have been concentrating on the rural areas will now find their resources stretched. Their cumbersome distribution practices will also mean that, even in the rural areas, by the time food gets to the people, many many many of them would have died. The children are especially at risk and we may well be witnessing the beginning of the decimation of an entire generation.
I did not post yesterday because I was travelling in two rural districts of Zimbabwe, then came back to Harare where I also travelled to four high-density areas, Borrowdale Brooke Shopping Centre, Avondale, Malbereign and Eastlea. One thing was clear: no person is going to be holding his breath today as the talks progress. The people's resignation was truly pitifult to see yesterday.
It is a whole load of nonsense that the people of Zimbabwe are being fed by the MDC and ZANU PF and they should seriously start seeing that they do not eat false promises, false sympathy and false hope from MDC and ZANU PF. It is time to look to new leadership across the board.