Mugabe Is Being Cautious

Don't pay any attention to the doomsday stories about the failure of the deal to form an inclusive cabinet.

The latest scare-mongering has to do with the fact that Mugabe this afternoon swore in his two deputy presidents, Joice Mujuru and Joseph Msika. To hear the way this story is being hysterically reported, you would think that this is the end of the whole thing. One London paper immediately reported that Mugabe had snubbed Mbeki, who arrived in Zimbabwe today to continue mediating an amicable conclusion to the deal.

Break it down like this: the posts of the two vice-presidents was not contested by Morgan Tsvangirai. The original agreement. signed in front of Mr Mbeki on September 15 this year, clearly specified that the two posts of vice president would belong to ZANU PF. Just as Mr Tsvangirai will not seek permission to appoint any minister to the ministries allocated to him, Mr Mugabe also can go ahead and people to the positions that both parties agreed belong to his party. The two vice-presidential posts, therefore, were not part of the negotiations, just Mr Tsvangirai's post of Prime Minister is not part of the negotiations. It is guaranteed and he can only be removed from it by his own agreement and not through any other means.

If Mugabe had gone ahead and appointed ministers and especially ministers to the posts that are in dispute (Finance, Home Affairs etc), then there would have been a sure-fire crisis. As it is, Mugabe has done nothing to jeopardise the agreement through these appointments.

This should actually give people hope:

Mugabe is being very careful to ensure that he does not breach this agreement. The spirit of it may be another thing, but right now, Mugabe is being a stickler for protocol, eschewing announcing ministerial appointments even to the posts that he, Tsvangirai and Mutambara had agreed on. He still wants this deal. But he is also engaging in a bit of power play, showing the MDC that he can go it alone if need be, reminiscent of Ian Smith's infamous "I have a country to run" comment at the doomed 1975 Geneva Conference. Why would he be taking such care if he did not care what the world thought?

Food for thought.

So, before you swallow all that claptrap you get fed through most of the hysterical mainstream media, pause, reflect. I am still confident that we will have a new cabinet in place before the end of this week, perhaps as early as Wednesday.

For now, I am signing off because I am monitoring the situation at the Rainbow Towers hotel, where Mbeki is now staying and currently meeting with the warring parties individually. Any developments will be here before they are anywhere else, you can rest assured.


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