Robert Mugabe is set to form a government all by himself after Morgan Tsvangirai angrily rejected the SADC "ruling" that the Ministry of Home Affairs be shared between ZANU PF and MDC-T. The full Summit made no mention of Tendai Biti and Nelson Chamisa's claims that there are ten ministries under contention. The regional body, in sticking to the position that this agreement has died because of the Home Affairs ministry, has basically thrown the gauntlet down in front of the MDC-T.
Morgan Tsvangirai, in his response to the SADC "ruling", said he was "disappointed". Shocked, as well, he said. He then proceeded to insult the gathered Heads of State by accusing them of "lacking decency". He does not accept the ruling, he insists. And he has no intention of joining Mugabe in the new government. From South Africa, Morgan Tsvangirai, who moved his entire family to Botswana last week, will most probably head back to that country. He is still intent on forcing a showdown with Robert Mugabe. More on how he will do that later on in this article.
What the MDC-T had hoped for was that, if it stuck to its guns and refused to budge, SADC would escalate the issue to the AU, which, after more refusals from Morgan, would then refer the matter to the UN.
As we said on this blog a couple of weeks ago, this was never going to happen. Anyone who thought it was going to happen lives in La-la Land. SADC is determined not to agree that it has failed, which would be the implication of referring this matter to the AU. There is now no option left for Tsvangirai. But he will try. It is a desolate and sad battle against the tide and it is going to be painful to watch over the next month or so as this man shoots himself repeatedly in the diplomatic foot and then courts sympathy for hobbling.
His game plan is as follows: start lobbying the West, including president-elect Obama of America, to bring pressure to bear on SADC and the AU to force Mugabe's hand. At the same time, a simultaneous effort to lobby the African Union will be undertaken. Tsvangirai has already made it known that he will now seek a United Nations passport since Mugabe is still hiding his somewhere in the State House. Perhaps he knows he has to prepare for the long haul. Perhaps not. But the (s)tragedy, rolls out nevertheless.
It's a fatal mistake. Already, Mr Tsvangirai has antagonised SADC, which sees him now as the stumbling block to the implementation of this agreement. Mr Tsvangirai had earlier in the day painted himself into a corner with large brushstrokes. He asked the Summit to make a ruling and demanded that they put a deadline to the formation of a government in Zimbabwe. SADC promptly oblidged and ruled that the Ministry of Home Affairs be co-chaired by the two main parties to the dialogue.
Tsvangirai, "shocked", in his own words, rejected the ruling out of hand. By refusing to accept the ruling that he had asked for, say the presidents present in South Africa for this Summit, Tsvangirai has confirmed Mugabe's statement to the regional body that the MDC is not interested in compromise and will not accept any "fair" ruling unless that ruling gives the opposition exactly what it wants. They already have their cake, Mugabe argues, and now they want to eat it as well. Essentially, the MDC is now on a path to seeking the capitulation of Mugabe. They may be overplaying their hand. And that too could be part of the strategy to force the dictatorship to lose patience and explod in the face of its opponents. At which point the world would rush in to save life and limb, but only after deposing Mugabe. We'll see how far it goes. But if our opinion were sought, we would say that it will only go as far the March 29 elections went.
SADC leaders say they have lost patience with the MDC. They have now dared Tsvangirai to go ahead with his next move. The lobbying that he is about to embark on is doomed precisely because, lacking any diplomatic skills, the MDC leader has now isolated the only body that could have opened the doors for America and the West to take direct and more forceful action against Mugabe.The only way they could have done this was if they came out with a statement that Mugabe is being unreasonanable and lacked good faith. Instead, their position is the inverse of this.
It works like this in diplomacy: Apart from personal sanctions, there is no other action the world powers can take against Mugabe unless SADC agrees to it. Anything else would throw the whole diplomatic balance of the world into disarray at the United Nations.
Mr Tsvangirai's further misfortune is that the unilateral regime of George Dubya Bush is in its death throes and Barack Obama is a much more consultative leader who will not take any unilateral action without getting consenus from the AU and SADC, which consensus will come only when donkeys grow horns and pigs learn to fly.
With SADC standing guard over the regime of Mr Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Mr Tsvangirai is destined to wander the world trying to rally the world to his cause. It is sad, sad sad. The people of Zimbabwe have put their hopes on an inept negotiator, one who is failing to present a convincing case of his position and interpretation to the people who matter most in the strategy he has himself chosen.
What then happens?: Mugabe will now go ahead and form a government on his own. It is not clear yet whether the smaller MDC will join him. Tsvangirai, at the press conference he is holding as I write this, says that there are other bodies that guaranteed this agreement. He mentions the AU and "others".
As explained on this blog almost two weeks ago, Tsvangirai now wants to escalate this issue all the way to the United nations. Mugabe is set to ignore him and stick to the point that SADC made a ruling which must be respected. This, ladies and gentlemen, will go on for the next five years. The UN and the AU are not coming in to save the people of Zimbabwe at any point.
It is sad and whether we like it or not, Tsvangirai has played his hand very badly. Perhaps it is a lack of negotiating finesse and a lack of sound strategy formulation. But the bottom line nevertheless remains: coming out of the summit in South Africa,Mr Tsvangirai admitted that he had failed to present his case to SADC effectively. "Unfortunately," he says, "the impression is being created that the issue at stake is the Ministry of Home Affairs. It is not. It is about power-sharing." That really did not clarify matters, even to the journalists present, let alone the SADC leaders he sought to convince. And Mr Tsvagirai failed to sell that position to the presidents gathered in South Africa.
So, we are back to square one.
Although Morgan Tsvangirai claims he is still committed to the Agreement, the truth of the matter is that there is now no agreement to which he can be committed. He and Robert Mugabe have basically torn it up. Zimbabwe is set to continue suffering. That suffering of the people is probably going to be eased somewhat by the aid that will now be released by South Africa, who also undertook at the summit to start lobbying other countries to come in with much more substantial aid. It won't be much help, but it is what the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe are now faced with. That's fact. And facts are stubborn.