We Were Right! This Is The End Of Negotiations

Dr Simba Makoni's statement: The Way Forward For Zimbabwe, is a bit further down on this page, please scroll down to get to it.....

Like the parrot in the Monty Python sketch in this photo, the talks are DEAD, but all our "leaders" would like us to believe that they are not. "They are just sleeping," they seek to tell us.
Let us recap the analysis we gave you two weeks ago on this blog regarding these talks (now colloquically referred to in Zimbabwe as "the jokes"). The MDC motivation and strategy, which are now tragically being played out exactly according to our analysis here, is as follows:

First, the MDC saw the ousting of Thabo Mbeki from the South African presidency as their chance to renegotiate the September 15 agreement which they have never liked.

The MDC only signed that agreement because they did not any see any other way out. Their unloved mediator, Thabo Mbeki had just taken over the Chairmanship of SADC. This meant that this regional grouping was now to be officially led on the Zimbabwe issue by their very own mediator. So the Mbeki policy and approach to Zimbabwe had now officially become the policy of "the region". There is no love lost between Mbeki and the MDC. The opposition party had always preferred a mediator who would be rude, direct, and perhaps even hostile to the Zimbabwean dictator. 
I am not sure we will ever get a mediator who will side with the MDC and read the riot act to Mugabe, because that would defeat the purpose of being a mediator. And besides, even if one were found who could act in that manner, Mugabe would simply pull an MDC on him - declare him biased, partisan, compromised and reject him. Which would take us back to base - stalemate yet again. A mediator HAS to be acceptable to both parties. Mbeki, in my view, was a good compromise. I dm certain that nobody else in the world, except perhaps Fidel Castro or any Chinese President, would have managed to get Mugabe to agree to not only talk to the MDC, but also give away the power he has handed over so far. 

Still, the MDC thought that, with Mbeki out of office, they now had a good chance of reversing the whole thing and starting from scratch, with a new mediator, who would be likely to see the issue from the MDC point of view and give Tsvangirai his No 1 prize: presidential powers with a Prime Ministerial title. They forget that, even in the unlikely event that this did happen and a new mediator was sought by SADC, Mugabe would still have to agree to that new mediator. If he refuses, that is the end of the whole business. Like I said, back to base.

Yesterday, Tsvangirai said that he will not participate in the talks any more ntil Mbeki is removed as the mediator.The reason he gives is the long-standing grievance that the man is partisan and is basically a card-carrying member of Mugabe's ZANU PF. 
But has Tsvangirai lost the plot here?
The thing is this: The MDC, in pursuit of its strategy, sought to provoke Mbeki last week by getting Tendai Biti to write an extremely undiplomatic and insulting letter to Mbeki. The reason was to precipitate a crisis, a tactic that features very heavily in the new MDC strategy. They hoped, you see, that Mbeki would take the bait and respond in like manner, so that they would take that letter and wave it at SADC as proof that the former SA president is biased against the MDC. Mbeki did indeed take the bait and there are celebrations at Harvest House because of this. The MDC already thinks the strategy is on course. 

They forget that the matter of Zimbabwe is essentially out of Mbeki's hands now. It was taken out of his hands the moment Tsvangirai asked for a full SADC summit, which he got. It was not Mbeki, but SADC as a whole that gave the ruling on Home Affairs and essentially declared the Zimbabwe issue closed. 
This is basic revisionism by the MDC, because it is very unclear just what dispute they want a new mediator to preside over.The only thing that such a new kid on the block would be mediating is cabinet composition, which the SADC heads of state say they solved on November 9 in South Africa when they ruled, at Tsvangirai's request, on how the Home Affairs Ministry should be handled in the Inclusive Cabinet.
By asking for a new mediator, the MDC, is basically asking SADC to appoint someone to second-guess their November 9 ruling. This is breathtakingly amateurish diplomacy by the MDC, unless of course, asking for a new "judge" is not a serious request, but merely a tactic to allow the MDC to move to the next stage of its strategy. I think this is the case.
That regional body's ruling still stands and there is now no basis upon which a new mediator can be appointed. That's just about the sum total of it. SADC say the dispute is over, what is let is to form the government and there is no need to appoint a mediator to discuss the appointment of ministers in a member country. It is simply unprecedented.
A senior politician in Zimbabwe, not a part of these negotiations that are now dead and who is currently holding low-key consultations with SADC presidents to try and find a way out of this mess says that the SADC heads of state are unequivocal: there is no need for a new mediator. Eleven SADC presidents have so far told him that the agreement that was signed by Tsvangirai, Mugabe and Mutambara put an end to the negotiating process. These eleven are of the opinion that, by signing that agreement, the Zimbabwe "leaders" basically signalled to the world that there was now agreement on the way forward in Zimbabwe, that there was no longer a major dispute in the southern african nation. That major dispute was the legitimacy of Mugabe's June 27 un-off victory, a barganing chip that the MDC threw away by signing an agreement that confirmed Mugabe in his post as President of Zimbabwe, thereby recognising him as legitimate.

Whats more, SADC says there is even no need for Mbeki to continue mediating because the issues that are now being discussed are outside the purview of mediation. (It goes back again to the unprecedented matter of foreign governments getting involved in the process of appointing cabinet for a country.)  The SADC leaders are of the opinion that cabinet posts are an internal matter in Zimbabwe, and, in the rules of diplomacy and in International Relations 101, they are right. There is consensus on the fact that the two major disputes, which they see as the recognition of Tsvangirai's performance in the parliamentary polls of March 2008 and the legitimacy of Mugabe's win in June, were solved by the two main parties appending their signatures to the GPA.

The MDC is aware of this and their stand in refusing to discuss anything further until Mbeki is removed as mediator is only a tactic in their strategy. This is a tactic they hope will then see SADC give up on the Zimbabwe problem, allowing the MDC to escalate the dispute to the AfricanUnion. And beyond, as I shall explain just now.
At the African Union, the MDC has no intention of actually seriously engaging that body in order to get a solution. The opposition party has taken the strategy that they will also be intransigent at the AU, forcing that African body to also give up and then allowing the MDC to execute the final part of its strategy: taking the matter to the United Nations.

You must please understand that what the MDC wants is very simple and straightforward. Tsvangirai wants to be given presidential powers without the presidential title. He does not mind sharing those powers with Mugabe, which is why he keeps saying that he will not pull out of the deal and that "there is nothing wrong with this agreement." His strategy, deeply flawed as it is, (again, I will explain why in just a moment), is designed to paralyse Mugabe, to ensure no government is in place until Tsvangirai gets those presidential powers. At the same time, the MDC also hopes Mugabe will lose patience and appoint a government without the MDC, to strengthen the MDC claim that Mugabe has broken the agreement and therefore, making the issue an even better candidate for international intervention.

This strategy is flawed because, no matter how much we all hate Mugabe, we must acknowledge that he is one of the shrewdest political strategists in the world today. He would not have lasted this long given his utter unpopularity and his brutality towards Zimbabweans.His counter strategy is basically straightfoward as as follows:

The MDC can discount straight away the unilateral appointment of cabinet by Mugabe. Mugabe has only one tactic left, which is almost certain to work in his favour: get SADC to declare MDC out of order, the Zimbabwe dispute closed and give Mugabe the green light to form a government to run Zimbabwe until such time Tsvangirai agrees to go into government on the November 9 terms set by the regional body.

Mugabe will almost certainly get all this, because the 11 presidents of SADC I spoke about just now are quite clear that they are tired of the Zimbabwe problem, while at the same time vowing that they, the body mandated by the AU, and only they, wil put an end to the matter. Tsvangirai perhaps also forgets that the reason why SADC was asked to handle the problem was because George Bush and Tony Blair and the rest of the world had come to realise that no action by any other group or country could have an impact on Mugabe. They had tried. They had failed. The man simply would not quit. The idea at the time was that countries around Mugabe would have more leverage because the ZANU PF regime depended on them for keeping their landlocked country in touch with trading partners and the rest of the world. So I ask myself why Tsvangirai wants to go back to a route that was abandoned by the West in favour of an African Solution approach. Nothing has changed. The same factors that led to the outside world deciding that this matter was a regional one are still in place. Mugabe is still as stubborn.

As Einstein said: "Madness is doing the same thing in the same way repeatedly, and expecting a different result every time."

The London Telegraph pointed out yesterday that, legally speaking, Mugabe has so far not done a single thing that can be seen a breaking the agreement. The paper even goes so far as to say that the draft Constitutional Ammendment Number 19 drafted by the Attorney General of Zimbabwe is closer to the September 15 agreement than the draft the MDC-T is trying to present. 
The paper vindicates my analysis of two weeks ago when it says that the MDC draft, on the other hand, effectively seeks to reopen negotiations. But that is exactly what I have been saying for two weeks now, Telegraph. 
Most people are unaware of the goings-on behind closed doors at the talks. They do not know that the dictator has been very careful to stick to the letter (if not the spirit) of the agreement, knowing that Tsvangirai, by signing the agreement, was like a fish that hooked itself onto a fish-hook. The struggles he is enagaged in at the moment are fruitless in that they will result in only one of two options, either the fish gets landed or it trips off its own mouth in escaping, becoming either fatally wounded or being forced to take time to recover (five years, in our case, which is when the next elections will be held, no matter what anybody tells you).
Further, The Telegraph also points out another fact that most people are not aware of, which is that the agreement signed by the three "leaders" specifically gives the task of drafting this ammendment to the Attorney General's office. 
So, in other words, getting the Attorney General to draft the Bill was something Tsvangirai agreed to and signed for. Yet now, he calls it a ZANU PF document because it was drafted by the AG? Confused. You should not be, remeber, these are all just tactics, to enable a strategy. 

I would support the MDC position that the draft Bill should not have been sent to Mbeki without their seeing it first, but the fact that this was done is not a violation of the agreement by Mugabe, legally speaking. I also would support Tsvangirai's position that there is one paragraph in the draft which must be removed immediately, that paragraph being the one that gives Mugabe power to unilaterally end the Unity Government if he so wishes. That nonsense should not be entertained by anybody and I am sure even Mbeki thinks it was put in there as a joke by Mugabe.

As is clear from all of the above, the MDC really have no legal leg to stand on in trying to reopen the negotiations and tearing up the agreement they have already signed. The most likely outcome of their chosen strategy, as it becomes clearer now, is that the opposition party will be declared an impediment to the resolution of this particular process (not the wider issue of legitimacy, which, you will recall, the MDC closed by giving Mugabe legitimacy through signing an agreement that recognise him as Head of State).

To end, let us again give you our prediction of how this thing will progress. We have been right every time so far, so those who have ears should listen.
  • Tsvangirai wll not get a new mediator because SADC is of the position that the Zimbabwe issue is closed, finished. As President Montlanthe said, there is an agreement on the table and the parties should implement it. That is SADC's position. The one remaining issue, according to SADC and most observers, was Home Affairs and SADC has also closed this by ruling (as asked for by Tsvangirai) that the Ministry be shared. There is nothing further to discuss, say the 11 SADC presidents (the other four either support Tsvangirai (one) or say they are neutral in the matter (three).

  • The MDC will try to bypass SADC, as Tsvangirai did last week when he went to see President Kikwete of Tanzania, the current Chair of the African Union. Kikwete told Tsvangirai to go back to SADC and finish the "unfinished business there". The MDC will, therefore, not get what they want at the AU. Remember that the current Chair of the African Union is also a member of SADC and, therefore, party to the Home Affairs ruling of November 9.

  • After they have been rebuffed by both the AU and SADC, the MDC will seek to lobby a wider audience to get the Zimbabwe issue put before the UN. Here again, they will be shouting at the moon. Mugabe will easily be able to muster a majority in the General Assembly. Yes,the MDC are pinning their hopes on the Security Council. But they forget that even there, there needs to be unanimity or the issue goes nowhere. What will happen if they do get as far the UN is that China and Russia will frustrate any attempt to discuss Zimbabwe and veto any resolution sponsored by America and Britain. That will be the end of the road and the MDC will then have to come back home and start talking to SADC again. This will take about a year, perhaps two years, during which time Mugabe would have been given regional blessing to form a government and the country would have moved forward. The next chance the MDC will then have to engage ZANU PF will be in five years time, at the next elections. This is a matter that an alarming number of Zimbabweans are fooling themselves on, refusing to accept the truth, which is that MUGABE WILL NOT AGREE TO ELECTIONS BEFORE "HIS" FIVE YEAR TERM ENDS. That is the truth of the matter . Mugabe is here for another five years, full stop, and the MDC are doing all they can to help him achieve this.

  • Finally, to recap, and mark these words, because I will gloat about their truth later: MDC and its leader will, before Christmas, be declared an impediment to the resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis and will be put out into the cold night. AU and the UN will not be able to even start a process of intervening in Zimbabwe. And the MDC will cool its heels for the next five years. At Mavambo, we are reading the mood of the public and we know exactly what the people want. Just watch us. You are about to witness that reshaping of the Zimbabwean political landscape that Dr Makoni spoke about many times, because it appears that the "failure of Leadership Nelson Mandela spoke about does not apply only to Mugabe, but to Tsvangirai as well.

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