Hunted: The UN Secretary-General is now after Mugabe, but he has started off badly
Zimbabwe's dictator, Robert Mugabe, has been calling his allies in the SADC and African Unionto get an assurance of their support after the United Nations Secretary-General asked that he honour his pledge to the UN chief to allow a UN Special Envoy into Zimbabwe.
Mugabe told President Pohamba of Namibia that a judgement had already been made against his regime by Mr Haile Menkerios, the envoy on Zimbabwe. Mugabe had also spoken to President Motlanthe of South Africa on Tuesday, a conversation that led directly to the press conference called by the South African president.
SADC leaders seem to be closing ranks around Mugabe after the phone calls by Mugabe, who claimed to the "closed meeting" of his Central Committee yesterday in Bindura yesterday that the Swazi monarch, Dos Santos of Angola, Motlanthe of South Africa and Jakaya Kikwete had told him that "if they bow to proxy pressure from Britain, channelled through the United Nations, then we might as well disband the African Union and SADC."
There is no doubt that Mugabe has been thrown into a panic by the call by the UN chief to allow a United Nations envoy into Zimbabwe. Mugabe told the "closed meeting" yesterday that Menkerios is "another Tibaijuka" - a reference to the last UN envoy to visit Zimbabwe.
Tibaijuka came in the aftermath of Operation Murambatsvina, Mugabe's "urban renewal" demolition of homes and businesses in the urban centres of Zimbabwe. Her report was scathing and called for the prosecution of those responsible for the operation.
With abductions and disappearances taking place, Mugabe is determined to ban Ban's envoy from Zimbabwe. He may succeed, because the UN secretary-general has made the strategic blunder of referring to the SADC and African Union efforts as "not delivering results". His envoy will not set foot in Zimbabwe unless Mugabe is pressured to allow this by SADC and the AU, a possibility that now looks remote.
Reaction to his Mugabe's communication with SADC and the AU was rather swift, with the Tanzanian president, also the AU chairman, defending both organisations saying, "We have managed to push Mugabe and Tsvangirai to sign an agreement. That is success." He said this on Tuesday, after the UN chief had signalled that he was going to publicly push for his envoy to step into Zimbabwe because the two African bodies were not showing results on the ground.
It becomes tiring perhaps to keep pointing back to analysis done previously on this blog, but these turn of events were laid out very clearly in one of my previous posts, entitled The MDC Plan, published here on November 16. Reading this will have you understand very clearly just what is going on here.
As I predicted in that post of November 16, the MDC has managed now to get their final aim, the UN intervention in Zimbabwe, as an option on the table. And as I said in that post as well, that intervention will not actually come about because it needs the approval of not only the "government" in Zimbabwe, but also SADC and the AU.
I predicted that the Zimbabwe issue would end up before the UN Security Council and I also pointed out that it would be defeated there by the combined veto of the Chinese and the Russians.
I also pointed out that the only other route would be to get a UN resolution on Zimbabwe in the General Assembly. Of course, the numbers there are even worse for the democracy project in Zimbabwe. In a General Assembly vote, Mugabe is almost certain to get a majority for his position, which means that any resolution calling for his condemnation or for him to allow the UN envoy to come in would be defeated.
Much as it is imperfect, the only game in town now is the GPA signed on September 15. If Tsvangirai irrevocably walks away from it, as he is being advised, then we can confidently say that this will be the end of MDC participation in national affairs. Mugabe will call a new, brutal election, the MDC will be hounded to the four corners of the country as a bandit organisation and they will not be allowed to take part in elections on that basis.
In terms of international assistance, the aid that the South African president announced on Wednesday is giving Mugabe some hope. As was explained by the SADC chair, each SADC member will have to contribute according to their GDP into the Zimbabwe fund. This aid, although not being given to Mugabe's government is helpful to him in that, knowing the character of the Zimbabwean, with their bags of aid corn and sugar and cooking oil in their huts, the restiveness will disappear. People will quieten down. And that is all Mugabe beeds to continue in power.
As long as a Zimbabwean has a full stomah, nothing else much troubles him, really. This is why, much as Mugabe is in a panic about the UN stance now, he is fighting to keep SADC and AU on his side, whatever conditions they may attach to that support. The UN Secretary General has made Mugabe's job on this much easier by turning SADC and the AU against the UN. Publicly calling the two bodies failures guaranteed that.
Yes, some Zimbabweans will applaud that statement by Ban, but they fail to realise that, truthful or not, diplomatically, it has just ensured that SADC and AU close ranks around Mugabe. And the UN, whether it likes it or not, can not move an inch without the cooperation of these two bodies. It is the lack of capacity by Zimbabweans to mentally engage this issue and recognise that "speaking the truth" is not a strategy that has led me now to believe that Zimbabweans should not lie to the world that they are educated. They may be schooled. But educated? If they were, they would recognise the nuanced nature of international and even domestic diplomacy and steerTsvagirai towards a course that will see him triumphant in little over nine months, but from within the government. The GPA is the starting point.
But, hey, my schooled compatriots cheer when insults fly, applaud stances whose implications they do not understand and comfort themselves by shouting "Mugabe Must Go!" before rushing to the nearest street corner to sell their vegetables or foreign currency. They must not blame anyone else for their ills. I bet you before long, the UN will also be condemned for "supporting Mugabe" after this latest mission fails, as it will because SADC and the AU have not been brought into play.
The greatest chance of success in Zimbabwe lies with the two African bodies and the UN Secretary General appears to not recognise this. Alienating them, as Morgan Tsvangirai requests, will only ensure the entrenchment of Mugabe in power. Like it or not, that much is certain and time, yet again, will prove me right.