Zimbabwe: Prime Ministers and Prosecutions

A familiar old story from Zapiro. Isn't he great?

If anyone doubted the seriousness with which the Mugabe regime is treating the "insurgency" case, those doubts ought to have been swept aside by the sight of the abductees arriving at the Magistrates Court on Monday.

Gone were the civilian clothes (they appeared in them last time because the CIO hurriedly removed them straight from the Goromonzi farm they use for these purposes to court). Now the detainees were in the green convicts' uniform of Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.

More importantly, though, they were also in leg-irons and handcuffs. This is how you treat high-risk prisoners, violent types: murderers and the like. It is either Mugabe truly believes he has a case or he is putting on a mighty show. His intentions are made even less clear by the fact that, even as he accuses the MDC of plotting an insurgency, he is inviting its leader to be his Prime Minister. No wonder Tsvangirai is being so coy.

But, to those of you who have been following my posts, you know exactly what is going on here. Mugabe has no intention whatsoever of making his marriage of convenience with the MDC last. None at all. If anything, he is determined that, at the next election, the MDC will not be a factor.
The ultimate aim of all this is to hang on to power, nothing else. Mugabe, as I have said before, hopes that this case will allow him to either declare that State of Emergency which is now exposed, or simply target the MDC for exclusion from political life on the basis that "they are a terrorist organisation". Mugabe says he only has "to tolerate him (Tsvangirai) for a little while and then the whole thing will be over and done with."

One just wonders how many cases Mugabe has to bring to court and lose before he gives up. There was the Ari Ben Menashe court case against Tsvangirai. "He wanted to eliminate the president," said Mugabe. The courts found different. Mugabe usually achieves his main purpose in bringing the charges forward: intimidate the opponent into a sulky silence. It has worked for 28 years and it looks like it is about to work again.

The Prime Minister designate is playing hide and seek, pointing to "key ministries" and "passports " when in fact, he knows that his real conundrum is this case and how it relates to his party and, ultimately, to him. He knows that taking the Prime Ministerial oath of the office is no guarantee against Mugabe's tricks. It is not without precedent in this world for a country to wake up and be told that their Prime Minister is in custody, arrested at midnight for plotting nasty things against "the president".

Mugabe's plan has apparently been in place since before the signing of the agreement in September. He himself hinted as much during the signing ceremony when he was booed for saying the opposition in Africa "always resort to violence when they do not get their way." When people in the Conference center booed him on this, he came back and said, "I can give you examples, if you want", before naming some West African countries.

The signing of the deal appears not to have slowed him in his plans, let alone stopped him in his tracks. 

What is clear though, is the ferocity and mercilessness with which Mugabe is now pursuing this "insurgency" case. He is feeling energised by the apparent support for his position coming from SADC. I need not remind you of my previous statements here that the MDC is in danger of being ruled out of order by SADC. And it is increasingly appearing that way now.

South Africa has also just strengthened Mugabe hand by finally admitting that the aid it sent last week was not, as they tried to say then, "a parallel humanitarian effort", but that "we decided to reverse our earlier decision." Whatever the reasoning, Mugabe's party is already telling villagers that it is Mugabe who is sending SADC to them with seed and fertiliser and diesel and so on. Where does all this leave the MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai.

It appears there is not much the Prime Minister designate can do about any of this. SADC is still sticking to its guns that the ruling to share Home Affairs reached at the November 9 summit is the end of the Zimbabwe dispute for at least six months. The Prime Minister says it is not and if this is not corrected, then he won't play ball.

He is at a disadvantage because, for some reason, the African Union and SADC both agree that the only issue outstanding was Home Affairs and this has now been settled according to a formula suggested by none other than the Prime Minister himself.

The issues of governors, ambassadors et al, SADC is saying should be attended to once a government is formed. Mr Tsvangirai's position is untenable because what he is asking of SADC is unprecedented. He is asking them essentially to take on the job of forming a government in Zimbabwe. Nowhere else in the history of diplomacy has there ever been such intrusion into the composition of the cabinet of a country by foreigners, except in circumstances of nations defeated at war. In fact one of Mr Tsvangirai grievances against Thabo Mbeki is the fact that the former president told him exactly this.

There is no prospect whatsoever that SADC will move away from its position that a government with Tsvangirai as Prime Minister be immediately sworn in and that this is the government that then should make the decisions about governors and ambassadors and all the rest of it.

The Prime Minister designate can either accept this or hold out, let the charges develop against his party while SADC looks at him as the person who has killed the talks. Whether they are right or wrong is a leisure that the current circumstances do not permit. They and only they have the capacity to help Zimbabwe emerge from this crisis. They have used that power and capacity in the manner they saw fit and they most certainly will not be listening to Britain or the USA or anybody else except themselves.

So we can either take it or leave it. Whatever happens, the court case against Jestina Mukoko and the others will go ahead. There is nothing Tsvangirai can do about this. Except perhaps to join government and take that first slot in Home Affairs which the MDC has been given and then try to use that to get the courts to be at least impartial in their handling of it. It is upon this case, as I have said before, that the futures of both Mugabe and Tsvangirai as political forces in this country  hang.

I gave Tsvangirai advice on this blog a post or two back (The Lies Have Begun...), that he should demand the setting up of a regional court independent of the Zimbabwean courts. He will have a strong case. The laws of natura justice say that the accuser can't also be the judge, otherwise it's not a trial but a lynching.

I appears Mr Tsvangirai would rather just wait and see how all of this ends. Which is a pity. For him and the people of Zimbabwe.


  1. I've never liked the actions of Mugabe nor the man himself. I find it strange that he has been getting away with so much for so long. I would have thought that the ire of the world should have put a stop to him, but he obviously does not care what anyone else thinks.


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