Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe has gone on leave, as is traditional for him in January. He is a creature of habit. It is breathtaking arrogance, this, a show of supreme confidence in the security of his position. As I said last week, Mugabe has indeed paid Tsvangirai back in his own coin. As the MDC calls for a summit with the SADC chairman and Mugabe in South Africa, the dictator has decided to let him cool his heels while spends time with his family, mostly at his sprawling rural compound in Zvimba and his mansion in Helensvale. Mugabe is also due to fly to Malaysia with his entire family for a week of fun in the sand and sun.
Which reminds me: have you noticed that Mugabe goes to the beach in his suit? Yep, even when he is on holiday, he can't relax. It's the old school thingy, drummed into little heads by colonial education. We all remember, even after Independence, our teachers from the old order telling us "A gentleman has no weather". Which means that no matter how stiflingly hot it gets, a "gentleman" will always put on his tie and suit! No thank you, I prefer the casual look myself.
Anyway, it is still likely that Mugabe will avail himself for that summit urgently requested by Tsvangirai in South Africa. All this, however, in vain. Because I can certainly state with confidence that plans to arrest Tsvangirai are complete and in place. Mugabe is simply going through the charade of forming a government because he does not want the world to think that he was arresting his rival in order to keep from office and retain total power. The MDC president will have four months in office at the most, before he is arrested on charges of training bandits in Botswana.
This timeline dovetails with the predetermined timeline of the Jestina Mukoko case, in which we will see no final verdict on all those being until March. April was factored in for appeals. Tsvangirai will not be going to the review of the Zimbabwe Government of National Unity as proposed by six. (SADC ruled that the government be formed and then reviewed six months after it is implemented).
But it is now certain that no inclusive government (GNU) will be seen in Zimbabwe until February, in light of Mugabe's absence on leave. Mugabe's people say he is adamant that no GNU will be composed while he is away. He wants the government only to be in place once he return from leave. It obviously means Tsvangirai and the MDC, if they choose to go into government, can only go into government in February.
It is also understood that Tsvangirai is demanding the summit in South Africa solely to extract a promise from Mugabe, in the presence of the SADC chairman, that he will not be arrested on "banditry" charges if he comes back to the country. According to a close aide of the MDC president, Tsvangirai has come to the conclusion that SADC respects Mugabe only because he respects them. It follows therefore, is the logic, that if makes an undertaking in front of the SADC chair, he would most likely not break it later on.
Mugabe knows about the purpose of the meeting requested by Tsvangirai and it is unlikely that he is going to give a blanket assurance to the MDC leader. Mugabe briefed his communications staff last week that they must now start to communicate the position that there should be no interference in the "judiciary" process and "rule of law" in Zimbabwe. The message you will be hearing a lot about will be that the rule of law must be respected and the judiciary must not be undermined!
That's rich, isn't it coming from a man who has judges and attorney-generals dangling out of his back pocket? Anyway, Mugabe's message to Tsvangirai is apparently that he will only make the promise that the MDC leader has nothing to fear if he is not guilty of any crime. There will be no concessions above this. The MDC leader will have to take that or leave it.
It is all designed to instill fear in Tsvangirai and his party, to paralyse the opposition party into inaction. The aim is basically to ensure that Tsvangirai hangs himself by refusing outright to take part in Zimbabwe the government of national untity (GNU). Tsvangirai himself signalled a shift from his earlier strategy by saying last week that he hopes all parties will support the Constitutional Amendment No 19 when it is debated in the House.
Mugabe had accused him of plotting to defeat the Amendment and therefore kill the agreement, a suspicion the Zimbabwean dictator had also communicated to some SADC heads of state.
Sources within government now indicate that Mugabe has already decided that on the basis of the "evidence" that have accumulated so far, Tsvangirai will have to be arrested at some point. The idea is to make the whole world believe that the action was not planned in advance. Hence the moves towards inviting Tsvangirai to take up his post as Prime Minister-designate. When the arrest finally comes, Mugabe wants to be able to say that it was not planned, for how could he accept a Prime Minister whom he knew was being tied to the spit even as he took the oath of office? Arrested Tsvangirai will most certainly be. It just won't happen straight away. Vultures are patient creatures.
And finally, it now out in the open that SADC Heads of State thought Mugabe's refusal to hand over the ministry of home affairs in full to the MDC was "reasonable" in light of the "banditry" charges that his government was levelling at the MDC. It was at this point, apparently, that Tsvangirai asked that the other ministries be revisited in order to have what he called an equal balance of power.
Mugabe responded by saying that Tsvangirai had already agreed to and signed for the all the other ministries and could now not reopen closed negotiations. That is why it puzzled so many just why SADC appeared to be contradicting Tsvangirai and the MDC's assertion that it was not just the ministry of Home Affairs that was in dispute. They were shown the documents signed by Tsvangirai for the other ministries and they could not appeal to Mugabe on the basis of justice, only on moral grounds. What's fair and what not, that sort of thing. It obviously did not work.
Mugabe responded to this by conceding to SADC the demand that the whole government of national unity issue be brought back to a full summit after six months. This was subsequently contained in the SADC Communique issued on 9 November 2008.