Showing Mugabe The Door: Morgan Tsvangirai's New Strategy

There are two things that have been making it impossible for Robert Mugabe to simply resign, bugger off into the sunset and leave us all alone.

People forget that Mugabe is an example of what disaster can ensure when an idealist with the wrong ideas gets some power. For, no doubt about it, Mugabe is an idealist. The only problem is that the vision he has is outdated, outmoded and utterly destructive to the spirit of the 21st century.

Because Mugabe is an idealist, he actually sees no problem with suffering for a "cause". Hence, as Zimbabwe melted under his watch, he castigated his countrymen at rally after rally in Zimbabwe. One time, he told a crowd that Zimbabweans should not be so fickle that "if you have no salt, you say oh its the end of the world, I'd do anything to get that salt."

There was, in other words, nothing wrong for him in Zimbabweans suffering unto death for the sake of his big cause: returning land to blacks, taking it away from white owners. He is so idealistic about this that he considers failure to implement this transfer would negate everything he has fought for and lived for all his life.

This is one thing that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai realised in his early meeting with Robert Mugabe. One of these meetings took place at the Rainbow Towers in Harare, where the two men sat and had a private lunch together soon after signing the GPA in September 2008.

Tsvangirai told a reporter a couple of weeks later that he had been surprised to realise that Mugabe "actually believes what he says..." Meaning that the Prime Minister "realised" that Mugabe was "not politicking" when he pronounced his "never, never, never" speeches.

He believes that the MDC is a tool for the former colonisers to get back into Zimbabwe through the back door. Clearly, if he was sincere in believing this, the Prime Minister had to find a way to disabuse him of this notion, to demonstrate to him that the MDC was not only patriotic to the country of Zimbabwe, but that they were also patriotic to the idea that is Zimbabwe.....basically Mugabe's obssesion with "total independence" on the economic to add to the political independence Zimbabwe got in 1980.

The second thing that has made it impossible for Mugabe to go is that he really was never going to agree to go out in disgrace. This is why he forlornly fought the tide of inflation and economic meltdown, social and infrastructural decay, hoping to turn it around and "prove he could do it", then leave with his some vestige of honour.

With a crumbling economy and a generally destroyed country, Mugabe is not the type to throw in the towel and say someone else may have other ideas. He will seek to regain the upper hand with the economy so that people do not say that he "left his country in ruins."

Tsvangirai has realised this as well. And I say this with some authority. It is the realisation of these two things that have apparently informed the Prime Minister's new strategy with Mugabe.

By giving him his due, insisting as Tsvangirai does, that journalists refer to Mugabe as President Mugabe, telling the west to leave him alone because he is not the problem, addressing him as "Father" even in their one on one meetings, the Prime Minister  is directly seeking to give Mugabe back his dignity.

Doing so would mean half the job done.

Should there then be success on the economic front, Tsvangirai is certain that Mugabe would then be more amenable to retiring, knowing that he would do so with applause, and not jeers, ringing in his ears.

There is certainly some sense to this strategy. But then again, it is based on, at best, the most accomplished study of the intractable subject called Mugabe. It could succeed. If, and only if, the reading of Mugabe is correct, by making sure that, in his retirement, he would believe that he has nothing to lose.

Like I said today to my conversationalist from the Prime Minister's office: it is exactly like what one would do if one had a madman in the house and the madman was refusing to leave.

You would promise the most ridiculous things, agree with his most ridiculous statements and so on, just as long as doing so keeps him moving towards the door.

This is where we are. And certainly I, for one, have a different outlook on what it is that the Prime Minister is trying to do.

I still protest, though, about the quality of the ministers he has given us and their failure to be more imaginative than ZANU PF in strategy for the revival of the economy.

And I am still disgusted that there is so much sanctioning of greed by the MDC in government

All the same, at least we all know now that there is method to the pally-pally madness. And we wish the Prime Minister well as he throws the old dog a bone.


  1. Aha! This rationale makes sense. I had begun to think that Tsvangirai had "drunk the koolaid" and fallen in lockstep with Mugabe! I hope you're right.

  2. It is true, every leader worries about their legacy.But is it only President Mugabe that Prime Minister Tsvangirai is mainly concerned with, or President Mugabe is the prime concern?Lets say today President Mugabe decides to resign, or say he is not chosen by Zanu Pf as their presidential candidate in any future elections, are we likely to see any change in the way Zanu Pf operates? I have heard that in Zanu PF, it is President Mugabe himself who restrains some of his hardliners, who believes that they can obliterate MDC within a period of two months. They believe they will be no MDC to talk about, if they are given the chance. They do not care about the reaction of the international community. They have this attitude "kusiri kufa ndekupi". May be the Prime Minister's strategy will work, if President Mugabe is one of the hurdles, he will have fewer hurdles to deal with once he is done with the first one, eliminating the hurdles one by one. I think it will be a wise strategy if President Mugabe is allowed to retire with dignity, with a good working relationship with the Prime minister, for PM Tsvangirai might need his services later to deal with Zanu PF hardliners.Since President Mugabe commands some respect within Zanu PF, he can neutralise them and actually work as a mediator in future dealings between PM Tsvangirai/MDC and Zanu PF.This will be possible if he retires with pomp and fanfare, and with sound relations with the Prime minister.The Prime Minister must be doing a good job in trying to restore the respect and honour the President used to have, thus him insisting that he should be addressed as President Mugabe. This is a better strategy than confrontation. It is good for all.

  3. I believe we have been going through a metamorphosis in the political landscape and what we are witnessing is the culmination of that process: A new political dispensation in our country where we are going to have two distinct ideological groups. Bani rakatsva, tamirira rudzu rwezvichamera zvacho (bundo, miti). If you noted, ordinary Zimbabweans had long predicted a split in Zanu after Mugabe, while foreign analysts had also predicted a split in MDC. What both failed to realize is that a Zanu split would also suck in the MDC since the splits would be based on ideological differences.

    There will be two ideologies which I like to call conservatives and liberals. Conservatives will resemble the early-mid 80s Zanu: people driven with a strong base in the war vets, women’s league, farmers union, workers union, small businesses and rural areas. The Liberals will be made up of middle class intellectuals mainly aspired by economic growth and stability. Mugabe had managed to combine and appeal to both sides until the middle class felt economic stability threatened by new empowerment moves.

    There will be a lot of consolidations going forward….Ncube, Sibanda, Mutambara will have to find a new home, Mudzuri and Biti will team up with their counterparts from the new Zanu camps. At this point we might view the maneuvering as factionalism, tribal, backstabbing and so forth because its beyond what we had comprehended.

    It is not surprising that Mugabe and Tsvangirai can have a common vision. Morgan’s ZCTU background is the very background the original Zapu was formed from! Both men had strayed from those roots and realized that path can only take them so far.

  4. @Thokozile: The thing is Tsvangirai is now aware (which we thought we he wasn't) that Mugabe is actually the one in charge. The talk of "hardliners" is simply that: talk. Mugabe controls the strings here, the army listen to him, the police, Prisons and every other center of power - they are controlled by him.

    So, by trying to "convert" Mugabe, Tsvangirai hopes that, as Mugabe trusts him, so will all his other underlings.

    Because make no mistake, Mugabe is in supreme control. Noone goes against him.

    @Nyatsimba Mutota: I am actually certain that there is no ideological difference between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. This is why you have not seen an different platform in terms of policy suggested by the MDC.

    Much as we may like Tsvangirai because he represents something (anything) that is not the PERSON of Mugabe, the truth is that the PM has almost as much dictatorial tendencies as Mugabe.

    Witness what he did during the MDC split. I for one will never forget or forgive Tsvangirai for his statement during the split when he said:

    "I hold the keys, I am MDC, without me there is no MDC"

    I do not see how this is different from ZANU {F and Mugabe.

    On the other hand, though, Tsvangirai may well prevail simply because our people's expectations do not go beyond filling their stomachs.

    They care not advances in technology, democratic ideals and so on, as long as they can find a job, buy things in the supermarket, send kids to school and drink at their bottle store every friday and every weekend.

    These are simple things that even an inept dictator can deliver.

    This is the tragedy that is Zimbabwe.

  5. And they think we are all boo boo the fool right ? these two guys are like the three stooges, with that invisible head ruling them both; with their clear intentions to run zimbabwe into the ground.

    they will blame it all on the white man, but the white man is not doing it - these two are.

    My Dear Zimbabwe, if I hit the lottery, I will ship a boatload of psychologists and straight jackets to help control this obviously lunatic fringe who are "in control".

    such a joke, to even call this a government.

    Ha ! I'm laughing now but inside I'm crying for all of you who are trapped under this cloud of evil and terror.

    Denford You Said :

    Tsvangirai told a reporter a couple of weeks later that he had been surprised to realise that Mugabe "actually believes what he says..." Meaning that the Prime Minister "realised" that Mugabe was "not politicking" when he pronounced his "never, never, never" speeches.


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