Morgan Tsvangirai at the MDC National Congress today. He told the gathering that there was still no rule of law in Zimbabwe. But he insists he will not leave government, that the democratic process is "irreversible". He is dealing with a chameleon who has a long history of paranoia, as related here today.
It was in 1982 and Simba Makoni was Zimbabwe's Minister of Industry and Trade.
There was a shortage of mealie-meal in the country. Dr Makoni says, "There was an explosion of spending power after independence in the hands of the people, so more could afford to buy roller-meal as opposed to milling their own meal."
Mugabe did not see it this way. He accused the (white) milling industry of sabotage, saying they were creating a shortage of meal in the country in order to make the government unpopular. He threatened to take over the milling companies.
Makoni clashed with Mugabe in a cabinet meeting over the issue, telling the then Prime Minister Mugabe that he could take over all the milling companies if he so wished, but that would not expand capacity at the milling companies. And he pointed out that the government would have to pay anyway to take over the milling companies. It would be wiser, he said, to take that money and build additional milling companies and that way capacity could be expanded.
From that time on, Mugabe was suspicious of Makoni, saying he "supported white people."
In 1984, Makoni became SADC Secretary General and built the Secretariat pretty much from the ground up.
That first clash with Mugabe just shows how little the Zimbabwean dictator has changed. He thinks that business as well as the general population, should work to glorify the government. If you hold different views, you are a saboteur. If you refuse to accept Marxist dogma, you are counter-revolutionary.
The intervening years have only seen the president get even more paranoid and resulted in the targeting of the white community whom he suspected even back then of actively working for his government's downfall.
As he became more desperate, so his actions betrayed his frustration at not being able to impose his cherished one-party state.
As he said last year in a ZBC interview, "Mupolitics, unoruma, uchifuridzira...." meaning, "In politics, you bite and then kiss it better..."
His designs on the MDC-T are in keeping with that Machiavellian philosophy and it is just a pity that the fly can not see the lengthening tongue of the chameleon.