Zimbabwe Military Strategy For "Containing" Tsvangirai Exposed
A clearly excited Morgan Tsvangirai could be seen leaning forward, rising his seat as he shook hands with General Sibanda of the Army and Air Marshal Perance Shiri of the Zimbabwe Air Force on Defence Forces Day. The Generals have now agreed with Mugabe to implement a strategy for containing Tsvangirai which has worked a charm for Mugabe when he started implementing it.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 16 August 2009
Impeccable information I received on Saturday reveals that the Service Chiefs of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, far from adopting a conciliatory approach to Morgan Tsvangirai, are actually implementing a plan agreed on with Mugabe at the last meeting of JOC, which was held in Highlands two weeks before the National Security Council met with Mugabe in the chair and Tsvangirai in attendance.
Most people reporting on Zimbabwe still take things at face value and this is working wonderfully for Mugabe and not so well for Tsvangirai.
Robert "Tsvangirai's Solution to Zimbabwe's Problems" Mugabe told the generals that they should follow his example in dealing with Tsvangirai.
The plan is: just like Mugabe, the Service Chiefs will smile and shake hands with the Prime Minister and generally be nice to him to his face but ensure that the interests of their party, ZANU PF are always paramount when it comes to things that really matter.
While being nice in public (like Mugabe is), they should be "uncompromising behind the scenes." That was the message The Solution had for his generals.
Mugabe is quoted as telling the Generals:
"He (Tsvangirai) is so eager to be accepted that, once you sit down with him and are nice to him to his face, you can do anything you want and he would have a hard time confronting you."
Mugabe gave examples of his own triumphs against the Prime Minister, saying simply sitting down with Tsvangirai for tea every Monday, referring to him in public as "Honourable Prime Minister" and telling him he relies on him (Tsvangirai) to keep an eye on his ministers have all ensured that Tsvangirai then finds it difficult to be confrontational when important matter come up.
Mugabe gave the example of his triumph on the Permanent Secretaries. On this issue, when Tsvangirai called a press conference pronouncing Mugabe's appointments "null and void", Mugabe called him in and told him to go through the names of those appointed and see if any had been sneaked in without the requisite qualifications and approval.
This has been confirmed by the Prime Minister's office, which says that the PM said he would do it professionally and if the qualified persons were ZANU PF, he would still leave them in place.
In the end, what Tsvangirai thought did not matter because Mugabe called Secretary to the Cabinet Misheck Sibanda and Public Service Commission Mariyawanda Nzuwa to explain to Tsvangirai that he did not have qualified people for the posts.
Tsvangirai relented and Mugabe triumphed.
Mugabe told the Service chiefs that he himself always took a "professional" approach with Tsvangirai but that where ZANU PF interests are threatened, he did as he saw fit and the Prime Minister found it hard to object or to carry the day because of that superficial respect afforded him.
This is what the Service Chiefs have now been asked to do.
When elections are called (by-elections' due dates has now been revealed to me and I will be sharing with you in a later post for Monday), the Service Chiefs are still expected to activate the nationwide JOC structures that is still on the ground.
They are still expected to ensure that the ranks of the defence forces are weeded of anyone who is suspected to be a sympathiser with the MDC.
The only thing that has changed, therefore, is that the Service Chiefs are now actively working to ensure that Tsvangirai finds it hard to ever be confrontational with the Defence Forces.
They believe that massaging the Prime Minister's ego will ensure that they are free to continue as if there is no inclusive government in all other areas of their operations.
They may be right.