Mugabe To Meet Obama
Times must really tough if Mugabe can now not afford hair dye, or perhaps it was after our mentioning the fact and the vanity it shows that has led him to do this. In any case, this is Mugabe speaking in Harare just before he left the country for New York, where he will meet Obama with other African leaders
Harare, Zimbabwe, 22 September 2009
Reports coming in from the entourage of Robert "The Solution" Mugabe in New York say the Zimbabwean dictator will meet Barack Obama this week.
But it is not as it sounds.
Apparently, Obama is meeting with sub-Saharan leaders while he is at the United Nations this week. Mugabe is also at the United Nations for the 64th Session of the World body. So it sounds like a group meeting. The sub-Saharan presidents and heads of state attending the UN Session are the same group of people who cancelled a meeting with the European Union a couple of years back because Zimbabwe had been left out of the gathering.
Knowing Barack Obama's style, I am sure he felt that making an issue out of Mugabe's presence at the gathering would draw attention away from his message to the leaders.
It remains to be seen whether he takes the extra step of actually sitting down to talk to Mugabe.
I am confident, however, that, once he has Mugabe in the room with other leaders, Obama is almost certain to throw in comments that will be seen as directed at Mugabe.
Obama will also become the first American president to preside over a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, since the USA currently holds the rotating presidency. Also at the meeting will be Muamar Qaddafi of Libya, because Libya sits on the Security Council this month.
Back home, of course, the MDC and especially Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai would be praying that Obama ignores Mugabe completely or perhaps even delivers a well-aimed shot of Loud Diplomacy.
Which would be a miscalculation, I am certain.
Mugabe is behaving badly now towards his partners in government because he believes that he has nothing to lose. He believes that there is nothing he can do, short of dying or leaving office completely, that will compel the West to change its attitude towards giving Zimbabwe any balance of payment, developmental or budgetary support.
In other words, as I have said before, he feels he has nothing to gain from giving in to the MDC.
Perhaps Obama could prove him wrong and see if the attitude changes. It would only be a matter of laying down precisely what the world is waiting to see in order to help.
Mugabe, for instance, does not believe that swearing in Roy Bennett or dropping the charges against Jestina Mukoko and others or giving the MDC their governors would see any change in the way Zimbabwe is treated in the west.
This is the conundrum that is Zimbabwe. And it remains to be seen whether Barack Obama will be able to solve it.