Mugabe Guides Tsvangirai Into A Corner

Harare, Zimbabwe, 27 October 2009

The three main political leaders in Zimbabwe (referred to rather ambitiously as "The Principals") met late afternoon on Monday in a tense meeting that lasted four hours, with Mugabe insisting that he will not budge on any of the issues Tsvangirai wants addressed.

Mugabe suggested that it was "pointless" to discuss the matters Tsvangirai has brought up because there was a SADC ministerial mission that is coming to Zimbabwe and he would rather wait to hear what they, as "impartial outsiders" say about who has failed to implement the GPA.

This is a direct contradiction of the position taken by the State media today, who were briefed by the President's office that the SADC ministerial team was no coming to Zimbabwe to deal with the issue of the MDC-T disengagement from ZANU PF and the Zimbabwe cabinet.

The team mission, duly reported state media, was decided on at the SADC Summit in the DRC in September, before the MDC-T action.

Yet here is Mugabe saying he would wait to hear what they have say about the matter.

It does not help that the Prime Minister continues to have misguided faith in the regional body, hoping still that they will lever him into power. So he also concurred that it makes sense to hear what the SADC Team say before coming back to talk to Mugabe and ZANU PF.

Mugabe has managed to guide Tsvangirai exactly where he wants him to be: After SADC fail to come out in support of his position, Tsvangirai will be at a loss. He has learnt from bitter experience that running off to Britain and the USA every time there is a crisis will not help him at all. With SADC having turned its back, he will be going back to a Mugabe who will know that the man is on a back foot.

The dictator will know for certain that he is now dealing with a man who has no options left, as the Prime Minister himself has admitted in public several times.

Then, Tsvangirai will take what he is given.

So, there will be no movement at until the SADC departs Harare. It is yet to arrive, although the MDC claim that the Mozambican president has promised to send it. We shall see. We were told the same thing after the SADC Summit in the DRC, but more than a month later, nothing promised Tsvangirai by the leaders has materialised.

It appears their strategy now is simply to meet with the Prime Minister, cluck their tongues in sympathy and tell Tsvangirai to "go talk nicely to Mugabe."

Lately, the Prime Minister has been very eager to insist that he has not left government. "Let me clarify," he told international news agencies three days ago,"we have not withdrawn from government. We are still in government."

The Prime Minister is well aware of what lies in store for him and his party should they withdraw, which will be the subject an entire article by itself.

He will not step out of the protective cocoon offered by Government. Not just yet. Mugabe knows this, and that is why he appears not bothered at all.

This is not brinkmanship. This is "go hang".


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