Mugabe Refuses To See Tsvangirai
"I meet him whenever I request," Morgan Tsvangirai boasted with regards to Mugabe only two months ago, in an interview with a western journalist. It appears that does apply any more, with Robert "The Solution" Mugabe refusing to see his Prime Minister since Wednesday despite repeated attempts by Tsvangirai to set up a meeting. James Maridadi, the PM's Spokesman, confirmed that Mugabe has turned down Tsvangirai's requests daily since Wednesday.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 16 October 2009
Remember Morgan Tsvangirai telling an interviewer two months ago that he meets Mugabe "whenever I want"?
It appears that is not happening any more.
The Prime Minister's office confirms today that Tsvangirai has been trying to meet Mugabe over the issue of Roy Bennett since Wednesday but that the President has been refusing to see him. Tsvangirai, whom the MDC Spokesman Nelson Chamisa denies has boycotted government business (he says the PM just had to attend to matters at the party offices and could not convene the Council of Minister meeting yesterday or go to his government office), is back at his government office today, where he will address a press conference at 11:00 a.m. today.
With Bennett's fresh and "urgent" application for bail set to be heard as I write this (9.am, Zimbabwe time), Tsvangirai will know whether bail has been granted or not by the time he addresses his press conference at 11:00, unless Justice Charles Hungwe defers his ruling to Monday. Hungwe, the High Court judge who will hear Bennett's case, is known for his independent judicial rulings that often surprise the country. He has had no problems ruling against the government or the known wishes of ZANU PF before.
It could well be that he has been picked by Mugabe to give Bennett bail and defuse the tension engulfing the Inclusive Government over the Bennett case.
I will bring you news from the press conference as soon as it is finished right here on this blog, if you keep checking in.
The surprising thing, though, is that Mugabe was in the Midlands yesterday at Ngezi Mine, which is a platinum mine. With him were Tsvangirai's deputy in government and at the MDC-T, Thokozani Khupe and Arthur Mutambara. They appeared to be getting on well when they were shown on television last night, joking and laughing with each other.
It would appear Madame Khupe's presence was not needed at the "urgent meeting" at Harvest House where Tsvangirai went after canceling government business. It also appears that Khupe has no mandate to discuss Bennett with Mugabe, since the matter does not appear to have been raised with him by her.
Mutambara is looking on bemused and has not issued a statement on this tense situation.
He has said before, however, that if Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC-T walk out of the Inclusive Government, he will also walk out and would not stay behind to legitimise a Mugabe-only regime.
Mugabe, meantime, is betting that Tsvangirai is not going anywhere, which is why he is wquite comfortable refusing to his Prime Minister and treating him with such contempt. The earliest that the two could meet would be on Monday, when they have their regular meetings for Tsvangirai to report to Mugabe.
If Bennett's case is still not resolved by then, that will be a tense meeting. As Jonathan Moyo revealed after he was fired by Mugabe, the old dictator can be quite unsettling in meetings, listening in silence to presentations, refusing to answer questions and then, at the end of it all, simply saying he has noted the concerns raised and would think through them.
Moyo revealed that, on a ten hour flight, for instance, Mugabe would say absolutely nothing throughout, except to listen to people talking to him and ask questions about who was saying what and what was said next. "He absolutely loves gossip," says the former Information Minister.
In any case, by midday today, we will know how the MDC intends to handle the matter of Bennett and the contempt with which Mugabe now treats Morgan Tsvangirai and his party.