SADC Ministerial Team Refuses To Commit Itself In Zimbabwe

Thabo Mbeki has "disengaged" from the Zimbabwe issue, Jacob Zuma is proving to be even quieter than his predecessor (despite the assurances we got from half-baked analysts when we pointed out that he would not crack the whip on Mugabe) and the rest of SADC is tired of the Mugabe/Tsvangirai circus. The Ministerial team currently in Zimbabwe will meet with Mugabe and Tsvangirai separately today and fly out of Zimbabwe without committing themselves to anything. For Tsvangirai, it is back to square one. For Mugabe, it is business as usual.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 30 October 2009

Details emerging after the meetings the SADC Ministerial team had with ZANU PF and MDC-T leaders yesterday show that we were right yesterday in urging the world not to take the visit seriously as it was simply for show.

Inside sources reveal that the team of foreign ministers from the Troika (the Organ on Defence and Politics) listened politely to ZANU PF and MDC-T presentations, made by negotiators from bot parties, including heavyweights like Tendai Biti, the Finance Minister and Nicholas Goche, the Minister of Transport and Communications, but refused to "take sides" in the words.

As was to be expected, the ZANU PF team moaned about sanctions and "pirate radio stations", which, taking MDC-T language, they accused of beaming "hate speech" into Zimbabwe.

The MDC-T presented its litany of grievances, including the issues of Gono, Tomana, ambassadors and Roy Bennett, as well as the Provincial Governors.

The team from the MDC-T were shocked to hear the Secretary General of SADC, Tomaz Solamao, as well as the Mozambican Foreign Minister say that they were in Zimbabwe on a "bigger agenda than the current problems". They insisted that their mission was to fulfil the SADC obligation to review the Global Political Agreement.

When pressed on the matters presented before them, the team insisted that these matters are not part of the Global Political Agreement which they are reviewing and that the issues would best be handled through internal structures like the Joint Operating and Monitoring Committee (JOMIC) and cabinet.

Nicholas Goche immediately interjected by saying this could not happen because the MDC-T was refusing to attend cabinet, where these issues could be discussed and ironed out.

The Secretary-General of SADC has since publicly stated that the team's mission is indeed to review the GPA but that they "could not ignore what is happening right now". The way they are dealing with "what is happening now" is to simply listen and promise to report back to their own presidents.

As most of you aware, the presidents of the Troika are very reluctant to convene a Summit and it is unlikely that the summit will come about.

Later on today, the Troika Foreign Ministers' Team will meet with Mugabe and Tsvangirai separately. They are not here to mediate over the "disengagement" crisis, but to hear the parties out and report back. That is all there is to it, according to them.

Now, Tendai Biti has asked Morgan Tsvangirai to let him sit in when the Prime Minister meets the SADC delegation, mostly because Biti is afraid that Tsvangirai will, once again, put his foot in his mouth and repeat what he did when Jacob Zuma visited Harare in August.

Back then, the Prime Minister told the South African president that the Inclusive Government was working well and that there were only a few issues that remained outstanding but which were "not insurmountable". If Tsvangirai were to do this with the visiting delegation, that would be the end of the dispute with Mugabe. The SADC ministers will go back and report that the coalition in Harare in working and is in the process of solving minor outstanding matters.

This is what Zuma reported in Kinshasa, DRC, after Morgan Tsvangirai's ill-thought-out statement to him in Harare.

The bottom line: the SADC ministerial team will fly out of Zimbabwe today or tomorrow without having solved anything because that is not their mandate.

The MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai will be left alone once again to face Mugabe and ZANU PF.

Like I explained earlier this week, Mugabe will then call in Tsvangirai, knowing that it has become clear to the Prime Minister now that there is no help coming from Jacob Zuma, SADC or even Joseph Kabila.

I ask: where are all those MDC-T supporters" voices that were very insistent that Zuma would crack the whip against Mugabe because COSATU will demand that he does this?

It was this sort of idiotic thinking and flawed analysis that was swallowed by the MDC-T during the days of Thabo Mbeki, to the extent that Tsvangirai asked for Mbeki to be removed as mediator and for Zuma to take over from him.

Having pinned their hopes on Zuma, the MDC-T are now stuck: the South African president is no longer Chairman of SADC. His country still has immense influence over Zimbabwe because of it's economic muscle, but Zuma is proving to be practitioner of a diplomacy quieter than that of Thabo Mbeki.

Meantime, Mbeki himself, who is the only SADC leader who has ever told Mugabe to his face (at State House in Harare, no less) that he lost the election and must find a way to diffuse tensions by sharing substantial power with the MDC, has now disengaged as well.

The former SA president, who says he was abused by the MDC-T during his tenure and throughout his efforts to mediate in Zimbabwe, now states clearly that his mandate is at an end. He mediated the talks that led to the formation of the Inclusive government and that was the end of his job.

If SADC want another process, they will have to either specifically reappoint him or choose another mediator and appoint him.

This is unlikely to happen because the parties to the Agreement have not declared a deadlock. Even Tsvangirai says the problem is "slow progress" not a "deadlock".


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