Tsvangirai Tours Southern Africa As Mugabe Refuses To Recognise "Disengagement"
Jacob Zuma, the South African president, with Joseph Kabila, the new Chairman of SADC and a Mugabe ally in the DRC in September this year. Tsvangirai left Harare yesterday without biding goodbye to his new best friend, Robert Mugabe as the relations between sour over outstanding issues. It is unlikely that Tsvangirai, who is visiting, Mozambique, DRC, South Africa and other SADC nations, will get any joy from the SADC leaders, who have made no moves to convene a Summit despite the pullout.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 20 October 2009
Morgan Tsvangirai left Harare yesterday to tour Southern African countries in an effort to get SADC to intervene in Zimbabwe and "save" the Inclusive Government, while Robert Mugabe's staff insisted, as I told you over the weekend, that the Prime Minister had not communicated officially what his party's position is and therefore was still Prime Minister and the MDC still part of government.
There is a cabinet meeting today at Munhumutapa Building in Harare and staff in the president's office have told State media that the agenda for the meeting has been circulated "to all minister". No one has indicated that they will not be attending, say the President's men.
It also emerges that Tsvangirai tried to get money for his regional trip from government yesterday, but the request, made through the PM's Permanent Secretary, Ian Makone, was refused by the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet because he says he did not know what the trip was for or how it would "benefit the government as a whole".
Indicating that the President considered the Prime Minister's pull-out null and void, Mugabe's Spokesman, George Charamba, told reporters: "The Government is not run through media statements. The Prime Minister must communicate any decision to disengage, or whatever they are calling it, in a formal manner."
This comes as government sources confirm that Mugabe has already gone ahead of Tsvangirai to lock up support for his position with SADC leaders. Angolan, Mozambican, South African and Namibian presidents have already spoken to Mugabe, who has advanced his side of the story.
Mugabe has pointed to the ambassadors from the MDC-T who are being trained in preparation for posting (which posting is said to be delayed by the lack of funds as a result of "sanctions" on Zimbabwe, according to Mugabe). Mugabe is claiming to the SADC leaders that the MDC pull-out is because of two things:
The putting on trial of Roy Bennett, whom the State media has now resorted to calling a former "Rhodesian Security Forces member (Bennett is said to have belonged to have belonged to most hated of the Rhodesian Armed Forces Divisions, the Selous Scouts, who used Mugabe's own guerrillas tactics against him, sometimes masquerading as Mugabe freedom fighters in order to trap the liberation war guerrillas)
Secondly, Mugabe also claims to SADC Heads of State that the MDC is now pulling out in an effort to "get out of their commitment in the GPA to get sanctions they got imposed on Zimbabwe lifted." SADC leaders, as was evidenced in the Democratic Republic of Congo in September, have swallowed Mugabe's line about sanctions and also look to the MDC to persuade Western nations to lift credit and balance of payment embargoes imposed on the Harare regime.
It is unlikely that Tsvangirai will get any joy from the SADC leaders, who were ecstatic when Tsvangirai tied himself in knots by signing the deeply flawed and one-sided September 15 Agreement at the HICC in Harare, leading to the formation of the Coalition with Mugabe.
Tomaz Solamao, the SADC Secretary-General, is in Mozambique today to speak with Amando Guebuza, the Mozambican President who is part of the SADC Troika, which was supposed to have convened by now to hear the grievance the MDC tried to present in the DRC during the last SADC Summit.
The hope from the Secretariat is that the Troika will now finally meet to hear out the MDC, although SADC leaders are understood to be "sick and tired" of Zimbabwe and unwilling to intervene in the civil service appointments dispute in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe is still insisting that he has shown good faith by the things he has done so far, while the MDC's biggest "outstanding issue" - the lifting of sanctions, remains a thorn in his flesh.
Tsvangirai is expected back in Zimbabwe on October 29 from the regional trip. Despite the noise from Mugabe's office about him leaving the country without Cabinet Authority, it is almost certain that Mugabe will not be able to discipline his Prime Minister or indeed do anything else to him. This, after all, is a negotiated appointment, which means Mugabe can never fire Tsvangirai, no matter what he does.
The biggest accusation now coming from Mugabe's side of government is that the MDC is "pulling out of cabinet but not government" in order for them to continue using State resources for the benefit of their party.
The accusation of running a parallel government using funds from the US, Britain and the West still looms large and will be one of the cornerstones of Mugabe's argument to SADC leaders if this crisis escalates beyond what it is now.