Mugabe Disappears Into The Sunset

This was the last time Zimbabweans saw their "leaders" this year, on December 23 at a press conference at Zimbabwe House. They joked and laughed and, with straight faces, urged the negotiators to speed up their talks. Whereupon Mugabe announces that he is now officially on his annual month-long leave. He might well be asking, "What outstanding issues?"

Harare, Zimbabwe, 29 December 2009

Well, for a month at least.

That's because Mugabe has gone on his annual leave starting yesterday, December 28. We will only see him again in February.

It is an act of supreme contempt for the talks and negotiations allegedly going on in Harare between his party and the MDCs. He has not solved the more prickly of Tsvangirai's grievances: Roy Bennett, for instance. Reform of the security services is another. And, although Mugabe says he has signed the mandates for ambassadors to take their posts, they have not been posted yet. Perhaps in January?

Mugabe was busy urging the mediators (together with Morgan Tsvangirai, at Zimbabwe House on December 23) to speed up their talks and come to a resolution of the conflict that saw Tsvangirai pulling out government.

So, Mugabe sees no urgency at all to these "outstanding issues"? The country and the region will have to just wait while the Zimbabwe president kicks up his heels at his red-roofed Zvimba mansion and as he walks amongst his dairy cattle at Gushungo Dairy Estates.

It's not as if anyone can do anything about it. Who would dare? Tsvangirai?

Officially then, we are on auto-pilot, but there is an army of engineers working away quietly beneath it all, ensuring that the Old Man's wishes be respected and enforced.

As usually happens, he will probably have to "urgently" meet one or two politicians on "state business". Morgan Tsvangirai will not be one of them, since, even by the MDCs own admission, Mugabe avoids Tsvangirai at every opportunity. The Prime Minister has to make an appointment through the president's PA if he wants to see Mugabe. He can not just pick up the phone and call his boss, like normal people do.

It is enough of an issue for the MDC to have complained to the SADC Troika about it.

Mugabe and his family will also almost certainly fly off to the Far East at some point during his leave. It is a family tradition now and is subject of much talk and publicity every year without fail.

By the way, Tsvangirai will still not chair the four cabinet meetings that Mugabe will miss. These will be presided over by the Vice President, Joice Mujuru, who has been appointed Acting President by Mugabe. The Acting, unfortunately, does not include Mugabe's motorcade - the make-believe does not get that realistic.

Still, we should see little difference here. Life goes on and we will only have cause to worry when Mugabe is readying to return to work.

What shocks will he have cooked up during a month of brooding.?



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