Mugabe Tells Tsvangirai To Take A Hike (Again!) on Outstanding Issues
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, seen here on May 11 in conversation with US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (centre) and Senator Russ Feingold (also of President Obama's Democratic Party) at the US Capitol in Washington DC came back home only at the end of May and had a frosty meeting with Mugabe on Monday this week. Nothing came of it, with Mugabe telling Tsvangirai to " go and report to America and Britain" if he wanted.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 03 June 2010
On Monday this week, Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe who is in bed with the MDC-T of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, reportedly came out to express open hostility towards the Prime Minister, telling to "go and report to the British and the Americans" that he (Mugabe) was refusing to swear in Roy Bennett and reverse the appointments of senior judges (which Mugabe did without consulting Tsvangirai).
Morgan Tsvangirai himself has been busy galivanting around the world, visiting, amongst other countries, South Korea and the United States last month.
Tsvangirai, who was in South Africa last week (at taxpayers' expense) had written to Mugabe saying asking for their Monday meetings to be resumed "as a matter of urgency upon my return from South Africa".
The letter itself, apparently, was what raised Mugabe's bristles. He told senior ZANU PF ministers that the Prime Minister was behaving as if he had power to order the president around. He said he was sick of it and would put the PM in place at the next meeting.
On Monday, Mugabe at first kept Tsvangirai waiting for some time at State House before summoning him into the presidential office at the official residence, where Tsvangirai found the president reclining on the familiar green high-back chair.
Tsvangirai was armed with demands for the Mugabe to reverse the appointments of judges like Justice Chiweshe (who withheld presidential election results in 2008 for weeks on end) to the Supreme Court. He also wanted Mugabe to honour his pledge to swear in Roy Bennett as Deputy Minister of Agriculture, now that the man had been acquitted.
Surprisingly, Mugabe, on the Bennett issue, apparently came clean and said the acquittal of Bennett had been "a mistake."
ZANU PF sources say that Bennett's acquittal was only made possible because the MDC-T Treasurer General had publicly announced (in an press interview) that he would withdraw his nomination to the Deputy Ministerial post if he were acquitted.
"But then, he broke his promise and started demanding that he be sworn in after he had been acquitted."
It turns out that the initial refusal by the Attorney General to appeal the decision to acquit Bennett had been based on the same assumption. Quite tellingly, ZANU PF privately say that the decision not to appeal was supposed to be a show of "good faith", which Bennett and Tsvangirai "spurned".
"They thought that they now had an upper hand. They forget that we are still running this country so the president must remind them who is boss."
Of course, the promise not to insist on being made Deputy Minister of Agriculture, which Bennett made in an interview, was not official communication at all and the Prime Minister and his party insist that they never told their partners in crime (ZANU PF and the MDC-M) anything of the sort.
The president and his party feel shortchanged.
A couple of days after Bennett was acquitted and just after Nelson Chamisa, the MDC-T spokesman said they now wanted Bennett sworn in, the government-owned Herald newspaper ran a full page article saying "Bennett will not do". The article explained that the man was a known soldier of the Rhodesian army before independence in 1980 and that the intelligence services also knew that he had been part of a group that worked to sabotage Zimbabwe after independence. Bennett, in that article, was said to be "unrepentant"about his "Rhodesian past".
The move to appoint Justices seen as being sympathetic to ZANU PF and Mugabe was designed specifically to show the MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai that ZANU PF still owns the courts, it is now clear.
The argument put to me just yesterday by a very senior ZANU PF figure was this:
"Even in America, which Tsvangirai admires so much, the president of the day appoints Supreme Court judges and other Justices. He appoints people who agree with his world-view. This is how conservatives appointed on the US Supreme Court were able to force George W Bush into power even though he lost the election. Those judges were put in place by the likes of Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush when they were still presidents. So Tsvangirai should should not complain that President Mugabe and ZANU PF are packing the courts with sympathetic judges. Its how politics in done even in the so-called democracies that the MDCs admire so much."
The President, during Monday's meeting with Morgan Tsvangirai also turned the tables on the Prime Minister, saying the MDC-T had done nothing about the removal of sanctions which has been accepted as an outstanding issue.
Tsvangirai replied by saying that he had called publicly for the removal of the sanctions and that Mutambara had also done the same.
Mugabe responded by asking, "Yes, but what have you said in private?" Mugabe claims to "know"that Tsvangirai urged the USA to maintain pressure and the sanctions during his meeting with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in Washington a couple of weeks back.
The matters remained unresolved at the end of the meeting, with Tsvangirai saying to Mugabe that it was perhaps time to call a SADC (Southern African Development Community) Special Summit to discuss these issues.
Mugabe replied, "Perhaps we should do that..."
He knows of course, that the MDC-T, by agreeing to have the sanctions as part outstanding issues, put themselves in a corner because they took responsibility for them. His hand was strengthened when the former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom in the previous Labour government said that his government would be guided by the MDC on whether sanctions were lifted or not.
The truth of the matter as things stand now is that the "outstanding issues"will remain as such until the next elections. Mugabe is determined that he has given in on enough matters to the MDC and giving in on anything more would strengthen the hand of the MDC in the eyes of the people, especially the MDC's constituency.
The judges should prove handy when the elections are called next time and a dispute over results arises (and it will certainly arise, mark my words).
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