28 July 2009: How Many Of You Noticed Mugabe's Latest Ploy?

Mugabe is seen here with Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda over the weekend in Kampala, where he is attending a Global 2009 Smart Partnership Dialogue Conference. Behind the two leaders is Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe of the MDC-T, who was splashed on the front page of the Sunday Mail yesterday deciding on seats on the Presidential plane with Mugabe. Arthur Mutambara, the other Deputy Prime Minister, is also on the trip.

I just wondered how many of you out there noticed that Robert "The Solution" Mugabe has launched a charm offensive against the MDC-T top leadership.

Yesterday, a photo of Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Khupe was splashed on the front page of the Sunday Mail. The two appeared to be joking around and enjoying each other's company.

They were off to Uganda, for some summit or other, at which another Strongman, Yoweri Museveni, launched a broadside at Britain and the west, asking them to "leave Zimbabwe alone."

What you are seeing is the slow softening up of the MDC-T leadership. I have been told before by impeccable sources that Mugabe believes he is unbeatable in a face to face charm offensive. Of course, like the legendary persuasive powers of Cecil John Rhodes at the Diamond Fields, much of this depends very much on the weight of the office the person holds.

Still, I should like someone to ask Deputy Prime Minister Khupe what was said about Roy Bennett on that plane to and from Uganda?

What did Mugabe talk her into this time? That is the question.

I suspect we will know soon enough. The Deputy PM (MDC-Tsvangirai), who only a few weeks back was boycotting cabinet and, with a straight face, suggesting that Mugabe and Tsvangirai were "on par", equals in government and executive authority, will start taking positions you and I will find difficult to understand.

But cast your mind back to this moment and all will be clear.

Tendai Biti has already been enrolled into the programme, although he continues to lose track now and again and lapses into veiled criticisms of ZANU PF (never Mugabe). I suppose in a short space of time, we will know.

There is very strong talk that, as Tsvangirai is in South Africa meeting Zuma (apparently to discuss "outstanding issues"), Mugabe has been tasked with bringing Khupe and hence the rest of the MDC leadership round to the idea that the outstanding issues are not crucial, Bennett need not be sworn in and governors can be delayed until after the by-elections, which can only be held after September 15 to allow ZANU PF to contest against the MDC ........and so on and so forth.

I have told you before that Tsvangirai has been brought round by Mugabe and that is why he went ahead and announced unsatisfactory "agreements" on Permanent Secretaries, Governors, Bennett and other issues, even as his party demanded that those very issues be included on the list of "outstanding issues".

It is likely that Tsvangirai will explain to Zuma the new and strange sense of optimism the MDC-T now has with regards Mugabe. He will insist that it was all a ploy to push Mugabe into acting. He will point to the laughable deal on Permanent Secretaries, Governors, Ambassadors and Principal Directors as proof that Mugabe responded.

Tsvangirai would like to pursue the other issues "diplomatically" as he puts it. Basically, this means sucking up to Mugabe, playing along, honouring, respecting and expecting a bone or two to be thrown his way. That would be diplomatic triumph for him.

We watch. We wait. And we will see.


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