Mugabe Totally Ignores Tsvangirai Gesture

Roy Bennett and his wife relax on Friday night at a friend's house in Mutare after he was released on bail by the High Court. There had been a tense moment when prison officials at Mutare prison refused to release him until they got clearance from Prosecutor Michael Mugabe. This despite the High Court stamp. Meantime, Mugabe is acting as if the MDC has not done anything at all, least of all caused a "constitutional crisis".

Harare, Zimbabwe, 18 October 2009

Robert "The Solution" Mugabe has completely ignored Morgan Tsvangirai's announcement of a pull-out from government, sending a message through his secretary on Saturday to the Prime Minister saying that he expected him still for the regular Monday meetings at State House.

According to Mugabe and ZANU PF, the MDC pull-out is "improper, unprocedural, null and void." They argue that the Prime Minister did not notify the Government of his actions or what exactly he meant in practical terms.

"Should their ministers now be considered strangers or impostors as a result of this announcement is they are seen trying to enter their offices? Should these be considered resignations from their posts, because the President has certain obligations and responsibilities under the constitution which he will be forced invoke if this is the case."

That the MDC has not written officially to government is only one of the reasons why Mugabe is said to be unruffled by the Prime Minister's action.

He also knows that SADC's position is that, for them to intervene in Zimbabwe, all three Principals have to declare a deadlock, making mediation once again necessary. In the absence of this, with only one party (Mutambara remains mum) crying foul, they will sit back and simply nod their heads, patronisingly patting the Prime Minister on the back and clucking in sympathy at the Big Bad Bob.

I said at the very beginning of this comedy, in January this year that SADC had "washed its hands of Zimbabwe". It was clear back then, as they insulted Morgan Tsvangirai by sarcastically insisting that the "outstanding issues" he was tabling were not the priority at that time. The government for which he had put his signature down in the GPA September, SADC said, HAD to be implemented, after which that government would then solve the issue of whether Gono and Tomana were legal or not and all that stuff.

Like I said, Tsvangirai threw Mugabe and SADC a lifeline the moment he signed that piece of paper on September 15 2008. All of a sudden he had agreed to a specific action, being the formation of a Coalition Government in Harare.

Everything else was secondary.

As one regional leader subsequently revealed, all the heads of state were said to be aghast when they were asked to mediate over the issue of the appointments of civil servants in the Zimbabwe government.

This was unprecedented and "unthinkable". Yet, say the SADC leaders, they indulged Tsvangirai as he drew up a list of ministries. The leaders felt that this had nothing to do with them, as is the norm all over the world, except in occupied countries, where it is proper for the occupying power to intervene directly in constituting the civil service.

We were told a bare-faced lie in September this year, when it was said by the MDC that SADC had agreed to convene a Summit in Mozambique for the SADC Troika to hear the MDC grievances.

But Tsvangirai had already told Zuma when he came to open the Agricultural Show in Harare in August that there were no problems in the Coalition and specifically that there was "nothing left that was insurmountable". (The MDC National Council blasted Tsvangirai for this statement later, at the meeting in Bulawayo when they resolved to "consult the people" about whether to stay in government or not.

The results of that poll are not out. The ones that the Prime Minister tried to play up, from an online poll, says most of the people want him to stay in.

So, either way, the "consultation of the people" is moot. A monumental waste of time. If we go by what Tsvangirai said only last week that the "overwhelming" majority of his supporters want him to stay on, then he is going against their wishes.

If we go by the statement from Nelson Chamisa, saying, no, the process was ongoing and the results would be presented to the National Council when ready, then we must conclude that Tsvangirai has gone ahead without bothering about what the people think.

It is a mass of confusion, isn't it? And Mugabe is relishing all this, rubbing his hands in glee as he sees Tsvangirai twisting in the wind.

He now knows that the MDC is mortally afraid of stepping off the gravy train is trying to use "constitutional crisis" in order to force his hand. But the problem with this, as I said to a senior editor at an independent weekly as we left the press conference, is that there really is no crisis.

This is because Tsvangirai confirmed all the powers Mugabe had under the Constitution we have right now in the GPA. Take away the Prime Minister today and Mugabe still has, according to the GPA, all the necessary Constitutional powers to rule this country.

As for "consulting", as Mugabe asked on Friday afternoon, "How can you consult with someone who has disengaged from you?"

Soon enough, with not a single issue resolved amongst all the outstanding issues, Tsvangirai and the MDC will dutifully troop back into their offices and start piling into the Cabinet Room at Munhumutapa once again.

In the most overlooked statement from Tsvangirai at the press conference, after he was asked what was next by a journalist, Tsvangirai replied by asking why there was need for a Plan B or C or D.

To him, this is it. That is the hardest he can punch Mugabe: a pull-out that is not really a pull out. And then he waits to see what Mugabe does next.

Mugabe has responded by ignoring him.

The State media carries nary a word about this. Instead, the Sunday Mail screams about the USA confirming that it is helping with funding a "parallel government" in the Prime Minister's office.

It is as if the MDC never said anything important at all.


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