We Have Mugabe's Briefing Notes For Tsvangirai Meeting

Robert "The Solution" Mugabe sleeps at the African-South America Summit in Venezuela last week. It is difficult to see how this old man, who now sleeps through half of every meeting he attends, can still be giving not only the MDC but the international community as well, this much trouble. But as the story below reveals, he has a whole army of dedicated sycophants and advisers on whom he relies to keep him "on message."

Harare, Zimbabwe 03 October 2009

Very late today, we got hold of Robert "The Solution" Mugabe's briefing notes for his Monday meeting with Morgan Tsvangirai. This is a routine meeting where, in Tsvangirai's words in a previous interview, "I report to the President on government business."

The notes are an amalgam of positions taken by the ZANU PF Politburo, advice to Mugabe from his ministers and strategic thrusts coming out of the Joint Operations Command.

These positions are based on the expectation within ZANU PF that Morgan Tsvangirai will bring up the issue of the unilateral appointments of ZANU PF loyalists to various media industry bodies this week.

I was specifically asked not to take a photo of the notes, as that would reveal the source, so I will simply state to you what it is that Mugabe has been briefed to say to Tsvangirai when the subject comes up.

Mugabe and ZANU PF are taking the route that, with the MDC threatening to walk out of the GNU, "consulting its supporters" on the matter, it makes no sense to make room for them in any of the government commissions and boards that have not already been constituted.

"The Old Man (Mugabe)", explained the source, "is going to tell Tsvangirai that if we go ahead and accommodate the MDC in these bodies and they decide to pull out next month, that would mean we will be left with opposition officials planted in government structures even when there is no Inclusive Government anymore."

The argument is that, in the meantime, government business can not stop and therefore these company boards, Commissions and so on will have to be filled with those who are available and whose commitment to the government is not in doubt.

Later, Mugabe will tell Tsvangirai, when it is clear whether the MDC is staying or going, adjustments could always be made to these bodies to accommodate nominees of the other parties.

Skimming through the notes, it is clear immediately that, despite the clever  arguments, not everything has been thought through properly.

For instance, in answer to the anticipated question why, if the above is the reason why the MDC is not represented on the new Commissions and boards, the Media Commission has not been put in place, Mugabe's answer is that the Zimbabwe Media Commission is on ice until it is clear whether the MDC is staying in government or not.

So, why not put the other Boards and Commissions on ice as well?

"Because we can not entirely suspend the operations of government while waiting for the MDC to make up its mind"!

This has a familiar ring to it, doesn't it?

ZANU PF is a creature of habit.

Do you remember the reason Mugabe refuses to negotiate the appointments of the Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana is that he could not let government business grind to a halt? An Attorney General was needed to ensure that the justice system continued to function. A Reserve Bank Governor was needed to ensure that the economy continued to be attended to in the absence of a substantive Minister of Finance.

Last month, as the issue took centre stage at the SADC Summit in the Democratic Republic of Congo, George Charamba, in that infamously disrespectful interview with The Herald, in which he refused to address Tsvangirai by the Prime Ministerial title, said that at the time the appointments were made, there was no need to consult Tsvangirai because not only was he not part of government, but he was also refusing to consummate the Global Political Agreement.

With hindsight, it is easy to say that the MDC has shot itself in the foot by announcing their decision to go back and consult the people on whether to stay on in the Inclusive Government or not. 

They have handed Mugabe a bonus.

Instead of the reaction they wanted from him, which was to scare him into honouring the "outstanding issues", they have pushed him in the opposite direction, where he now says that he will not accommodate the MDC until they make up their mind whether they are in or out of government.

Morgan Tsvangirai has decided to keep quiet about the appointments of Brigadiers and Colonels to the Boards in public. ZANU PF expect that he will bring it up in his one-on-one meeting with Mugabe.

They have tried to prepare for this.

It is also important for my readers to understand that Mugabe has always tried to ensure that all his undemocratic decisions can at least be defended with a legal position or reasoning that is difficult to fault.

This is how he hoodwinked Tsvangirai over the case of Roy Bennett and even the cases of Jestina Mukoko and others, when he told the Prime Minister that even he, "despite rumours to the contrary" did not interfere in the judicial process, except in giving pardons.

He advised Tsvangirai to do the same and Tsvangirai swallowed that one hook, line and sinker. When he eventually woke up to the ruse, Mugabe kept referring him back to his earlier commitment not to interfere with the courts.

The meeting on Monday, which the MDC has been telling the media is when the Prime Minister will bring up the issue of outstanding matters in the Inclusive Government, is likely to be an anticlimax.

I think none of my readers will be surprised by the fact that the meeting will resolve nothing.

Mugabe's position is that he is now waiting to hear the final decision coming out the "consultation" of the people by the MDC.

When that is done, he will fall back on his mainstay: sanctions.

This government, it seems, is just one big stalemate, if it can be called a government at all.


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