Thursday, August 28, 2008

ZIMBABWE: LATEST NEWS & ANALYSIS

Yesterday I posted London Times sees weakened Mugabe.

A Times of London editorial described growing opposition in Zimbabwe’s Parliament to that country’s President in title and brutal dictator in fact, Robert Mugabe.

I expressed the hope Zimbabwe and the world would soon be rid of Mugabe as the Times seemed to be suggesting might be about to happen.

But I cautioned we’d heard “Mugabe’s on the skids” reports before only to later learn he’d strengthened his grip on power.


Today I want to share with you two reports.

The first report [excerpts with link to entire] is from today’s Zimbabwe Times, a newspaper whose writings suggest that while subject to Mugabe’s thugs brutality, the paper retains enough independence to be critical of him and his dictatorship.

The second is from a JinC Regular, Danvers, a native Zimbabwean who now lives in South Africa.

First, from the Aug. 28 Zimbabwe Times - - -

Student organisations in Zimbabwe on Wednesday took a swipe at President Robert Mugabe for officially opening the 7th Parliament in clear breach of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) he signed with his counterparts in the opposition.

Among other things, the organisations said they would lead campaigns of civic disobedience and petition regional and international leaders to discredit Mugabe and the government he would appoint.

On July 21, Mugabe, [ the head of the opposition,] MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, of a splinter faction of the opposition, signed a Memorandum of Understanding which set the platform for inter-party dialogue under the mediation of South African President Thabo Mbeki.

One of the requirements of the MoU was that Parliament would only be convened after the talks had been concluded.

Part of the MoU read: “The parties shall not, during the subsistence of the dialogue, take any decisions or measures that have a bearing on the agenda of the dialogue, save by consensus. Such decisions or measures include, but are not limited to the convening of Parliament or the formation of a new government.”

But in clear breach of the section, Mugabe officially opened the seventh Parliament on Tuesday, amid heckling and jeering by MDC legislators.

Mugabe has since announced he would appoint his Cabinet without Tsvangirai’s MDC.

And on Wednesday, representatives of youth organizations meeting in Harare said Mugabe’s moves would be challenged.

“We discussed many issues to do with the current political developments, trying to find alternative ways forward and try to provide leadership to the country,” said Clever Bere, president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU), one of the organisations at the meeting.

Among other things, said Bere, the youths resolved, “the young people recognise that Robert Mugabe is not the legitimate president of Zimbabwe.

“Indeed it was not within his mandate for Mugabe to officially open parliament until and unless there was a political settlement, political agreement and political consensus with the other parties, particularly the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which won the elections on March 29,” said Bere. . . .

The entire Zimbabwe Times report is here.

Now, JinC Regular Danvers' analysis - - -

As hopeful as some recent events in Zimbawe may seem, there is still a long way to go. To partially quote Winston Churchill: "it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

The main opposition leader, MDC’s (Movement for Democratic Change) Morgan Tsvangirai has come out of this phase of the struggle with a major tactical victory. He now has an MDC member as both Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament. Moreover he has literally destroyed Arthur Mutambara; the leader of the break-away MDC faction.

When Tsvangirai refused to capitulate and sign the proposed power-sharing agreement at the SADC conference in Johannesburg, Mutambara, despite protestations to the contrary, was looking to form a coalition with Zanu-PF in Parliament and was expecting to be made one of the vice presidents in the new government.

The quid pro quo was that Mugabe would allow a Mutambara MP to be voted in as Speaker.

The published parliamentary election results (whether one believes them or not) gave Mugabe 99 seats, Tsvangirai 100 seats, with Mutambara (10 seats) and an Independent holding the balance of power.

The outcome of the secret ballot for the election of the Speaker was very instructive!

The total votes received by Tsvangirai’s nominee meant that all Mutambara’s MP’s and 3 Zanu-PF MP’s voted for Tsavangirai. What the above will mean for Mutambara’s political future is anyone’s guess. What it means for Tsvangirai is that he effectively has control of the former's additional 9 MPs. This giving him a de facto absolute majority in Parliament.

Zanu-PF however, controls the senate; their majority being enhanced by Mugabe’s appointed (not elected) members, and tribal chiefs. Mugabe has already appointed Zanu-PF members as Provincial Governors, and obviously still controls the armed forces.

The upside for Tsvangirai is that he controls the economic future of the country; international donors will not move to stabilize and further support Zimbabwe’s economy without Tsvangirai in the Government.

Moreover Mugabe knows that without an agreement with Tsvangirai, he is vulnerable to being charged with genocide and other war crimes for the Gukurahundi massacre of the early 1980’s, when Mugabe’s 5th brigade massacred approximately 20 000 N’debele in Matabeleland.

Realistically, and according to many in the know, Mugabe’s biggest fear is ending up like Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, now on trial at The Hague for war crimes.

My assessment is that as a result of all the above, Tsvangirai is now in a more powerful position that he has ever been, the result of the first round Presidential ballot notwithstanding.

Perhaps indeed "this is the beginning of the end" for Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

2 comments:

Locomotive Breath said...

Q: What's the unit of measure for the distance between Zimbabwe and South Africa.

A: The Mugabe

When using that unit, the distance is reported to be 1 Mugabe.

Danvers said...

The Red Cross assess that at present 2 million black Zimbabweans are starving. The 2007 agricultural season was a catastrophe; no seed, fertilizer, poor agricultural management, poorly distributed rainfall. They are indicating that by the end of the year 5 million will need urgent food aid. The prospects for the 2008 season are also poor for the same reasons as 2007. The rains are higher than normal, but are occurring in concentrated bursts, leading to localized flooding and crop (such ass they are) destruction.

The effect is exacerbated by the very high prevelance of HIV/AIDS in the population. The average life expectancy in Zimbabwe has fallen to 37.