Disregard sweet-talking Mugabe

WHEN in the company of fellow heads of state or foreign dignitaries President Robert Mugabe likes to give the impression that while things might not be going swimmingly well for Zimbabwe, the unity government has been quite a success and parties are working closely to solve the country’s debilitating problems.

Editor’s Memo with Stewart Chabwinja

However, when his guard is down Mugabe is wont to slam the unity government as an unlawful “creature” foisted on the people, whose abject failure prompts hasty recourse to polls.

On Tuesday, in the presence of outgoing African Union chairperson, Benin President Boni Yayi at State House, the diplomatic mood moved Mugabe.

He gave the impression parties to the tripartite unity government had somehow found each other and realised they have a common destiny despite their differences.

In a rather euphemistic tone Mugabe said: “In my country, yes, we have also had divisions, political divisions, but I am glad that we all appreciate that whatever political affiliations we belong to, we are Zimbabweans.

“… I think our elections are going to be very friendly elections in the sense that they will be a political fight, but it will be a fight in the knowledge that we belong to each other.”

Hopefully Mugabe’s opponents will not be gullible enough to swallow the dissembling “friendly elections” baloney, patently packaged to lull them into a sense of complacency ahead of elections widely expected this year.

It would be the height of folly for anyone, given the country’s electoral record and Zanu PF’s humbling setbacks in the 2008 polls, to expect peaceful and friendly elections when so much of the future of Zanu PF — with the handy state apparatus at its disposal — rides on the outcome of the anticipated plebiscite.

The elections are also a must-win for the party’s rivals, the MDCs, but violence has always been part of Zanu PF’s election armoury, making the elections a potential powder keg.

In the 2008 polls, Zanu PF surrendered its parliamentary majority for the first time since Independence in 1980, while Mugabe lost to Morgan Tsvangirai in the presidential poll, but the MDC leader fell short of the requisite majority.

There’s no doubt Zanu PF is girding its loins for a tough battle and triumph at the polls by means fair or foul, making the prospects of Zimbabwe’s maiden “friendly elections” extremely remote. We have reported on Zanu PF’s poll preparations which include acquisition of new vehicles, military presence in target areas, wooing of youths and churches, stalling of Global Political Agreement reforms and inflammatory remarks by security chiefs pledging allegiance to Zanu PF.

That hardly smacks of a party helping lay out the groundwork for “friendly elections”, does it?

Given the events of the 2009 presidential polls when the military intervened to save an embattled Mugabe through a vicious and bloody campaign, a peaceful election would require a damascene transformation on the part of Zanu PF.

Certainly, it will take much more than sharing tea with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai!

As if Mugabe’s pretensions needed exposing, the Copac constitution-making exercise, a year-and-a-half behind schedule despite gobbling up about US$150,2 million, hit another snag on Wednesday as selfish party agendas continue to hold sway. Talks have yet again broken down, as what should be a nation-rallying exercise continues to be bogged down by parochial party interests.

The stalled new governance charter is emblematic proof that, contrary to Mugabe’s assertions, unity government parties remain perched on opposite poles.

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