Candid Comment: Mugabe A Prisoner Of Events

IF ever there was any doubt President Robert Mugabe is cornered by events, the recent Sadc summit in South Africa will have proved  he is indeed pinned down.


Mugabe left Johannesburg early last week crowing, thinking that he had staged a major diplomatic coup against his MDC rivals, but now reality is dawning on him. He now understands that he cannot do anything consequential without his opponents.   
The MDC also evidently does not have a viable Plan B, but at least it can afford to wait and see. Mugabe can’t. He is a captive of his own political  delusions and there is no way out for him. He is for all practical purposes a prisoner of events, marooned in State House without any legitimate mandate. He lacks the consent of the governed and without a cabinet and government in place he can do nothing in the form of public service.
Mugabe and his advisors — if he has any besides the usual hangers-on — thought they had won at Sadc. However, upon comprehensively reading the Sadc communiqué, it soon became clear Mugabe can’t proceed on his own. If he does, he would be going nowhere.
The Sadc resolution said since no government was formed in Zimbabwe after the elections, leaders must go home and constitute one. The summit decided that the inclusive government be formed forthwith in Zimbabwe; the Ministry of Home Affairs be co-managed between Zanu PF and MDC-T and the efficacy of this arrangement be reviewed after six months by the parties with the assistance of the guarantors, Sadc, the AU and the facilitator Thabo Mbeki. To give effect to these decisions and the provisions of the Global Political Agreement, Sadc said parties must, without any further delay, introduce the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill No 19.
This means Mugabe and Zanu PF cannot fully implement the Sadc communiqué without the MDC.
First, the term “inclusive government” in this context means the three political parties working together.
Second, a full cabinet can only be formed if Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara provide lists of their nominees.
Third, a full cabinet can only be assembled if Mugabe and Tsvangirai agree on Home Affairs.
Fourth, the agreement can only be implemented if a two-thirds majority is mustered in parliament to amend the constitution. In short, this means Mugabe and Tsvangirai must first agree.
Mutambara is not a factor in this particular issue beyond the fundamental requirement for an “inclusive government” which he should be part of.
Last, but not least, parties must agree on implementation mechanisms.
This is where we are now. Mugabe last week claimed on the basis of the Sadc resolution he was going to appoint cabinet as soon as he arrived home.
His politburo adopted the Sadc resolution and said he must go ahead and appoint cabinet with immediate effect, with or without the MDC factions. That was on Wednesday last week. However, nothing has happened.
This is not surprising. Mugabe cannot move on his own. Practically, Mugabe can appoint his 15 ministers and make them run their own portfolios and act in the other 16 given to the MDC, but that would be a recipe for disaster. It would simply mean we would continue without a legitimate cabinet and government possibly for five years, that is if Mugabe can finish his term. Mugabe can only be legitimate president by virtue of the agreement.  
The foolish notion that Mugabe can simply appoint his 15 ministers and go it alone ignores the gravity of the economic crisis, the starvation of the masses, the disease afflicting the population, closure of schools, colleges, universities and hospitals, the shortages of basic commodities and breakdown of social services, education, health and public transport.
In fact, this ignores the groundswell of public anger and the time bomb it constitutes.
Mugabe is as crafty a political operator as he is lucky. He is surviving both because and in spite of himself. He is using effectively instruments of coercion to hang onto power.
But at the same time, the opposition’s failures by acts of commission and omission are helping him to continue clinging to power.
After the Sadc summit, Tsvangirai as usual went abroad preaching to the converted. This is the MDC’s general problem. It is not dynamic. Its leaders think inside a box.
They don’t understand that as part of a grand strategy it is necessary to assess what will be the relative roles of internal resistance and external pressures for disintegrating the dictatorship.
The main force of the struggle must be borne from inside the country, not outside. To the degree that international assistance comes at all, it will have to be stimulated by internal resistance. The home front is the main frontline. The MDC vanguard does not seem to appreciate this at all.
Mugabe has run out of ideas and options, but the problem is that internal resistance is disjointed and weak. He is stranded and where is the MDC?

 

By Dumisani Muleya