Tsvangirai Pushing His Luck Too Far

MORGAN Tsvangirai and the MDC are pushing their luck too far. In politics, one must not be too stiff-necked, too harsh and unyielding. It is sometimes necessary to yield to those moving towards us.

And yielding is legitimate and essential when the yielder is convinced that those who are striving to make him yield are in the right — in which case, honest political leaders frankly and openly admit the mistake — or when an irrational and harmful demand is yielded to in order to avert a greater evil.

It is also commonplace wisdom that little annoyances should not be allowed to stand in the way of a big pleasure.

And Tsvangirai should realise and accept the fact that concessions are inherent in negotiations.
When you enter negotiations, you must be prepared to compromise and accept the integrity of another man.

If one is not prepared to compromise, then they must never enter into or think about the process of negotiation at all.

It is sad that Tsvangirai and MDC could dismiss the decision taken by the Southern African Development Community Extraordinary Summit of November 9 as a “nullity”.

In the first place, it was Tsvangirai himself who asked for this meeting, who asked for Sadc’s intervention.
And the solution that was given by Sadc over the sharing of ministerial portfolios in the (inclusive) government was not unreasonable.

It should have been easily accepted by both parties to break the standoff, but this was rejected by Tsvangirai in total contempt of Sadc.

It’s been very clear from the very beginning that Tsvangirai doesn’t believe much in Africa and African solutions to problems.

From the very beginning, Tsvangirai had relied on American, British, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and European support.

Africa had never been an option for him. For a long time, Tsvangirai and the MDC had no meaningful contact with African countries, governments or political parties.

In saying this, we are not in any way trying to choose friends for them.

But we are merely wondering why countries that have never supported liberation or progressive movements in this region are today the allies and ardent supporters of Tsvangirai and MDC.

The British and Americans never supported any of our liberation struggles in this region. These are the same countries that classified our liberation movements as terrorist organisations.

The United States had even put Nelson Mandela on the list of terrorists and after his release from prison he could only visit that country on the basis of a special arrangement.

What is it that they have found more interesting, more favourable, more acceptable in Tsvangirai and the MDC that they did not find in Mandela and the ANC, in Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo and Zanu and Zapu?

What is it that they see in Tsvangirai and the MDC that they did not see in Sam Nujoma and Swapo, in Samora Machel and Frelimo, in Dr Agostinho Neto and MPLA and so on and so forth?

Today, Tsvangirai is going round raising concern about the worsening humanitarian condition in Zimbabwe when he was the one who campaigned vigorously for sanctions against his own country, his own people.
Did he think the sanctions he was seeking, the isolation of Zimbabwe he was championing would have no effect on that country’s economy and the welfare of its people?

There is no doubt that Tsvangirai sought to take over power in Zimbabwe on the back of national failure.
And he must be very frustrated today that the national failure he sought has come to his country but not with the appropriate share of power he wanted. But despite his lack of respect for Africa and fellow Africans, over the last 12 months, the political fortunes for Tsvangirai on the continent increased beyond belief.

But the way he is going about things will make him lose all that support in a very vast way.

The support that he got from Africa made it possible for him to have the status that he has in his country and the world today.

If he wants to lose all this, he should ignore what Thabo Mbeki is saying. Mbeki has raised very serious matters concerning Tsvangirai and MDC’s behaviour and attitude.

“Today, I received the letter dated 19 November 2008, which was correctly communicated through the South African Embassy in Harare, written to me by your secretary-general, the Honourable Tendai Biti, MP, concerning Constitutional Amendment No 19.

“I must confess that the contents of this letter came to me as a complete surprise, causing me grave concern.
“As you know, Mr Biti’s letter describes the decisions on Zimbabwe, taken by the November 9 Sadc Extraordinary Summit meeting held in South Africa, as ‘a nullity’.”

The letter goes further to say: “It is then difficult for any of the parties to move in any direction for fear of legitimising the Sadc summit ‘ruling’.

“The first point I would like to make with regard to the foregoing is that, as you know, we were appointed as facilitator of the Zimbabwe dialogue by Sadc.

“This position was later endorsed by both the African Union and the United Nations, both of which expressly rely on Sadc to facilitate the Zimbabwe dialogue, and thus contribute to the resolution of the Zimbabwe problem.

“You will, therefore, understand that it is absolutely impossible for us as the Sadc-appointed facilitator contemptuously to dismiss solemn decisions of a Sadc summit meeting as ‘a nullity’.

“Indeed, and necessarily, all such decisions serve as a binding mandate on the facilitator. What Zimbabweans, the region and Africa now need is the sense of patriotism among the leaders of Zimbabwe.

“You know this, too, that the rest of Southern Africa, your neighbouring countries, has also had the unavoidable obligation to carry much of the weight of the burden of the Zimbabwe crisis, in many ways.

“You know that, among other things, various countries of our region host large numbers of economic migrants from Zimbabwe, who impose particular burdens on our countries.

“Loyal to the concept and practice of African solidarity, none of our countries and governments has spoken publicly of this burden, fearful that we might incite the xenophobia to which all of us are opposed.

“Nevertheless, the leaders of the people of Zimbabwe, including you, dear brother, need to bear in mind that the pain your country bears is a pain that is transferred to the masses of our people, who face their own challenges of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.

“This particular burden is not carried by the countries of Western Europe and North America, which have benefited especially from the migration of skilled and professional Zimbabweans to the North.

“In the end when all is said and done, Zimbabwe would have to exist in peace and productive collaboration with its neighbours in Southern and the rest of Africa.

“Realistically, Zimbabwe will never share the same neighbourhood with the countries of Western Europe and North America and therefore, secure its success on the basis of friendship with these, and contempt for the decisions of its immediate African neighbours.

“I say this humbly to advise that it does not help Zimbabwe, nor will it help you as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, that the MDC-T contemptuously repudiates very serious decisions of our region and, therefore, our continent, describing them as ‘a nullity’.

“It may be that, for whatever reason, you consider our region and continent as being of little consequence to the future of Zimbabwe, believing that others further away, in Western Europe and North America, are of greater importance.

“In this context, I have been told that because leaders in our region did not agree with you on some matters that served on the agenda of the Sadc Extraordinary Summit meeting, you have denounced them publicly as ‘cowards’.

“Such manner of proceeding might earn you prominent media headlines. However, I assure you that it will do nothing to solve the problems of Zimbabwe.

As you secure applause because of the insult against us that we are ‘cowards’, you will have to consider the reality that our peoples have accepted into their countries very large numbers of Zimbabwean brothers and sisters in a spirit of human solidarity, prepared to sustain the resultant obligations.

“None of our countries displayed characteristics of cowardice when they did this. All of us will find it strange and insulting that because we do not agree with you on a small matter, you choose to describe us in a manner that is most offensive in terms of African culture, and, therefore, offend our sense of dignity as Africans, across our borders.”

This is how Mbeki reacted to Tsvangirai and MDC’s attitude, arrogance, lack of humility, lack of respect for others, and lack of gratitude to their African neighbours. Tsvangirai’s excessive dependency on Western Europe and North America for political and financial support will backfire.

What Tsvangirai should not forget is that for all that life has dealt them, one thing that Africans have not abandoned is hatred for colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism in general.

The Zimbabwean campaign is the biggest Western Europe and North America have ever mounted in an independent African country.

We have had problems in Kenya, Uganda, Congo, but we have never seen Western Europe and North America do what they are doing in Zimbabwe.

Why?

Tsvangirai shouldn’t mistake the African people’s commitment and desire for democracy as an acceptance of Western European and North American political domination.

If he is not careful, the tide of African public opinion may soon shift against him, and with it a decline of his political fortunes.

There is no sensible alternative for Tsvangirai and the MDC outside a negotiated political settlement as expressed in (an inclusive) government.

This may not be the ideal political arrangement, but for now it seems to be the most sensible option.
Moreover, the ways in which we achieve our goals are bound.

by context, changing with circumstances even while maintaining steadfast in our commitment to our vision.

In conclusion, we can only say that intervention only works when people concerned seem to be keen to come together and work together in unity.

If they want to be sweepstake winners where there can only be a collective winner, then there is a problem.

We hope Tsvangirai and MDC will see sense in what Mbeki is saying and make amends. — The Post of Zambia.