Morgan Tsvangiraiâ€™s one-man campaign to mollify President Mugabe by extolling his spell-binding virtues and charm is running into difficulties within the prime ministerâ€™s own party where these views are not shared.
We have already witnessed the outburst of dissent in Southwark Cathedral when Tsvangirai attempted to sell the current dispensation as one of amicable concord at a time when members of Woza were being assaulted and well-connected hoodlums were grabbing farms. Â
Then this week we were told that Tsvangirai had apologised to Mugabe for his partyâ€™s boycott of cabinet last week after MDC leaders had been prevented from chairing it. Given the constant obstruction of GPA objectives, it deserves to be boycotted.
It tells us all we need to know about the presidentâ€™s overweening self-regard that he should describe the stayaway as â€œinsolentâ€.
LÃ©tat câ€™est moi it seems! We are only surprised that MDC ministers have not been charged with lÃ¨se majestÃ©. If we had a Bastille it would soon be filling up as July 14 approaches.
Tsvangirai actually declared his support for the boycott after his return. Then privately he apologised to Mugabe and the president wasted no time in releasing the apology to the state media.
This attests to a dysfunctional party whose leader is formulating policy on the hoof. It is supremely unimpressive and likely to serve the needs of Mugabeâ€™s clique more than anybody else.
Did you see that incorrigible gang on the front page of the Herald on Monday lining up to say goodbye to a frail-looking president as he departed for Malawi? How extraordinary that all these powerful individuals need to be present on the tarmac even when the president is departing from the country for a single day. These are the people who have blocked the launch of the National Security Council (because Tsvangirai will sit on it), preferring to run the country through JOC. Would you entrust this countryâ€™s future to this bunch?
And then Zanu PF complains when the government has problems with international recognition!
In another glimpse of how others see us, we were interested to note that upon his arrival in Sirte Mugabe was met by Libyaâ€™s Justice minister.
And just the other day Col Gadaffi was making a scene in Pretoria because the lowly Pallo Jordan was dispatched to welcome him. The whole ceremony had to be repeated with Jacob Zuma doing the welcoming to propitiate the prickly Libyan leader who looked like something out of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
We were also intrigued by the Johnnie Carson story. Firstly, the meeting in Sirte was presented as an important recognition for Mugabe, equivalent to Tsvangiraiâ€™s meeting with President Barack Obama. Carson was â€œbriefed on the process that led to the formation of the exclusive governmentâ€ â€” as if the State Department needed any explanation of this â€œprocessâ€ when their ambassador had been present in Pretoria at its genesis.
Then, a few days later, in a torrent of abuse, Mugabe described Carson as â€œan idiotic little fellowâ€. Â
This confirms reports we had received that the meeting broke up in acrimony. In a revelation of just how disconnected he is from the real world, Mugabe had clearly expected Carson to agree with his version of events because he was an African American â€”â€“ â€œan Afro-American for that matterâ€, although we are not sure what the distinction is!
It must be galling for the president to have his warped ideas of racial solidarity shot down by Americaâ€™s most senior officials.
A black president, black assistant secretaries of state, black ambassadors, and not a single taker among them for Zanu PFâ€™s discredited mantras.
Meanwhile, newspaper col-
umnist Bornwell Chakaodza had some useful advice for Tsvangirai after his policy somersaults.
â€œAttempts by the prime minister to downplay issues of the rule of law, abductions of MDC members and farm invasions, which we all know remain outside his sphere of control, only dented his credibility among his hosts.
â€œAll Tsvangirai needed to do was to state the truth of what is happening in Zimbabwe, explaining his own partyâ€™s position, his limitations and the efforts he is making to correct the situation. Where he has met with little cooperation from his GNU partners, his supporters needed to hear him say so.
â€œTelling it like it is does not and will not threaten the existence of the inclusive government. Only by confronting the truth of our circumstances can we hope to exorcise the demons of self-interest that stand in the way of our quest for true democracy.â€
Couldnâ€™t have said it better ourselves.
We noted with interest President Mugabeâ€™s refusal to say farewell to US Ambassador James McGee. Taken together with his undiplomatic remarks about Carson, it is clear Mugabe wants to keep stoking the fires of hostility with the US. So while the PM is busy trying to rebuild bridges to the West, Mugabe wants to knock them down.
Is this a sensible policy? Do Zimbabweans share his hostility to the US?
Obviously not. Ask around. Zanu PF is not only pursuing unpopular policies, it is pursuing damaging ones.
Wasnâ€™t the whole point of the Sadc-guided GPA to stop Zimbabweâ€™s rulers inflicting further damage on the country? Quite clearly that hasnâ€™t been successful.
This is what the Financial Mailâ€™s editor Barney Mthombothi had to say of Tsvangiraiâ€™s predicament: â€œTsvangirai may be prime minister but he remains largely powerless. He cannot stop farm invasions. He cannot even come to the rescue of his own supporters who are being brutalised by Mugabeâ€™s henchmen. By sweetening the pill a bit Tsvangirai runs the risk of being seen as Mugabeâ€™s useful idiot. The West is keen to help, but it will have to be a Zimbabwe sans Mugabe. Heâ€™s very much the fly in the ointment.â€
Meanwhile, ANC president Jacob Zuma has warned party leaders in KwaZulu-Natal not to become â€œpower-drunkâ€ because of the partyâ€™s recent overwhelming election victory in the province.
â€œVictory intoxicates, and donâ€™t get drunk over it. Be modest and respect your victory because if you donâ€™t, it could lead to your downfall,â€ Zuma told delegates to the ANC provincial general council.
â€œDonâ€™t ridicule those you have defeated and you must deliver things that you promised during campaigns.â€
Zuma also warned leaders that taking for granted the loss suffered by the IFP was akin to Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe taking its victory for granted.
â€œZanu-PF in Zimbabwe got drunk by victory and we all know what happened thereafter,â€ Zuma said. He also sounded a warning against those who believe that the ANCâ€™s overwhelming victory in the province signified the demise of the IFP.
â€œThere is an impression that the IFP is dead. I warn you against that. This is politics and not a football match. You donâ€™t have to create unnecessary formidable opposition by taking the parties you have defeated for granted. Treat them with respect.â€
How many people know that when Michael Jackson visited Zimbabwe in 1998 he was a guest of Zimbabwe Defence Industries? He came here to explore business opportunities and ZDI boss Col Tshinga Dube asked Phillip Chiyangwa to drive him around.
Chiyangwa recalls in an article in the Sunday Mail, â€œRemembering MJâ€, Jackson being mesmerised by Chiyangwaâ€™s new BMW 750i.
But he wasnâ€™t so mesmerised about meeting the president, Chiyangwa says. Jackson feigned a toothache to avoid the appointment. Chiyangwa had to rush to Jacksonâ€™s hotel room and coax the star into meeting Mugabe.
â€œBut what am I going to say, Phillip?â€ Jackson wanted to know. Just wait for the president to say something, was the advice. And so they duly met.
Chiyangwa says that international hostility following Zimbabweâ€™s entry in the Congo war put the kibosh on any investment Jackson planned. But they remained in touch until 2004.
It was of course Nelson Mandela who Jackson really wanted to meet. On that occasion his toothache cleared up very quickly we gather!
We were amused by President Rupiah Bandaâ€™s remarks about Mugabeâ€™s hectic schedule demonstrating that he was â€œa dedicated African leaderâ€.
â€œHe was in Libya attending a summit recently, in Malawi (on Monday) and today in Zambia and is rushing home for a cabinet meeting tomorrow.â€ What he could have added was â€œ. . . to make damn sure nobody else slipped into that seat while he was awayâ€.
Finally, we were intrigued by an advert in yesterdayâ€™s Herald by Premier Finance Group stating that Temba Mliswa, who is claiming to have acquired an 8% stake in the bank, has in fact â€œno space in Premier Finance Group, and will not be allowed anyâ€.
But then on Page B3 of the same dayâ€™s Business Herald is a puff piece on Mliswa saying he owns an 8% stake in the bank and that his success can be attributed to his â€œlocal networkâ€ that includes â€œBishopâ€ Noel Pashapa, Airforce Commander Perence Shiri, retired prisons chief Paradzayi Zimondi, TA chief Shingi Mutasa â€” and God!
Shingi: How did you get in there?