The octogenarian leader has fallen prey to the trappings of power and those of Zanu PF to the extent that he has become a prisoner of hardliners in the party whose sole mission is to torpedo the nine-month-old government.
He has been forced to toe a line he knows is against the letter and spirit of the GPA and the Sadc Communiqué of January 27, which set timelines for the formation of the inclusive government and outlined sticking points of the unity pact that needed to be resolved.
He has allowed brinkmanship among propagandists in his government offices and Zanu PF to spin the yarn to Zimbabweans that his party had fulfilled requirements of the GPA and that it was now up to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC to ensure the lifting of US, British and Western sanctions and put an end to international radio broadcasts into the country.
I find Mugabe’s mastery of double-speak dumbfounding at best, particularly in the past three weeks of the MDC’s disengagement. On the one hand he rubbishes Tsvangirai and his party whilst on the other speaks glowingly about the achievements of the inclusive government.
Just last Friday, Mugabe went ballistic and was just short of serving divorce papers on the MDC after telling Zanu PF’s central committee meeting in the capital that Tsvangirai and his party were not a “true and genuine partner”.
What was striking about his utterances was his questioning of the sincerity of the MDC — to the inclusive government — when everyone in the know is aware that the smooth sailing of the government is being hamstrung by Zanu PF’s intransigence.
“We must no longer trust those who pretend to be in the inclusive government and have jumped in and out of it,” Mugabe told the central committee. “They can never be true and genuine partners and have proved to be dishonest. We, however, want to assure that we will not allow the situation to continue like that.”
He went further to claim without any hint of evidence that the MDC was being “driven by Rhodesians who want to come back and take back the land”.
“They are also driven by their European sponsors. They are agents of Europe, they want regime change,” Mugabe added.
Mugabe’s utterances was dissembling spin meant to pacify hardliners in Zanu PF who accused him of selling out by inking a unity pact with Tsvangirai and the leader of the smaller formation of the MDC headed by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
The 85-year-old Mugabe wants to be seen in his party as principled man who does not crack under pressure ahead of Zanu PF’s December congress. He has become a prisoner of the hardliners who secured his presidential re-election last year through a violent campaign of unprecedented proportion.
A day after his utterances at the central committee meeting, Mugabe was a changed man telling everyone who cared to listen at the burial of national hero Misheck Chando that Zanu PF and the MDC were engaging each other to find a lasting solution to the latest impasse. The tough talking of Friday had gone and it seemed national interest had apparently dawned on him.
“We are glad we are talking,” said Mugabe. “We cannot report it anywhere. The UN says it’s your issue and this is our issue. We settle it here, it is not for others.”
Indeed, the current impasse should be resolved internally, but with the assistance of Sadc who are the guarantors of the GPA.
Mugabe should not allow hardliners in government and Zanu PF to imprison him because of their quest to safeguard their interests at the expense of the nation.
He should constantly remind the hardliners that their push for the failure of the inclusive government is completely misplaced.
The GNU should not be allowed to collapse and we hope that Sadc and the African Union will ensure this.
One of the country’s leading political scientists, Professor Eldred Masunungure, told me on Wednesday that the inclusive government is Sadc’s baby and it will not allow the baby to suffocate.
“Sadc was rather delinquent in the first 12 or so months of the GPA and had even washed its hands of this matter but it has come back with a bang and Sadc has woken up from its deep slumber,” Masunungure said. “This explains the surge in activity by Sadc and its organs. So, the inclusive government will be rescued. Further, the principals themselves have no incentive to see the government collapse and have every disincentive to see it collapse. Even the un-reformable hardliners in both camps know that there is hardly any future in a premature death of the coalition government. So, rest assured that the life of the inclusive government is not in grave danger. The government will wobble along to the finish line, perhaps to the consternation of many.”
We hope so!