PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is at it again! He has once again dabbled in doublespeak, leaving both his opponents and supporters wondering whether old age and reported infirmity are taking their toll on him — or is there method in his madness?
Addressing Zimbabweans at a luncheon in Addis Ababa where he was attending the African Union summit, Mugabe surprisingly waxed lyrical about the inclusive government which he — since last year — has called all sorts of names, among them puppets, stupid and semi-legal. Above all he has characterised it as an obstacle to Zanu PF’s ambitions.
Why Mugabe thinks that Zimbabweans can be taken for a ride naturally boggles the mind. Was it not him who told his Zanu PF’s national youth assembly in October last year that there was discord in the unity government and that its life span should not be extended, as if it had one?
“Some will say let us negotiate and give it (inclusive government) another life. I am reluctant because part of the things that are happening (in the inclusive government) are absolutely foolish and stupid,” Mugabe said amid ululation, clapping and foot stomping.
He followed this up spiritedly at Zanu PF’s national conference in Mutare in December by reiterating his position that the unity government was not working properly because of principles and ideological differences between his party and the two MDC formations and insisted polls should be held this year to end the marriage of inconvenience.
Two days after the conference, Mugabe held a press conference with his other principals Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and hailed the inclusive government.
Upon his return from his annual leave last month, Mugabe was speaking another language. He threatened to dissolve parliament — using powers he doesn’t have — if certain GPA positions are not fulfilled.
He somersaulted in Ethiopia: “The Global Agreement is an agreement that required us to work well, and we are working well.”
This leaves us wondering what Mugabe is trying to achieve with this kind of deception. Such flip-flopping within a short period — five months — only serves to reinforce the Banana republic tag given to us since it is not clear whether we are coming or going.
What has become patently clear is that Mugabe paints a different picture of the GNU outside the country to ensure that Zimbabwe is not on the agenda at such fora as the African Union.
He succeeded despite signs that we are slowly creeping back to the dark days of 2008. The violence in Mbare between Zanu PF and MDC-T supporters and the invasion of resort lodges by Zanu PF thugs under the guise of indigenisation are examples of this. The recent attack of the MDC-T-dominated Harare City Council and the intimidation of the electorate through the countrywide deployment of soldiers are just some of the ominous signs that should have spurred the AU into action and put the country on the agenda at its summit.
Alas it was not to be! This has been aggravated by the MDC-T’s silence. Instead of leading the way in calling for problems in Zimbabwe to be addressed at the summit, it was left to civil society to fill the gap.
The MDC-T seems to have entered a comfort zone within the inclusive government. The low level representation of the party at such a crucial high level continental meeting signifies the weakening of the party.
For the party to lie low at a time when Zanu PF has launched a vicious campaign to attack and denigrate them, especially in the public media, is nothing short of political suicide.
This is why Mugabe can get away with making conflicting statements and violating the GPA as and when he pleases. The MDC-T should pull up its socks before they find themselves swept aside and made redundant by Zanu PF’s agenda of dishonesty and violence.