HomeEditorial CommentEditor's Memo: Mugabe’s Choices Clear

Editor’s Memo: Mugabe’s Choices Clear

THE last time President Mugabe visited Uganda to attend a Smart Partnership dialogue, he took with him Deputy Prime Ministers Thokozani Khupe and Arthur Mutambara whom he put to good use as billboards advertising the smooth functioning of the inclusive government.

At Munyonyo resort in July host president Yoweri Museveni had this to say in his welcome speech: “Mzee Mugabe has brought with him two deputy prime ministers (Khupe and Mutambara); please can you stand up, which is a symbol of political smart partnership we are not used to here in Uganda, where the two deputy prime ministers are part of the higher echelons of government though they are coming from two different political parties.”

Our ruler was then able to strut his stuff at the shindig to lecture his peers on his “inclusivity and national vision” as a statesman.

Mugabe this week returns to the Munyonyo resort to attend a rather low-key African Union summit on refugees and displaced persons. The glamourless event will fortunately for Mugabe not afford him the opportunity to tell gathered heads of state about the inclusive government.

There will be no real opportunity to discuss the politics of the country, in public that is, but privately one of two heads would want to know from Mugabe what has happened to the inclusive government which was feted at the same venue only three months ago. In fact one brazen ones might want to know from Mugabe what he is doing at a refugees conference when there are problems at home.

What boosted Mugabe’s profile at the Smart Partnership Dialogue in July was the company he had from the inclusive government. Partners in the inclusive government have clothed Mugabe under a sheen of legitimacy and respectability. But that veneer is peeling off and cannot be restored by boisterous statements dismissing the partial pull-out of the MDC from the inclusive government as a non-event.

It is a notable event because Mugabe’s handlers know all too well that the GNU was consummated to solve an economic and political crisis that threatened lives in this country. Therefore mechanical faults in the functioning of that vehicle specially designed to bring change is a glitch to achieving reform.

Mugabe also knows very well that the only way investors can believe his promises for reform and creating a conducive environment for business is when he speaks as a facet of the inclusive government. He cannot preach reform and change from the Zanu PF altar.

At Zimplats last Thursday he spoke well to listening business people, commending the platinum miner for showing confidence in this market and for investing in basic infrastructure. That was well-received.

Compare this with the dissonant eruption by Media and Information minister Webster Shamu at Chief Chivero’s funeral the next day at which the minister attacked the mining company for not building a house for the chief or tarring the road to his homestead.

There is no doubt which audience Shamu was trying to excite — Zanu PF reactionaries who have since day one of the formation of the inclusive government been working towards its downfall.

We expect a lot of that political gibberish in this environment of serious contestations in the inclusive government. There will be many dancing out of tune, much to the detriment of business which is still trying to find its feet. Potential investors are not pleased either.

The reactionaries were quick off the blocks to celebrate disengagement by the MDC and condemn the party. They will now not push for a resolution of the crisis but will want to see a full escalation of hostilities which will result in the MDC pulling out altogether. They want power at any cost.

The challenge from Mugabe on his return from Munyonyo is dealing with this bhora mudondo grouping. Notably this is the grouping which pushed provinces and party organs to endorse Mugabe as party leader ahead of the December congress. Mugabe has basked in this new-found popularity in the party but it comes at a cost. He has to return the favour. He will be manipulated by the strong faction leaders.

 

He cannot be seen to be giving in to the demands of the MDC ahead of a crucial congress. This is not the time to show your soft underbelly; the hardliners will urge him to be defiant.

Mugabe has two clear options: to sit down with Tsvangirai and agree to sort out the outstanding issues in order to keep this economy on the rails and move forward, or to give in to pressure from strong faction leaders in order to save his throne come December but sacrifice all the good that has been achieved since February.

 

The choices seem very clear and Zimbabweans must demand an outcome that does not set us back to the era of zeros.

 

Vincent Kahiya

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