Mbeki kicks for Touch
I must say that the past week has surprised me. Mr. Mbeki came home from his
trip to the G8 summit in Japan in a hurry. First he called for an immediate
resumption of the dialogue between the MDC and Zanu PF - suspended after the
debacle last year when Mugabe simply put his foot down and said that he
would not implement the agreement thrashed out over 9 painstaking months by
the negotiating teams under Mr. Mbeki's mediation. MDC was reluctant to
begin 'talks' but eventually agreed to resume 'talks about talks.' These got
under way on Friday last week and after two days of fruitless arguing, the
talks were suspended and the negotiators returned home.
On Monday this week, the South Africans continued the dialogue and although
we know little of what went on behind closed doors, we understand that it
was a very rough session - almost physical at times. The result was a draft
'Memorandum of Understanding' which the South Africans then said - 'sign
that - all of you'.
By all accounts Zanu PF were prepared to sign but the MDC led by Morgan
Tsvangirai stuck to its guns and said they would not sign nor begin
substantive talks until its preconditions were fulfilled. There was much
huffing and puffing about that - both in the State controlled media here and
in South Africa where the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs dismissed the
MDC demands with several snide remarks in Pretoria.
On Thursday the MDC National Executive was recalled to review the draft MOU
and after two hours of intense debate and several amendments, they agreed
that providing our preconditions for substantive talks were satisfied, MDC
would sign the MOU as a basis for full negotiations on a transitional
authority to run the country until a new constitution could be adopted and
free and fair conditions held - perhaps in two years time. I was astonished
by the terms of the MOU and said so to the President.
Now today (Sunday) the BBC has stated that following a terse announcement in
Johannesburg to the effect that Mr. Mbeki would be assisted in his mediation
role in these talks by both AU and UN representatives, MDC has announced
that we would sign the MOU on Monday. In fact behind the scenes there was
more to this than met the eye and I think most media have yet to fully
appreciate what in fact has transpired.
On Thursday the Chairman of the AU Commission, Mr. Ping, arrived in
Johannesburg and on Friday the SADC Organ on Security and Politics joined
him. In subsequent meetings, they thrashed out an agreement that paved the
way to the appointment of the AU and UN representatives and by doing so met
one of our key demands as a precondition for the talks. The other
preconditions were all covered in the MOU and had already been agreed by
Zanu PF on Tuesday. These include a complete cessation of political violence
and the resumption of humanitarian aid on a non-political basis.
And so the stage is now set for full negotiations between the MDC and Zanu
PF. The first step in this process will be a short, but highly significant
meeting between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai - the first such meeting
since this crisis began 10 years ago. Following this meeting to agree on the
basis for the negotiations, locale and timetable, the leaders will sign the
MOU. At this point I would imagine that the MOU would become a public
document and be available to everyone via the Press and other Media. When
this happens I forecast shock and trepidation in Zanu circles and
astonishment and delight everywhere else.
It represents a full climb down by Mugabe and his cohorts made even more
significant by the fact that nowhere does it mention that Mugabe is the
President of Zimbabwe. In fact we really do not have a government at the
moment - not even a caretaker one as the winners of the March election have
yet to be sworn in and the subsequent 'election' of Mugabe as President has
not been accepted by any of the major multilateral organisations involved -
the SADC, the AU and the UN. Far from taking Zanu PF forward, the sham
election held on the 27th of June has simply compounded their problems and
Once the MOU is signed I expect the full negotiations to begin immediately
at a secure location and with the full team of mediators present. Our own
team is now being selected and appointed and will include both technical
experts and politicians. Theirs is a very tough assignment and nobody inside
or outside the country is putting any money on a reasonable outcome.
Skeptism is almost universal.
This time my own money is on an outcome that we can live with and start the
long process of stabilizing and reconstructing our battered economy. The
reasons are quite simple - Zanu PF is at the end of the road, Mr. Mbeki and
his associates want this crisis resolved and those with the resources to
help us put Zimbabwe back together again have a very clear understanding of
what they will accept in terms of a political solution that qualifies us for
assistance. There is absolutely no point in negotiating a deal that is not
acceptable to the people with money - both in the shadowy world of finance
and investment and in the realm of bilateral donor activity.
The one feature of recent events that convinces me that this time Mbeki is
kicking for the posts is that he has demanded that the whole process is
wrapped up in two weeks. In fact there is talk of a SADC summit of Heads of
State in mid August to receive a report on the talks and to consider their
outcome and any future role of SADC as a guarantor of the implementation of
the final Agreement. I agree fully with this timetable, as our own economic
slide is now so fast that not many are going to survive the ride for much
Not covered in any of the talks so far or mentioned in any agenda is the
issue of just what is going to happen to the many monsters who have been
responsible for planning, managing and undertaking the violent repression of
the opposition in the past decade or more. Clearly there is no place for
these men and women of violence and corruption in any transitional
administration. That is a key subject that the Mediators will have to attend
to and resolve.
Bulawayo, 20th July 2008