Monday, October 13, 2008

Zimbabwe deal on the verge of collapse.

It's hard to pretend that we didn't see this coming.

Mbeki's carefully worked out compromise between Mugabe and Tsvangirai is on the edge of collapse after Mugabe unilaterally named ministers for the key departments of defence, which controls the army; home affairs, which controls the police; and finance, key to resuscitating the nation's devastated economy where even the official rate of inflation is 231 million per cent.

I didn't believe in the deal when it was announced as I don't believe that Mugabe ever had any intention of handing over genuine power to Tsvangirai.

"An idiot wouldn't accept that," Mr Tsvangirai said. "That is not power sharing, it is power grabbing." The decision to issue such a notice ahead of Mr Mbeki's arrival spoke volumes about "Mugabe's unguarded arrogance" and his contempt for the mediation process, the opposition leader added.

Mr Tsvangirai was adamant that he wanted at least two of the three key ministries for him to be part of any power sharing deal. He argues that the less powerful portfolios allocated to him by Mr Mugabe virtually demote him to junior partner, when he won the parliamentary elections and first round of the presidential poll.

Apparently, Mbeki is flying in today to sort out the deadlock, which only means he is coming to be further humiliated by Mugabe, who will not move an inch if past behaviour is any indication of what we can expect.

Mbeki has indulged Mugabe at every turn and we can expect very little success to be achieved at this stage.

The time to challenge Mugabe was after the elections when everyone turned against him, including the ANC and several African nations who made it clear that Mugabe's actions shamed the whole of Africa; and yet still Mbeki, even at that critical juncture, insisted that Mugabe should be negotiated with.

The power sharing deal which Mbeki managed to carve out was greeted with widespread cynicism, as any deal with Mugabe was seen as rewarding the violence and intimidation which swept Zimbabwe ahead of the election.

And the cynicism was well justified as the present collapse proves.

Only Mbeki never saw this coming. Mbeki has continually acted as if Mugabe could change if we only negotiated with him long enough.

He'll continue the same pitiful act today. But I'll be surprised if he gets Mugabe to move an inch. And why should Mugabe? It's the weakness of Mbeki which has allowed him to flout the international community, so he's hardly likely to be intimidated by a visit from the man who has always given in to his every demand.

Mbeki is an enabler, that's why Mugabe always welcomes his intervention.

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