How Mugabe Has The MDC Where He Wants Them

FROM THE HIP – Zimbabwe's dictator, Robert Mugabe, must be very pleased with himself. I did tell you in February that Mugabe's sentiments, expressed in a birthday interview with ZTV, that the payment of civil service salaries was not "sustainable" because there was no money was basically an admission that he would behave atrociously all the way through this GNU and hence ensure that no donors came in with money to support its operations.

It is turning out that way.

The MDC has fallen into the trap of thinking that all these fights are about power. They are not.

Mugabe is terrified that the Coalition Government will actually bring results, strengthening Tsvangirai’s hand in the process and putting him in a very strong position for the next elections.

Mugabe’s purpose in sending the MDC on a wild goose chase after power and positions, the delaying tactics he is playing, the continued persecution of MDC supporters – all this is deliberately designed to ensure that the GNU does not deliver any tangible results and disadvantages Tsvangirai.

Mugabe knows that as long as he continues to behave as he is doing now, foreign funders, the sole hope for a turnaround in Zimbabwe, will keep their hands firmly in their pockets.

That suits him just fine.

Come the end of three or five years, when the next elections are held, he wants to be able to turn to the people of Zimbabwe and tell them that the MDC were given a chance to prove themselves in government and failed.

That is one part of the strategy.

The other part is for him to tell the people that foreign funders are opposed to Land Reform and unless and until land is returned to white farmers, Zimbabwe is in the international doghouse. This, he will say, was the rerason why they refused to support their "surrogate", Tsvangirai in the Coalition government with funds to turn the country’s economy around.

The Mass Public Opinion Institute of Zimbabwe has just concluded a comprehensive survey of urban and rural Zimbabweans that confirms that frustration with lack of delivery is already being blamed on Tsvangirai and Mutambara. Mugabe gets away scot-free in this.

(In fact, one of the most common sentiments, very shocking to any democrat in Zimbabwe, is that it is better to stick with ZANU PF at next elections. I urge you to get the results of that survey from MPOI if you can, it will open your eyes to the sentiment in the country much more than reading online propaganda ever will!)

Now, as you well know, pretty much everybody in Zimbabwe is agreed that Land Reform is necessary and can not be reversed.

Even the white farmers from whom land has been forcibly taken without compensation, agree with this.

By telling people that no help will come until land is returned to white farmers and pointing to MDC’s failure in government as evidence of this at the next elections, Mugabe is betting that people will then throw their hands in the air and say, "In that case it is hopeless".

This works against the MDC because it is seen, even by its supporters, as having the favour of western powers. Hence, the impression that the MDC support from the West is based on the hope that Land Reform will be reversed would be fatal, because it will cast doubt on the motivations of those western powers who are seen to favour the opposition party.

The result will be voters abandoning all hope that the MDC would indeed be able to get financial support from the west if they get into power. They would not be able to get it if the condition is that they must reverse Land Reform.

This is because it is unthinkable for the MDC to return farms to white farmers without sparking civil war in the country.

So, the continued bad behaviour by Mugabe has nothing to do with protecting his power. It has everything to do with the next elections, weakening the MDC in the eyes of voters. As long as the MDC can not deliver on its promises, as long as they are paralysed by the diversions of power-struggles, the world is not stepping in.

Like I said, this plays into Mugabe’s hands.

The puzzle though is why Tsvangirai can not see this. Why are the MDC allowing themselves to be caught up in this nonsense? It is quite clear this is a battle they are not going to win. So what’s the deal?

The trappings of office have become so comfortable that they are willing to limp along for the rest of the life of this GNU creature, even if they emerge from it completely discredited, shattered and mortally wounded?

Your guess is as good as mine.

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