So did Mugabe mean that Zuma can keep his South Africa?

OPINION – Despite his own shortcomings as the SADC facilitator for Zimbabwe, Jacob Zuma seems to have touched a raw nerve for the first time at the recent Troika meeting in Zambia. ’

Mugabe almost said: ‘Zuma keep your South Africa and let me keep my Zimbabwe’ when he accused his ally of ‘overstretching his mandate in the facilitation process.’ 

Veiled attack

The veiled attack on Zuma and SADC is reminiscent of Mugabe’s blistering attack on the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair and European "interference" in African affairs in September 2002 when he declared: ‘Blair keep your England and let me keep my Zimbabwe. Let no one interfere with our processes’ (Sky.com, 03/09/02).

Similarly, Mugabe reportedly said the facilitator should stick to facilitation and not dictate what Zimbabweans should do. "The facilitator should facilitate, he cannot prescribe to us to do A, B, C and D. We give ourselves the A, B,C, D, in accordance with our agreement" Mugabe said (Newsday, 01/04/11).

Although the SADC communiqué did not mention Robert Mugabe by name, but did raise many of the concerns voiced by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in recent weeks, it said: "There must be an immediate end of violence, intimidation, hate speech, harassment and any other form of action that contradicts the letter and spirit of the Global Political Agreement (GPA)" (Swradioafrica.com, 01/04/11). That was enough to make Mugabe see red.

Implications of the Livingstone Communique

SADC plans to set up a special group that would lay down a roadmap for elections in Zimbabwe have prompted Mugabe to resuscitate negotiations with his coalition partners which had been put on ice for a long time due to his intransigence. From nowhere, the tripartite negotiators of the GPA are set to meet on Monday to ‘craft a roadmap for general elections and review the arrangement that created the inclusive government’ (Xinhuanet.com, 02/04/11). However, there should be no complacency.

While SADC has been soft on Mugabe for too long, however as the regional leaders also realized their tails were on fire due to pressure from civil society organizations and the Prime Minister’s regional tour, they had no option but warn the GNU about the risk of an uprising. It could also be argued that the regional leaders are fully aware of the possibility of any Zimbabwe uprising spreading to their countries as development in North Africa and the Middle East seem to show.

Furthermore, many questions remain unanswered in the wake of a statement by Zanu-pf negotiator Patrick Chinamasa after the Livingstone meeting that ‘the roadmap towards peaceful, free, fair and democratic harmonized elections is laid out in the GPA. The milestones are clearly laid out and we will not entertain any milestones that fall outside of the GPA" (The Herald, Negotiators set to craft poll roadmap, 01/04/11).

If the roadmap is already there, why has Zanu-pf been quiet about it and/or hindering it’s implementation? Why did Zanu-pf apply brakes to the roadmap only to release the pedal after the Troika suggested a three-member panel to assist the South African facilitation team? Why is the country sliding into a military state when it should be addressing the milestones for free and fair elections? Why is there political intimidation through the anti-sanctions campaign, political violence e.g. in Chimanimani, selective arrests of political opponents and denial of civil liberties such as the right to demonstrate or hold rallies?

Conclusion

Chances are that Monday’s meeting of the tripartite negotiators will be deadlocked before going anywhere on the issue of targeted sanctions being advanced by Zanu-pf as an unresolved ‘milestone’ or un-met pre-condition for any acceleration on the roadmap. This could also explain why Mugabe does not want to lose control to what he calls ‘outsiders’ as they may not recognize his myth of sanctions which are actually his own tactical brakes to any progress in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis.

Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, zimanalysis2009@gmail.com