Africa’s Dinosaur Holds All the Cards
November 14, 2008, 17:28
Filed under: Politics, Southern Africa, Zimbabwe News | Tags: , , ,

Unofficial reports from last weekend’s SADC meeting in Johannesburg have emphasised just how much power and influence Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe still wields over African leaders.  And the true and cowardly nature of the SADC leaders was very much evident during the meeting.

Each of the three Zimbabwean political leaders – Mugabe for ZANU PF, Morgan Tsvangirai for the MDC and the leader of the MDC splinter group Arthur Mutambara – was invited to speak at the meeting.  It was agreed all three Zimbabwe representatives would not be present during deliberations by the SADC leaders, so discussion about the troubled country could be conducted in a frank and open manner.

It didn’t happen.  Mugabe refused to leave the room during the discussions, and South Africa’s new president, Kgalema Motlanthe, did not press the issue.  Tsvangirai claimed not one of the leaders present at the meeting had shown “the courage or the decency of looking Mugabe in the eye and telling him that his position was wrong”.  Whether this reluctance to confront Mugabe is due to fear or respect is immaterial; it simply re-enforces the reluctance and cowardice of some of the continent’s leaders to confront the man who is systematically destroying Zimbabwe.

Mugabe’s intentions should have been apparent from the beginning of the meeting.   Demonstrating the arrogance and petulance of a man in denial and one who truly believes he has done nothing to contribute to the demise of what was once one of Africa’s most successful economies, Mugabe objected to the fact that both Mutambara and Tsvangirai had been invited to speak at the meeting, claiming neither was a head of state or government.

Mugabe made his presentation first, followed by Tsvangirai.  During his address Tsvangirai commented that his party had won the elections, and a furious Mugabe interrupted the speech, claiming: “No you didn’t.”  This time Molanthe admonished Mugabe for the interruption, and Lesotho president Phakalitha Mosisili told Mugabe he should show Tsvangirai the same consideration and respect as the SADC leaders had shown him during his speech. 

During Mutambara’s speech, Mugabe again interrupted, asking if the meeting was informal.  When Motlanthe confirmed it was, Mugabe said the flags should be lowered to reflect that status.  After a recess the meeting reconvened to discuss the Zimbabwe situation, and while Mutambara and Tsvangirai honoured the agreement to absent themselves from the deliberations, Mugabe refused.  He attended the discussion, so becoming judge and jury in SADC’s ruling on how the power-sharing agreement should proceed.

The Zimbabwe disaster can no longer be swept under the carpet.  SADC countries like Botswana and South Africa are now dealing with the massive influx of refugees and illegal immigrants, at substantial cost to their own economies.  SADC’s reluctance to deal with Mugabe indicates the tribal differences between the different leaders, and their reluctance to lay themselves open to possible criticism should they dare condemn a man who supposedly “liberated” his people from the yoke of colonialism.

At the end of the day Mugabe is trapped between the proverbial rock and a hard place.  His friends and allies in the East have done nothing to benefit ordinary Zimbabweans. The money his country so desperately needs to put it on the path to economic recovery will only come from the West, and nothing will be forthcoming until it is obvious Mugabe is no longer captain of this particular Titanic.  If he bows out now he risks being arrested for human right abuses and genocide, and his lieutenants won’t allow him to walk away free, leaving them to answer for their crimes.

He holds all the cards, but right now they’re burning his fingers AND Zimbabwe as he calculates which hand to play.


1 Comment so far
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SADC leaders are blinded by their cowardice. Don’t they realise that, by allowing Mugabe to manipulate them, they are complicit in all his actions? If not legally, then morally.

My heart bleeds for those who suffer from the actions of this evil man, and the inaction of the cowards and morally bankrupt leaders who allow him to continue upon his destructive way.

Comment by lindamv

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