If there are any ‘good guys’ at this stage of the Zimbabwean political impasse, it is difficult to recognise them.
Even by his own impressive standards of violence and cynicism, Mugabe has sunk to a new low in the thoroughly crude way he has engineered more time for himself in power.
I did not expect anything meaningful from the African Union, and indeed they have not delivered anything meaningful.
I find the idea of our ‘saviours’ being Gordon Brown, David Milliband and Malloch Brown, or George Bush via Condoleeza Rice, absurd. There is bad overall political history towards Zimbabwe by both Britain and the US, and both are compromised by their bloody Iraqi adventure and their support of many Mugabe-like but more obedient despots. So their statements about what the African Union or the two main parties in Zimbabwe “must do” have a hollow ring even when they are stating basic truths.
And is Thabo Mbeki a good guy or a bad guy in regards to Zimbabwe? I guess we will only be able to properly evaluate this conundrum in hindsight when the nightmare is all over.
But surely Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC are the good guys in this drama, are they not? After all, have they not played a very tough game on uneven ground strictly by the rules against their tormentor and won, only to have their victory unfairly snatched away from them? Are they not the victims here?
As the situation changes very rapidly, it is not at all clear they will ultimately emerge as the good guys. After being so physically brutalised and humiliated in the shocking manner Mugabe has chosen to re-install himself, they are understandably not inclined to accept their tormentor’s cynical offer of talks now. To reports of ZANU-PF and the MDC somehow ruling together, MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti responded, “Nothing can be as malicious and as further from the truth,” Biti said. “As a matter of fact, there are no talks or discussions taking place between the two parties and most importantly, there is no agreement in the offering.”
“While the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) has pursued dialogue in a bid to establish a government of national healing before June 12, the sham election on June 27, 2008, totally and completely exterminated any prospect of a negotiated settlement,” MDC Tendai Biti said in a statement in Harare.
Tough talk, but what follows from it then? What next? When you “totally and completely exterminate any prospect of a negotiated settlement,” what are you proposing in its stead? The MDC may for now enjoy the moral high ground of the shamelessness of Mugabe’s recent electoral antics, but how far will that get them or the country?
It is equally confusing that after Mugabe’s self-serving and not entirely convincing call for dialogue at his self-coronation four days ago, his mouthpiece George Charamba is enjoying the limelight to talk tough about how ‘talks’ will not necessarily lead to anything!
So the beaten and bruised victim party is understandably sulking and also talking “no negotiations” tough, but with no real leverage of any kind to do anything. The party with the guns is not now more willing to talk in good faith after crowning its leader for five more years, as had been hoped. If this is not an impasse, I don’t know what is.
All the many interest groups that have given themselves a role in commenting with tremendous authority about Zimbabwe have their own tough positions about what “must” happen, but none of them have been able to then follow that up with a convincing “or else we will…” The British political and media establishment feels so provoked by the continued presence of Mugabe on the scene that the fury of its reaction is frightening to see and watch. I am truly awed by their concern for us. Its strange, but I had no idea they liked us that much and were so concerned for our suffering. Unless of course the concern is not entirely selfless and humanitarian, but it would be cynical and unkind to even think that.
Into the tough talking madness steps a voice of reason from a most un-expected quarter. “I don’t think it is too late for there to be a political resolution to this crisis,” US State Department spokesman Tom Casey said. “In fact, I don’t think you can have a resolution to this crisis if it does not come through some sort of political process.”
This is pretty obvious, but it is startling to see the George Bush administration strike a tone of reasonableness so different from the macho, emotional and completely unhelpful posturing of the English government in London, so blinded by hate for Mugabe they can’t think straight anymore.
It seems bizarre that the most reasonable sounding voice about the situation is from a US State Department official!