Zimbabwe Review

Reflections on Zimbabwe

In short term, Mugabe benefits from sticking to unity government deal

Posted by CM on February 4, 2009

The widespread doubt and scepticism about whether Robert Mugabe will stick to the national unity government deal with Morgan Tsvangirai is justified, given how slippery and cynical Mugabe has been throughout his time in power.

At an African Union meeting in Ethiopia, Mugabe is said to have assured his fellow African rulers that he would stick by it, even going way over the top in describing his commitment to it:

“This development is in line with our past record and current aspiration of building a nation that is anchored on the principle of justice, equality and neutrality,” Mugabe said. Nation anchored on ” justice, equality and neutrality?” Talk about cynical bullshit!

And yet Mugabe does have incentive to stick by it. To the outside world he can give the impression of having made tremendous concessions, making everybody forget that he personally and his party have clearly been shown to be second in terms of their popularity with the Zimbabwean electorate. If it wasn’t for a flawed and cynical electoral process, accompanied by the poor strategy of Tsvangirai and his MDC, Mugabe and his ZANU-PF would by right have been the opposition party now, rightfully out of power.

Whatever difficult-for-him concessions it required, the unity agreement has given him what he arguably could no longer earn by winning honest elections. He gets what he craves the most, to continue to be called ‘president of Zimbabwe,’  whether the Zimbabweans are with him or not. And regardless of which ministerial and other portfolios are conceded to the MDC, as long as Mugabe and ZANU-PF have control over the guns and other instruments of raw power, they can easily run circles around Tsvangirai and the MDC.

So in the short term I believe Mugabe is sincere about sticking to the deal. It gives him more than he deserved and earned, even some of the ‘presidential authority’ he had lost internationally by his nakedly shabby electoral antics.

While the politicians are making an accommodation amongst themselves, it remains to be sen if this agreement represents the beginning of the end of Zimbabweans’ long nightmare or not. That is quite something else.


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