Another African summit on Zimbabwe’s political soap opera on Monday is unlikely to break deadlock over a power-sharing deal between Robert
Mugabe and the opposition.
On Friday January 24, ZANU PF hardened its stance and declared it will not meet any of the demands of the MDC-T, on the formation of a new government. Talks are set for Pretoroa, South Africa.
At a press conference in Harare Friday, the regime’s chief negotiator, Patrick Chinamasa, said that a number of the issues were better handled by an all-inclusive government.
As Chinamasa was misleading reporters by proclaiming that demands made by the MDC were new, the once militant but aging war veteran issued one of their usual threats on Morgan Tsvangirai.
They said if on Monday Tsvangirai maintain his stance on being “indecisive, the war veterans countrywide would be left with no option but to deal decisively with him”
Last Monday, in Harare SADC leaders fell shot of telling Zimbabwe that there are other “pressing problems” in the region other than Zimbabwe’s. The warring parties differed mainly over who gets key positions such as the home affairs ministry which controls the police.
If there is no agreement, Mugabe has said he would proceed in appointing a purely ZANU-PF cabinet. But its work will be difficult in a parliament dominated by the opposition since elections last March.
Tsvangirai also won a presidential ballot then, but without enough votes to avoid a run-off against Mugabe. He pulled out of that citing attacks on his supporters. But the MDC said hopes for success were slim.
“We are doubtful whether SADC will be able to deal with this issue,” MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa says. “We cannot afford to be in an inclusive government where we don’t feel included. You can have a million extraordinary summits but as long as no-one (in the SADC leadership) has the courage to look at Mugabe in the face and tell him, ‘old man, logic has to prevail’, it will be meaningless”
A Kenya-style unity government had been mooted as the best way of rescuing Zimbabwe from a decade of worsening tyranny and hardship under the populist Mugabe. Without a political settlement, Zimbabwe is unlikely to get financial aid crucial to reviving the battered economy. Nor will it be able to persuade Western powers to lift sanctions imposed on Mugabe’s government.
Over 2,200 people have died of cholera, an easily preventable disease, since August, mostly for lack of clean water. Aid agencies are already struggling to cope with food shortages and a cholera epidemic that has ravaged the country.
Some say Zimbabwe’s economic problems — which include food, fuel and foreign currency shortages, unemployment of 80 percent and the world’s highest inflation rate of more than 6.5 quindecillin novemdecillion percent — can only get worse with the impasse.
Mugabe, who will be 85 next month and has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980, says Zimbabwe’s once prosperous economy has been sabotaged by enemies opposed to his seizures of white-owned farms for blacks.