the mainstream opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party Morgan Tsvangirai last week unveiled what he said was a “roadmap’ to ending Zimbabwe’s unprecedented political and economic crises.
The roadmap includes demands that Mugabe accepts a new constitution and that he steps down for a transitional government to take over and organise fresh elections under international supervision. The MDC in alliance with national civic society would resort to mass action if the 82-year old President refuses to accept their demands, according to Tsvangirai.
But University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer and Mugabe critic, John Makumbe said the veteran President would “definitely ignore” the demands by the opposition and its civic allies unless they first demonstrated on the ground through nationwide street protests that they wielded enough power to endanger his government.
“Without evident show of their power on the ground, Mugabe would definitely ignore them,” Makumbe told ZimOnline. He said Mugabe and his government were probably at their most desperate moment with inflation running above 1 000 percent and food shortages stalking the country.
But he said even then the Zimbabwean leader would rather negotiate with Britain and the European Union than with an opposition party he essentially believed was a puppet of the West – unless of course there was enough mass pressure on the ground.
Mugabe often accuses the MDC – that was six years ago forged by Tsvangirai out of the labour movement and various civic society movements – of being a front for Western powers out to dethrone his government as punishment after he seized white farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
Addressing journalists in Harare last Friday, Tsvangirai, who initially in March vowed to roll out nationwide anti-government mass demonstrations without any pre-conditions, said the demands outlined in the new roadmap were an attempt to a find a legal and peaceful way to resolve Zimbabwe’s deepening crisis.
Tsvangirai unveiled his roadmap in the wake of mounting pressure from the domestic front and the international community including United Secretary General Kofi Annan on Mugabe to act to resolve Zimbabwe’s political and economic crises.
Annan was recently quoted in the international media as having said he still had plans to visit Harare, with sources saying the UN chief planned to ask Mugabe to leave power in return for massive international aid for Zimbabwe and guarantees that the ageing President would not be prosecuted for crimes committed while he was in office.
Many analysts say Annan may be the only hope left for Zimbabwe first because they say Mugabe might find the offer for immunity from prosecution too tempting to resist and may therefore agree to leave power.
Secondly, the analysts see little hope in the MDC marshalling enough power to arm-twist Mugabe to change saying the opposition party is too weakened after it split last year. They also say the possibility of a ruthless clampdown by the army on mass protests meant that that route was unsafe and unpredictable as an option against Mugabe and his government.
But Harare media and political analyst Takura Zhangazha was adamant that Mugabe would not give in to demands or roadmaps from Tsvangirai or even Annan unless the opposition and its civic allies began to actively threaten his hold on power through mass action.
Zhangazha said: “Mugabe has reached a stage where he cannot budge to documents such as roadmaps and position papers. To arm twist Mugabe, the MDC needs to show him that they have the people and the power on the ground. They need to show their popular support on the ground ….. and the protests have to be massive and nationwide if they are to have any significance to the regime.” – ZimOnline
HARARE - Fresh demands by the opposition for President Robert Mugabe to accept a new constitution and elections to avert a Ukraine-style uprising against his government were an olive branch that would find no taker unless backed by nationwide street protests, according to analysts.
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