Will Troika back MDC?

sadc_logoHARARE - The MDCs disengagement from its GNU partner Zanu (PF), as a result of President Robert Mugabe and his cabal of generals persistent refusal to share power, has forced a meeting of the SADC Troika in Maputo today.

But the wily octogenarian dictator continues to play a complex power game – aimed at preventing regional leaders from censuring him. DRC President and chairman of SADC, Joseph Kabila, jetted into Zimbabwe on Sunday for high-level meetings with the members of the troubled coalition. Prior to his visit to Harare, Kabila had met with South Africa President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria. Zuma met Kabila after meeting Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe. Kabila’s visit to Zuma was said to have angered Mugabe, who did not receive him at the airport (as is his usual custom) and kept him waiting on Monday only meeting him in the afternoon. Observers say Mugabe used these tactics to send a clear message to the young Kabila, who is dependent upon Mugabes benevolence for his personal security, following the assassination of his father, Laurent, by a member of his own bodyguard.

Kabila’s visit to Harare followed on from a meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Kinshasa just over a week ago, when the Premier was on a four-nation tour of the region to explain the Zimbabwean crisis to SADC leaders. Tsvangirai’s spokesman James Maridadi said the Premier, Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara were expected to conclude negotiations meant to force President Mugabe to honour the power-sharing agreement he inked with the two MDC principals last year in Maputo today. The three Zimbabwean leaders and their negotiators are expected to meet the heads of state of Zambia, Swaziland and Mozambique, President Rupiah Banda, King Mswati III and President Armando Guebuza, comprising SADCs organ on politics, defence and security, to discuss the deadlocked power-sharing deal. “All the outstanding issues will be tabled there,” Maridadi said. Tsvangirai announced a partial withdrawal from the unity government on October 16, citing a surge in political violence, continued media repression and the on-going arrests and harassment of MDC MPs and supporters, and the general failure of Mugabe and Zanu (PF) to share power or return the country to the rule of law. The ministerial troika forced Mugabe last week to accept that the SADC communiqu of January 27, 2009 was legally binding.

Analysts have explained that all the Troika now needs to do, in order to resolve the crisis, is to go through this document, which lists all the points agreed to by the parties to the GNU, and compare it with the situation on the ground at the moment where Zanu (PF) has consistently refused to implement the terms of the agreement. It would seem there is light at the end of the tunnel, as all along Mugabe has maintained that the communiqu is not part of the GPA, said one analyst. It is extremely embarrassing that Mugabe now has to be forced by SADC to implement an agreement that he signed voluntary amid much fanfare in the presence of the SADC leaders themselves. Respected political analyst John Makumbe said: “I have no doubt SADC is now turning the heat on Mugabe, what he did not want was a summit to deal with Zimbabwe but this is exactly what he has got. The SADC leaders now have an opportunity to tell Mugabe to meet his side of the deal or that he will be left on his own. I believe the summit will deliver a strong message to him.”

“Mugabe is contemptuous of SADC leaders, that he has made clear through his actions, but at the same time he cannot spit in their face because they did help him secure legitimacy at a time of increased pressure for his ouster from the West,” said Eldred Masunungure, another analyst. Western diplomats said South African President Jacob Zuma had been working

hard behind the scenes to end the current political impasse and in his meeting with Kabila last week he discussed Zimbabwe’s political problems at length. Analysts said the MDC was likely to continue with its boycott until Mugabe implemented some parts of the agreement. “Going back to Cabinet right now without any concessions would seriously undermine the MDC and I don’t think they would do that,” said Musunungure. “But the ball is firmly in Mugabe’s court now and this is what the MDC wanted.”

– With additional reporting by ZimOnline

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