Mugabe, Zuma clash looms

jacob_zuma_activeHARARE President Robert Mugabe looks headed for a clash with South African President Jacob Zuma after his Zanu (PF) party told the new SADC-appointed mediator to be patient with Zimbabwes political crisis and insisted it would resist attempts to reform the countrys partisan security forces.

Fresh clashes also loom between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai after last weeks Zanu (PF) national congress resolved that any issues agreed so far in power-sharing negotiations that have been taking place in Harare would only be implemented when the MDC-T has successfully called for the lifting of a travel ban and asset freeze imposed by the West on Mugabe and 200 of his loyalists.

There should be no movement on the concerns of the MDC formations without corresponding and simultaneous redress of Zanu (PF)s concerns such as the illegal Western sanctions, Western-funded pirate radio broadcasts and Western interference in Zimbabwean internal politics through the funding of parallel government structures, read part of the resolutions adopted by Mugabes party last Saturday.

Such ranting against foreign interference is to be expected from a Zanu (PF) meeting but in the backdrop of Zumas entry as new mediator and his reported intent to push for quicker resolution of outstanding issues, the congress resolutions look like they were specifically meant for the South African Presidents ear.

Of particular interest is one resolution that talks of no foreigners, individuals, corporates or national (sic) in whatever capacity or any from time to time find themselves involved in aspects of Zimbabwes bilateral disputes have the right to impose a constitutional order on Zimbabwe.

The resolution gives the impression that Mugabe and Zanu (PF) would not accept a new constitution unless the document reflects the wishes and views of their own party regardless of what Zuma and the rest of the international community think.

Constitutional reform is in fact the most important task for the power-sharing government formed by Mugabe and Tsvangirai in February and which was guaranteed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).


Zanu (PF) asked Zuma to be patient with Zimbabwes political crisis and to understand that the parties have delicate, sensitive fundamental concerns that cannot be resolved overnight.

The call for patience appears to suggest Mugabes party is not too happy with the way Zuma has gone about trying to have the outstanding issues resolved quickly.

Zuma, who replaced former South African president Thabo Mbeki last month as SADC-appointed mediator in the Zimbabwean crisis, is said to be anxious to see a quick resolution of the problems in Harare.

The South African leader is said to be keen to have the Zimbabwean political dispute resolved quickly to avoid bad publicity that could cloud the World Cup tournament that is happening on African soil for the first time.

To show that he was serious about a fast-tracked resolution of Zimbabwes crisis, one of his first tasks as mediator was to sack the old facilitation team appointed by former South African President Thabo Mbeki and putting together his own group of people.

The new three-member team is headed by Zumas political adviser Charles Nqakula and includes special envoy Mac Maharaj and the presidents international relations adviser Lindiwe Zulu.

The appointment of a new facilitation team completed the removal of Mbeki and his envoys since Zuma assumed the facilitators role at last months SADC defence and security organ summit in Maputo.

Since the start of the inter-party negotiations between Zanu (PF) party and the MDC-T, Mbeki has been accused of adopting a softly-softly approach towards Mugabe.

The MDC has on several occasions requested that Mbeki be relieved of his mediation role in the Zimbabwean crisis.

Security sector

Another potential clash-point between Mugabe and Zuma on the one hand, and Mugabe and Tsvangirai on the other, is the Zimbabwean leaders insistence that he would never allow any move to change or reform the security forces as demanded by the MDC-T and the international community.

The MDC-T is pressing for reform of the security forces that the Prime Ministers party says have been heavily politicised and have virtually become a security arm of Zanu (PF).

“May I state this clearly and categorically, (that) as Zanu (PF) the defence of our sovereignty rests with us and with no other. Any manoeuvres to tamper with the forces will never be entertained by us,” said Mugabe, who has had to rely on the security forces since 2000 to prop up his waning political career.

Many senior security officers have vowed never to recognise Tsvangirai as leader.

The remarks by Mugabe came just days after Tsvangirai announced last Thursday that his office had embarked on reforms of the security forces despite resistance encountered from some quarters of Zimbabwes fragile coalition government.

The premier said his office was working with relevant ministries on a programme to train members of the security forces on key governance issues such as human rights as part of efforts to turn the army, intelligence service and police force into non-partisan outfits that respect the laws of the land and enforce them impartially.

Within the GPA (Global Political Agreement), there is a commitment to train all security personnel in human rights and my office has already begun to work with the relevant ministries on these programmes regardless of any resistance we may encounter, Tsvangirai said during a presentation at an event organised by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights in Harare.

Security Council

The move by Tsvangirai appears calculated to beat hawkish elements in Zimbabwes armed forces and Zanu (PF) who have deliberately frustrated efforts to regularly convene meetings of the National Security Council (NSC).

The council, which replaced the Joint Military Command (JOC) which was allegedly behind last years bloody run-off election campaign to retain Mugabe, is supposed to meet monthly but has only met once since the formation of a coalition government by the 85-year leader, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara in February.

The NSC is the new security think tank of the country and comprises Mugabe as chairperson, the two Vice-Presidents John Nkomo and Joice Mujuru, Tsvangirai, Mutambara, co-Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe as well as ministers responsible for finance, defence and the police Force.

All the countrys top security commanders are ex-officio members of the council.

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