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MoU: Dining Tsvangirai, Deigning the British
Posted: Saturday, July 26, 2008

Opinion & Analysis
July 26, 2008
The Herald

LISTENING to the MDC officials talk, you cannot miss that party's wish to be viewed and accepted as a party of major thresholds.

It views itself as the herald to great good things about to visit our country.

It speaks of the suffering, the impoverished, the traumatised, speaks of "exit points" to the current "crisis", but seemingly without any hint at the taunting irony underpinning these convoluted self-claims.

Apart from being the cause of the present crisis facing Zimbabwe, the party does not seem to recognise its all-British company, its all-sanctions agenda. One can hardly visualise any sadder pretension to millenarian personality than this. Even more worrisome is the mental state of the voter MDC is angling to catch with such fulsome claims. The politics of the MDC imply a credulous voter, one readily willing to suspend painfully begging questions, indeed one ready to ignore outward fact.

On its part, I hope the MDC does not believe self-flattery is the way out of its existential dilemma, a dilemma whose consequences it may now find harder to defer, let alone escape, after what happened on Monday. Henceforth, it has no choice but to answer foundational questions from an insistent and extraordinarily wary interlocutor.

While everyone was focusing on the larger and often humour-packed drama of the Monday MoU signing ceremony, very few noticed very significant auguries in and around the venue. How many, for instance, noticed that Tsvangirai received swapped briefcases with one of his minions, just before the signing? The briefcase he got for the ceremony held a speech he attempted to own and read with such striking unfamiliarity. Whose speech was it; whose ideas did it contain? After all, he had shown real reluctance to address the audience.

Out, out brief Scott and Rabitsch

More frighteningly, did anyone see two white men who fought so hard to access the venue, and the MDC leader, until they were emphatically frustrated and stopped by security? One was Keith Scott, the British Embassy's intelligence officer whose official cover nomenclature is "first secretary". The other was Armin Rabitsch, again whose cover title is "Elections and Democracy Expert" of the European Union. He "works" from the EU House.

What was the mission of the two men and why was it so important as to summon their combined belligerence? Are they part of the MDC-T human paraphernalia, part of the MDC cosmopolitan colour mix? I leave Scott for a while, noting though that he is also in charge of the Embassy's communications, possibly in recognition of the highly mediased British assault on Zimbabwe.

They have signed the wrong document!

I focus on the so-called elections and democracy expert of the EU. A rather simple and depthless man attempting a game on a complex pitch of politics, Rabitsch (Rubbish for short and simple!) was duly baited by a copy of the signed MoU, whereupon receiving and scanning through it, he gave the game away by exclaiming: "They signed the wrong document! Representatives of negotiating parties should have been five, not two."

You could not miss the consternation on the face of this white child of the emperor. Haggard, hair tousled, he withdrew to a corner meant for Rainbow guests, all under the watchful gaze of you-know-who. He whipped out a shrivelled and heavily finger-printed (from repeated references) piece of paper from his jacket which he furiously began comparing with the copy of the just signed MoU, paragraph by paragraph, point by point, word by word, oblivious to the watching Zimbabwean world.

Clearly there were variances, glaring variances that seemed to spell doom for him and the complex web of interests he minds in this country. All had been lost, or so it seemed. He cut a very lonely and resigned figure, simply overwhelmed by his own impotence, against another whirlwind turn in Zimbabwe's shifty politics.

So many questions, no answers

You are assailed by many questions. Which draft should the principals of the negotiating parties have signed? From where; from whom? Why did this outsider boy seem to know what was correct and possibly right for us, we the bereaved? Why were the emerging variations between the two documents such a horror for Mr Rubbish and Mr Kitty Scotchy?

What is more, is it sheer coincidence that among the issues MDC-T sought to reopen for negotiation just before the signing, was item 3 to do with representatives of each party to the talks, the same item which triggered a Rubbish yell? Why would the British, the EU and the MDC seek an enlarged team of negotiators to the talks? And why would all the representative negotiators to the talks – including those from MDC-T – unanimously reject the proposed enlargement, once put before them by the facilitator? Surely Biti and Mangoma would have been familiar with such a request from their party and backers, and would have exercised their obligation to push for its acceptance in the hastily convened pre-signing talks?

Would this suggest contradictions within the MDC and between these officials and those driving the British, European and American agenda? When one recalls that the two officials had to turn to Welshman Ncube and Priscilla Misihairabwi (the other neglected barrel this time!) when they sought to persuade Tsvangirai to sign the MoU, the plot simply thickens.

What is worse, MDC-T had a meeting of its executive last Thursday, ahead of the Monday signing. Are we sure the media have reported all that happened in that meeting, including tracing fractures within MDC-T, worsened by the Thursday meeting focused on whether or not to sign the MoU with Zanu-PF? More important, how do all these dynamics enable or disable the inter-party dialogue? What are the threats? What are the prospects?

Returning to old wine, old bottle-skins

I notice the media have been fixated on the timetable of the talks, unanimously concluding the time frame is unrealistic. Frankly, time is a non-issue, and, sadly, one reminding us yet again that the media are an industry of misleading recency, a profession where there is mutual agreement to annihilate memory and history, all to the combined detriment of the unwary reader. Nothing – not an iota – of what is in the MoU is new or undiscovered among the negotiating parties. Nothing – not an iota – of what is in the MoU was not debated on, with agreed positions adopted in the marathon discussions that took the whole of last year, right up to the March polls.

Including a draft constitution – made, adopted and ready – which the two MDCs decided to abuse in order to avoid signing the more binding comprehensive political declaration which the British did not want signed at all. And also hoping to dodge or defer the March poll. The declaration would have got both MDCs to affirm the correctness and irrevocability of land reforms, as well as British obligations to the resolution of that vexed question; would have affirmed the sanctity of Zimbabwe's sovereignty; would have rejected sanctions and other forms of Western intrusions, including pirate radio stations.

Needless to say, such a declaration would have ousted the tenuous moral string on which British neo-colonial designs here hang. More immediately, and especially for MDC-T, the declaration would have amounted to a vote against themselves, a conclusive resolution of an existential dilemma through suicide. Needless to say, that would not have made sense ahead of the harmonised elections which both MDCs were not quite ready for, even without realising that Zanu-PF, for all its unjustified confidence, was in a far worse position of readiness.

A moment to fornicate

I would daresay a number of issues, particularly those to do with communication, were, in fact, moved forward from the draft constitution, into current law, and this on the eve of the campaign period. There is a draft constitution already, agreed to also, which got mothballed ahead of the elections. So there is nothing new or un-agreed in what is in the MoU.

What may be new and a clear nuisance is the propensity to reopen negotiations on old matters and agreements. Even then, that would not suggest too short a timeframe; merely too long a foreplay by those forgetful they are stealing a moment to fornicate! Which is why I think real focus should be on which limbs balance, intertwine or penetrate in this dance of macabre dalliance.

Kicking out the British

Apart from its photogenic and gastronomic value, the real significance of the meeting between President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai is that the two men tucked out the British from between them. The meddlesome British. The failure of Scott and Rabitsch to access the venue, influence the content and obtain on their terms the final documentation of the Monday ceremony, may have been very symbolic of how well sequestered from disruptive intrusion the beginning of the accommodation process (which is what it is now that substantive issues were long thrashed) was.

Judging by the appetite for more (the two men shared lunch) meetings which Tsvangirai has developed, it is clear something of a transfiguration happened in that small suite on Floor 17 of the Rainbow.

Phased declaration of war against Independence

But the risks of recidivism in Tsvangirai abound, which takes me to the real threats to the process. The largest threat comes from red-hot anger in London and Washington, less so some European capitals which had joined in the fight in the hope of delivering a good turn to the British. Chapter 7 of the UN Charter under which Britain, through the US and smaller states which sponsored the resolution against Zimbabwe in the Security Council, is a war segment of the UN Charter.

Britain was and is ready to go to war over Zimbabwe, against Zimbabwe. The resolution was meant to be a phased declaration of war, adorned with a patina of international legitimacy. Had the resolution succeeded, Britain would have fought a second colonisation war here, in the full joy of a UN mandate. It, thus, would have been a righteous war to unrighteous ends. That means the UN would have been complicit in inaugurating Berlin Conference 2, with itself in the chair that Bismarck occupied at the turn of the 19th Century.

It would have started a new phase and wave of recolonisation, of which Zimbabwe would have been the opening salvo. Through that one resolution, the UN would have edited all its anti-colonial resolutions that gave focus and impetus to liberation forces in Africa, Asia and Latin America in the name of a cardinal value of the UN Charter: self-determination. Ironically, Russia and China, which in Western propaganda terms are bastions of autocracy, stepped in to save the UN Charter from its marauding Security Council, and a strangely ululating Secretary General.

Telegraphing British hostility

But the message had gone home. Britain was and is ready for a dire decision against Zimbabwe. And this filtered through its media for the greater part of the week. Illustratively, the British Telegraph, itself a breath away from those who really govern England, dismissed the Monday event as "a disgraceful solution" for Zimbabwe (for Britain?)". Claiming the agreement "legitimised Mugabe's shameful flouting of the democratic process", the paper added the only person gladdened by the breakthrough would have been "South Africa's unimpressive president, Thabo Mbeki".

You cannot miss the royal rage, made madder by a recognition that "the wider international community (read Britain and America) would have little option but to look impotently on". With Mugabe and Tsvangirai sharing lunch and thoughts, Britain and her overriding interests were temporarily impotent, which is why the Telegraph bemoans the fact that "any sanctions against Mugabe and his henchmen would have to be abandoned".

The question is whether the British are permanently shut out. The Telegraph had the temerity to offer advice to Tsvangirai: "Mr Tsvangirai should not accede to such a one-sided settlement. The starting point for any power-sharing agreement is that it should recognise the result of the first, contested, presidential, election. That would require Mugabe's removal from the presidency and his replacement by Mr Tsvangirai. Any deal that does not recognise the democratic wishes of the people of Zimbabwe will not be worth the paper it is written on."

Well, well, well! Exactly, which is why no serious person gave regard to the British deal here, so succinctly spelt out by the Telegraph. It is a deal which does not recognise the supreme law here, implying securing British interests must, in fact, be our law as a neo-colony of the British. March gave Tsvangirai an early lead. June gave President Mugabe the conclusive win which yielded the Presidency for him. This Tsvangirai appears to have finally understood and appreciated on Monday, with his suggestion (and it's a mere suggestion he put to the President) for a 19th Amendment to the Constitution indicating a shying away from his initial British-inspired obduracy and fixation with the penultimate March polls. This may mark the beginning of Tsvangirai's second liberation, brought about by the man who is his father's age mate, the man he delights in reviling on behalf of the West.

Temptations of government-in-exile

The British are all out to wreck the project towards settlement here, and much rests on how well they are kept out, both by the MDC and the facilitator. The demand for an expanded mediation team and an expanded negotiating team is a search for opportune fissures for massive disruptions. Now that Tsvangirai is about to get a new passport to enable him to participate in the forthcoming meeting of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security in Angola, he will have to resist the tempting idea of leaving the country to launch a government-in–exile, which for the British is a precursor to insurgency here, and more forays into the Security Council.

It will be a ruinous route to follow, one which would bring personal grief to Tsvangirai. After Monday, his best chances are with President Mugabe, ironically enough. The Russians have a brilliant idea. Sanctions should be applied on whoever stalls talks, including MDC-T and those hostile thoughts obstructing the course of a peaceful settlement.

Flutter in both dove-coats

The other threat – no doubt minor – comes from all the parties. Both the British and Americans are mulling reconfiguring the opposition here, once the two MDCs join Zanu-PF. Expectedly not everyone will have a place in the sun, in the new agreement. Those inside Zanu-PF who would not dare do what foolhardy Dabengwa did, but are known to have been sympathetic to Makoni, would sulk if it turns out – for reasons of sheer practicality – that they are not absorbed. The British expect this to be the nucleus of a new opposition movement, alongside embittered elements from both MDC-T and MDC-M.

And MDC-T seems set to suffer serious fractures, which I will not go into this week. Noteworthy, too, is evident angst in the old Zapu fold, one well founded in the concern that a new agreement with the two MDCs, would topple or relegate the 1987 Unity Accord. Fortunately, this is needless worry, given that the ruling party has made the 1987 Unity Accord a non-negotiable principle which will continue to shape and influence the composition of the Presidency.

Restoring the charity clause

What to do with the Mutambara group, that is the embarrassing but easy question. Embarrassing to both MDCs, but triggering massive gloating within Zanu-PF. Soon after the end of the 20 racial seats provided for under the Lancaster House Constitution as given us by the British, Zanu-PF – no doubt with remarkable nation-building foresight – turned those seats into special seats appointable by the President. The idea was to ensure inclusive structures of governance, which is how minority groups have always had a place in our structures.

However, these powers were severely pared down at last year's talks, all on the insistence of both MDCs. Mugabe can no longer abridge the people's will, they howled triumphantly, one eye pitying the supposedly eunuch-ed president. They relished the moment. Still in that din of ill-fated joy, Goche and Chinamasa were humane enough to remind Welshman Ncube that Matabeleland was, in fact, the biggest beneficiary of this provision in the electoral law. No, the learned professor and his colleagues would have none of it. The powers had to go, and go they did! Hardly six months down the victory, those powers are badly needed, badly needed by especially (excuse my broken syntax for emphasis) Welshman and his group in leadership, all of them killed and wiped out by the same democracy in whose name they pared down the charitable provision with such reckless ho-la-la-la! That is the difference between experience and knowledge, between mid-eighties and early fifties.

The Brown man at it again

Mandaza is at it again. With the money for Mavambo finished, the man wants new benefactors. To get these, he has to improve his appeal. And the benefactors are Western donors who will pour billions for any jibe at Zanu-PF. Those who were with Mandaza in the now defunct publishing project will tell you how throughout the ownership fight, the man would politically and legally catwalk to gain the notice of Western benefactors. He had to prove he was deeply anti-Zanu-PF to win Western donor approbation. His latest target is Joyce Kazembe, vice chairperson of the constitutional Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, herself a long-standing employee of Sapes Trust. She has to leave Sapes, we are told, because the Sapes Trust which Ibbotson Joseph dominates if not personify, accuses her of bringing it into disrepute! A Kazemba on national assignment brings disrepute to some nondescript, donor-driven NGO whose accounts books gooseflesh at the mention of the word "audit"? And Kazembe who serves a constitutional body under which Mavambo competed for power, soils the Trust the way Mandaza himself as a player in that terminal political thing, does not? And how did Professor Sam Moyo, or other regional scholars who left Sapes in such ignominy, soil it? This guy has been allowed to go too far in abusing people. Each time he wants to improve his credentials as a mendicant angling for donor notice, some scapegoat has to be found, some head has to roll! So Joyce is the coin that settles the electoral trouncing of Mavambo? And, sisi, you allow the man to defame you so openly? Why? The same week the EU crucifies you? Doesn't that make him a Brown man? Icho!


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