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Is Zimbabwe back to square one after AU summit?

July 2, 2008

zimbabwe_summit_mugabe1.jpgCan President Robert Mugabe be trusted to implement the resolution of the African Union summit calling for dialogue and a government of national unity to end Zimbabwe’s long-running crisis? According to Mugabe’s camp, he can. “The AU resolution is in conformity to what President Mugabe said at his inauguration, when he said we are prepared to talk in order to resolve our problems,” his Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told Reuters a day after the AU passed the resolution on July 1.

While opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Demoratic Change (MDC) say they have kept the door open for negotiations, he says conditions are not yet right for talks. The MDC also makes clear its objective is a transitional arrangement leading to fresh elections rather than a unity government.  The crisis could conceivably be stuck on that difference.

The summit followed Mugabe’s controversial re-election in a run-off poll in which he was the sole candidate. Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the first round but pulled out of the run-off amid violence and intimidation directed at the MDC and blamed on Mugabe’s camp. The AU resolution expressed concern about the violence.

The AU resolution clearly calls for a Government of National Unity (GNU) as opposed to demands by the MDC and Western governments for a Transitional Government. Political analyst Cheryl Hendricks of Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies makes a strong case for transitional government in Zimbabwe given the highly polarised situation in the country.

“We primarily have two polarised parties each asserting their legitimate right to rule without the prospect of settling the dispute amicably through elections in the near future,” Hendricks wrote in a paper posted on the ISS website on July 2. “The prospects of unity, given these conditions, are highly unlikley and a cobbled together GNU will be unstable.”

Here are further points to consider in relation to the AU’s resolution:

  •  The resolution upholds the mediation effort of the regional bloc SADC led by South African President Thabo Mbeki. The SADC formally appointed Mbeki to this role in March 2007 but he has been mediating in the Zimbabwe crisis since the country’s  disputed 2002 presidential election. Mbeki has been widely condemned for his policy of quiet diplomacy with Mugabe.
  • The resolution calls on the SADC to “establish a mechanism on the ground in order to seize the momentum for a negotiated solution” but it is not entirely clear what form this would take. In the case of the post-election mayhem in Kenya last December and January, the AU brought in former UN chief Kofi Annan to lead a high-powered mediation effort on the spot.
  • The AU intervened more robustly in the Indian Ocean state of Comoros when it sent a military force to back the local army to expel renegade former gendarme Mohamed Bacar who seized power in 2001 and clung on after an illegal election last year. 
  • The AU has been cool to planned further sanctions by Western governments against Zimbabwe. Many analysts believe Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown, blamed on Mugabe, and the threat of further sanctions are the most potent means to bring down his government.
  • Mbeki has openly dismissed a call by the European Union that Tsvangirai should head any transitional government, and has not disguised his dislike for solutions to the Zimbabwe crisis hatched from outside the region.

Given all the above, is the Zimbabwe crisis indeeed back to square one after the AU summit? Or has the summit produced a framework more conducive to negotiations between Mugabe and his opponents?

<b>LATEST ANALYSIS: Rebuff to Mugabe is watershed for African Union</b>


i think the mdc should sit back now and allow zimbabwe to drift into isolation and economic ruin. mbeki cant be trusted, mdc should refuse to negotiate with him there and the AU has failed to do what it will eventually have to. economics is now cleary the only real weapon against zanu intransigence. i wager the mugabe will try to buy off mdc t officials but what he really needs is to break the international deadlock. there in lies the mdc’s ace card. give it 6 months and see.

Posted by blackantelope | Report as abusive

The people of Zimbabwe’s bottom line in any MDC – Mugabe talks is; a transition government (6 – 8 months max) which will draw a new democratic constitution and then hold free and fair elections. Tsvangirai it seems understand this; although Zimbabweans would be very foolish to trust him because in the past he has failed to hold the line when push comes to shove.

Mugabe’s bottom line is that he remains in power at any and all cost- as he has shown so graphically. As far as he is concerned “Only God will remove me!”

President Thabo Mbeki’s problem as the mediator in the talks was how to square the round hole. It was his folly that turned a difficult task into an impossible one. He deluded himself and Mugabe that the latter’s bottom line was ever attainable. It is nonsense to hold elections whose result is predetermined!

A solution that will have Mugabe holding any position of power and influence now is simply a pipe dream. The people of Zimbabwe must now apply themselves to the difficult task of removing the cancer of corruption and repression which lies at the very heart of the nation’s economic melt down and political paralysis. That of course will never happen as long as Mugabe continues to protect the cancerous dictatorship he spawned.

Zimbabwe can really ill afford to wait a day for an effective and competent regime to start addressing the nation’s problems. Will, however, do so for 6 – 8 months maximum to carryout the important task writing a new constitution, etc. But not just to appease Mugabe.

Mugabe must be told in no uncertain terms that he is finished, he is history, and he must go. And go he will!

Posted by Wilbert Mukori | Report as abusive

I agree with you blackantelope, let MDC should stand firm agaisnt the decision of this government of unity nonsense.Let the ZANU PF rule as long as it lives ….let it till we all drop dead

Posted by Nomalanga | Report as abusive

The only way we will see change is to penalise Mugabe’s allies, particularly South Africa (blame Thabo Mbeki). The 2010 World Cup should rather be held in England. If Africa won’t sort out this African problem then I call for sanctions to be imposed by the UN and the West on all countries with close ties with Zimbabwe. Stop the killing! Stop the maiming and mutilation! No more abuse and human rights violations from this arrogant murderer and dictator and his brothers in arms. If this were Ian Smith, or for that matter any white ruler, would the world allow this behaviour to continue? Where are the Anti-Apartheid activists now? Is this behaviour any better than apartheid? He is a racist and a murderer. Let the Hague deal with him. Countries like Zambia, Kenya and Botswana should be rewarded for speaking out against this monster. If the Africa and the world at large can “interfere” in South Africa to bring an end to Apartheid then they can do the same in ending this racism and bring about peace and stability in Zimbabwe.

Posted by white african | Report as abusive

Maybe the most interesting thing I’ve found about Mugabe’s support is a detail published at Zimbabwetoday, saying that when the shipment of arms was turned away from ports in S. Africa and Namibia, there were 20 Chinese troops deployed in Mutare. Here’s a quote:

The Chinese, witnesses say, patrol in full uniform, and carry pistols, and their sudden appearance has terrified some local residents. The unit formed part of a heavy security deployment in the city centre, used to crush the MDC’s nationwide strike designed to force the release of the election results.
The Chinese Embassy in Harare has denied any knowledge of Chinese troops in the area, and has suggested that they might be a privately-hired force, there to protect the interests of local Chinese-owned companies.
The Chinese unit is believed to be accommodated in the Holiday Inn in the centre of Mutare. Their behaviour in the hotel has caused comment amongst the hotel employees.
One told me: “It was a great shock when they checked in, wearing full military regalia and carrying pistols openly. They don’t allow us access to their rooms for cleaning purposes, and they do not eat here, although they have paid for full accommodation including meals.”


The Foreign Expert

China’s role in Africa has not been for the benefit of the ordinary Africans but the corrupt and oppressive ruling elite. Granted the Chinese regime has treated its own people any better, elections there say it all. Not that it makes me, as an African who has suffered their meddling, feel any better.

Mugabe loves rambling on and on about neo-colonialism, part of his anti-West and anti-British rhetoric. Well in China; there is the case of neo-colonialism of the kind Africa can do without. Of course Mugabe has not only said nothing critical about China he sings their praise- the hypocrite!

The tide is turning Africa’s corrupt leaders are on their way out. China can not continue to prop up Africa’s dictators by selling them ship load of weapons and think it can still continue to deal with Africa regardless. The new regime in Zimbabwe will, no doubt, review all Chinese contracts awarded by the Mugabe regime and cancel all the dodgy deals.

Posted by Wilbert Mukori | Report as abusive

It is rather dissapointing to hear that AU calling for a goverment of national unity. In so doing they are making a process which they themselves had said was illegitimate legitimate by recognising that in deed there is a Mugabe Goverment.
If AU had stood its ground, they should have expelled Mugabe from the meeting to go and sort out its mess.

Its worth noting that in March mugabe gannered less than 1300000 votes or something close to that. After all the violence and poor voter turnout there is no way he could have gannered more than 2300000 votes. In fact dont be surprise that the figures were 230000 against MDC 243000.
Morever observers report that the in some polling stations where there were 3000 registered voters on the polling day 15000 voters casted their votes.

In simple terms MDC stand that it only recognises the march 2007 results is justified and its high time Mugabe and his cronies leave the office.
Analyze his words when he was being sworn in by the CJ he did mean a word from what he was reading then how dare he now say that he is ready to negotiate.

AU should make good its mandate and guide the Africa continent to good governance and democracy.

Posted by Phil. Omondi | Report as abusive

“International force is needed in Zim”, G Brown has just said, i do not think we need to go back to square one this way.

Posted by Nomalanga | Report as abusive

African problems need African solutions. Any outsider who try to impose a solution will not work. Let the Zimbabweans sit together and get them to start talking to each other and stop beating each other. Let the South Africans incourage them to negotiate. Zimbabwe was a beautiful and prosperous country, at one time the Zim$ was almost one-to-one with US$. I am sure a turnaround is possible, but extraordinary efforts are required. Mugabe might have misruled Zimbabwe to a great extent, but he is also a hero of Independence struggle and stood up against the white minority rule of Ian Smith. There is a need to engage Mugabe and convince him to be a stateman like Nelson Mandela and hand over the leadership to some competent people. Mugabe could still play a great role even if he is not President anymore. Major world countries including Britain and US must drop sanctions and invest (FDI-Foreign Direct Investment) in Zim and help the country out of economic crisis. Criticizing Mugabe and sanctions are not the answers.
Good Luck Zimbabwe!!!
Sunshine will return.

Posted by UMPK | Report as abusive

Some small factual corrections for UMPK.

1. Zimbabweans are NOT beating each other. It is one group of Zimbabweans (Zanu Pf) using its own militias and the state security forces that is killing, beating and terrorising fellow Zimbabweans.

2. Mugabe is not actually the great independence hero that you might think. He came to power in Zanu through sheer political cunning and undertook an effective “coup” of the party. He is also widely believed to have been responsible for the murder of Josiah Tongogara the enormously popular military commander of ZANLA on the eve of independence.

I am afraid that the blood on Mugabe’s hands goes back a long way…to use his own words “I have degrees in violence!”. How can one sit down with someone who says that “the bullet is mightier than the ballpoint pen”!

Yes the sun will return…but only when Zimbabwe is safe from the clutches of Mugabe and Zanu Pf. Unfortunately it cannot be left up to “good luck’ either. It is time for all good people and their governments all over the world to say “Mugabe be gone with you”.

Posted by Tashinga | Report as abusive


You mean well I am sure, but please try to understand that it not a matter of “start talking to each other and stop beating each other” because all the talking and all the beating is being done by one side- Mugabe.

Most of Zimbabwe’s print and its entire electronic media are totally controlled by Mugabe so it is only his propaganda the people hear. People have been forced to remove all satellite dishes so the country is completely cut off from the rest of the world.

As for the beating Mugabe is using the whole state security machinery to do that. Victims of the current wave of violence and murder have turned to the Police for protection only to be handed back to the thugs. Some have tried fighting back and those who lived were arrested; accused of instigating violence. The Police themselves are guilty of serious human rights violations. The difference between a Police Officer and a Zanu PF thug is now academic.

The only outcome of any talks, as far as Mugabe is concerned, is that he should be allowed to rule until “God alone removes him from Office!” On 27 June he forced the electorate to “elect” him and still he is not happy. Why because everything round him is turning to dust. Well it his own failed and corrupt rule that has pushed the country’s economy into total melt down. So it not the people and certainly not God who is forcing Mugabe out of Office; he is doing it all himself. Give a monkey a long rope and he will hang himself with it!

What the people of Zimbabwe are asking from the rest of the world is condemnation of Mugabe and pressure to end his rule. There is a lot the outside world can do and should have done years ago!

The argument that any outside solution will not work is a worn out excuse to do nothing. A few months ago, South African workers refused to off load a Chinese ship loaded with weapons for the Mugabe regime. That unselfish act surely, surely saved many innocent Zimbabwean lives.

Posted by Wilbert Mukori | Report as abusive

As Mugabe cares not a damn about what anyone else says all reports quoting him should begin with “Well bug-a-me, …”

Posted by Stewart | Report as abusive

By the state of Zimbabwe I think Mugabe didn’t just “might have misruled Zimbabwe to a great extent”, he definately has raped and pillaged his country. “A hero of Independence”, are they free of tyranny, violence, political discrimination now? Sure indigenous Zimbabweans were probably oppressed under white rule, but what is the difference now? Is it ok because the ruler has the same colour tan as those he his oppressing? How ironic, Mugabe dresses like a white man, lives like a white man and is so anti white. Mugabe is typical of selfish 10 year old bully with pathetic hangers on who bash defenceless toddlers because they can and do it so no-one sees. Except Mugabe is in a position where he and his bully mates are a danger to the community. Someone like that will never bow down to anyone he thinks is ‘less than him’. (Anyone who isn’t ‘black’ and like him). Mugabe still has many people fooled into thinking he actually cares for Zimbabwe as a country and the people within that country. How much further will Zimbabwe have to sink before the world realises any attempts to reason with Mugabe and insance ZANU-PF are futile. Hang on, look at the state of BURMA, Somalia, the list goes on… Zimbabwe is still looking o.k. just….

Posted by Conscientious Observer | Report as abusive

I refer to the latest news of Mugabe demanding that the Opposition must drop its claim for power and threatening Zimbabwe’s neighbours who dared to criticise him at the AU. This is really intolerable.

I hope President Thabo Mbeki and all the rotten egg heads at the AU Summit who supported and appeased Mugabe when they should have been firm with him are happy now. Mugabe is not the sort of individual not to be appeased, he will see that as a weakness and, like all cowards, he thrives on others’ weaknesses.

What Mugabe wants out of the political talks with MDC is a white wall. All real political power is to remain firmly in his hands. He is a megalomania who has already shown will kill to stay in power and to ensure the truth about him is not divulged. Zimbabweans are dying to end his rotten political system which has pushed the national economy into new world records and inflation soaring into the stratosphere. Never mind his ego, maintaining the status quo is simply not an option Zimbabweans can even consider for one second!

Once again this is not the time for indecision; it is time for firm and decisive action all round. The people of Zimbabwe should take mass action; mass stay-away is the best course for three reasons: 1) an public gatherings will only be met with brutal force. Mugabe is already on a war footing and we do not want to give him the excuse to escalate it. 2) the economy is Mugabe’s greatest weak point. He has been relentless on the political front because he knows; if he eased there the next everyone would be talking about is the economy. And there he has no answers.

The West and G8 countries should freeze some of the aid given to AU and SADC countries that continue to prop up Mugabe economically and politically. Direct pressure will force these African countries to act more responsibly it their dealings with Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe is the archetype villain who will go down quietly; he has to go down with all his guns blazing. He is itching for a fight; we must give him no excuse to start one. He is getting restless and shrill in his demands to be president; the answer must remain an unequivocal NO! Followed by a firm and unequivocal GO!

Posted by Wilbert Mukori | Report as abusive

Mugabe is a despot and should not be in power. He has butchered and bloodied his own people in order to stay in power. Mbeki has proved totally useless by being Mr Nice and not criticising Mugabe, and the AU has proved to little better that a talk shop with no real teeth.

As usual, Afica expects the west to finance it but will not help itself with definitive action against those who murder their own. This is not a colonial power killing or subjugating the locals, it is fellow blacks doing it! All to stay in power regardless of the cost in lives or the deterioration of democracy.

Zimbabwe is now the basket case of the world. Far worse that Noth Korea and with a leader who is more deluded, egomaniacal and sadistic that any before him, including Hitler.

Posted by travlboi04 | Report as abusive

yes we mighty blame mugabe but at this stage i don`t see it having something to do with him at most, those who are around him knows that if he goes there are going to be jailed for the evil things there have done . so there giving pressure on him to stay in power as long as he can with there support in rigging the votes intimidation and all sorts things.we need young leaders now in africa.mugabe should go to the care homes. he has nothing left in him

Posted by mudhenge stany | Report as abusive

one important aspect of the recent deal of 21 July 2008 is having the UN and AU as part of the mediation process. this article delves into how impartial mediation is crucial: -affairs/2008/07/16/world-cup-of-failed- politics/


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