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Are talks going Mugabe’s way?

August 13, 2008

Mugabe at rally in HarareIs it just me, or is Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe starting to look more confident again? At the start of power sharing talks a few weeks back he appeared distinctly grim when he and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had their historic handshake.

Mugabe shakes hands with Tsvangirai

In the past few days he has been much more his old self, lambasting the West at a speech to commemorate the dead in the liberation war, giving a national honour to George Chiweshe, who organised elections that were condemned by much of the world, and generally upbeat during three days of talks that in the end delivered no result.

Exactly what’s going on behind the closed doors is hard to fathom.

Mugabe at the talks

A top official from Mugabe’s ZANU-PF told Reuters a deal had already been done between Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway opposition faction. “Deal sealed” read the headline from the state-owned Herald. Mutambara has come out to say that no such deal has been signed but tellingly noted that “should talks fail” any party was entitled to enter bilateral negotiations.

What a deal with Mutambara might give Mugabe is the parliamentary majority that ZANU-PF lost in the elections. What it is very unlikely to give him is hope of resolving the crisis that is destroying Zimbabwe or of persuading the rest of the world that change is underway.

Tsvangirai has been fairly quiet about the negotiations, but today came out to reaffirm his commitment as long as they respect the results of the March 29 round of elections – in which Mugabe and ZANU-PF were beaten.

Allan Little of the BBC compared the talks now to the 1980s, when Mugabe managed to neutralise rival Joshua Nkomo through a power-sharing deal.

Even if Tsvangirai has strong powers in a new government, he would be up against a wily political player in Mugabe who would lose no opportunity to gain advantage.

If he enters a government with little leverage, it could put big questions over his political career and the fate of his Movement for Democratic Change.

No combination appears guaranteed to alleviate Zimbabwe’s misery.

Is Mugabe going to win out in the end or Tsvangirai? What will it mean for Zimbabwe and for the continent? What do you think?


A new constitution and fresh elections are needed otherwise harder times lie ahead of us Zimbabweans.

Posted by Alois | Report as abusive

I wonder if Arthur Mutambara was offered a farm…there have been reports that he faces a revolt in his own party as 7out of 10 MP’s don’t support his unilateral deal with Mugabe. Apparently he was offered 3rd vice president, and some of his members (who lost their seats to Tsvangirai faction) were offered potisions in government.

Posted by Nat | Report as abusive

i think talks in zimbabwe is not going help …we need bob out of that place …he needs to step down UN, AU, SADC …the future of Zimbabwe is in your hands ….


Mugabe always vowed for a one part state, his torturing of the MDC supporters diddn’t succeed(because of the media that exposed all) unlike what he did to the Ndebele’s in the early 80s when the ZAPU leader declined any position in the ZANU party, thereby killing more that 300 000 Ndebele to force Nkomo to join his party.I wonder if Tsv is aware of this.If he is then i do not think the talks will succeed anyway. if he does join the government then he will face being swallowed by Mugabe.Lets wait and see if he falls into the trap???

Posted by Eish | Report as abusive

I wonder how many people think Mugabe is negotiating in good faith? He is negotiating from a position where he views himself as the President. They should start from a position where he is on equal terms with Tsvangirai, the people of Zimbabwe voted for Tsvangirai on 29 March and he won the elction plus Mugabe knows that.

These talks will not solve the current political and economic crisis in the country if Mugabe goes ahead and form a government with Mutambara. Can anyone call that a Government of National Unity? NO!


Why is everyone so surprised? He’s doing what he always does, which is to play for time and wait for the problem to go away. The only thing he is concerned about is going to the UN General Assembly in September as supposed President of Zimbabwe. If he does go and intends to speak, then any Country that lets its representatives stay in the GA room when he enters or speaks, is publically condoning – murder, torture, genocide, rape and all human rights abuses. If he is allowed to get away with it, maybe it will be the beginning of the end of the UN, which seems to loose more and more credibility everyday now. It will be interesting to see which countries support him and people should take note for future reference.

Posted by Bennie | Report as abusive

When two of the world’s pariahs are trying to mediate a settlement in Zim, what good can possibly come from it? Mugarbage and Mbeki are both power mongers and corrupt to the bone so Tvangirai would be well advised to step out of that hyenas nest and seek his solution elsewhere.

Posted by meerkat | Report as abusive

According to the opposition, Tsvangirai has been stopped from going to the regional summit in South Africa at the weekend. E209419.html

Posted by Matthew Tostevin | Report as abusive

Tsvangirai’s greatest weakness has always been that he never seem to have a plan B.

The talks have failed because Mugabe wanted absolute power and would not give an inch. Many of us said that all along. Tsvangirai has promised that he will not “betray” us by giving in to Mugabe’s demands. It would not be the first time Tsvangirai demanded something only to eat his words soon thereafter, but put that aside. Tsvangirai must come up with a concrete plan of action to force Mugabe out of office so the nation can dismantle the dictatorship and start the important task of rebuilding the nation.

Tsvangirai, whta is you plan B?

Posted by Wilbert Mukori | Report as abusive

As long as Mbeki is involved, these talks are doomed to failure. Mbeki, far from becoming the African Statesman he had the potential of becoming, has in fact become the laughing stock of the continent, and the the whipping boy of Mugabe. Let the UN handle the talks.

Posted by Powerless | Report as abusive

How can a man like Mugabe get away with ruing his Country and be so uncaring for his people? And, why is he still wasting his people’s lives and welfare with the gobblygook talks which go on-and-on-and-on. He takes notice of no-one, It is too bad he can’t come to some decision with his opposition.

Posted by jacqueline shields | Report as abusive

Mugabe is very happy to have Morgan pull out of the deal. He never wanted him in the government anyway. By agreeing to enter the runoff, Tsvangirai agreed to nullify the March 29 result. By pulling out of the runoff, Tsvangirai surrendered to Mugabe the contest. The UN only regreted that the election were held under those conditions. Credible, yes they are, but only under Iraq and Afganstan standards which are typical of US, UK standards.

Posted by Delta Juliet | Report as abusive

Mugabe needs locking away in a high security prison for the criminally insane.

Some hope! :-(

Posted by The Truth Is... | Report as abusive

Tendai Biti was up bit that the power sharing deal with Zanu PF would be reached soon. The whole nation has waited a long time for that deal. What has always worried many people is Biti’s (and by extension MDC’s) inability to consider other options and hence their “failure is not an option” position.

Well if you have no alternative course of action; then of course it is you will have no other option! What makes it even worse, is MDC always shoot themselves in the foot by tell the whole world that they have no other plans and therefore will take whatever is offered to them.

So the nation has had to accept a situation where Mugabe always brought to the negotiation a basketful of “must have” demands. Of course he always had a plan B if the negotiations should fail- maintain the status quo. His must have demands added up to the same thing, maintaining the status quo- a heads you lose tails I win situation.

MDC should have a basket of “not negotiable” their own with items like fundamental human rights, free press, depoliticised Police and Armed Services, repossession of the commercial farms from the ruling elite, etc. These are fundamental to the rebuilding of a free, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe. They are not for Mugabe to deny or withhold- which is the status quo position – or are they for Biti, Tsvangirai, MDC or anybody to bargain away.

The trouble with MDC is they think everything; absolutely everything is open for negotiation.

“One has no business in negotiating if you are not prepared to compromise,” Biti urged.

The talks between MDC and Zanu PF have been going on for years now, ever since the disputed 2002 presidential elections. Throughout Mugabe has had what he wanted- retain absolute power-, so he was happy. It was the ordinary people who have paid dearly for this political impasse; the national economic has gone into total economic melt down and they have been repeatedly brutalised by Mugabe’s thugs.

The talks themselves have been allowed to drag on for years because MDC have shown their willingness to negotiate although there real was no basis for that given Mugabe’s totally ridiculous and unrealistic demands!

Biti, please remember that a deal that retains the status quo is NOT deal- it is a sell out!

Posted by Wilbert Mukori | Report as abusive

Robert Mugabe needs to be completely and comprehensively quashed from the Zimbabwean political and economic fiscus. These sham talks should not going on at all seeing that the result of the March 29 plebiscite has succesfully being exterminated by the Zanu-PF machinery. Morgan Tsvangirai decisively won the March 29 poll which Mugabe rigged as he has done with all elections conducted since 1980. Having Mugabe go for these vague talks is giving the dictator another chance and platform to cling on to power. It is in this light I denounce the sham talks and call on all Zimbabweans and African patriots to join hands in taking to the streets headed towards State house … Mugabe wants war so lets give it to him.

Posted by Shamba Shambamuto | Report as abusive

Will the death of Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa comfort lunatic Mugabe. Should he laugh at the untimely disappearance of a prominent critic? Anyway, it should be only for a shortwhile!

Mbeki is colluding with Mugabe and trying to pressurize Tsvangirai into accepting the lunatic Mugabe exercising executive power. Yes, the talks are biased in favour of the hero turned murder.

For how long? 11 million per cent inflation? What a geniuos is lunatic Mugabe!

Posted by Prem | Report as abusive

Mugabe is a murdering criminal with the mind of a viper: he should be locked up until he dies of old age.

The crimes he has committed are legion, and this whole farce of power sharing is stupid, ridiculous and devised by people who are morally corrupt.

Posted by The Truth Is... | Report as abusive

With plans now going ahead for the re-opening of parliament next week, the question must arise as to whether there is much hope left for talks. The opposition MDC is suggesting they would be ad good as over. Political analyst and Mugabe critic John Makumbe told Reuters that it appeared Mugabe now had the upper hand. risis/idUSLK205482._CH_.2400

Posted by Matthew Tostevin | Report as abusive


Zimbabwe needs more young and skilled leaders like Arthur Mutamabara


here is a country that at one time had a surplus of food and now its a total mess with the people taking the blunt of it all.that gov. chased all the brains out,dont give them one dime.let neighboring countries put pressure to clean house of crooks by not giving them any money either.this hotbed of raicial hatred must stop and money is not the answer,basic medical care,food and education for the poor might be a beginning but whom do you trust with the aid money

Posted by w murray | Report as abusive

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