[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Kremlinology in Harare
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat Mar 24 13:26:51 GMT 2007
Channel 4 (UK), 23 March
Mujuru in secret talks with S. African vice president?
By Jonathan Miller
Johannesburg - Channel Four News says it has uncovered a secret meeting
between the Zimbabwe vice president - Joyce Mujuru, a leading contender
to take over from Robert Mugabe, and the South African vice president,
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, in Johannesburg. Channel Four News’s foreign
affairs correspondent, Jonathan Miller, who was at the hotel where the
two women met, said he not know if the meeting had been sanctioned by
President Robert Mugabe, but it comes amid widespread speculation as to
the future of his presidency. Miller filed this report:
Someone important stayed in Room 301 - the presidential suite - at
Johannesburg’s Westcliff Hotel last night. We learned that a high-level
delegation of Zimbabweans was in town. Members of this delegation,
whether from Zanu PF, President Robert Mugabe's ruling party, or the
South African government, proved camera-shy. The Zimbabwean presence
here, until now, has been unreported. The delegation, we now know, led
by Joyce Mujuru, Robert Mugabe's vice president. She is heir apparent
and married to the former head of the army. Both have now fallen out
with Mugabe. As I went to talk to her, our camera was spotted by
Zimbabwean security and jumped on by South African police. Mrs Mujuru
would not be drawn; her security told other delegates not to
respond.There’s clearly a top secret mission here with the Zimbabwean
vice president and senior members of the Zimbabwean cabinet, they’re
trying to stop us filming; but the meeting is going ahead we think
they’re meeting members of the South African government.
Sure enough, round the corner, the South African Deputy President
Phumuzile Mlambo-Ngcuka arrived. Her government has been roundly
condemned for its silence over recent events in Zimbabwe. South Africa
favouring what it calls "quiet diplomacy". We sought to talk to other
delegates to find out what was on the agenda. This, looking like rather
more than a shopping trip, but as is the way with quiet diplomacy, no
noise being made about this one. The South African government eventually
confirming that the meeting did indeed take place but describing it as a
private visit by Vice President Joyce Mujuru. The government is also
making its strongest statement so far on the crisis, perhaps prompted by
Australian Prime Minister John Howard's comments that countries had been
pussy-footing around Mugabe far too much. Mugabe faces a crucial
politburo meeting next Wednesday which could determine his fate.
In Harare today, he was defiant; "Nothing frightens me," he said, "not
even little fellows like Bush and Blair. I've seen it all. I don't fear
any suffering or a struggle of any kind." But having made his people
suffer, he would find it a bit of a struggle if his southern neighbour
pulled the plug. Forty per cent of electricity there comes from South
Africa; Zimbabwe owes it hundreds of millions of rands. The lion’s share
of trade between the two countries in South Africa's favour too; then
there’s the soft loans, the investment and expertise. Zimbabwe could
totally crumble without South Africa - it adds up to a lot of political
leverage. Today’s meeting follows one between the two countries'
presidents at the African Union summit two months ago. At it, South
Africa’s Thabo Mbeki reportedly reading Robert Mugabe the riot act; he’s
said to be tough on Mugabe in private, soft in public - but it’s public
pressure the world now wants to see.
SW Radio Africa, 23 March
Joyce Mujuru in SA for crisis talks
By Violet Gonda
There was a hive of activity in South Africa Friday as leaders from Zanu
PF and the two MDC factions held separate talks with South African
government officials. Vice President Joyce Mujuru held crisis talks over
Mugabe’s leadership with her South African counterpart Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka. The two Secretary-Generals of the MDC factions, Tendai
Biti and Welshman Ncube also met the SA government Friday. SA based
foreign correspondent Andrew Meldrum said: "It cannot be a coincidence
that she (Mujuru) appeared in South Africa at the same time as the two
Secretary Generals …are also here and they have gone to Pretoria for
talks with the government." It’s believed South African President Thabo
Mbeki is trying to shake off his ‘quite diplomacy’ and instead is trying
to play a positive role by bringing all Zimbabwean sides in for
negotiations. The details of what was discussed at this preliminary
stage are being kept a secret. Biti and Ncube are said to have met the
SA government as one group and Mujuru on her own. Speculation is rife as
to whether Robert Mugabe sanctioned Mujuru’s meeting, as she leads one
of the Zanu PF factions that is believed to want Mugabe to retire.
Meldrum said; "I can’t believe that she would do anything without Robert
Mugabe’s sanction. It would get out. They would see her flying down
here. So it must be with his approval." Observers say Mugabe is being
pushed by growing pressure within the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) to negotiate. There is a feeling
that South Africa, Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner and neighbour, is
also being pushed to act by the fact that other African countries are
moving ahead on this. Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa recently likened
Zimbabwe to a sinking Titanic, Jakaya Kikwete the Tanzanian president
also called for SADC action and Ghanaian leader John Kuffour said the
situation in Zimbabwe is embarrassing. But a defiant Robert Mugabe told
his party faithfuls at Zanu PF headquarters Friday that being 83 years
old does not mean he is too old to rule. Speaking to the ruling party’s
Women’s League, Mugabe said opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will
rule over his dead body. Mugabe also vowed to survive any Western
attempts to dislodge him from power.
The Guardian (UK), 24 March
South Africans meet Mugabe's opponents and warn of 'meltdown'
Andrew Meldrum in Johannesburg
South Africa yesterday intervened directly in the Zimbabwe crisis by
meeting the country's opposition leaders for the first time in three
years and hosting separate talks with the vice-president, Joice Mujuru.
But following a week of international criticism over South Africa's
failure to intervene after opposition leaders were beaten by Zimbabwean
police, there was little hope of any immediate changes following the
talks. "It is difficult to see how a total meltdown won't take place,"
said South Africa's deputy foreign minister, Aziz Pahad, before the
talks began. He said South Africa was trying to avert catastrophe by
using "constructive diplomacy" to encourage dialogue between the
Zimbabwean government and the opposition. Mr Pahad criticised Britain
and the United States for using "megaphone diplomacy". Zimbabwean
opposition leaders from both factions of the Movement for Democratic
Change described the talks as "very positive, very encouraging". hey
said they got a good reception for their plans to draw up a new
constitution and repeal repressive laws to prepare for free and fair
elections. President Robert Mugabe was informed that the South African
officials would be meeting with the Zimbawean opposition
representatives. "This is a major breakthrough for South Africa," said a
Zimbabwean analyst, John Makumbe, in Harare. "South Africa cannot stand
by as things get worse and worse. It is finally taking the initiative to
get the ball rolling on negotiations. Unfortunately the talks will
collapse at this stage because Mugabe does not want to talk to anyone.
But now that process has started."
In Zimbabwe, however, there was no sign of a reduction in tensions as Mr
Mugabe's government warned of a further crackdown on the foreign press.
The information ministry warned journalists, specifically naming the
correspondents of two British newspapers - Jan Raath of the Times and
Peta Thornycroft of the Daily Telegraph - that it might act against
them. The government told foreign correspondents not to engage in
"peddling false stories" on security issues and threatened to clamp down
on reporters who lack government permits, the state media reported . It
said reporters should "stay away from the security forces". In
Johannesburg, Zimbabwe's Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube called for
non-violent street rallies, even if it threatened his own safety, to
force Mr Mugabe to resign. "This dictator must be brought down right now
by the people's power but not in a violent manner," he said. "If we can
get 30,000 people together Mugabe will just come down. "I would put
myself on the line. I will stand before blazing guns. But we must be
properly organised so we respond, not with fear, but with principled
non-violence." In Harare, President Mugabe continued his attacks on
Britain and the US yesterday. "Nothing frightens me, not even little
fellows like Bush and Blair. I have seen it all, I don't fear any
suffering or a struggle of any kind," Mr Mugabe, 83, said to cheers from
supporters at a meeting in the capital.
Mugabe fights for political life
Terry Leonard | Johannesburg, South Africa
22 March 2007 07:31
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is fighting for his political life in
a behind-the-scenes power struggle within his own party that could oust
him faster than street battles with a reinvigorated and determined
While hard-line elements of Mugabe's secret police and militant youth
militia step up a brutal and bloody crackdown on government opponents,
analysts said rival factions within the ruling Zanu-PF party are
plotting to force the president to step down at the end of his term next
A key test could come as early as next week at a meeting of the ruling
party's central committee, when a faction could seek to block the
president from running for another term next year.
University of Zimbabwe political analyst John Makumbe said rival
factions supporting former parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa or
Vice-President Joyce Muguru, whose husband is a powerful ex-army
commander, are confident they can prevent another Mugabe term.
"That is where the real trouble for Mugabe is. Both factions of Zanu-PF
don't want him to continue. They are united on that, but they are not
united on who to replace him with. That is when they take out their
machetes and start cutting each other's back," Makumbe said in a
telephone interview from Harare.
"For Mugabe, the end is in sight. For him to believe otherwise is
naive," added Makumbe.
Zanu-PF in 'disarray'
Christopher Dell, the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, told the
Associated Press that the ruling party is in disarray, that tremendous
pressures are building within the party because of the succession battle
and that growing numbers within the party want Mugabe to step down.
"Mugabe is a very resourceful fellow. One has to give him certain
grudging admiration for his political skills; I mean, he's managed to
stay in power for 27 years -- that's no mean feat," said Dell.
"He is far from giving up. That he has made very evident," Dell added.
"He's not prepared to go down without a fight, but he is weaker than
he's ever been before, because the economy has simply made him weaker
and because everyone recognises that he's 83 years old."
Mugabe complained in an interview broadcast on his state television last
month that top officials were jockeying to succeed him. But, he
announced: "There are no vacancies because I am still there."
Dell said there are several possible scenarios in Zimbabwe, "from the
president unilaterally declaring a state of emergency and seizing power
-- dropping the facade of democracy -- to somebody moving against him
[or] him being forced to stand down by his own party."
Disaffection with Mugabe within the ruling party, the military and
security forces stems from the country's economic meltdown, said Dell.
Annual inflation now stands at 1 730% and the International Monetary
Fund predicts it will reach 5 000% by year's end.
In just eight weeks, the exchange rate on the black market, where even
the Zimbabwe Central Bank has had to go to buy hard currency, has gone
from Z$5 000 to $1 to Z$24 000 to $1.
"I don't think we need to do much more to put economic pressure on the
government because it seems to be doing a damn fine job of ruining its
own economy," said Dell. "Let me put it this way, the government is
applying much more effective sanctions on itself than the outside world
could ever hope to craft and impose."
Makumbe said powerful businessmen allied with the ruling party know
their businesses cannot survive the economic freefall. While they may
like Mugabe, they can't afford to support him.
"While Mugabe is in office, the economy is not going to recover. Mugabe
is a liability to the national economy and his opponents know it," said
Dell said the collapsing economy has helped cause splits within the
"The fact is that, over the last 27 years, the government there has
ruled mostly by a combination of repression and patronage. As the
economy evaporates from under the government, the ability to distribute
largesse, to distribute patronage, disappears and the ability to support
the security services disappears," said Dell.
New spirit of resistance
Mugabe has used fear, violence and intimidation very effectively against
the opposition, and the people of Zimbabwe have had good reason to be
scared, the ambassador said.
"The key new element in the equation that's really become obvious over
the last 10 to 12 days is the new spirit of resistance -- some would
even use the word 'defiance' -- on the part of the people," said Dell.
"With this economic collapse, the people of Zimbabwe are being pushed to
"And they are losing their fear, despite every effort of the government
to build that fear over the last eight years. What I think we've seen
over the last week is that the people have turned a corner and they are
not afraid any more," he added.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was among those police assaulted to
break up a March 11 prayer meeting. The opposition, which split in 2005
as a faction revolted against Tsvangirai's leadership, has said it has
unified in the face of the latest violence and will continue to resist.
Mugabe has also always had some support from his African neighbours in
trying to resist international pressure for changes in his autocratic
rule. But Dell said the recent violence against the opposition has
changed the response from African governments and deepened his isolation.
South Africa issued its strongest criticism of Zimbabwe to date on
Tuesday, and others in the region have been even more pointed.
"One thing you will notice is that none of them are really speaking in
Mugabe's defence any more. There is a kind of embarrassed silence in the
region now. I think the scenes that we witnessed in the last few weeks
of the black police and security forces of an African government
assaulting its own people are too shockingly reminiscent of what
happened in South Africa in the apartheid era," said Dell.
"We will work to make sure that the isolation isn't broken, that the
regime knows that there is no way out except the well-trodden clear path
of democratic and economic reform." -- Sapa-AP
West has no 'moral authority' to speak on Zim
Johannesburg, South Africa
23 March 2007 02:14
Only fellow Africans, not the West, have the moral authority to speak
out on Zimbabwe, a leader of a faction of Zimbabwe's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) said in Johannesburg on Friday.
"We appreciate the support from Western powers but the double standards
of the West undermine our struggle ... The only ones who have the moral
authority to speak out on Zimbabwe are Africans," said Arthur Mutambara.
He was addressing a seminar on the Zimbabwean crisis organised by the
Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (Cosatu).
Mutambara illustrated the "double standards" of the West by saying
former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin
Laden were hated by the West but had been "created" by them.
But he repeated that the MDC appreciated support from Western powers.
"The only people who have a legitimate role to talk about Zimbabwe are
Africans ... Mugabe is a despot, a dictator, brutalising blacks,
brutalising whites, brutalising Africans."
Brian Raftopolous, a Zimbabwean academic now living in Cape Town, also
addressed the seminar, saying: "We need accountable sovereignty in this
region where we all account for each other ... President Thabo Mbeki now
has an opening [to intervene]. This opportunity must not be missed."
On South Africa's "quiet diplomacy" in dealing with its volatile
neighbour, Mutambara said his movement respected the country's right to
take the position it had.
"We respect the rights of the South African government ... we leave the
condemnation of the government to South Africans. We do not think it is
helpful or effective for us to condemn."
Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi said South Africa's strategy
was failing and the government should join other African countries in
condemning "the atrocities causing pain and suffering in Zimbabwe".
"The strategy is failing. Other strategies on what we can do practically
must be looked at," he said.
Vavi repeated his call for unity among opposition groups in Zimbabwe.
"It is a great tragedy that we still have two factions of the MDC," he
said. "One of the basic lessons is that without unity we cannot get
But Mutambara said the Zimbabwean opposition was "capable of working in
the trenches together to bring about change".
"Many are under the illusion that there is division in the opposition
movement in Zimbabwe, but the past two weeks have shown the world that
our core aim is to liberate our country ... we stand
a ghost of a chance as individuals," he said.
Zimbabwe, once hailed as the bread basket of Southern Africa, is on the
verge of economic collapse with the highest inflation in the world --
over 1 700% annually, shortages of basic commodities and fuel and an 80%
The Zanu-PF ruling government has become increasingly intolerant of
dissent, a situation that reached boiling point as police crushed a mass
prayer meeting on March 11, causing an international outcry. -- Sapa
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