Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Britain's slavemaster hand: Can Tsvangirai free himself from the neocolonial yoke.

A Mugabe deal could land Britain with a dilemma

The Telegraph

By David Blair
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 23/07/2008

World Stage

A Zimbabwean opposition leader, lauded for his brave struggle against
Robert Mugabe, arrives in London on an official visit as the new prime

Morgan Tsvangirai asks Britain to recognise his government and offer
millions of pounds of aid. He urges the lifting of all sanctions and
declares that Harare's era of isolation is over. Mr Tsvangirai requests
Gordon Brown's help in releasing large sums from the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund.

He returns to Harare and reports back to his boss - one Robert Mugabe.
After they formed a "government of national unity", Mr Mugabe stayed on as
president and Mr Tsvangirai became his prime minister. Now Britain faces a
cruel dilemma - recognise the government (led by Mr Mugabe) and pour aid
into its coffers (controlled by Mr Mugabe), or face the blame for economic

At present, this scenario is pure imagination and fantasy. But events
along these lines could unfold in the weeks ahead, confronting the Prime
Minister and David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, with a conundrum. Would
they recognise and fund a new Zimbabwean government that includes Mr
Tsvangirai in a senior position, but keeps Mr Mugabe as president?

The talks which opened yesterday between the opposition and Mr
Mugabe's Zanu PF party could have this outcome. President Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa is still mediating between the two sides, despite Britain's
efforts to sideline him. Senior British sources believe the talks will
probably fail. If so, London will avoid its dilemma.

But what if they do sign a deal? Aside from total failure, there are
two possible outcomes. The MDC wants a shortlived "transitional government"
leading to fresh elections, which Mr Tsvangirai would almost certainly win.

Exactly what role Mr Mugabe would play in this interim administration
is undefined. Mr Tsvangirai has resisted pressure to recognise Mr Mugabe as
rightful president. At his insistence, the two leaders conducted their
handshake inside the neutral venue of a Harare hotel, not in the
presidential office in State House, where Mr Mugabe wanted it.

Also, their "memorandum of understanding" deliberately describes Mr
Mugabe as "president and first secretary of Zanu PF", not of Zimbabwe. Mr
Tsvangirai's allies robustly declare that he will not serve as the
dictator's subordinate in any coalition government. Instead, Mr Mugabe's
role in a temporary administration before new elections would be as titular,
ceremonial president, with real executive power transferring to Mr
Tsvangirai. If this takes place, few would complain.

David Coltart, an opposition senator and one of Zimbabwe's wisest and
most humane politicians, has publicly favoured this option. For it to
happen, however, would require Mr Mugabe to transform overnight from
power-hungry despot to benign elder statesman. Having waged a ruthless
struggle to hold power, inflicting untold suffering on thousands, Mr Mugabe
would have to surrender everything at the negotiating table.

Because 84-year-old leopards rarely change their spots, this seems
unlikely. Instead, Mr Mugabe will obviously press for the second possible
outcome: a "government of national unity". This would leave Mr Mugabe in
command as president, with Mr Tsvangirai as a prime minister, able to travel
the world, securing aid and diplomatic recognition. London would be his
first stop - and Mr Brown and Mr Miliband would face their dilemma.

There is a precedent for this. When President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya
lost an election last December, he announced a fake result and stayed in
power, triggering bloodshed that claimed 1,500 lives. The killing only ended
when Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, oversaw the birth of a
unity government.

Mr Kibaki stayed on as president, despite having lost the election.
Raila Odinga, his leading opponent who actually won the poll, became prime
minister. Kenya's cabinet was doubled, so all the politicians who had lost
the election could keep their jobs - and all the winners could have jobs,
too. Most senior politicians in Kenya now enjoy ministerial office.

Britain endorsed this subversion of democracy and, astonishingly,
senior officials cite Kenya as a recent success story. If the same unfolds
in Zimbabwe, the Foreign Office will have no grounds for indignation. If
prime minister Tsvangirai shows up at Downing Street, he will doubtless ask:
"If this was good enough for Kenya, why not Zimbabwe too?"

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