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Friday, 6 July 2007

Mbeki's rehabilitation of Zanu PF!!!


By Mthulisi Mathuthu


Last updated: 07/03/2007 19:27:42

PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki's image today is that of a centrist, intolerant and cold manager. So widely-held is the view that very nearly all his biographers and critics have identified traces of authoritarianism in his administrative style, so much so that it will be difficult to suspect a hatchet job.
His mistrust for the media, his refusal to open up to new ideas on how to go about tackling the Zimbabwean crisis and his persistence on his so-called 'quiet diplomacy' while the crisis deepens, have all conspired to lend credence to the sorry image.
As the talks between the Zimbabwean belligerents got underway recently, Mbeki's sorry image cast its shadow over the whole enterprise sending the signal that this could be yet another waste of time.
Instead of the whole enterprise becoming a collective, inclusive drive towards a better Zimbabwe with Mbeki leading the discourse, it has already diminished into a shadowy exercise exhibiting directly, his personal attitudes, moods, views and flaws.
To kick-start an exercise of such a magnitude and importance with an individual's character holding sway is to fail at the outset.
The reports last week that a media black-out had been imposed on the Zimbabwe talks were enlightening as they were disturbing. What this means is that Mbeki -- a person who relishes in working in the shadows and mistrusts journalists -- is not only playing a midwifery role but is already going to be the outcome himself.
To say the media blackout is meant to forestall a Zanu PF boycott is very difficult to fathom. This is a snake-oil attitude of Mbeki and his soul-mate Mugabe who over the years have demonstrated deep dislike for open criticism from the opposition and what they view as the 'liberal media'.
To want to muzzle the media in the middle of such an important story is a demonstration that while the idea to bring the parties together is modern, the tools and spirit employed to achieve this all belong to the earlier era.
Those who have spoken to diplomats will agree that it has always been Mbeki's view that what is obtaining in Zimbabwe requires no regime change but re-organisation. It is a revolution that slightly went off-track and the remedy would be to reform Zanu PF.
Sources speak of how Mbeki has lined up Zanu PF reformists such as Dr Ibbotson Day Mandaza as consultants on how to proceed on the issue.
To Mbeki, the likes of Welshman Ncube and Morgan Tsvangirai would do well to join Zanu PF. They are the rebels who should be readmitted and not politicians with a different world view seeking an electoral mandate to steer the ship through the un-navigated waterways.
The 1987 Unity Accord between PF Zapu and Zanu PF was enough and its only mistake was that it left out the young revolutionaries, Mbeki reasons. MDC was occasioned by the frustration of the young revolutionaries whose upward mobility was thwarted by the unyielding seniors.
So Mbeki's approach would be to convince Mugabe to create space for the new blood and prepare for the party's continuation after he has left. In achieving this, Mbeki would have killed two birds with one stone.
He would have beaten back the internal threats to the ANC and he would have secured his legacy and cancelled any feelings that his quiet diplomacy was a charade.
Mbeki, who wants to be known as intellectual is on a mission to secure his legacy as a man who stopped the neo-liberal push for the destruction of the liberation parties. He wants to renew their hold on the body-politic by merging the young radical blood and the old blood and set an example for the whole region.
He is not just in a laboratory to carry out a study, but is in the dark room to work out his alchemy -- mixing deadwood with new blood. So Zimbabwe is the right place to start because it has a ruling party that has refused to yield and has a strong opposition with a huge following.
From the outset, Mbeki's agenda is at variance with the aspirations of Zimbabweans as he seeks to preserve the revolutionary aspirations and to renew his own party back home while the Zimbabweans hope for a new dispensation free from the 'locust class' mentality of the post-liberation aristocracy.
That is why he should work in the shadows with no journalist reporting on his attempts to reform Zanu PF. If the CODESA talks that brought about a new South Africa were almost under the full glare of the media, why shouldn't journalists cover the Zimbabwean talks?
Another development of concern has been that right from the outset President Mbeki's personal miscalculations and confusion are proving to be determinant factors in the talks.
As is well-known it has always been his view that the Zimbabwean story is a racial drama and Mugabe who knows all too well that he is himself the problem long identified that stupidity on Mbeki's part and is exploiting it to the fullest.
That is why Zanu PF's submissions are coined in such a manner so as to strike a chord with Mbeki.
Just listen to the poppycock: The MDC must "drastically re-orientate its attitude towards national events", stop forthwith its "promotion of violence", commit itself to the "irreversibility of land reform", "respect the country's sovereignty and its national laws", call for the lifting of sanctions, and "stop calling for outside interference in Zimbabwe's domestic affairs".
For Mugabe to proceed in this manner is an indicator that he doesn't take Mbeki and his talks seriously. It is very difficult to imagine that Mugabe himself and some of his most daft ministers believe in their submissions to Mbeki but alas the South African President has embraced them.
That is why as Mbeki sets about his job, the incumbent in Harare will crank up the gears towards repression, seizing passports of the opposition leaders, haranguing journalists, passing new communication laws to limit free expression (in resonance with the media blanket over the talks).
So Mbeki will come to a stage where he will find out that what he did was nothing but to help up carry on with his agenda.
Mthulisi Mathuthu can be contacted on e-mail:

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