Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, July 14, 2005

"Normal room level speaking" Diplomacy
Morgan Tsvangarai set the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons yesterday with his comments stating that Mbeki will take a more aggressive stance on Mugabe since "he recognises that the quiet diplomacy has not produced the requisite result and therefore he cannot continue to operate in the same manner he has been operating for the last three years". If I know anything about Thabo, it's that he doesn't like surprises, and it's a sure fire way to raise his chagrin.

Sure enough, Presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo came out firing last night, saying "I don't know what Mr Tsvangirai is talking about." All this in response to the fact that new Deputy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka flew in to Harare on Tuesday for a quick visit. This, most likely, was exactly that, a chance for her to introduce herself to the Zimbabwean leadership.

I'm not sold on the fact that Mbeki is changing tack, certainly not to the extent extolled by Tsvangari. This seems like a desperate cry for relevance for Morgan Tsvangarai and the MDC, trying to rouse up some interest in the party under the force of Mugabe's boot. His call that Mugabe must "realise that he has put the country in a cul de sac and that he needs to negotiate himself out of an irreconcilable corner" seems futile and verbose, and likely to fall on very deaf ears. Tsvangarai knows that Mugabe has successfully strangled the life out of his party, and his supporters, and he needs Mbeki's support. His frustration may be at the root of what may surely turn out to be a political miscalculation.