[Marxism] Proposal by Mbeki foresees transition of power from Mugabe. His forces seek to hang on.
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun Jul 6 21:41:00 MDT 2008
South African peace plan for Zimbabwe given qualified welcome by
Mugabe to be titular head under Mbeki proposals
Tsvangirai would be prime minister until new polls
Chris McGreal in Harare The Guardian, Monday July 7, 2008 Article history
South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, has presented a plan to Zimbabwe's
political leaders that would allow Robert Mugabe to remain as a titular head
of state but surrender real power to the opposition leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, who would serve as prime minister until a new constitution was
negotiated and fresh elections held.
A senior opposition Movement for Democratic Change source, who has read the
document, told the Guardian that Mbeki had sent the plan to Mugabe and
Tsvangirai and that it was generally welcomed by the MDC.
The opposition believes the proposal appears to represent a recognition by
Mbeki - whom Tsvangirai had previously accused of "colluding with Mugabe to
play down the deepening political crisis" - that the Zimbabwean president's
power is crumbling. But the MDC remains suspicious of Mbeki and is demanding
that the African Union be a party to any deal to ensure it is adhered to.
The proposal nonetheless adds to growing international pressure on Mugabe,
who has said that while he is prepared to talk to the opposition, it must
first recognise that he is the legitimately elected president and will
Mbeki's spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga, said he could neither confirm nor
deny that such a document exists.
Nigeria is the latest African government to condemn last month's
presidential election, in which Mugabe claimed 90% of the valid votes after
a military-led campaign of violence against the opposition.
Leaders of the Group of Eight industrialised countries are expected to
consider taking "measures" against Zimbabwe, according to the host of this
week's summit, the Japanese prime minister, Yasuo Fukuda. A US official said
Washington expected the G8 to "strongly question the legitimacy of
The British foreign secretary, David Miliband, speaking after meeting
Zimbabwean refugees in Johannesburg yesterday, said the crisis in their
country was "infecting the whole of southern Africa".
"No one who meets the people here could do anything other than redouble
their efforts to secure international consensus that the Mugabe regime is
not a legitimate representation of the will of the people of Zimbabwe," he
said. He called for international backing for a US proposal at the UN
security council for sanctions against Zimbabwe's leaders.
The MDC source said the party leadership found itself in surprising
agreement with much of what Mbeki was proposing, describing it as an
important shift from what the opposition described as his previous positions
aimed at propping up Mugabe.
The source said "all the basic ideas of the MDC are there", including a
recognition of the results of the first round of elections in March won by
Tsvangirai. That would be met by making the MDC leader an executive prime
"The important thing is that it recognises the outcome of the March 29
election, and that any government will be transitional on the way to new
elections," the source said.
He said the opposition recognised it would have to make concessions, and
that allowing Mugabe to remain as a titular president was acceptable if it
laid the ground for a new constitution and a fresh vote. But there are
important areas of difference with Mbeki, particularly an MDC demand for an
African Union mediator to work with the South African leader, and for the AU
to act as a guarantor of any agreement. There have yet to be formal
negotiations on the proposal.
Mbeki flew to Harare on Saturday for a meeting requested by Tsvangirai. But
the MDC leader pulled out when, according to the opposition, he was called
at short notice by the South Africans to a meeting with Mbeki and Mugabe at
the presidential offices in Harare.
Tsvangirai was concerned that going to the state house would be seen as
conferring recognition on Mugabe as the legitimately elected president. The
MDC also feared that such a meeting would be used by Mbeki to persuade AU
and G8 leaders that he was on top of the crisis and there was no need for
further international pressure or intervention.
Some of the opposition's fears proved founded when the leader of a breakaway
MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, was invited to the meeting and pictured on
the front of the state-controlled press yesterday smiling and shaking hands
with Mugabe. Mutambara holds the balance of power in the newly elected
parliament. He had previously said his MPs would back Tsvangirai, but there
is clearly a concerted effort by the government to get him to side with the
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