Wednesday, February 19, 2003
Zimwatch: Developments - 19th February 2003, 19.34

Robert Mugabe has flown to Paris in order to join the French bid for a raised profile in Africa and display his ordure for all to see. Most warbloggers will be writing of how the cheese eating surrender monkeys are now worse than the sausage eating French flunkeys and on a par with the Belgians.

However, in Harare, the rumours continue to spread of dissatisfied elements within Zanu-PF and their secret talks with the MDC. Alistair Sparks, a noted South African journalist, has written an account of events so far, and speculates as to what happens next:

The first intriguing question is whether Mugabe was party to the plan or not. Either way, there are significant implications.

* If he was party to the plan and this comes to light, as it must do if it is true, his party and the people of Zimbabwe will know that he is ready to relinquish executive authority and his almost dictatorial powers. That will make him a lame duck President.

* If Mugabe was not party to the plan, it means both he and other party leaders now know that his two most trusted supporters, who have kept him in power through their commanding positions in the military and the ruling party, have been planning to get rid of him. In the words of Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, they are "coup plotters". This must undermine Mugabe's authority within the party as well as his own sense of personal security.

However, the plan for a national government of unity with the MDC depends upon the reaction of Tsvangirai and of the emergent factions within ZANU-PF itself.

Already at least three factions are said to be forming within ZANU-PF, and similar splits may soon appear in the military. One group, led by Solomon Majuru, who headed Mugabe's guerrilla army during the liberation war and was the first chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Force (he went under the nom de guerre of Rex Nhongo then) is said to be strongly opposed to Mnangagwa as the successor. He is said to be supported by the Minister of Defence, Sydney Sekeremayi, and Joshua Nkomo's former guerrilla commander, Dumiso Dabengwa, who joined ZANU-PF in the Nkomo merger and was then defeated in his Bulawayo constituency in the 2000 parliamentary elections. Though retired, Majuru is said to still have influence over key figures in the Zimbabwe Defence Force.

Meanwhile, the repression of Moyo continues with the arrest of a High Court Judge, Benjamin Paradza, for interfering with the course of justice; another encroachment upon the narrow window of independence left to the judiciary. The authorities have also arrested and detained an (unnamed) American diplomat at a protest leading to a strongly worded statement from the US State Department.

The last is an interesting development.


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