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  Letters to the Editor
Zimbabwe: Can Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara Survive Handshake of Robert Mugabe?
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe

The situation in Zimbabwe remains bleak but recently a new and dramatic change took place, this was the sudden agreement between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai. However, for many shocked Zimbabweans they do not trust Mugabe because people remember what happened to Zapu and they fear that the MDC will also be swallowed up by Zanu (PF). So can Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara survive the deeds of Mugabe and the ruling Zanu (PF)?

If we take a step back into history and remember the situation in the 1980s, then it is clear that Mugabe and his ruling party know how to deal with complex and bloody situations. After all, the late Joshua Nkomo, who led the Ndebele people, caved in after major intimidation and Zapu became history. The same methods were used, for example around 20,000 people were killed and mass persecution took place. However, Mugabe managed to salvage the situation by out-foxing Zapu and a unity government became a one-party state, in all but name, under the power and control of Mugabe.

Therefore, the supporters of Tsvangirai and Mutambara have been beaten, abused, killed, persecuted, and marginalized. However, both opposition leaders were tenacious and they refused to give up the ghost and instead they challenged Mugabe. Yet by entering power-sharing talks and shaking hands with Mugabe, then clearly Mugabe appears to holding all the aces. After all, this could lead to divisions within the MDC who don`t agree with Tsvangirai and Mutambara. More important, it is clear that Mugabe can use all the state apparatus he needs in order to manipulate the situation.

For people on the ground they must be shattered by this outcome because many remained loyal to the MDC. Yet now the leaders of the MDC may become tainted by sharing power with Mugabe. After all, the grass root supporters of the MDC are on the frontline because many reside in grinding poverty or have been forced to flee Zimbabwe.

Also, other Zimbabweans are worried about the role of South Africa within the internal affairs of Zimbabwe. This is due to President Mbeki, the leader of South Africa, who supports a national unity government. For many Zimbabwean people, South Africa is a negative factor within the environment of Zimbabwe because Mbeki is more concerned about maintaining the status quo.

However, could it just be that Tsvangirai and Mutambara are playing their cards well? After all, the Mugabe of the 1980s was strong and many people were still behind Mugabe in this period. However, today the economy is in complete crisis and inflation is a nightmare. Also, age is catching up with Mugabe and despite him pulling the strings, it is clear that the strings have been weakened because of the negative economic situation in Zimbabwe. So maybe Tsvangirai and Mutambara are looking to the future and the natural demise of Mugabe?

Overall, it is clear that Tsvangirai and Mutambara are playing a dangerous game and the MDC could follow the Zapu route? However, it is also true that the ruling party is much weaker and Zapu did not have the overall appeal like the MDC does. Therefore, all sides may be trying to out-fox each other but it is clear that Mugabe is a dogged leader and he does know how to maintain power and control. Given this, the next six months will be crucial for Zimbabwe and Tsvangirai and Mutambara must be strong in order to prevent another "political coup" via deception.

Lee Jay Walker Dip BA MA
lee_jay_teach@hotmail.co.uk
http:journals.aol.com/leejaywalker/uk/



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Lee Jay Walker serves as Tokyo Correspondent of The Seoul Times. He specializes in int'l relations and geopolitics. He is also involved in analyst work and research on business. After finishing BA degree in East European Studies at the University of London, He earned MA degree in Asia Pacific Studies in Nottingham Trent University. He also studied business at London Institute.

 

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