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Diplomatic row spells end of Mugabe's iron fist reign

07 Apr 2011 at 06:51hrs | Views
LIKE IT or not, the truth is the countdown to the end of Robert Mugabe's iron fist rule of Zimbabwe has just started, albeit unofficially.
Going by reports that Mugabe had difficulties in getting off a chartered Air Zim flight to Livingstone, and that he had to use a golf cart to move accompanied by a massive entourage of 60 plus, Zanu-PF needs to act speedily and find a replacement sooner than later.
In contrast to Mugabe's huge entourage other leaders had smaller delegations. For example 12 for Jacob Zuma and only 4 for prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Ironically, the beginning of the end was signaled by Robert Mugabe himself when he attacked his long-time ally and the SADC, accusing them of interfering in Zimbabwe's internal affairs when he addressed a meeting of his Zanu-PF party in Harare last Friday.
By saying that he won't brook interference, Mugabe might not have known that he had lit a fire he would not be able to put out.
In statements attributed by news agencies to the pro Zanu-PF Sunday Mail, the paper accused t Zuma, the SADC mediator on the Zimbabwe crisis of being a dishonest broker and of betraying Africa by voting for a no-fly zone over Libya at the UN Security Council.
"Zuma's duplicity is astounding. With such leaders, Africa is in mortal danger," the paper is quoted as saying in its attack. (The Zimbabwe Mail, March 4 2011).
Words like that can never be exchanged between friendly countries even when they might not have been officially communicated.
In fact, the way the government-controlled media communicated amounts to the 'party's response to the SADC Troika's communique, contributed to a major diplomatic fiasco which had been started by the Supreme Leader.
By playing down the diplomatic tiff claiming relations between the two countries remained 'warm and cordial', Jacob Zuma's office risks playing double-speak on Mugabe and being seen as a weakness in dealing with a dictator who is on his way out, albeit reluctantly.
As a sign that Zimbabwe's neighbour south of the Limpopo was far from amused by the undiplomatic language from Harare, Zuma's office reminded that governments have their own channels of communication.
Considering the sacrifices South Africa has made for Zimbabwean refugees and more specifically how Jacob Zuma has gone out of his way to try to rescue Robert Mugabe from the mess he is in, even an infant would never be expected to misfire like Mugabe's propagandists did with their overkill.
Critics of Zuma feel that this could be the only opportunity left for his administration to regain credibility lost by withholding a report on the role of Mugabe's soldiers in election violence in Zimbabwe despite court orders.
What incenses pro-democracy activists are ongoing efforts by the Zuma government to appeal against South African supreme court rulings that the report be released to the Mail and Guardian, especially as there are fears of further election violence in Zimbabwe.
The remaining question is: Why is Jacob Zuma so protective of Robert Mugabe even at his own expense?
The writer is a political analyst based in London

Source - Clifford Chitupa Mashiri
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