Mugabe, the other side

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe 89, will probably be giving his last shot at the presidency when he locks horns with Morgan Tsvangirai during the Presidential election expected anytime this year.

As Zimbabweans gear for that watershed presidential election, the nation has in recent weeks been exposed to a different Mugabe—jovial and peace-loving.

Mugabe has been donning this fatherly and reconciliatory image in which he has told his party and all those close to him to accept the MDC and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

In the past few years, Mugabe had been known to blow hot when it came to Tsvangirai and the MDC describing them as puppets of the West.

His sudden change of heart over the MDC and Tsvangirai has surprised even his closest associates, who include the security chiefs, who have at all occasions declared their hate of the former trade unionist and his party.

During national events, Mugabe and Tsvangirai have shared jokes and embraced each other on podiums, something one could never have dreamt of, say a few years ago.

Just this week Mugabe and Tsvangirai were sharing jokes during a ceremony in which the president signed the draft constitution into law.

Mugabe’s sudden embrace of Tsvangirai is sure surprising because not so recent, in 2007 his suspected intelligence officers abducted and later brutally assaulted him while in police cells.

Mugabe claimed that “Tsvangirai deserved his beating-up by police because he was not allowed to attend a banned rally” on March 30, 2007.

The following year Tsvangirai took refuge in the Dutch embassy in the capital Harare apparently fearing for his own safety.

His action came a day after he pulled out of the infamous 2008 presidential run-off election, saying state-sponsored violence against his supporters was ending any chance of a fair vote.

Funny how time flies because today Mugabe and Tsvangirai are drinking tea together!

Over the years since independence we had been made to see this Mugabe  brutal, uncompromising, racist and all.

Mugabe was to surprise many and particular those close to him when he agreed to share power with Tsvangirai in 2008.

It was one of the biggest climb down in his political career.  In 2008, his party suffered a tight defeat in national parliamentary elections, but after disputed presidential elections, Mugabe retained presidential power with the signing of a power-sharing deal with leaders Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
 
Others have said Mugabe is a cunning fox and a strategist who exploits scenarios to his advantage.

 Zimbabweans will remember when in 1983, Mugabe fired the late Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo from his cabinet and  between 1982 and 1985, he sent the military to crush armed resistance from Ndebele groups in the provinces of Matabeleland and the Midlands.

Although an estimated 20 000 people died in the mayhem, which Mugabe describes as “a moment of madness”, he managed to negotiate a peace accord in 1987.

Zapu merged into Zanu PF in 1987.  Mugabe brought Nkomo into the government.

That has been Mugabe’s character over the years and it has even confused the international community.

Take for example those international institutions that had honoured Mugabe with degrees and in later years revoked them.

In 1994, Mugabe was appointed an honorary Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Bath by Queen Elizabeth II.

In the United Kingdom, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee called for the removal of this honour in 2003 and on 25 June 2008, the Queen cancelled and annulled the honorary knighthood after advice from the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom.

“This action has been taken as a mark of revulsion at the abuse of human rights and abject disregard for the democratic process in Zimbabwe over which President Mugabe has presided”.

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