EU visit widens Zimbabwe split
A top ally of President Robert Mugabe said the European Union 'wants to undermine the inclusive government.' Meanwhile, the opposition party is considering pulling out of the fragile coalition.
Johannesburg, South Africa
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Just hours after the EU delegation left – having echoed concerns that President Robert Mugabe had not done enough to share power with his rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai – a close Mugabe ally launched a verbal attack on the EU, saying they had taken Mr. Tsvangirai's line "hook, line, and sinker."
The EU visit followed another missed opportunity for Zimbabwe, when leaders of the Southern African Development Community last week refused to address the Zimbabwe issue, and instead echoed Mr. Mugabe's call for a lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Now both sides are miffed, and hard-liners in the two rival parties are reportedly calling for the whole coalition government agreement to be called off.
"There is definitely a hardening line in the MDC [Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change], although I think there is a split opinion on whether to pull out of the coalition, or to get extremely tough with Mugabe," says Raymond Louw, editor of the Southern Africa Report in Johannesburg. "I don't think there is an alternative now" to getting tough.
Big risks to scrapping unity government
Pulling out of the coalition carries huge risks, says Mr. Louw.
For Tsvangirai's MDC to abandon the gains of the March 2008 election, including control of parliament and top cabinet positions, would mean demoting the MDC on the international scale from a government party that gets meetings in the White House to just another opposition party that leaves voicemails at the US Embassy in Harare. "If they get out of the coalition now, they are in the wilderness," says Louw.
Diplomacy isn't supposed to work like this.
When top Southern African politicians (including President Jacob Zuma of South Africa) meet to discuss regional problems, as they did last week in the Democratic Republic of Congo, there was an opportunity to push both of Zimbabwe's bickering sides back to the hard work of governing. When European Union diplomats came to Harare, there was a chance to set reasonable goals that both sides had an interest in meeting. But alas, Zimbabwe's political class does not seem to be in a reasonable mood.