Can Mutambara save Zimbabwe's power-sharing government?
Zimbabwe's Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara portrayed himself as a mediator while decrying the obstinance of President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
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That said, Smith-Höhn believes that outside pressure – particularly from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – combined with internal pressure from moderate politicians on both sides can still push the fractious coalition government back together.Skip to next paragraph
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Since beginning his boycott Tsvangirai has met with several regional leaders, among them South African President Jacob Zuma, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila, who is the current chairman of the SADC. But it doesn't appear that those meetings have borne much fruit for the embattled MDC leader. The SADC's security committee is due to meet in Harare on Thursday.
Why Mutambara may not have enough sway
While Tsvangirai was trying to drum up regional support, Mutambara told a press conference last week that he was mediating between Mugabe and Tsvangirai to bring normalcy to the inclusive government, and that his "MDC-M" faction would attempt to bring the larger, more powerful "MDC-T" back into the unity government.
"We are in the middle of ZANU-PF and MDC-T," said Mutambara. "We will use this position to make sure that we encourage dialogue between these two major political parties in the country. We will use this position to push for the national interest and for mitigating differences."
University of Zimbabwe political scientist John Makumbe says Mutambara's efforts to mediate in the crisis are unlikely to succeed, because he does not have the political clout to sway Tsvangirai or Mugabe.
"He will not be effective. Not at all, because he is just a small pin standing between two giants with differing political interests," said Mr. Makumbe. Mutambara was wasting his effort trying to convince Mugabe, Makumbe added, because Mugabe has been resisting pressure from both the SADC and the African Union (AU), who are the guarantors of the agreement.
Simon Badza, another University of Zimbabwe political commentator, added that the future of the inclusive government will be determined more by ZANU-PF and MDC-T's "strategic interests" than Mutambara. "I think Mutambara is an opportunist and he thrives on crisis in the government of national unity," said Badza. "He is not a big factor in the inclusive government."
• Our reporter in Harare could not be named due to security concerns.