Friday, February 25, 2011

(NEWZIMBABWE) Tsvangirai sought McGee's advice during GPA talks: Mbeki

Tsvangirai sought McGee's advice during GPA talks: Mbeki
by Staff Reporter
24/02/2011 00:00:00

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai consulted the US Ambassador in the heat of negotiations about Zimbabwe’s future in 2008, according to author Blessing-Miles Tendi, who interviewed former South African President Thabo Mbeki recently.

Mbeki, who oversaw the formation of Zimbabwe’s coalition government to end a political stalemate over disputed elections, also reveals that he wanted President Robert Mugabe to stay on as a ceremonial president with vastly reduced powers, but this was shot down by a splinter faction of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara which did not want Tsvangirai as an executive Prime Minister.

Tendi, author of Making History in Mugabe's Zimbabwe: Politics, Intellectuals and the Media, sat down with Mbeki last month for an interview on a forth-coming book.

And speaking at the Frontline Club in London on Wednesday, Tendi revealed Mbeki had a less than good impression of Tsvangirai, whose conversations with former US ambassador James McGee were reportedly recorded by Zimbabwean intelligence and passed onto their South African counterparts.

Tendi said: “These are the power sharing negotiations in 2008, this is from my interview with Thabo Mbeki, they sit around all the various parties and they agree on a clause. Tsvangirai stands up and says I need to go outside for a bit to consult others in the MDC.

“He goes out there at the Rainbow Hotel in Harare and what does he do? He picks up the phone and calls the US embassy to ask for advice from the US ambassador. What does he not know? That the CIO has taped the phones!

“So they get a transcript of everything, they pass on the transcript to South African intelligence, and they in turn pass the transcript to Mbeki’s lap and he passes it onto other SADC leaders.

“Mugabe’s narrative all along has been that the MDC is a stooge of the West. What is that then? And people are surprised when SADC leaders don’t take the side of MDC, it’s things like that, that mediocrity. It’s really pathetic that a leader would call the US embassy and ask for advice.”

Mbeki, according to Tendi, wanted Mugabe to stay on as President with diminished powers, having lost a first round vote to Tsvangirai in the March 2008 general elections.

Tendi revealed: “Mbeki wanted Mugabe to be a ceremonial President; Mugabe would have had no power. Who shot down Mbeki’s proposal? The other faction of the MDC, because they did not want Tsvangirai to be an executive Prime Minister.”

Tendi said the two MDC factions were responsible for a string of “strategic errors” which had allowed Zanu PF to regain momentum. One critical error, he said, had left them unable to stop President Robert Mugabe calling elections this year.

He added: “When Zanu PF came to the table, they wanted five years straight, there was to be no two years that the Global Political Agreement would end, and then possibly be extended. Had that passed, we would be talking about stabilisation and economic growth. Who shot that down? The MDC again.

“People talk of the MDC playing catch-up, a lot of it has to do with the MDC’s own strategic errors. The problem has been the way the opposition has tackled Zanu PF from a strategic point of view.”

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