On Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s second day in captivity things started moving as he and the military engaged in talks under the watchful eye of the SADC facilitation team with his Roman Catholic priest playing a bridging role.
Father Fidelis Mukonori has known Mugabe‚ and his family‚ since the 1970s and is regarded in some circles as the spiritual father of the 93-year-old leader.
During the negotiations there was an impasse as the army pressed for him to reinstate Emmerson Mnangagwa as Vice President. Mugabe‚ a revered negotiator‚ then demanded the army should first acknowledge they were acting outside legal provisions‚ sources said.
At this juncture the fight is between the rule of law and military intervention and the African Union (AU) declared it would not support a coup government in Zimbabwe.
“We demand respect for the constitution‚ a return to the constitutional order and we will never accept the military coup d’etat‚” AU head Alpha Conde told journalists.
Former Zanu PF member of parliament but now an independent‚ Temba Mliswa‚ said that in negotiating for a smooth landing for President Robert Mugabe‚ the SADC should take into account the Zimbabwe National Army’s reputation.
“The Zimbabwe National Army in terms of ground force is the most efficient. SADC must be aware of that in whatever decision they make. The ZNA always reports to the call of duty across Africa‚” he said.
The current situation has presented the opposition in Zimbabwe with an opportunity to unite.
Joice Mujuru‚ another former deputy president speaking for a coalition of political parties under the People’s Rainbow Coalition (PRC)‚ said Mugabe should let a transitional government take over.
“We are in need of a transitional arrangement. That should attend to key issues of economic recovery and electoral reform processes. Our country’s reconstruction and National Healing Process can only be a product of free‚ fair and credible elections which are to be held within a reasonable time post an agreed transitional arrangement period‚” she said.
Former Prime Minister under the inclusive government of 2008-2013‚ Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change‚ did not mince his words.
“In the interest of the people‚ Mr Robert Mugabe must step down immediately‚” he said.
He also called upon the SADC and the AU to be directly involved in an electoral road map that will lead to free and fair elections after a transitional period.
While the drama that started slowly before reaching fever pitch seemingly has lost pace‚ some ordinary civilians feel the army should press on for the ultimate goal of removing Mugabe provided the soldiers keep to their promise of leaving the transitional process to politicians.
“What they did is brave. We want the goblin (Mugabe’s hate nickname) gone but they too should keep the promise they made to the people‚” said Brian Mandebvu‚ a taxi driver.
By time of publication there were no public pronouncements from the SADC or anyone involved in the talks.
JAMES THOMPSON / TimesLive