Basildon Peta: This move will not force Mugabe to honour his obligations

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The Independent Online

The decision by Morgan Tsvangirai to disengage from Robert Mugabe appears dramatic, but it is hardly surprising. Yesterday he implicitly admitted that he has been lying to the world about all being well in Zimbabwe's unity government – well, anyone could have worked that one out.

As I warned in this newspaper shortly before February's inauguration, it was never going to be a matter of if the power-sharing government would unravel, but when. And as it limps from one disaster to another, my scepticism has, sadly, been vindicated.

Yes, the government has brought improvements to the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans, but these have been exaggerated.

The stabilising of the country's runaway inflation and the return of scarce commodities in the shops, trumpeted as one of its best achievements, was going to happen anyway once the country switched to the US dollar, regardless of whether Tsvangirai was in government. The painful fact remains that unemployment is at 90 per cent, and people cannot find suitable jobs and the hard currency to purchase these commodities.

With Mugabe still firmly in the driving seat, there is no sign of policies that would smooth the path with foreign donors and investors and help kick-start the economy.

Regarding the rule of law, absolutely nothing has changed. The media space remains constricted. Mugabe keeps militarising key state institutions. Violence against farmers has continued. Tsvangirai's parliamentary majority has been reversed by the arrests and incarceration of seven of his MPs on clearly trumped-up charges.

Mugabe is by far the greatest winner. The pressure that boiled up when he stole the presidential run-off has evaporated. The unity government has given him the legitimacy he craved. And Tsvangirai has nothing to show for his cohabitation. He has become a figure of pity as he is trampled all over.

Political and economic salvation shall only ever come to a Zimbabwe without Mugabe. It is sad that Tsvangirai joined hands with a vile dictator and derailed the march towards democracy just at the moment it had gained the most momentum.

Temporary disengagement in the belief that Mugabe will somehow undergo a Damascene conversion and honour all outstanding obligations is as disingenuous as it is stupid. Tsvangirai has a simple choice: shape up or ship out.