Daniel Howden: Appeal to Mugabe's former magnanimity fails

Share
Related Topics

The most optimistic and magnanimous words spoken yesterday came from Robert Mugabe: "If you were my enemy yesterday, today we are bound by the same patriotic duty and destiny." They were not spoken by the 84-year-old autocrat, instead, they were quoted back to him by Zimbabwe's new Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai.

The former union leader confronted his rival with the older man's own eloquence, spoken in 1980 after the end of white rule. Mr Tsvangirai used the words this time to reach out to the same leadership that has had him beaten, imprisoned and charged with treason, but with whom he will now share power. Prime Minister Mugabe entered office 28 years ago with an appeal to the white community to stay and to reconcile. If Mr Tsvangirai's quote was an attempt to appeal to anything that remains of that liberation hero, it did not work.

When it was time for Mr Mugabe to speak there was no looking forward, only back to the same anti-colonial rants that have marked his public appearances in recent years. There was the same paranoia and misrepresentations of political violence, blaming the beatings and murders on the victims. And a total denial of responsibility for the current state of the country.

The rhetorical gap represented the actual divide between a new administration intent on addressing the economic crisis and an old administration intent on acting as though nothing had changed. While a queue of potential foreign donors from the IMF to the EU have promised a rescue package to refloat the economy they have also made it clear that this will not happen until there is a clear demonstration of the political will to overhaul the disastrous past policies. Only one side was prepared to speak about this. Mr Tsvangirai blamed the "policies of the past", while Mr Mugabe insisted all woes were "created by former colonial powers".

The tensions that have punctuated the talks process were close to the surface again yesterday with the new Prime Minister wincing through the President's tirade. It is hard not to see this as a precursor of their working relationship.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Content Administrator

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Content Administrator is required ...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

Recruitment Genius: Lift and Elevator Service Manager - Birmingham

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Circles South East Youth Service: Youth Services Volunteer

this is an unpaid voluntary position: Circles South East Youth Service: LOOKIN...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Yorkshire Terrier waits to be judged during the Toy and Utility day of the Crufts dog show at the NEC in Birmingham  

There are no winners at Crufts. Dogs deserve better than to suffer and die for a 'beauty' pageant

Mimi Bekhechi
 

Daily catch-up: how come Ed Miliband’s tuition fee ‘cut’ is so popular, then?

John Rentoul
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn