SCEPTICS thought President Robert Mugabe would have his cake and eat it too, and that Saturday’s Sadc summit was nothing but a talk show that would endorse the veteran leader’s July 31 election proclamation.
By Nqaba Matshazi, News Editor
Mugabe arrived in Maputo, with by far the largest delegation accredited to the summit, with insiders saying the list was three pages long.
Insiders say they were not prepared to wait for long and they expected Sadc to endorse Mugabe’s plan, but how wrong they were! It was their man who came out licking his wounds, badly bruised and heading back to the proverbial drawing board.
By lunch it was clear that Mugabe was on the back foot.
His rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, emerged for the lunch break with a smile on his face, chatting with other heads of State.
Mugabe on the other hand looked glum, his body language gave it all away. He had been defeated.
As the heads of State posed for pictures, Mugabe looked downwards and sideways, while Tsvangirai, with all the poise of a victor, looked confident.
The first reports from the summit indicated that MDC leader. Welshman Ncube had torn Mugabe’s plans apart, explaining in detail how Mugabe had acted unilaterally against the spirit of the Global Political Agreement.
Insiders say Ncube had everyone in the summit rolling on the floor with laughter when he described how insult laws were hampering freedom of speech and democracy.
The MDC leader explained how ministers, some of whom were in the summit hall, had been arrested just for saying Mugabe was old.
Ncube’s presentation was so polished that even rival parties were in awe of the MDC leader.
“I have seen Welsh (Ncube) in court and on countless times we have fought on opposite sides (of course he always lost),”
MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti posted on Facebook after the summit.
“Today the man from Vungu fought like a lion.
“While MT (Tsvangirai) was the godfather speaking like a statesman, Welsh was a bull terrier flooring Zanu PF with erudite legal submissions.”
Tsvangirai, the insiders said, delivered a grand political presentation, asking Mugabe whether the decision on elections was meant to maintain a grip on power or serve the people.
The Prime Minister, for good measure, reportedly challenged Mugabe to look him in the eye and explain why he had unilaterally set an election date.
While Mugabe would have probably preferred to go to elections against a divided MDC, it seems he achieved the reverse, as Tsvangirai and Ncube were literally eating from one plate, something that was unthinkable just a week ago.
Mugabe, insiders continued, struck a lonely figure, with all the leaders at the summit convinced that he had to change his election plans.
Zambian Vice-President Guy Scott prayed for calm in Zimbabwe, pleading with the parties to find a compromise. His main worry was that Zambia could lose the right to host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation summit.
Scott, who sat next to Mugabe, was worried that the summit might end up being taken to Botswana, much to the amusement of that country’s leader Ian Khama.
At the end of the day, Tsvangirai and Ncube scored a diplomatic victory, while Mugabe seemingly defeated, will live to fight another day.
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