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End game: Is Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe -

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End game: Is Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's 28-year rule about to end?

Broadcast: 02/04/2008

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

Kerry O'Brien discusses the recent Zimbabwe elections with South African political analyst,
Moeletsi Mbeki.


KERRY O'BRIEN: Tonight we'll assess how much longer the despotic president of Zimbabwe, Robert
Mugabe, can cling to power in the wake of the elections on Saturday for both the Parliament and the

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, as we know, is claiming victory, and the vote continuing to
trickle out for individual seats tends to bear out his position.

The lack of any published result again this morning on what should have been a straightforward
count of the presidential vote also speaks volumes for the likely outcome.

Media coverage from Zimbabwe continues to be severely restricted, but for his up to the minute
appraisal of what's going on, I spoke just a short time ago with Moeletsi Mbeki, deputy chair of
the South African Institute for International Affairs, who covered Zimbabwe as a journalist for
most of the eighties, and incidentally is a brother of South African President Tabo Mbeki.

We spoke by phone to Johannesburg.

Moeletsi Mbeki, more numbers have been released today in the count for the Parliament, still
nothing on the Presidency, but what's the latest picture that you can put together of what's really
happened in Zimbabwe?

doubt that Mugabe has lost the election and also his party, I have no doubt that they have also
lost the election.

Mugabe and his party have totally wrecked Zimbabwe. This was one of the most promising economies in
Africa to date, it is a complete basket case.

We, in South Africa are host to 3 million economic refugees from Zimbabwe. So, the country has all
but collapsed, certainly economically.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Presumably, if President Mugabe had won the count for the Presidency, we'd have seen
the numbers by now.

MOELETSI MBEKI: Yes. There wouldn't have been so much reluctance to release the numbers. The
Zimbabwean data management is still reasonably good. Every week they release inflation figures,
which are now running in the hundreds of thousands.

So they know how to manage data. In fact the actual numbers that the polling stations were posted
by Monday morning. So it's very clear, the delay, there is some ulterior motive for delaying the
release of the numbers.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Of course it's not just Mr Mugabe who will determine what happens next. The military
chiefs have a great deal at stake, what do you make of the rumours that both Mr Mugabe and the
military leaders are trying to cut a deal to avoid reprisals or the force of law from a new

MOELETSI MBEKI: Well I think Mugabe has become over the years, more and more dependent on the army
and on army officers. And when he took over and confiscated the land of the commercial farmers, a
lot of the people who received that land was senior military officers. So the military officers
have been deeply implicated in the misrule that Mugabe has been perpetrating in that country.

If you recall, in the eighties, the army perpetrated a lot of massacres in a part of Zimbabwe, in
the western part of Zimbabwe called Matabeleland, and they have been overseeing a lot of the
militias that Mugabe has been using since 2000 to terrorise the Opposition.

So the army is guilty. I can fully appreciate why they are now very, very afraid of what will
happen to them when Mugabe leaves power.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Do you think it's likely that there is some negotiation going on behind the scenes
to try to cut an acceptable deal for Mr Mugabe?

MOELETSI MBEKI: Well the leader of the Opposition denied this late last night, that there is any
negotiation. I would have thought it's unlikely, myself, because Mugabe is very unlikely to
negotiate with the Opposition - him personally, as an individual.

Maybe his minions may be talking to some of the Opposition people. But I can't imagine Mugabe.

Remember last year, he sent the police on the leader of the Opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai and many
of the leaders of the Opposition were really beaten to a pulp. Many of them came to hospital in
South Africa.

So many of them, when they were in hospital in this country.

So Mugabe would not be in a position, would not be even willing to sit across the table with Morgan

KERRY O'BRIEN: But then that suggests that if he's boxed into a corner, that the situation may yet
develop into an explosive confrontation.

MOELETSI MBEKI: Well I think there are elements of Mugabe's own party who realise that there is
nothing really to be gained by an explosion anymore in Zimbabwe.

So I think they are the kind of elders of the party, the few remaining thoughtful individuals who
will try and persuade Mugabe. Rather than through negotiation with the Opposition, they will
probably themselves try and persuade Mugabe that the game is up.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Well if your belief is correct, and Mugabe has lost this election both in the
Parliament and in the Presidency, how much longer do you think he can hold out before he has to
come clean?

MOELETSI MBEKI: Well we saw in Kenya there is, unfortunately, a President in Kenya, where the
President lost, his party got only about a third of what the Opposition party got in terms of
members of Parliament. But he went ahead and declared himself at midnight, and crowned himself at
midnight as the President.

So I wouldn't put it past Mugabe to try the same trick as well.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Moeletsi Mbeki, we're out of time, but thank you very much for talking with us.