The fruits of quiet diplomacy?

Related to an ongoing debate on this blog:

The rival claimants to victory in Zimbabwe’s widely criticised presidential elections – Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai – have agreed to immediately begin intensive talks aimed at establishing a “new government”.

At their first meeting in more than a decade, Zimbabwe’s president and the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change yesterday signed a five-page “memorandum of understanding” that envisages a fortnight of secret talks by representatives dealing with an array of issues from political violence against the opposition to constitutional reform…

South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki, oversaw the signing of the agreement at a Harare hotel after Tsvangirai refused to meet Mugabe at the presidential offices because it would infer recognition of his claim to power.

Mbeki, who is likely to claim the agreement as a vindication of his mediation by “quiet diplomacy”, said all parties wanted a rapid resolution of the political crisis. “It commits the negotiating parties to an intense programme of work to try and finalise the negotiations as quickly as possible,” he said. “All the Zimbabwean parties recognise the urgency of the matters they are discussing and all are committed to trying to complete this process as quickly as possible.”

The full story in The Guardian.

4 thoughts on “The fruits of quiet diplomacy?

  1. I don’t see why this can’t be claimed as a “fruit of quiet diplomacy”. Suppose Mbeki had done the things the way the UK and the US had been suggesting. That is, open denounciation of Mugabe. Not that I think doing so would have been wrong but I seriously doubt that he would have been in a position today to be seen as a neutral broker who could bring them together. So I think there is a case to the claim that this is a vindication to his position. Well, not a vindication yet…one has to see how things play out. In any case, this is a good development.

  2. By the way, I’m the first “anonymous” commenter.

    As for the FP blog…Sure, the negotiated outcome, if it holds, is not the best outcome. Afterall, I, like most people, would prefer to see Mugabe out of power. However, I don’t know if the alternative reality to what is happening right now is objectively better. Because in that reality, Mugable would continue to be in power and the economic situation will continue to be bad.
    Compromises rarely leave anyone happy because we tend to compare them to our initial prefered positions. But the Zimbabwe situation is/was just so bad that this compromise seems to me to be a good thing. Besides, no one else (this includes the US and the UK) seems to have workable alternatives that can ease the situation in Zimbabwe and remove Mugabe either in the short or long term.

    And I don’t buy Green’s argument that this will set a precedent for other African dictators. We have two events, two countries with unique sets of circumstances. His arguments implicitly homogenizes the whole African countries unjustifiably as if context and history don’t matter.