The frenzied speculation over the future of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF was matched only by the almost surreal clumsiness of opposition politics.
Attempting by command and fiat to form a coalition of opposition parties, Morgan Tsvangirai only succeeded in alienating his own party lieutenants, trading away their parliamentary seats as inducements to others to join a new alliance under the banner of his MDC party.
Curiously, MDC thugs beat up those party lieutenants who seemed to be protesting against the giving away of their seats.
And the alliance did not include such key figures as former ZANU-PF vice president, Joice Mujuru, and former ZANU-PF ministers Simba Makoni and Nkosana Moyo.
Despite the efforts at a coalition, the alliance is brittle.
The seat-trading exercise has riven Tsvangirai’s reliable base with faultlines, and long-running quarrels between Tsvangirai and his new partners are still only papered over.
Still, Tsvangirai is at last attracting the support of key war veterans already at odds with Mugabe.
They will lend him and his alliance a smidgen of liberationist credibility for the first time.
Most bizarre of all, of course, was the political storm Grace Mugabe stirred up on her visit to Johannesburg, when she allegedly used a power cord to strike a South African model who had been partying with her sons.
Grace Mugabe promptly disappeared, and border alerts were issued to stop her absconding from South Africa altogether.
Zimbabwe sought to secure her diplomatic immunity.
Robert Mugabe arrived early for a regional meeting.
After three days, immunity was granted, and she slipped back across the border.
The South African leadership had been in two minds about what to do.
On the one hand, they were keen to avoid unnecessary diplomatic tension, not just with Zimbabwe but with other African governments who still see Zimbabwe as a complicated but real icon of African nationalism.
But on the other hand, this was a chance to improve Mnangagwa’s chances by leaving a Mugabe in public ignominy.
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