The branding of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai ‘as a Western stooge’ by the Zambian President Michael Sata has raised diplomatic eyebrows between the two countries.
Political aides to Tsvangirai reacted with fury to Sata’s disparaging remarks about the MDC leader, in his interview with the UK Telegraph newspaper. In the interview published by the paper on Tuesday, Sata, known as ‘King cobra’ for his sharp tongue, indicated that he would not block Robert Mugabe’s push to abandon the unity government.
In the same article, the 74 year-old Sata made comments likely to have irked pro-democracy movements in Zimbabwe. He first dismissed Tsvangirai as a ‘stooge’, and described calls for security, electoral and constitutional reforms in Zimbabwe as ‘unnecessary’.
Analysts said it is incomprehensible that Sata can trivialise and denigrate constitutional reforms and clean voters’ roll which are vital pre-conditions for free and fair elections. Other commentators believe Sata could be ‘isolated from reality’.
MDC-T officials who spoke to SW Radio Africa on the condition of anonymity agreed that Sata seemed to go ‘off the rails’ in the Telegraph interview, admitting that he showed extremely poor judgment.
‘We don’t know the policies of Morgan – he has other people speaking for him rather than speaking for himself. There will be elections and Mugabe will go and someone else will take over but not someone imposed by the Western countries,’ Sata said
London based academic and former diplomat, Clifford Mashiri roundly condemned the Zambian leader’s undiplomatic remarks, warning that his sharp tongue could turn out to be his Achilles heel.
Mashiri told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that Sata has exposed one of his major weaknesses as lack of good diplomacy.
‘One would have thought Sata would exercise extreme caution when commenting about fellow leaders of other countries especially when they are his neighbors,’ Mashiri added
SW Radio Africa