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Monday, 20 January, 2003, 15:51 GMT
Should a Mugabe deal be done?
Morgan Tsvangirai, head of Zimbabwe's opposition party, says senior government figures have suggested discussing the possibility of President Robert Mugabe standing down.

Mr Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change said two powerful members of the ruling Zanu-PF party were prepared to talk about forming a power-sharing government.

Any deal, he said, would have to involve Mr Mugabe's resignation, an "end of lawlessness", and free and fair elections. But he would be willing to consider an amnesty for Mr Mugabe as part of any possible deal.

The opposition leader said the offer might be related to a power struggle within the ruling party.

A ruling party spokesman has denied reports of exit plans for Mr Mugabe being made.

What do you think? Should the opposition cut a deal with the government? Should Mugabe step down? Is an amnesty too high a price to pay?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

This is not a racial issue, it's a humanitarian one

Rich, USA/Zim
Mugabe's going will be an answer to our prayers, but then what? What about the militias, the corrupt police, the CIO, the indoctrinated army? I have personally experienced the wrath of his government. He must go, there is no question about that. This is not a racial issue, it's a humanitarian one. How many times do you let a go poisonous snake bite you?
Rich, USA/Zim

Mugabe must definitely give way to young and fresh blood. Someone with new ideas on how to run Zimbabwe. In fact all African leaders must learn to give others a chance. Is it about leading the people or making themselves stinking rich?
Martha Lubasi, South Africa/Zambia

Mugabe should not step down before completing land reform. Yes, it may have been done in a chaotic manner but the most important thing is that he is doing it for the majority people of Zimbabwe.
Trust Chimurenga, Zimbabwe

What with the press restrictions, the people of Zimbabwe will never truly understand the blatant misgovernance by Mugabe and his cronies. We in South Africa during apartheid also had huge press restrictions. As a 22 year old back then at the height of apartheid, I was completely blind to its atrocities. The people of Zimbabwe are not the cure, the international population are the only solution. Please take note President Mbeki.
C. Farrant, South Africa

Mugabe needs to know there is no power when you cannot even feed the very people who put you into the seat as President. He needs to revisit the Oath he took when he was sworn in, if at all it meant anything to him. He has done some good to Zimbabwe, but he has been failing for too long and he needs to walk right now. We have suffered enough, and I wish someone could make him understand that.
Patience, USA/Zim

His whole influence on society has to be deconstructed

Tobias Martin, Australia
Mugabe has not been alone in the endorsement of political violence and murder. The MDC should be careful not to believe that peace and stability is a matter of just removing the leader, his whole influence on society has to be deconstructed.
Tobias Martin, Australia

It would be a crying shame to offer amnesty to one so despotic, so evil and selfish as Robert Mugabe. Yet if this is what is needed to have him stand down, so be it. He has wrecked enough havoc on Zimbabwe. Let him leave his office, his power, and his Swiss bank accounts to the people of Zimbabwe and let us hope that an honest, capable, visionary leader will be elected and fulfil his duty to the country.
D. Bossard, US

Mugabe going would be a blessing for all Zimbabweans. When I lived there I used to think that having him in power was a case of better the devil you know. This has now proved to be so wrong. I believe that any leader, preferably a statesman of the likes of Nelson Mandela who fought for justice for his people and had his people and not himself and his cronies at heart would far better serve the wonderful people of a truly beautiful and bountiful country. Enough is enough!
Robert Carruthers, UK

Enough is enough. Mugabe must go. We already have too many Zimbabwean economic refugees here in Botswana. If any deal is in the offing let it be concluded quickly. our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe are dying. If Mugabe refuses to step down, then Zimbabweans must act to show him the exit.
Pelotlhomogi, Botswana

The answer lies with the people

Farai, Zimbabwe
Yes, the country is in economic distress, but what good is it if we all just blame everything on the government? Let's not forget the positive things the government has contributed in the past; highest literacy in Africa, peace (unlike other war-torn African countries), opportunities for blacks that did not exist before. Retribution is not the answer, and in my opinion, neither is Tsvangirai. The answer lies with the people. Let's unite, and stop beating each other up because of political affiliation.
Farai, Zimbabwe

If we are to save this country from further decay, then if it has to be a deal, then so be it. Whatever it takes. As for prosecution, well let us not consider the wrongs that he has done for the time being, but let us work with the spirit of reconciliation and not retribution as this will not help the country in any way.
Abby David, Zim

President Mugabe has overstayed in power. He may have had a very good vision for his country, he may have done quite a lot of good things for Zimbabwe, but the biggest problem of overstaying in power is that when your ideas of running the country diminish, you start undoing all the good things you had done. And people normally find it easy to remember bad things than good things. Mr Mugabe, time out.
Jones M. Ilukena, Zambia

Free and fair elections may be a solution to this mess. However, how can one make sure that any deal formed to topple the Mugabe regime will not turn into another unwanted regime later? There is no goodwill involved here - that's apparent - only political ambition. This demand for elections has to come from within the country and any power sharing agreement has to be monitored closely so that there isn't any version of the Mugabe regime ruling at the centre later.
Seema Bhatia, Malawi

It is unthinkable that there should be amnesty

Anonymous, Harare, Zimbabwe
It is unthinkable that there should be amnesty, by exile or otherwise, for Mugabe or any of his henchmen - and the two individuals allegedly holding talks with the opposition are high on the list. If the talks were not just another propaganda fake and did indeed take place, they could only have been have been a trap set at Mugabe's bidding or a botched attempt by the two gentlemen to secure their personal positions and immunity when the inevitable happens. Every member and accomplice of this vicious and corrupt regime must ultimately be held accountable for their actions, whether related to humanitarian or to economic crimes, and be forced to make such restitution as may be possible.
Necessarily Anon, Harare, Zimbabwe

It is an often used expression that dictators do not have pension plans and Robert Mugabe is a dictator in all but name. He will not stand down because he knows that any promises made to him will be forgotten once someone else is in power and he has relinquished his power base. Unfortunately the only way to oust him is to carry on with the sanctions until his hangers on realise that he has become a liability and will start to distance themselves from him.
Bernie, Scotland

As a born and breed Zimbabwean, I have to agree with Malcolm UK (below). Mugabe should be got rid of, whatever the cost. It breaks my heart to see what devastation he has caused to the people and the wildlife of this magnificent land - that I will always call my home no matter where I am in the world. I just pray for a change as the people of Zimbabwe do not deserve to suffer any more at the hands of this greedy and power hunger tyrant who starves his own people in a desperate attempt to hold on to power.

Mugabe is right. Let him finish the land reform programme. He fought for this country. Please give him a chance.
Tendai, Zimbabwe

I feel the British government and media are prolonging his life unnecessarily.

Ren, UK
I want the man gone just like most people but I just don't conform to this cartoon-like attempt to create prime evils and prime goody goodies. If anything the close to childish response of the British government and indeed most of the British press has been one of Mugabe's strongest weapons to date, at times the naivety borders on insult to the average knowledgeable Zimbabwean. Mugabe has already pressed the self destruct button and I believe he is on his way out but I just feel the British government and media are playing to his game and prolonging his life unnecessarily.
Ren, UK

It's up to those within Zimbabwe to face up to Mugabe. Looking to punish him at the same time as deposing him may work, but it must not interfere with rebuilding the country. South Africa had their Truth and Reconciliation Commission which helped, but then we moved on to concentrate on the future.

Although I am not directly affected by what is happening in Zimbabwe, it makes me very angry and sad to witness it. I'm not only referring to how Mugabe is destroying his own country, but how each of the parties involved are looking after their own interests.
Dale , South Africa

Well coming from a country like Kenya, which is similar to Zimbabwe in a few ways especially politically and economically, I would suggest that though him stepping down and getting amnesty might not be ideal, but when you are thinking of your long term future as a nation, you should try all peaceful means necessary, because like in Kenya it is better to act early before total collapse envelops the country and then there is too much work and mess to clear up. The task is Gargantuan, ask our new president. From our experience it is going to be difficult, but it is worth it. Make the sacrifice, Zimbabwe, negotiate and do all you can to improve your future and present.
George Macharia, Kenya

Mugabe is a living legend.

Tinso, UK
Good people, Mugabe should not go anywhere until his business is done. For 22 years Zimbabwe has been robbed by foreigners who put away their gains in foreign accounts. With time the new farmers will gain the required experience and once again we will be Africa's bread basket. Mugabe is a living legend.
Tinso, UK

The international media mostly serving an angered white audience tends to misjudge, simplify, or ignore, the complexity of the situation. As a Zimbabwean I am of the conviction that while many citizens agree it is in the best interest of the country if Mugabe retires now, still a considerable section of society, especially those radicalised by the war are convinced that Tsvangirai is too close to the West and will sell-out to imperialists such as Britain. Mugabe is seen as a defender of the national interest, something Tsvangirai is not known to have articulated. Mugabe is not as incorrigible as the media make him appear. The Labour government fell for this stereotype daily played out in the Western media hence contributing to the current crisis. By failing to diplomatically engage Mugabe's government so as to side-step responsibility for paying for Britain's colonial injustices everyone is now a loser - the white farmers, Zimbabweans in general, the British government itself, and most angry contributors to this discussion. With his term expiring in 2007, Mugabe still holds the cards.
Muchatuta, Denmark/Zimbabwe

It breaks my heart and I am sure the hearts of many who have known what Zimbabwe once was, what it could be and now run down to waste. How very sad. If the current proposed deal can save the country from further decay and there has to be a deal, then so be it. Whatever it takes. I however do not agree that Mugabe be exiled, that would complicate things. After all, Ian Smith was forgiven of worse crimes he commited during his time, but was allowed to live as a free man in an independent Zimbabwe. For the sake of progress, let us not consider the wrongs that Mugabe has done for the time being, but let us work with the spirit of reconciliation and not retribution as this will not help Zimbabwe in any way.
Tichareveyi Kaseke, Canada

There needs to be a thorough purge for things to come right

TimXzim, Botswana
With Mugabe gone and a new leader in place, the country will still be controlled by Zanu. In effect there needs to be a thorough purge for things to come right. There are many Zanu members who fear the day they will be called to account and predictably they will do anything to prevent it occurring. Amnesty for Mugabe would be only a small step to satisfy the AU members with no real implications.
TimXzim, Botswana

I agree that Mugabe should go, but what about his assets outside the country? These should be returned to the people of Zimbabwe. Give him a stipend and send him on his way.
Gail, South Africa

If we are to save this country from further decay and there has to be a deal, then so be it. Whatever it takes. As for prosecution, well let us not consider the wrongs that he has done for the time being, but let us work with the spirit of reconciliation and not retribution as this will not help the country in any way.
Abby David, Zimbabwe

It will also speak of a man who was prepared to go to any lengths to retain power

James, Australia
When history looks back on Mugabe it will say several things. Here is a man who could have implemented land reform the proper way, using money from international donors to buy out white farmers. Then he could have employed these farmers to train the landless peasants in modern farming techniques. It will also speak of a man who was prepared to go to any lengths to retain power.
James, Australia

If Mugabe does stand down, does this mean he keeps the fortune he has stashed in Swiss banks? I hope not.
James, USA

The only way forward for Zimbabwe is to first and foremost get rid of Mugabe in the manner that is being proposed by his Zanu people and the MDC, i.e. retirement, unity government, elections. It will then be up to us Zimbabweans to ensure that come election time we choose who we want. If it can happen in Kenya why not in Zimbabwe?
Chizzy, USA

If there is any deal to talk about Tsvangirai should consult his supporters first instead of rushing to his masters

Frank Muchatuta, Zimbabwe
Mugabe should not make any deal with a Tsvangirai. Why should Tsvangirai be talking about a deal to the BBC instead of addressing his supporters in Zimbabwe? It goes to show where his interests lie, with the BBC and the British. It also shows who controls him. If there is any deal to talk about he should consult his supporters first instead of rushing to his masters. I as a Zimbabwean see no purpose in Mugabe making a deal with a person who is clearly a British puppet.
Frank Muchatuta, Zimbabwe

I really wish that the UK government and media would get over their collective guilt and terrified political correctness regarding Britain's history in Zimbabwe and point out what is obvious to anyone who has any connection to that beautiful land - the farms that Mugabe has been taking from the whites and distributing mostly to his Zanu-PF thugs are not being used to combat famine, but are being left to rot because their new "owners" are not experienced as large-scale farmers. I agree (as a white South African) that redistribution in itself is a worthy cause, but to do it in such a random and violent way has benefited no one.
David M, UK

He should pay for his megalomania. He is a wealthy man who has made his money while Zimbabwe burns and starves. He could foot the bill for importing food for millions of starving people. However, he doesn't care a jot. What is also frightening is the South African government's support of Mugabe and the Zanu-PF shown by their giving the Zanu_PF delegation at the ANC conference a standing ovation on their arrival.
Lynne, South Africa

If he can go within six months that'd be okay but if it's a deal of up to two years then it's no deal. This man must be punished even though the MDC might guarantee him immunity. I don't think it will be for long - the majority will not accept that.
Mutasa R, Canada/Zimbabwe

I think Mr Mugabe should try and concede to international pressure by steeping down for another person. After all, he has reigned for 22 years. He should grant amnesty to those oppositions in the spirit of national reconciliation.
Amoo Olatunji, Nigeria

He has the blood of too many Zimbabweans on his hands for him to stay

Roddy, South Africa
Mugabe must go, at any cost. He has done too much damage to the region - sowing doubt in South African farmers' minds about their future - and has the blood of too many Zimbabweans on his hands for him to stay. But he must be removed by Zimbabweans themselves as the West is too busy with their futile war against Iraq, and Blair would rather his cricket team fought his difficult battles for him.
Roddy, South Africa

As a Zimbabwean abroad, I have seen the violence perpetrated on innocent civilians in Zimbabwe in the past few years and to this day. The president himself boasts of being violent. For the sake of the beloved country, any deal that can peacefully see the old man go is welcome. His violent but loyal followers will listen to him if he tells them to stop the terror.
Ngavaite Gutu, UK

Mugabe is only one of many people responsible for the current state of lawlessness in Zimbabwe. The policy makers and party officials that acted with him to bring the current situation into being must also be replaced. Doing a deal with those responsible will only tar the opposition with the same brush and push the end of this conflict even further into the future.
Mark Schofield, France

Let's not forget that Robert Mugabe was once a nationalist, a war hero and patriot who fought and crushed Ian's Smith's rebel regime in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). But, Mugabe has outlived his usefulness through brutal dictatorship, self-aggrandisement, tribal-supremacy, anti-White extremism and rabid Anglophobia. The more he stays in power the further Zimbabwe descends into chaos, lawlessness and economic disintegration. Mugabe relinquishing power peacefully will be nothing short of redemption and salvation for Zimbabwe.
Igonikon Jack, USA

Africa cannot afford this "impunity" nonsense anymore

Chris White, Germany
I think that it would be a devastating blow to all who suffered under his regime to allow Mugabe to simply slink away without paying a very high price, most importantly a financial one. He and his cronies deserve the full force of international law reined against them. Africa cannot afford this "impunity" nonsense anymore.
Chris White, Germany

No, an amnesty is not too high a price to pay - but will he go, and will it make any difference to the current regime's reliance on thuggish 'war veterans'? If it's mishandled, the transition could descend into civil war. I just hope Tony Blair doesn't think it's the British Army's job to sort it out!
John, UK

A question to John, UK: Do you realise that it is partly the British government's fault that Zimbabwe is in the state it is. It was after all the British government who put Mugabe in power in the first place, and for the last three years the UK has stood by and done nothing to protect the British people who are still living there, but would prefer to ignore the Zimbabwe problem completely. Tony Blair promised the people that he would not stand by and do nothing should Zimbabwe turn out to be another Rwanda, and yet that is exactly what he what he is doing!
Jo T, England

As a former resident of Zimbabwe, it broke my heart when I saw Channel 4's documentary last night about Mugabe's Secret Famine. As much as it disgusts me to let Mugabe get away with crimes against humanity, I think any measure to get rid of him must be welcomed. At the end, if it benefits seven million people, then letting one tyrant walk away without accounting for his crimes is worth it.
Malcolm, UK

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