Mugabe passes on UN trip, sends Mujuru

VICE-President Joice Mujuru is in New York where she will attend the United Nations summit of world leaders on the global financial and economic crisis and its impact on development. I think Mugabe's decision to pass over this meeting has to do with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's trip to Western Europe and the US.

Despite its failure to unlock the vaults of western treasuries, the PM's trip has made one thing resoundingly clear: Morgan Tsvangirai has arrived on the global stage. For whatever he did not get materially, Tsvangirai received recognition across Europe and the US. He was received warmly and in many respects, as a head of state. Mugabe must have calculated that it was not tactically astute to venture onto the global stage and be eclipsed by Tsvangirai's towering shadow which still projects across the western world as we speak.

The symbolism would have been to stark for anyone to miss: yesterday's man now consumed in the shadow of the upstart Tsvangirai, enjoying the warmth of welcome that Mugabe used to bask in only a mere decade or so earlier. Secondly, and in deference to the objective of Tsvangirai's trip, it may spoil any chances of getting financial support should Mugabe choose to demonstrate that he is still very much the head of state and the central man by coming out to the UN as western leaders are still trying to get themselves to warm to Tsvangirai's optimism about Zimbabwe being now poised towards irreversible change.

So better to send a nonentity in international relations, someone who will go out and offer token representation for the country whilst remaining unmolested by the western media. Meanwhile back home, this can be spun as Mugabe having sent yet another of his juniors on an errand on his behalf.