A Week is a long time in Politics.
Mr. Mugabe must be feeling very uneasy in his bed these days - the
comfortable scenario mapped out for him and for Zanu PF has steadily
disintegrated in recent weeks. It all started when they held their
much-heralded Zanu PF Congress in Harare.
When pigs call a congress in the feeding trough, it's not a pleasant
Squeals and honks abound and there are the odd fights while the strong
simply elbow the weak out of the trough to make way for themselves and
protégés. Remember these guys had been on the gravy train for a long
they expected the best - and they got it; 5 star hotels were booked out
gala dinners and cocktail parties were too numerous to count. The bash
Z$28 billion (US$6 million) and I understand that bills for the
this remain outstanding.
But when the party was over it became clear that there had been some
casualties. The majority of the key players who had held the Zanu PF
afloat in the past 5 years found themselves ousted from power. The
South African funded attempt to get the Speaker of the House of
(Munangagwa) into a position where he could take over from Mugabe and
to pull the strings. He was supported in this perceived coup by a whole
coterie of senior Zanu politicians - Moyo, Chinamassa, Chombo and many
Mugabe held onto his post at the helm - but only just and at the cost
most of the team that had held his Party together in the previous 5
When you take these people out of Zanu - who are you left with - Made,
Mutasa and Shamuyarira! A collection of ineffectual people in terms of
actual skills needed in this fight to the finish with the MDC.
But the fight was not over when the mob left the feeding trough in
it continued in every constituency because now Mugabe had to eliminate
enemies in the Zanu PF primaries. This hangover has split the Party and
it in tatters in many districts. Right now - with only 6 weeks to go to
Zanu PF target date for the election of the 18th of March, they do not
nearly half their candidates selected. The Party structures in
are in a shambles and are having difficulty in even finding candidates
is the Party in Manicaland.
And when pigs party - there are no rules in the pen! We have seen every
trick in the book. Children lined up to vote for candidates. One story
farm workers, who all hold Zanu cards (but are in fact MDC supporters)
hauled to a meeting where they were told to write their names on a form
their ID numbers and then they were told they had voted for Sabina
the Presidents sister. They were then loaded back onto lorries and
home where they recounted their story with glee to the farmer.
Then came the spy story. A senior CIO operator had lured a South
spymaster from his den in Zambia and was in custody. 5 Government and
PF officials were taken into custody and one diplomat simply
from his post in Europe. What had they been doing? They had been
the South African secret service and were supplying information to the
African government. These poor guys have appeared in one form or
court (why do they bother) and have been badly beaten and interrogated.
Philip Chiyangwa - the flamboyant Zanu PF chairman of Mashonaland West
one of the players and had been taking US$10 000 a month for his
(Z$85 million), not bad for a days work. I wonder what the whole scam
The nation was stunned - they had been fed the story that Blair was the
enemy and the MDC his stool pigeon. Now it turns out that actually it
Mbeki and his stool pigeons were too numerous to count and all came
within Zanu PF.
Then there was the aftermath of the release from travel restrictions of
Morgan Tsvangirai. This has been an ongoing nightmare for Mugabe.
has not only traveled, he has been to see the great majority of the key
African leaders and has been making progress. Unlike Mugabe, he was
travel without restriction to Europe and was able to strengthen his
there as well.
As a consequence the status of Morgan Tsvangirai has risen while
own star has begun to set. There has been a significant improvement in
African understanding of the struggle here. Today there is less
the West's position that Mugabe is a tyrant and has destroyed his
and more understanding of the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans.
This was demonstrated by a number of shifts on the African continent -
AU demands that Mugabe explain a negative report on human rights in
Zimbabwe. The decision by the SADC States to set up standards for
to which Mugabe would be required to comply.
Then came George Bush's victory in the States, Blair's election to head
G8 and the EU Presidency. Mauritius and Botswana to the Chairmanship of
SADC, the exit of his remaining friend in the region when Namibia
drivers. His isolation is nearly complete. The final straw was the
nomination of the American "steel magnolia" Ms. Rice, to the post of
Secretary of State. Mugabe can well remember that time in the late 90's
Ms. Rice came to Harare to see him and was given a very rude reception
dismissal. He must now squirm at the thought.
Mugabe now faces another test, elections for the Zimbabwean Parliament.
a few months ago he thought he had it all wrapped up - the rigging in
and I am told they had even agreed how many seats they would allow the
to win. Since then his team has disintegrated, his Party is in disarray
the region is starting to talk tough - comply with the SADC protocols
else! He thought that he had the full support of Mbeki only to discover
in fact Mbeki wanted change - not in Zimbabwe, but in Zanu! Now even
relationship is under strain.
In the meantime, MDC has nearly finished the appointment of its 120
candidates - most are already in the field campaigning. The initial
from the ground is encouraging. We meet next Wednesday and Thursday to
decide what to do about the elections. At this stage it looks like all
systems go despite the present non-compliance with the SADC standards.
main reason being that our ordinary members across the country have
they want us to contest the elections.
If we do agree to fight the election then we expect the new Electoral
Commission and the SADC leaders to deliver free and fair conditions in
advance of the elections. These simply do not exist at present. I hear
the Courts will hand down a decision on the Daily News on the 7th of
February and have heard a whisper that it will be in favor of the
This will be another political decision by the Courts - not a legal
all the same, it opens up the playing field just that little bit more.
Even the much vaunted food weapon may yet rebound on Zanu PF. They
to control food supplies to the country by March 2005. It now looks as
they may have misjudged this and are actually running out of food
Zanu may well have to face a very hungry and angry electorate when they
finally drag themselves up to the ballot box hopefully in a delayed
held in June 2005.
Bulawayo, 28th January 2005