For Whom the Bell Tolls
Last week Witness Mangwende died. Someone wrote to me and reminded me
he and I were at University together. He was not one of Zanu PF's most
outstanding characters. Perhaps he was the worst Minister of
this country has ever had - before the present incumbent of course, who
in a league all by himself.
But it was a useful reminder that the clock ticks and that one-day the
will toll for all of us without exception. Tyrants do not last forever,
fact when you look back in history they seem to have been around for
short time while they lived and terrorized their countries and regions.
will be no different.
The big question in peoples minds here - is this the moment of truth
The MDC is not short of critics both here at home and outside, but I
personally think they have handled the past year with consummate skill
enterprise. The decision to suspend participation in elections in
a strategic decision and it achieved what was intended. Zanu fell apart
they fought each other for what they imagined were "safe seats". The
and the international community were forced to examine in detail the
conditions for elections in Zimbabwe and this gave a new clarity to the
situation and more understanding. The SADC electoral protocols were one
While the suspension lasted we lost a number of seats we had won in the
previous 4 years as Zanu PF candidates were ushered in without
but this just exacerbated the competition for power in Zanu itself. The
months gap in political campaigning was not wasted by the MDC - the
rebuilt its structures in areas where the government had tried to
them, it cleaned up its accounts and wiped out its debts and it started
preparing for re-entry to the political campaign arena.
So when Mugabe finally announced a date for the elections - March the
2005, he was stunned to be faced, within 48 hours, with a resurgent
MDC candidates in the field, many of who had already been campaigning
months, a Party manifesto ready and even a campaign programme on the
and now rolled out for implementation. Secretly we were even pleased
the election was in March, even though we protested and demanded a
just goes to show - do not ever take what a politician says in public
what he or she really intends!
I think even our most vociferous critics must now be asking if they
right? The MDC campaign has so far swamped that of Zanu PF. Zanu
meager affairs compared to the 20 rallies a day being held by MDC teams
across the country. The country is ablaze with red posters of MDC
from Kariba to Beitbridge.
When Zanu planned this whole thing they thought that a weakened MDC
not be able to field more than 80 candidates. They felt confident that
up to 40 Zanu candidates unopposed plus the 30 appointed seats, Zanu
already be nearly there for a two-thirds majority. They also prepared
2 million false ballot papers in readiness for a massive ballot
exercise facilitated by a new electoral Act that allows ballots without
stamp of the polling station to be admitted to the count and by the
that nearly all polling stations would be staffed by the military and
service agents who can be relied upon to do "whatever is required" to
In fact back in August 2004, Zanu was actually debating just how many
they would allow the MDC to take! They thought that 15 to 20 seats
sufficient to maintain the fašade of democracy in Zimbabwe while giving
a free hand to alter the constitution so as to allow a hand picked
to the man at the top. They should never have forgotten that a week is
long time in politics.
So now Zanu faces the ultimate nightmare for tyrants - an electoral
which may or may not be under his control.
They certainly are running scared - the Daily News, expected back on
streets in February, has still not seen the judgment handed down even
thought it was finalized some months ago. After coverage of one MDC
and 10 minutes of time on national TV for the MDC Secretary general and
Chairperson of the MDC Women's Assembly, the State radio and TV
have reverted to a stony silence on all MDC activities except for
propaganda and even that has lost its edge since Moyo was sent into
Tsholotsho. The State controlled newspapers will not even accept MDC
Internationally things are even worse for Zanu PF. The MDC "Protocol
relentlessly lists and publishes for all to see, the continuing
of democratic principles by the State in every sphere. The US has
sanctions and has harshly criticised the whole process, the EU has
its stance and major new initiatives for Africa launched by the leaders
the G8 have become conditional on Africa taking appropriate action to
the excesses of some of its leaders - Mugabe as the number one culprit.
matter where Zanu turns, the spotlights bring out every wrinkle and
hair, every flaw.
Even Mbeki is slowly turning against his former stance of being
unquestionably pro Zanu. Reluctant but realistic, he is beginning to
that he may have to change his stance. I watched his interview last
when he said he expected the Zimbabwe elections to be in accordance
SADC protocols and be declared free and fair. He was immediately faced
a barrage of criticism at home and abroad but what he actually said
interpreted very differently. I watched him closely, it was firstly, a
on one interview with SABC - therefore it was a planned action.
what he actually said was that he expected all SADC countries to adhere
the protocols and that Zimbabwe was no exception. It could have been a
warning to Mugabe that he was not to over step the mark, as he had done
2002 when the Zimbabwe elections had embarrassed the leadership of
and forced them to suspend us from the Commonwealth.
Just today, SADC has stated that their observers will have "real power"
the electoral process. Does this mean they actually are going to try
stop the rigging? Because if they do and are successful, then Zanu is
The world has said that our future is in our own hands and that
have to do what is necessary to remove Mugabe from power and effect
Well we are doing just that in the form of a massive nation wide
of poll supervision and control. Reinforced by an effective regional
in the form of poll observers this could make the difference. I have no
doubt about how the people are going to vote, the question is will
vote be subverted for the third time in front of the watching world by
desperate regime operating behind a curtain raised by its neighbors?
Well we have just 22 days to go - you can help by sending us some money
volunteering to help in your constituency. This is our chance to rescue
country and our future from those who have shown they are only
themselves and their own comforts. For all of us the bell tolls, for
rallying cry, for others a warning that the end is nigh.
Bulawayo, 9th March 2005.