Its now one month since the elections in Zimbabwe and I thought a quiet
reflective post mortem might be timely. One has so little time to give
overall picture some thought when we are in the thick of things, so
might be instructive.
Seven months ago the MDC leadership decided to suspend participation in
local elections. (It's only been 7 months!!) This was just after the
regime had announced that they would hold elections in March 2005 and
celebrate 25 years of independence in April. At that stage they were
confident that they could win a two-thirds majority and gain acceptance
the international community for a new Zanu PF led government. The
among the diplomatic community was not very different - they were
MDC leaders that if they were not careful, Zanu PF would regain the
initiative in international and regional affairs.
On the down side we lost a number of parliamentary and local government
seats during the 5 months when Zanu basically had the field to
But while this was going on we secured a number of major achievements.
focused attention on the conditions under which the next general
were to be held. This exposed all the shortcomings in the Zanu PF
for acceptance and ensured that this issue remained center stage the
On the domestic front we quietly set about rebuilding our Party
in all those areas where Zanu PF had tried over the previous 4 years to
exclude the MDC. We also set about preparing for the March elections -
drafted a manifesto and got it accepted by the Party. We started
selection and developed a campaign strategy and campaign materials. We
overcame the restrictions imposed on the printing industry, which
effectively denied us access to printing capacity in the commercial
by installing our own equipment. We built up our finances in
The suspension also had the added benefit in that it intensified the
struggle for power inside Zanu PF. This eventually emerged in the form
clear schism in their ranks between the new generation of Zanu PF
and the old guard. This culminated in the Tsholotsho meeting and the
subsequent split in Zanu and the expulsion of a number of leaders.
The chaos in Zanu PF and the consequential bickering led to a delay in
election by two weeks and even then when the date was finally fixed,
still had to select a large number of candidates and was poorly
the bruising political struggle ahead.
To my mind there is little doubt that the MDC won this campaign hands
It was better prepared, its campaign was slick and professional and I
thought it was the best yet. We well knew that the election would not
or lost in the campaign but in the manner in which the actual vote was
and counted and then announced. None of which was under the control of
MDC in any way. From start to finish the election was run by Zanu PF
loyalists and the military or security services.
Our own forecast was that we had 33 safe seats and 17 possible wins. An
estimate that proved all too accurate. It was based purely on our own
estimate of which constituencies Zanu PF would abandon to their own
and where the MDC was overwhelmingly strong.
With so much attention focused on the election - both by the media and
international community, it was always a reality that any rigging would
exposed and the results of the election rejected by serious observers.
proved to be the case and no sooner had the sound of Zanu "victory"
celebrations died down (after 30 minutes or so - they were so muted)
major western States rejected the outcome as being rigged in favor of
PF. The media also, by and large, said that this election was not free
fair and that the playing field had been tilted in favor of Zanu from
one. Even Mr. Mbeki was forced to hold back his endorsement of the
when it finally came to that point in the SA Parliamentary debate.
The question now arises as to what to do after the election. I said in
days that followed March 31 that Mugabe was in the same position as a
fullback who finds himself on the field with the ball in his hands and
entire front line bearing down on him with the intention of doing him
harm if they catch him with the ball! I said that these forwards
tighter sanctions by the international community, increased regional
isolation and the domestic problems of fuel, food and the collapse of
economy. The one element in Zimbabwe that he cannot intimidate or
This has proved to be the case - made worse by the fact that the Mugabe
regime has foolishly spent up to half a billion US dollars on arms and
aircraft in recent months. It now has little in reserve to fight off
So now, having gained their goal of a two thirds majority in the House
great cost to themselves, they must deal with an angry international
community which is planning more sanctions and isolation and is
aid flows to the continent in retaliation for what they see as
with the electoral fraud in Zimbabwe. The international community also
recognizes this as a real threat to democratic principles throughout
They must also now deal with the crisis created by Mugabe's own
intransigence on the issue of food aid and the near collapse of the
economy. Zanu PF is not made up of idiots - there are a few of those,
most are well educated and experienced people. They know that if they
towards extending Mugabe's term to 2010 or tightening the grip on power
the aging oligarchy in the Politburo that this would ignite an already
explosive situation in the country. The army is on full alert and armed
roadblocks have been erected across the country and are operating for
hours a day. They are nervous and know full well that the ice under
feet is very thin and the water below, extremely cold.
As for us in the MDC - we are just quietly raising the temperature.
Bulawayo, May 2nd 2005