Well here we are - facing another year in Zimbabwe. No one I have
is at all optimistic that this coming year will be any better than the
In fact most - especially business persons say they think it will be
The question that arises is therefore what are our options? Some might
"what options" but we always have options from which we can choose
feel might pave the way for our own security, prosperity and future.
One such option is to pack up and leave. Millions have done so and now
a quarter of our population lives in other countries. I say our
as if there was some prospect of these migrants returning to the
their birth, but we must be realistic and say that the great majority
in fact never come back. It's not an easy option - the break with the
is painful and expensive. Relocation to a strange country and living
strangers is never easy. But it remains an option and unfortunately for
those of who choose to stay, many are taking up this option and the
of our human capital continues apace.
The other option is to stay - if you do you have two new domestic
you can fight for a better future or compromise with the regime and
even join the gravy train. Many have taken the latter route - and some
Zimbabweans have gone that route. The rewards can be considerable,
the risks are also significant. If you take this route you better keep
profile or run the risk of attracting international and domestic
If you chose to stay and fight then what are your options? Not many.
is still the MDC - damaged by the recent infighting over options - the
choice between compromise and cooperation to secure progress. But now
is also a new group gradually emerging - Zanu and MDC renegades
coalescing around what is being called the "Potato Party" because it's
symbol looks like a potato. There are some significant people in this
grouping - Moyo, Mabaleka perhaps Munangagwa eventually - perhaps
The infighting within both the MDC and Zanu PF is in fact forcing
both sides to choose perhaps this "third force" as some of its
might call it - among them the owner of the remaining independent
weekly newspapers in Zimbabwe and the Mail and Guardian in SA. While
goes on the effective maneuvering of the two main political leaders -
and Tsvangirai, is frustrating the efforts being made to change the
of events inside both Zanu PF and the MDC.
As everyone well knows, Mugabe is a wily old devil and still has the
of power firmly in his hands - even though he is being forced to rely
security and military chiefs for decisions and initiatives - like those
led to Murambatsvina. The young Turks and others who dreamt of removing
Mugabe and then rebuilding what was left of Zanu PF as a Party and with
the Zimbabwean economy, are not winning the struggle going on inside
PF. Likewise the group led by Welshman Ncube in the MDC is finding
being expunged from the MDC and their support base within the Party
the country being marginalized and shrunk.
This represents a major failure of South African foreign policy in the
six months. Given the responsibility of securing change and progress on
political front by the G8 leaders in July 2005, Mbeki chose to try and
manipulate the Zimbabwean political scene to persuade Mugabe to step
early, persuade what was left of Zanu PF to then pick up the pieces and
Western help, start work on an effective political and economic
This is very important to Mbeki - Zimbabwe remains his most important
foreign policy issue and he well knows his peers in the west are
by his success or failure to deliver what he has undertaken to deliver.
the same time he fears the emergence of an MDC government here which
then encourage COSATU and the other elements on the left of the ANC
alliance, to go it alone and challenge ANC hegemony in South Africa
This is going to happen eventually but Mbeki knows he must postpone the
emergence of such an opposition alliance while he builds the center in
politics and makes sure that the ANC straddles that position.
Such strategic imperatives in SA politics have been dealt a severe blow
the failure of the initiatives taken in the second half of 2005. The
impatience of the UN system also now poses a threat and Mugabe's
attitude both the need for a change in direction and in the approach to
humanitarian crisis here is a real problem. The impending visit to the
region by a senior UN official to follow up the recent debate on
the Security Council is an immediate challenge.
But back to options. When Kissenger took up the cudgels on behalf of
Governments in 1976 and undertook to remove Ian Smith as an obstacle to
progress and change in Rhodesia, he did so with consummate skill and
effective use of the power and influence that his position gave him.
had nothing at stake and it was a cheap and relatively easy task. Mbeki
the power to do the same thing - and just as quickly but fears the
in his own backyard - he cannot have both.
The hard-line position adopted by Mugabe is yet another example of the
options available - not a very sensible one, but it is an option and
unfortunately it has the effect of determining the shape of other
that are in front of us. Can we take another four years of Mugabe?
be little doubt that Zanu PF is going to extend the life of this
to 2010, early in 2006. Can we take yet further economic collapse and
continuing decline in the quality and level of services that are
to us and are essential to our health and welfare?
The answer to both these hypothetical questions can be both yes and no.
if we feel there is really nothing that can be done about Mugabe given
fatal strictures on SA foreign policy towards Zimbabwe and the low
we attract in international circles even though we are a polecat. No,
feel we still have the capacity to take matters into our own hands and
The MDC is steadily moving towards its second national congress. 12 000
delegates are expected drawn from 1900 Ward Committees and 120
12 Provinces. The Party still has majority support across the country
can organise and hold major political rallies at will in almost every
of the country. With 2 million paid up members it is without doubt the
opposition grouping that can command national support and grass roots
muscle. The question is what direction to take after Congress? When we
launched the Party in 1999, we set out to change the government by
democratic and peaceful means. We have stuck to that until now. Now we
that elections are never going to yield change, what other options do
have? Some would say that if we abandon the electoral route then only
violence remains. The question is what sort of force can be employed?
History is riddled with examples of people who have thrown off the
tyranny by peaceful means - Gandhi in India, recently the Orange
in the Ukraine - the overthrow of Marxist dictators in Europe in the
's and early 90's. But here we are up against a formidable opponent -
with degrees in violence. But he has never been weaker or more
is also getting older by the minute.
When the MDC meets in early 2006, it will know that Mugabe has decided
"four more years". That might be enough - just enough - to finally
the fighting spirit that we know exists in Zimbabwe. We know that
have all seen it before, it takes a lot of provocation to bring it out
when it does finally emerge not even their "degrees of violence" will
them. What option will you choose this day, I have bought mine!
Bulawayo, January 2, 2006.