What next?

I think we can all see that this regime has not got long to go. Inflation at 50 per cent per month, spiraling expenditures that cannot be stopped or they will trigger the inevitable retribution, food shortages of every sort and a universally hostile global community. Something is about to break; when it does it will be fast and unexpected.

Why am I so sure of the above statement? Simply because history shows that this is what happens to governments that screw up to the extent that the Mugabe regime has done. Never imagine they get away with their madness - they do not, eventually it catches up with them and they are consumed by it. I recently heard an account of life in the Hitler bunker in Berlin in 1945 as the Allies were closing in on that particularly nasty blot on human history. It was not pleasant and you could almost feel sorry for Hitler and his closest compatriots.

What would be a tragedy at this juncture is if it happens and we are not ready and do not have a plan. They say we are a very resourceful people - we can "always make a plan". Well what is ours?

We in the MDC have just emerged from a nasty split in our leadership. This is just about over and discussions are taking place as to the possible basis of a divorce. The people who have effectively left the MDC will now go off and start a new political party and those of us who have remained in the MDC will get on with what we have always seen as our task - that of removing Zanu PF from power and replacing them with a democratically elected, law abiding government that will respect all our rights as a people. The main distinguishing features of these two party's will be that the new group will continue to fight elections and we will not - at least not until we have a new constitution and can be assured of a level playing field. People must now decide where they belong and go off and join the new group or stay with the MDC. For me there has never been any question as to where the people are - they are still with the MDC. Under the surface of this storm, the water has been quite calm and undisturbed. I am always amazed and pleasantly surprised at the wisdom, insight and understanding of the ordinary voter.

The MDC is busy deciding (never a short process in any democratic movement) what to do but the outline of the way forward is emerging - we are not going to play games with Zanu PF anymore - we will resolve at Congress to withdraw from the democratic process until we have change. In the light of this growing consensus we have decided we will not contest two elections coming up this month in Bulawayo. Both certain MDC seats, we still feel that not only is this a waste of time, it will in fact do nothing to secure our primary goal.

Yesterday we held a major consultation with civil society in Manicaland - a prelude to starting a campaign of democratic resistance to the Mugabe regime in that region. Once this programme is under way it will spread to other areas, gradually increasing the domestic pressure on the regime.

Soon we will meet with civil society to debate the way forward and to try and secure agreement on our goals and strategies. This meeting will include all the organisations that made up the Working People's Convention that launched the MDC on its way in the late 90's. At this meeting the MDC, as a child of this group, will report its progress and failures as a party. We will be able to point to our victories and admit our mistakes, but most of all to say that the electoral system here is now so subverted that it no longer offers us a route for change. Remember the WPC gave us a mandate to pursue change by democratic, peaceful, legal means.

Does this mean that we are now turning to violence? Not at all and the regime here knows that - just this past week when the MDC held a short strategy session in Zambia and Zambia was asked to evict us, when the Zambian army, police, intelligence and immigration officers came to our hotel to comply with the request from the Zimbabwe regime, they did not bother to search us, our rooms or our luggage. They knew full well we were there purely on political business and that all we wanted was 48 hours free of CIO surveillance and monitoring. So much for SADC commitments to normal democratic activity.

In fact our road map has not changed at all - all we are demanding is that we are allowed to hold a national all stakeholders constitutional conference, agree on implementation procedures and a transitional administration and then are allowed to hold free and fair elections for our leadership under international supervision. Simple. The question is how do we get there and when. Well the economy and the dollar are doing their bit - both are in steep decline. We have effectively devalued by more than 50 per cent in the past two weeks. Prices are spiraling out of control and the shortages are becoming more acute daily. Power outages are now the norm and we are close to almost complete collapse.

We are going to ask our people to also do their bit. If we all start in a small way to disobey the State - stop paying our bills to the State, helping distribute information to each other and to persuade the armed forces to join the people's campaign for a new constitution. Write funny messages on walls and stop buying the State controlled newspapers - we can all do something.

We are going to ask our civil society partners (parents) to adopt the MDC road map to change. Then to decide what they can each do to help push the agenda forward. We will ask the Churches to devote Easter this year to prayers for change and renewal. We will ask the Unions to get workers to demand a new constitution, we will ask the Chiefs to do the same and will initiate a campaign in the armed forces. If they join us in our struggle for a new Zimbabwe, then it is over; they are the only remaining pillars supporting Zanu PF power.

We will be going to the international community, including the UN to demand that they come with us on this new agenda. Do they have an alternative? This is democratic; it could be peaceful and will then enable us to restore the rule of law and all human and political rights so that a new Zimbabwe can rise from the ashes of the old. We will demand that the SADC back us in this initiative and just as they did in 1979, force all local political leaders to attend the conference and to participate until agreement is reached on a consensual basis. Zanu PF has no choice but to come to the conference and to negotiate its survival and future.

And this is where you come in - we need money and people. You cannot survive for long in politics without both. We have the people - but no money! Ncube stole what we had, the State denies us what is ours and our business leaders are scared of their shadows and trying to survive the economic storm that rages here. We have stopped wasting our time on the recent spat inside the MDC and are now working flat out on the implementation of the MDC road map.

We will not make progress without funds and we must all stop sitting on our chequebooks because we are uncertain about which faction the money will go to or what will be done with it. There is only one MDC, its leader is Morgan Tsvangirai and it is the only possible vehicle for change - no one else has the people on their side. For those in South Africa - remember Zimfund, for those in Zimbabwe - just contact us. In the US and the EU contact your nearest branch. Remember 10 pounds is now worth Z$2,5 million. It all helps.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 5th February 2006.