Once more into the breech
Morgan had lunch with a group of local business leaders this week.
the conversation he made the point that he would never have predicted
the Nationalist government in South Africa in 1989 would have accepted
changes that were about to break over the heads of all who lived in
Africa. They controlled all the instruments of the State, huge
the electoral system and the media. Domestically they seemed to be
unassailable. Five years later they were defeated, out of power and the
Party that had dominated South Africa for the previous 45 years had
It happens. Never say the word 'impossible' in politics.
Suddenly there is a new consensus in the international community about
Zimbabwe. This replaces the assumed approach sculptured by Tony Blair
G8 summit in mid 2005 when the G8 renewed its commitment to helping put
Zimbabwe economy back on its feet and its support for the approach
by the South Africans. After the Gleneagles summit, Thabo Mbeki has had
at getting Mr. Mugabe to step aside and allow reform and recovery on
separate occasions and on each occasion he was frustrated by the local
We, in the MDC were never happy with the approach being adopted for the
resolution of the crisis over the past year and are quite happy that
Blair/Mbeki approach has failed. In its place a much more principled
robust approach has now been crafted and seems to have suddenly gained
acceptance across the globe.
In response we have modified our own approach and this is now
with the new UN crafted proposals and is currently being given some
experts and legal draftsmen. As soon as this process is complete we
ready for what might be coming in the near future.
The reasons for this new consensus are not hard to understand. It is
years since George Bush stood with Mr. Mbeki in Pretoria and stated
Mbeki was now the 'point man' on the Zimbabwe crisis. A logical choice
has the power to coerce the Zimbabwean leadership if this is required,
has the experience and his own country had just been through a dramatic
transition assisted by the global community.
In fact Mr. Mbeki accepted the role but then tried to use his position
secure an outcome that would have left a so-called 'sanitized Zanu PF
government' in power. The reasons for this were purely domestic and had
little to do with what was best for Zimbabwe. Had the Zanu PF
recognised this and co-operated with Mr. Mbeki then he might have made
progress and we (the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe) would have had to
to live with new leadership, perhaps modified policies, but with most
same problems that beset us right now.
The leadership of Zanu PF did not see this as a way out and instead
blocked all Mbeki's efforts to resolve the crisis. In fact they have
insulted and slandered the South African President and must now finally
the new consensus without his support and protection.
The second reason for the new consensus is the acceptance that Zimbabwe
now close to collapse. I have often said this before - countries do not
collapse like companies, but in this case I may in fact be wrong. We
close to the very real threat that we may not be able to sustain our
as a functional entity. Coal supplies are down to critical levels,
electrical energy needs are no longer being met and our own local
being exacerbated by a growing deficit in electrical energy supplies
regionally. Our railways are no longer capable of moving more than a
proportion of our national transport needs and we no longer have the
currency to support essential imports - this week saw Air Zimbabwe
flights because it simply cannot keep its aircraft in the air.
A country like the Congo can survive these sorts of pressures - the
of its economy is informal and can survive these chaotic conditions.
inherent riches have enabled the Congo to survive under a succession of
corrupt, even criminal, elements since 1960.
Somaliland has seen half its total population leave the country since
own collapse began. Other African States that have failed have seen
numbers of migrants fleeing the country for greener pastures. The great
difference here is that our own millions of fleeing citizens have in
main 'gone south'. A correspondent told me just this week that they now
think that up to 4 million Zimbabweans may be living in South Africa -
15 per cent as legal residents.
The continued, even accelerated collapse in the Zimbabwean economy this
has scared a lot of people - in the region and abroad. It has suddenly
new impetus to the search for a solution.
Perhaps another reason for the new consensus on the way forward and the
to throw some weight behind the initiative, is the new sense of the
fragility of the South African situation. The SACP and Cosatu are
about breaking away from the ANC and if they did the political spectrum
South Africa would change overnight. A leftist Party would emerge from
new dispensation that could challenge the hegemony of the ANC in South
African politics. It is Mbeki's nightmare scenario.
Under these circumstances he needs to narrow down the focus of the
African administration and reduce the number of fronts on which they
dealing with serious problems. Zimbabwe is one place where they could
such a reduction and at the same time perhaps draw the interests of the
alliance parties together.
Whatever the reasons - there is suddenly a new consensus on the way
Like a clearing in deep, dense fog at sea - suddenly we can all see how
transitional government might open up the situation here - allow the
international community in with resources and open up the possibility
free and fair elections could be held in a year or so. So watch the
in the Gambia next week very closely. It is perhaps another turning
southern African history - one that will echo the events in September
when Ian Smith was forced to cede to a transition and 1989 when the
Africans faced the same scenario and succumbed to a combination of
and international pressure. Perhaps, just perhaps, this time is our
Bulawayo, June 17th 2006