The Aftermath

I am sure most of you would have seen the pictures of Morgan and his colleagues at Court yesterday. Many people have written to me and said they wept for those involved, I must say I was close, but I was also angry, very angry.

In the aftermath we have had about 400 people arrested countrywide, demonstrations have taken place in London and in South Africa. We have some 15 people with bullet wounds and of course the injured detainees in Harare itself. It is not over yet - on Saturday we bury the young man who was shot dead by the Police on Sunday and that will be massive.

The list of injuries of those who were detained on Sunday is, frankly, unbelievable. Morgan is in intensive care as I write, he has a fractured skull and a deep gash with stitches, and he has internal injuries and required two blood transfusions this morning. If you were able to see him make that short statement on the Court steps you will have realized that he could hardly put two words together.

Sekai Holland, previously an executive member of Zapu and PA to Tongogara and Chitepo, now a member of the Executive of the MDC and a grandmother with 64 years under her belt, is in hospital, a broken arm, leg and cracked ribs as well as extensive and deep bruising. Grace Kwinjeh is not much better off and had head wounds that required surgery.

Many of the others have broken arms, one has had his foot amputated and there are many head injuries all with deep bruising and cuts. You have to work quite hard to do that sort of damage to an adult man or woman. I spoke with Tendai Biti this morning and he said neither he nor the President would be fit to do anything much for a few days. He witnessed the whole beating of Morgan and said that some 14 men and women were involved - 14 to 1, that is a good ratio for cowards, especially when the victim is behind locked doors and no one can get to him to help.

We have one story that says the army did some of the damage - Grace claims she was beaten by Army personnel rather than Police. We now wait to see what they are going to do on Saturday when the whole caboodle - I suspect including the President, will again be in Highfields for the funeral. Funerals have a special significance in our culture and this is an event that the authorities cannot ban.

A senior journalist in London phoned me to ask, 'Why are they doing this?' I agree, it does not make any sense politically for the regime here to go overboard to this extent at this juncture. There was no justification for the action or the violence. It has evoked a reaction from the entire world and must have Mugabe's remaining friends shrinking back as they contemplate the threat of contagion.

The Secretary General of the UN has condemned the regime, Britain has threatened to try and get us onto the agenda of the Security Council. The Commonwealth has virtually said, 'thank goodness they are no longer members! But if they were, they would face our wrath!!' The US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have all condemned the action of the Harare authorities.

But the question remains, what next? For us on the ground we are going to continue with the struggle to secure our basic rights. It is now clear that this will take more sacrifice as we have seen in the past few days. But that also is not enough.

What is needed is a clear statement on the basic principles that will under lie any future actions and negotiations. The British did that in the case of Rhodesia 'No Independence before majority rule.' Simple, straightforward, everyone understood what was required.

In our case there is no colonial power - we are a sovereign, independent State. This was recognised in the South African statement to the effect that this is a problem for the Zimbabwe people to resolve. Were we doing so on Sunday? Were the authorities doing so when they beat Morgan nearly to death? What do we have to do to get to the place where we can decide where we want to go and with whom and how?

I do not think that a solution can be found to the Zimbabwe crisis unless there is external intervention. We do not want troops or any form of military intervention that would be counter productive and futile. What is required is an agreement as to the overall objective and how to achieve it. Something like this: -
'It shall be the objective of this exercise to achieve the restoration of Zimbabwe as a democratic State that recognises and observe the rule of law and respects the rights of its people.'

The how to get there is more complex. It is my personal view that we should work within the legal and political framework that has evolved here over the past 27 years and allows the March 2008 Presidential elections to take place as scheduled. These elections, to be recognised, must be conducted on the basis of the SADC standards that have already been agreed by member States, including us, and must be monitored by the international and regional community to satisfy the test of credibility for the outcome.

The major political structures in the country would put forward their candidates for the Presidency and the person who won the election, would then put together a new administration to get us back on our feet and the process of drafting a new national constitution, under way. When that is in place new elections can be held and we can then all go back to our places of work and resume our normal lives.

We seem to have reached at least one milestone on this road back to sanity - Mugabe has accepted that the presidential elections will be held in March 2008 and he has intimated that he would not mind running again. After all, what is another 6 years when you are 84?

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 15th March 2007