Nowhere to hide.
Political leaders can get away, literally, with all sorts of
the conditions are right and they have enough of a protective screen.
that with Kennedy and Roosevelt - both of whom were carefully
the media when they were in power. We saw that on a much larger scale
Stalin was in power in the Soviet Union. The same might be said of the
Chinese leadership for many years after World War 2.
In his first 15 years of leadership in Zimbabwe, Mr. Mugabe got away
genocidal activities on a scale not seen in the years of the civil war
Zimbabwe. He is also associated with the deaths under mysterious
circumstances of many of his own comrades including Chitepo, Tongogara
Nyagumbo. Had he retired in 1995, all of that might have been forgotten
he may have been allowed to sail off into the sunset of his days, it
Since 1996 the world community has placed his regime under scrutiny and
has been judged and found guilty of many of the excesses he may have
committed earlier but was able to escape direct association and
condemnation. Duped by his own sense of invincibility he has now thrown
caution to the wind and is lashing out at all who are perceived to be
enemies - and we are many. This may be understandable, but it is a
We were all plunged into the slough of despond last week when he
back from Dar es Salaam, strutted onto the stage at the Zanu PF
and seemed to be able to brush the SADC off his shoulders and at the
time sweep aside his domestic Zanu PF adversaries. But we now know that
presented a very distorted view of the SADC summit and its outcome.
We understand from many sources that the SADC summit was unusual for
reasons - it was summoned in a matter of days, the Heads of State for
the 14 countries attended and the others were represented at a senior
All Heads of State participated and were united in their criticism of
manner in which the opposition in Zimbabwe was being treated and on the
issue of the seriousness of the Zimbabwe crisis. They uniformly
that the roots of the crisis be tackled without any further delay.
The picture of Mugabe that emerges from these reports is not the one we
see - a swaggering arrogant tyrant, threatening dire consequences to
dare threatened his hegemony over political power. We understand he
accepted that Morgan Tsvangirai had been wrongly treated whilst in
and that 'those responsible' should be brought to book! He also
need to bring the crisis in Zimbabwe under some sort of control and get
country back on its feet. He accepted without a quibble the appointment
Mr. Mbeki as the SADC 'point man' or facilitator in mediation
MDC (never in my lifetime) and Zanu PF.
In recent days more details have emerged - both Mr. Mbeki and the
African Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs have stated that they are
preparing to take up the cudgels on behalf of the SADC leadership and
initiate the long awaited talks between the MDC and Zanu PF. They have
clearly stated that they are meeting the MDC and have asked them to put
their demands for changes that might lead to a free and fair election
March 2008 in writing. They have indicated that once these are in place
will be taking up these issues with Zanu PF.
They have stated very clearly that no party will be allowed to walk
from the talks and that they expect compromise. They also state that
objective is to ensure that the March 2008 elections are free and fair
democratic - to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.
Well, that is all we have been asking for - get the talks going and
sure no one walks out and we will produce an agreement that could yield
an outcome. The only stumbling block being the fact that a free and
election would signal the death knell of Zanu PF.
I have many friends who say to me that is not so, that Zanu has a
constituency and that they can never be taken for granted. I agree they
should never be discounted as a political entity, but if the people of
Zimbabwe were given a genuine, free and fair election and Zanu PF was
the capacity or opportunity to do its normal 'thing', it remains my
that they would be defeated massively.
So Mr. Mbeki, it is over to you. We wait to see if you can handle a
the ring with Robert Gabriel Mugabe. I have no doubt that Mbeki has the
power and the capacity but in this game it is willpower that so often
the differences. Mugabe has his back to the wall and after this week he
knows what he is up against. That makes him a very dangerous adversary.
While this has been unfolding, the thugs in the present regime have
having a field day. 30 to 50 MDC leaders a day have been abducted from
homes and places of work, beaten and then dumped. Several have died
beatings and many others are receiving medical treatment. It is clear
this has been a carefully planned and executed programme. There have
many petrol bombings and these are being uniformly blamed on the MDC
though we are clearly not involved in any way. The objective is to tear
apart the structures of the MDC and terrify everyone who is in any way
associated with the MDC.
Last week the strike went off reasonably well - I drove through the
Bulawayo on the Tuesday morning and most industrial firms were closed
about half the retail stores. The Banks were all open. The City was
quiet. It was less effective in Harare and in the smaller centers.
We do not get the sense of how serious the economic collapse here is
you visit South Africa. I was in SA for a few days this week and came
on the eve of Easter. The roads out of Johannesburg were packed -
tail all the way. Then when I got to the border there were thousands of
Zimbabweans trying to get home for the long weekend. It took me 3 and
hours to clear the border. On the Zimbabwe side there was little
the traffic going south was virtually nil.
If we are going to have to negotiate with Zanu PF and then oversee an
agreement that will usher in the necessary conditions for free and fair
elections in 11 months time, we are going to have our hands full. But
least we will be doing something positive.
Bulawayo, 8th April 2007