A Tug of War

There can be little doubt now that those of us who continue to live in Zimbabwe are engaged in a desperate struggle that closely resembles a tug of war. I do not think anyone who has interests here should either sit on the sidelines and watch the struggle or ignore the play being acted out on this particular stage at this time.

On the one side are those who control the State and its machinery. On the other are the MDC and its activist supporters. This is not an equal struggle, the one side holds all the resources and capacity of a modern State - the armed forces, the administration, the Reserve Bank, State controlled media and the Legislature. The other side is under funded, have no ready access to the media, do not control the field of play and have only themselves to rely on. They have a global cheer brigade that encourages them and applauds what they are doing, but little else.

The reality is this. In the absence of any effective intervention by South Africa and its SADC allies, Mugabe is now engaged in an exercise designed to dismantle what is left of the private sector, reduce urban populations by at least a third and take over what is left standing at the end of this blitzkrieg either by the State or those connected with the State.

This exercise has no legal basis, it is purely political and is being implemented with ruthless determination by people who have their backs to the wall and have nothing to lose. They are serious about nationalizing all the major foreign firms here, except perhaps for certain selected mining companies that are needed for the next stage. These will be taken over one by one by the State using either the State Trading Corporation (the larger retail groups) or the IDC (all major industry). With the equities market down dramatically this exercise will be supported by payouts in Zimbabwe dollars that will be deliberately depreciated by simply printing money in ever larger denominations.

The smaller concerns will be liquidated by the price control exercise and then taken over by Zanu PF elements as well as individuals from the Armed forces and the security apparatus. These assets will be dished out as a reward for compliance and support and strictly controlled on a political basis - move away from support for the regime and you will immediately lose your assets and rights and be forced into exile - look at Mawere, Makoni (NMB) and many others.

Note that Zanu PF supporters and collaborators are being equally targeted by this exercise. Many are unhappy with the present operation and the collapse of the formal economy into which they have invested and secured substantial assets over recent years. This shows that those with power, no longer regard them as essential to their needs or operations. This is an action by a tiny group that is centered on Mugabe and is using the State itself as its support base.

They are deliberately destroying the livelihoods of millions and hundreds of thousands of jobs. They are also systematically removing the means to supply those same people with the basics of life. Fuel and food are virtually unobtainable right now. I am informed that they have 40 million litres of fuel stored in State controlled facilities. Enough to keep them going during the siege of the private sector for several months - far longer than any firm can hang on. Those affected have only one option - flight. I am not exaggerating or trying to panic people, but a real refugee crisis is now developing on our borders as two to three million people try to flee to anywhere that might provide them with the means of survival.

This new wave of humanity is going to impact most on South Africa where the population of desperate, impoverished Zimbabweans is about to soar to five or six million. I leave to your imagination how these new migrants will make a living in South Africa. Please note that this regime gives scant regard to the interests of any of our neighbors - they seek only their own survival on a small island of a State in Central Africa.

Their goal is a remarkable one - they are down sizing the economy to a shell of what we had before, they are reducing the urban population and at the same time the national population by forcing out those who are the remaining support base of the MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai. When it is over we will have an impoverished, subsistence supported population with some industrial and commercial activity - all controlled either by the State or by individuals whom are themselves State controlled and directed. Under these new conditions elections, run by the military, will hold few dangers for this regime.

So back to the tug of war. This battle is not over, we must, all of us who have an interest in the future and welfare of Zimbabwe and the region, now become engaged in this tug of war. We can all do something - I urge you to take a short break from whatever you are doing and think about what you can do to help us pull this corrupt, despotic and irresponsible disgrace of a regime over the mound and consign them to the dustbin of history. We can all do something - let your mind run over what you might do to contribute, no matter how small, if we act together we can make a difference.

It might be a small donation to Zimfund, it might be a decision to delay your departure from Zimbabwe and to try and struggle on for a while longer. A friend at Church has a small business that has been wiped out - he has gone to the UK to try and find a job and will then leave with his family. If he does, he takes yet another person out of the struggle, leaving fewer behind to pull on that rope. You might write a letter to your MP or simply help a local family without food or clothing. If you run into a Policeman or a Soldier - urge them to change sides. Every person we can get to change from supporting the regime to opposing it, is a double victory.

Paul McCarthy wrote the song 'Tug of War' for the group 'Wings' and says in the lyrics that this is a tug of war to raise the flag on this hill so that afterwards we can all walk to a different drum. That is what it is all about; raising the flag for democracy, freedom, the rule of law, justice and equity, human rights and development. Help us do just that.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 26th July 2007