Have we got a plan and will it work?
An elderly man stopped me as I parked near a supermarket this morning.
you got a plan?' he asked. 'Of course' I said. Behind me a queue
around the corner as people waited in line for bread. Inside the shop
bought 20 kilos of coarse salt and the last bag of dog meal plus four
bananas. There was little else to buy.
In a sense our plan has not changed since 2000. We are planning to
change of government by peaceful, legal and democratic means in one of
periodic elections that are held for this very purpose. We are
beaten, vilified and subjected to every sort of tactic you can imagine,
we are not defeated, not by a long way and the regime here knows this.
Will it work? Well maybe, this time.
It seems to me quite clear now that the SADC process, facilitated by
government of South Africa, is about to yield some sort of an
There is still too much confusion about the talks and the leaks that we
being fed to know what this agreement will contain but I can state,
certainty, that it will be a giant step towards the goal of our first
and fair elections since Independence in 1980.
I can state that because I know the people negotiating on our side and
will not be brow beaten or intimidated into accepting anything less. I
certain also because unless it meets the criteria laid down in SADC's
standards for elections and the benchmarks prescribed by the
Community, there would be little merit in the whole exercise anyway.
The devil lies in the detail and we just have to wait for that before
comment. There is also the other issue of implementation and holding
rogue regime to the agreement - none of which is going to be easy. In
meantime I can assure everyone that both Zanu PF and the MDC and its
now think that we are in for a real fight, not a one sided contest
opponent of the Zanu PF has his hands tied behind his back, is denied
and water for a week before the fight and is then expected to stand up
slug it out for 12 rounds with a thug armed with a baseball bat.
Today we took delivery of some new vehicles - I think they are the
vehicles that we have had for at least 5 years. It was good to see the
logo on the side of each and to greet the drivers back from training
raring to go. Just plain, 4x2 pickups but they are tough and reliable
will help us immensely as we set about this campaign. Now we have to
fuel! That is another mission.
We will only commit ourselves to the election after we have seen and
opportunity to debate the agreement. This process is anxiously awaited
in the meantime the situation in the country just goes from bad to
The cocktail of measures taken by the regime in recent weeks has been a
potent mix designed to decimate what is left of our formal economy,
liquidate established firms and drive a significant portion of the
population out of the urban areas into the rural districts and across
borders into South Africa. They are well on their way to achieving this
and it occurred to me last night that for this reason alone, one of the
critical aspects of any agreement must be the right of those driven out
their homeland, to vote where they are.
We have at least 4 million or more adult Zimbabweans living outside the
country. Their numbers swell by the day as this economic and political
crisis deepens. The objective for Zanu PF is to reduce the voting
of those who are independent of the State and free spirits politically
inside the country to a level where they can be overwhelmed by the vote
they can control and direct. This was clearly enunciated by Mutasa in
statement about reducing the population to no more than 6 million
can be relied upon to vote Zanu. They are well on their way to
this extraordinary objective.
How the vote of the Diaspora is captured if they are allowed to vote is
another key issue and as I mused over this in bed this morning at about
am, I thought that there is only one way to do that without
chaos and leaving it open to manipulation and fraud and that is to
centers with major Zimbabwean populations as extensions of the election
process with their own polling stations set up and supervised by an
Independent Electoral Commission and voting on the same day as the
here at home. The exercise would be massive and would require
assistance from resident governments. The resulting ballot boxes would
flown home for counting.
Potentially there are more voters outside Zimbabwe than within - even
let alone after the full impact of the present collapse in the economy
it's way through our society. By forcing such a mechanism down
we would be negating the essence of the present strategy they are
But this aspect is only one of many that we are going to have to take
account. The one thing that is sure, there is no way that a free and
election can take place against the backdrop of these disastrous
policies. We simply will not get to an election if the situation does
improve shortly and unless Zanu PF is forced to stop this mad dash to
I had lunch with some foreign friends this past week and I said to them
there were three key issues to be addressed in the period after the
agreement is reached in South Africa - implementation of the
significant international support for the whole electoral process; the
normalization of the situation in the economy; and the restoration of
faith of the security forces that there is life after Zanu PF and that
fact it might be quite good!
Bulawayo, 31st August 2007