Fighting back.

We are now into our third month of the 'neutron bomb' campaign or the Pol Pot strategy as I call it. Manufacturing activity is still very low, supermarket and other retails store shelves are empty and the campaign to intimidate and enforce this exercise continues.

I saw an interesting sidelight to this operation yesterday. Quite close to my home is a small milling company that gets maize from the GMB. The owner is a well-known Zanu PF activist. She has been supplying the nearby suburbs with maize meal but has now quietly stopped selling maize meal to the urban area. Instead her entire output is going to the local Chief who is putting on a mark up and selling the maize to his people.

This is interesting because it shows how thorough these guys are when it comes to working through their strategy for the next election. First of all you have a politically controlled allocation system for maize - it is only going to well known Zanu PF supporters. Secondly, those recipients are being instructed as to whom they in turn can sell to - in this case a local Chief (buying his loyalty and commitment) and thence to his people - making sure that the link to Zanu PF is known and the threat of the withdrawal of supply constant.

At the same as these political goals are being achieved, they are intensifying the shortage of maize meal in the City - reinforcing their efforts to drive people out of the urban areas into the rural areas, or better still, into the South African slums. There they will not be able to vote if present restrictions on the Diaspora vote are retained. The big commercial mills are unable to buy maize from the GMB and the miller up the road is being allowed to do what the main milling companies are denied the right to do - sell maize meal at a profit, making sure she knows which side her bread is buttered.

So how do we fight back against these strategies having rejected any form of physical violence as a means of resistance or change? There are a number of things we can do:

The first is do not quit! We have stayed the course so far, like a marathon, starting out is easy, the middle painful, the last section just putting one foot in front of the other and mechanically slogging it out until the finish line. Zanu PF wants us to quit, pack our bags and go. They do not care about the consequences or the economic implications - just the political ones and their whole strategy is geared to making you quit the race and leave the field. Someone said to me the other day 'quitters cannot win!'

The second is network! We cannot buy food and other essentials in the stores - so make a plan to get together, go buy in Botswana or South Africa, or even Zambia and Mozambique. Ask others who cannot do so what they would like you to get for them. Develop contacts for the essentials and then help distribute the proceeds. Your retailer cannot buy and sell maize meal, so you do it - at a parallel market rate. Do the distribution from home or the Church. It is amazing what you can achieve if you work together in small groups and across society.

The third is getting ready for the elections that are coming. We are going to be able to vote next year, conditions will not be perfect or even fair, but if we all vote and we vote for change, supporting only those who offer the chance of victory against Zanu PF and a real hope for a change of direction, we can win this time round.

We need to speak to everyone we come across - are you registered to vote? Are you ready to vote? Have you made sure you will be here to vote? No pressure on who to vote for - just make sure everyone gets to the polling booth and once there and able to vote in secret, make their vote count. Lets make democracy work for us this time!

Help make the election free and fair. Find out where your polling station is going to be and volunteer to be a polling agent or monitor. Adopt the polling station as your own - make sure it is well sign posted and your community knows where to vote. Do some lobbying in your community on the issue saying this is our chance to change the direction in which this country is going, maybe our last chance. Fight back!

Find out who your candidates are going to be and arrange a house meeting to meet them and introduce them to your community. Listen to what they have to say and then decide how to use your ballot. Do not leave it to the media - or to gossip, meet the people yourself and decide. That is what real democracy is all about.

On the day, make sure that all who want to vote are able to get to the polling station and cast their vote. This time we need an overwhelming turnout and vote - it is the only thing that will change Zimbabwe and prevent the rogue elements in this present regime and in the armed forces from making mischief.

But do not throw up your hands and say what is the use, they stole the election in 2000, 2002 and 2005, what guarantee have we that they will not do it again? None! But if we do not vote, then we predetermine the outcome - in their favor. Fight back.

Never underestimate the power of one. We may be insignificant, we may have little power and authority or resources to draw on, but we can act independently and swim against the tide. Watch fish in a fast flowing river. The dead ones float downstream, the live ones nose upstream and swim - making huge efforts to overcome rapids and falls.

That us - if we all decide to resist what this rogue regime is trying to do we can make a difference. I saw a woman the other day take an elderly persons shopping and charge it to her own credit card. Cost a few bucks - so what, never got her name in the paper, never saw that pensioner again, so what, it was an act that will never be forgotten. It made a difference she was fighting back.

Business leaders of every kind, it is time to stand with your workers and evolve a strategy to win this game. All we have to do is stay and survive to defeat a tyrannical regime and to ensure we can set this great little country back on its feet.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo 10th September 2007