The Pressure Mounts

In the past few weeks the pressure on the Mugabe regime has increased significantly. Just yesterday the US government announced a raft of new measures against the regime with the Under Secretary of State responsible for Africa making a very strong statement on the continued human and political abuse being perpetrated by the Zimbabwe regime.

The decision by the Prime Minister of Britain not to attend the EU/ACP summit because of the attendance by Mr. Mugabe will also highlight international disquiet over the behavior of the regime in Harare in the past year.

But the pressure is not just coming from the normal sources - the President of Nigeria has said that the situation in Zimbabwe was no longer acceptable and has to be addressed. The President of Zambia made a statement to the Zambian press on Sunday to the effect that the Zimbabwe situation was a problem for all of the African leadership.

At home the economic crisis is spiraling out of control. Prices are changing daily and the currency has collapsed in open markets - it was trading today at over Z$3 million to one US dollar and there is no bottom in sight. State institutions are being forced to change prices dramatically and costs are spiraling out of control in all sectors. Bus fares have shot up to one million dollars for a short ride in a mini bus into town. A local company with a cash payroll of Z$30 billion has only been able to get Z$1 billion out of the bank.

Inside the ruling Party, Zanu PF the crisis of leadership deepens. A 'million man march' on Friday attracted a few thousand people and was a dismal failure despite free transport and food and threats. One Minister in Government was said to be telling his family to be ready to move if they lost the election in March as the situation that followed such an event could spiral out of control. I think he is right - right to anticipate the result of the elections and right to assume that things will get rough for those sorts of people when they lose power and control.

What has suddenly put a lot of pressure on the Mugabe regime has been the actions of the MDC in recent weeks - Tendai Biti sharply increased tensions when he refused to accept what the State was trying to do in the negotiations. He said that free and fair elections are simply not possible if Zanu PF is going to be allowed to behave as it is in and outside the talks. Mbeki was forced to intervene directly and apparently demanded that Zanu PF get on with the talks and stop stalling and baulking at many of the reforms required to make the election process credible.

We are at a very critical stage in this whole process. The dip tank has been filled with new Mushonga, the cattle are in the pens and despite every effort have been unable to get out. The time is fast approaching when they must take that leap of faith into the dip and swim through to the other side. Mbeki is using his cattle prod and the results are evident. They said they would never talk to the MDC - we have been talking for 6 months; they said no to a new transitional constitution, we have one agreed and signed. Now they are trying to frustrate the final steps to a free and fair election.

It's 'D' day in this country and our future and the future of the country will be decided in the next few days. With Zuma poised to take the Presidency of the ANC away from Mr. Mbeki, the South Africans might be feeling the same way - but for Mugabe the news is all bad.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 4th December 2007