Looking Back on 2007

Its nearly the end of the year and perhaps its time to look back on what we have achieved this past year and how those achievements are going to influence events in 2008. Sometimes it is good to look back and see how far we have come, while we are climbing this mountain the stress and effort blinds us to the fact that we are making progress.

At the March 2006 MDC Congress I was privileged to watch 22 000 people, 99 per cent of them poor and disadvantaged, arrive to participate in what turned out to be a milestone event. They came from every corner of the country and they had paid their own way. The Party had split in two the previous October and the faction breaking away from the mainstream of the Party had taken most of the liquid and moveable assets. Morgan Tsvangirai and his remaining stalwarts did not even have a bank account. The State grant to political parties had been hijacked by the other faction and major donors and supporters were withholding their support. No so the people!

After hours of scrutiny, the organisation we had asked to come is as an independent body for this purpose, accepted 18 500 people as delegates from their Districts and Provinces and we got the Congress under way. Eventually we elected leadership and then we resolved several major initiatives.

1. To launch a programme of no compromise with, and continued Democratic Resistance to Zanu PF rule.
2. To force the date of the next elections back to March 2008 (Zanu PF was proposing to delay them to June 2010), and
3. To force negotiations with Zanu PF on the issue of the conditions required for Free and Fair elections.

What we now call the 'DRC' or the Democratic Resistance Campaign was duly launched and became the target of near paranoia by the regime and its security organs. Its leadership were arrested and detained, many were beaten and some were even killed and many had false charges laid against them. Allegations were made that we were planning a coup and that we were guilty of violence against the State. None of these allegations stood up in Court and the majority of our leadership was eventually released from detention. However some have fled and are now in exile, including Roy Bennett who was elected as Treasurer General at the Congress. Some are still recovering from the beatings they received whilst in custody.

The DRC did however put the MDC back on the map. The Congress started that process - it was a clear demonstration of the popular mandate we carry and it was the subsequent campaign that reasserted the place of the MDC as the principal in the process of change in Zimbabwe. Media coverage, even with all the constraints on the international media and the complicity of the SABC and local State controlled media, thrust the leadership of the MDC back into the limelight and highlighted the continued delinquency and human rights violations of the Zanu PF regime.

Then came the decision by President Mbeki to have another go at resolving the Zimbabwe crisis. With the rise of Jacob Zuma in the ANC, the threat of a split in the ANC was receding. The June 2010 agenda of Zanu PF was a threat to the World Cup and international pressure on regional leadership to bring Mugabe to heel was relentless. The massive assault launched by Zanu PF and its security agents against the MDC just made matters worse. One consequence was the decision of the SADC leadership to collectively resolve on the 29th March 2007, to recognise the MDC as a principal player, demand that the elections be held in March 2008 and that negotiations take place with the MDC to determine what changes would be required to ensure that no one could question the outcome.

In fact the SADC decision was virtually the 'MDC Roadmap' adopted 12 months before at the Congress. It was a massive victory for the MDC. But at the time we warned the South African leadership that they should not underestimate the duplicity and cunning of the Zanu PF leadership.

Well now, as everyone knows, after a rocky start when Zanu PF refused to go to negotiations with the MDC as demanded by SADC, the MDC and Zanu PF have been locked in negotiations for the past six months. Virtually every basic demand made by the MDC for free and fair conditions has been agreed in these South African brokered talks. The breadth and extent of the decisions taken will astonish people when they are finally made known. This is an considerable achievement and one we should all be celebrating this Christmas.

South Africa has come to appreciate what we knew from the start - that Mr. Mugabe is a wily devil, right now Zanu PF is disingenuously arguing that as the talks have taken so long (entirely their fault), there was no time left to implement the agreements before the March elections! So, they demand, lets leave things as they are and the government elected in March will implement the agreement! The audacity of these guys is just astonishing!

We have said to the facilitators that could we not accept such a situation. The piecemeal implementation of this deal is just not on - we want all aspects implemented or no deal at all. What the MDC has demanded from the start is the full recognition and implementation f the SADC guidelines and protocols on free and fair elections, nothing less and nothing more. For Zanu PF the implications are clear and they are terrified.

Jacob Zuma is now leader of the ANC and this strengthens the pro change position of South Africa. It is also clear that Mr. Mugabe has made little progress with his SADC colleagues who are demanding change and reform. We are not going to compromise and no progress is possible without us - so I am pretty sure we are about to see real change and an election where at last the views of the majority in Zimbabwe will be allowed to prevail.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 19th December 2007