The Struggle for Democracy
10 000 years of human history has shown quite clearly that of all the
systems tried by mankind as a means of governing his collective
modern mix of a social market economy and democratic institutions of
is probably the only ones that work. You can refine that definition by
adding the 'separation of powers' and defining what are now
'universal human and political rights' but you do not achieve much
But whatever system you adopt, you simply cannot get away from
the basic means of determining who holds power and has responsibility
the State and the welfare of its citizens. Fundamental to this
is the truth that we must accept the flawed nature of mankind. Dress up
humanity any way you want, history clearly shows that he is basically
unreliable, corrupt and dishonest - left to his own devices mankind
oranges into lemons every time.
This has been our experience in Africa. Not just Zimbabwe, although
happens to be my concern because it is my home. Leaders with little
understanding and no commitment to democracy came to power in country
country on the back of the cry 'one man one vote'. Once in power
subverted everything they had stood for in the pre Independence days
they were struggling for power. Nothing unusual in that - it happened
Europe and in South America and the experience of the US was only
because of an unusual group of men and women who drew up the early US
Constitution on the basis of hundreds of years of negative experience
Here of course we have Mugabe et al and their determination to use the
for all the wrong things and to then hold onto power at all costs
in the words of a Chinese politician 'he who rides the Tiger cannot
. Those of you who have seen the pictures doing the rounds of a home in
Harare owned by one of Mugabe's close associates, will know what we
saying when we point out that while the economy of Zimbabwe has simply
crashed, a minority here has accumulated vast wealth. It is no doubt
some of the wealthiest people on earth are found in Africa.
But again that should not come as a surprise - how did the landed
England build those huge houses that no one can afford to maintain
Look at the Palaces of France and Germany. When they were built those
countries were impoverished feudal states.
But back to Mugabe and his crew. When we decided in 1998 to form the
began working on the project, we had no idea that 10 years later we
in the trenches and fighting an enemy that was so determined and
We should have known better. What is disappointing is that so few
leaders are clear about what is needed to put things right.
When South Africa finally decided, after 6 years of collusion and
of the regime in Harare, that it was not in their interests to continue
the status quo, they never knew just how devious and determined their
adversary would be. They set out very clearly in March 2007 what they
wanted - free and fair elections that cannot be disputed in March
could be so difficult in that? After all Mugabe said he was a democrat!
What then followed was 8 months of tortuous negotiation - forced on
regime by persistent South African pressure. Then at the final hurdle
began to fight back. This is, after all, a fight to the finish for Zanu
Mbeki tried gentle persuasion and then not so gentle, finally Mugabe
foot down and said no to the reforms that would have restored our
and given us a reasonable environment for an election in 2008.
When we tested even the modest reforms we have secured and had passed
law this week, we found that they meant nothing and our political
environment was just as skewed as ever. 'We told you so' we heard
the place - but really what alternative did we have but to try and do
everything in our power to preserve our democracy?
Mr. Mbeki is now trying the garner support from his African colleagues
final attempt to force the issue of reform in Zimbabwe. I doubt he will
successful because he has to secure a consensus on the issue and
leaders such as dos Santos of Angola simply will not go along with a
campaign that might ultimately threaten his own position. The price of
would be about US$1 billion a year to the Angolan ruling clique - too
to concede at this stage.
So we might have to just face reality and continue the struggle to
our democracy. There is simply no chance of a free and fair campaign
conditions for the vote in this country in March. We must weigh up our
It has been my view for more than two years that the greatest threat is
Myanmar syndrome - Mugabe just abandons any pretext of being a
cancels elections altogether and runs the country through a military
One of the greatest achievements of the past year has been the fact
Zanu has been forced to hold an election in March 2008 and to institute
some, albeit very limited, reforms. We do now have an election on one
we have a reformed ZEC and the Police and Military are not directly
in the management of the election system. We have reforms to the media
will see some international supervision of the elections.
But in the end it's going to be up to us - do we participate? Lots
are saying no. But that means abandoning the only peaceful route to
My view is that we must pick up where Mbeki left off, take what changes
have so far secured and fight this election together as a combined
opposition. The key is how to control the vote and the counting and
reporting - as Kenya has just shown very clearly. Can we do that?
Yes, if we
have the resources and equipment.
We have put the electoral alliance together now - it is being wrapped
I write, so this is going to be a straight fight between Zanu PF and
led alliance. There may be other minority parties - even CIO
parties but they do not count in the final analysis.
What we need are people at every polling station and the means to
results of the count as they come in from each station. We need to get
word out that every vote will count and people must register and then
We then need to trust the people and God and prepare for what could be
most important election in our history. There is just too much at stake
to do this one more time.
Bulawayo, 24th January 2008