Yesterday the Mugabe regime extended its total disregard for the SADC
process and unilaterally announced that the elections would be held on
29th March (I had expected the 28th March) and that nomination day
the 8th February. The nomination day is the day to watch as it was
very carefully by the regime and is a cunning part of the overall
they worked out 10 months ago.
What Zanu PF did when confronted in March 2007, with the demand by
Africa that they hold the elections on schedule in March 2008 and that
hold them under 'free and fair' conditions, they convened the
Operations Command' and evolved a plan which they have been
since then. Like all their plans it had one central objective - how
onto power at all costs.
First they resolved to smash the organizational structures of the MDC,
they agreed to go along with the demands of Mbeki and the SADC but in
conviction that they could manipulate this process and avoid
system they had built up over the past decade which has enabled them to
determine, in advance, whatever result they thought they needed from
election itself. Then finally, they agreed to take measures to reduce
urban vote and bring the urban population to heel in the same way that
had built up control systems in the rural areas.
In retrospect you can now see clearly how these three basic strategies
been played out. Three days after the JOC meeting in Harare, the
of the MDC was beaten and brutalized in Highfield at a prayer meeting.
were hospitalized and two activists were shot and killed by the police.
Morgan Tsvangirai was beaten unconscious and partially lost the ability
speak for a while. Since then thousands of MDC activists have been
and driven out of the country. The MDC structures in many parts of the
country have been wiped out. The Party Headquarters has been smashed
with the loss of all records and millions of dollars of damage.
The Regime has co-operated with South African mediators in the SADC
but has dragged its feet and delayed agreement until the very last
only to then turn around and say (disingenuously) that there was
'insufficient time' to implement the agreement so the planned
would go ahead under present conditions. When pressed to implement the
agreements reached in 8 months of discussions that were meant to have
three, Mugabe finally simply told Mbeki to get lost and that Zanu PF
not implement the deal beyond the modest reforms already agreed and
Just to drive home that message Mugabe has in the past week simply
aside the reforms already agreed, passed through Parliament and signed
law. POSA has been used to stop normal political activity, the
Electoral Commission is operating as if it was business as usual and
military and security officers are being used to manage the electoral
in total violation of the new Electoral Act. Reforms in the
voters and the voter's roll are just being ignored. Now, they
nomination date that makes it almost impossible for the opposition to
its candidates registered for the poll.
At the same time as this was going on, they launched the campaign to
what was left of the independent business sector using as a pretext
controls and 'indigenisation', a euphemism for extending Zanu
control to all
sectors of the economy. In a ruthless campaign that resembles the farm
invasions that followed the Zanu PF defeat in the February 2000
the State has arrested 40 000 businessmen, crippled the retail and
sector of the economy and announced the virtual nationalization of all
industrial and mining companies. In 10 months at least another million
refugees have fled to South Africa and other countries. Only the most
determined and innovative have survived.
Now the MDC faces the most crucial decision in its short life - do we
the election and what can be done about this total violation of the
I do not know what we will eventually do but I have confidence in our
leadership, which has never let us down in making such decisions in the
past. Right now I am sure, that like me last night, they are not doing
sleeping. We have been ambushed, well and truly by the Zanu PF and
security cohorts and it does not help that the South African leadership
in the same boat.
I am being bombarded by e-mails saying that we should boycott the
They say that if we run we give credence to the Mugabe regime and the
pretext that they are democrats. Its not quite as simple as that and
might, in fact be one of the goals of the Regime in this exercise. The
tragedy is that the South Africans have not been willing, when it
most, to use their very considerable power to secure compliance from
PF. But we have no choice but to live with that reality.
Why run when the odds are so stacked against us? In my view the
are very powerful. In the first instance we have to ask what is the
alternative - violence and more killing? Zanu PF would love that and
violence to justify a clamp down that most African leaders would
The possibility of change will recede and it could be years before we
again offered such an opportunity. We might even then be forced to
into violence and many of us would not accept that as a means of
We are not alone on this pitch - there are at least 5 other political
parties and although they are tiny and carry no threat to the regime,
might be allowed to take a few seats and would give credence to the
regime that would follow. Most Zanu candidates would run unopposed and
would give them an easy and defensible ride back into power. Again
recedes and Zimbabwe becomes just another failed African State relying
donor aid to feed an entrapped and impoverished population that does
have the energy to oppose the regime.
Then we must not forget a lesson we learned from the war - ambushes
great strategy if your opponent does not know what lies in store for
you can discover your enemy's strategy and location and timing for an
ambush, you can turn the tables on him and the result can be very
satisfying. It is just possible that we could do that.
We need to get that nomination date changed - put back to where it
in March, then we need to combine forces and put up single candidates
electoral districts and most important, we need to control the final
of the ambush - the election itself. We must use the instruments we
ensure the poll is watched, recorded and reported on from every polling
station - without exception. I do not think we really need to worry
what people will do with their ballots - they will vote
change, there is no alternative. What we have to stop is the false
and the manipulation of the count.
Bulawayo, 26th January 2008