A Wounded Buffalo

Zanu PF is behaving just like a wounded buffalo. The African buffalo is one of the most dangerous adversaries in the world of wildlife. It has an enormous capacity to take punishment, is extremely difficult to kill outright and when wounded - even fatally, it has the ability to do great damage. It is also a highly intelligent adversary.

I have never hunted buffalo but have friends who have and had a senior in my department when I was a young man actually ambushed by a wounded buffalo in the Zambezi Valley. He was very lucky to survive and was never quite the same again. A frequent target of the trophy hunter are the lone bulls who move about in small groups or on their own and have a magnificent set of horns with that huge mass of bone across the head.

If the hunter gets a clean heart shot, the buffalo has the capacity to run for some considerable distance before collapsing. If the shot is not clean, then the buffalo is known to run and then circle back and lie in ambush for his hunter. That is what happened to my senior in the valley. Although a large animal, the buffalo knows exactly how to stand in the shade and to blend in with his background. Often the only thing that might alert you to his presence is a flick of the ears or a tail. Fail to spot him and you could be on the receiving end of a short and furious rush and fall victim to the horns or just his mass.

Zanu PF lost this election massively - if you take the combined vote of Makoni and Tsvangirai, 73 per cent of the people who voted (2,4 million) voted against him - he only got 27 per cent of the vote. The poll was 41 per cent if you use the voterís roll but by my calculation (2,8 to 3 million actual voters) it was nearer 80 per cent. Even when the National Command Centre had spent a day massaging the results they only got them down to 50 per cent for Tsvangirai and nearly 10 per cent for Makoni - still a huge defeat for a sitting President.

In addition they have lost control, even with the rigging, of the House of Assembly. In the Senate it looks as if we will have a stand off - but this does not make that much of a difference. But any measure, Zanu PF has taken a shot that has fatally wounded the old bull. However, like the buffalo I described above, he is still dangerous.

As things stand right now, the Zanu PF Politburo has decided that a full audit of the Presidential results can go ahead. We demanded this when we saw the results for Mashonaland Central four days ago. When this is completed (perhaps today) then we will hear if the final tally gives Morgan 49 or 50 per cent of the final count. If its 49, they want a rerun, if he gets 50 per cent plus one vote, he will be sworn in as President and we will get a new government.

I will not bore you with all the gory details of what has gone on this week, but just to say that Zanu PF and Robert Gabriel Mugabe have had a tough time accepting the reality of the loss of power and privilege. I understand that Grace Mugabe has left the country and has taken a very considerable sum of money (real money) with her. There is also a strong rumor that the man who led 5th Brigade during the genocide in the 80ís has committed suicide. But that may or may not be true. Nevertheless it shows how much of a total shock this has been for the Zanu machine.

If there is a run off, I can only anticipate an electoral massacre. Ex President Mugabe will not even get the numbers he currently has in the poll. It will be, in effect, a coup de grace.

So we are thinking through what a re-run might mean for us - how we might handle it. It is already clear that despite the fact that so far the people have committed no acts of violence in any way, that Zanu PF is going to use violence to try and get its way in the re-run. Already yesterday we have seen new violence in several areas, Masvingo especially. Morgan Tsvangirai said in his press conference yesterday that Mugabe is preparing to go to war against the people. It will not help him.

I just pray that there will not be a re-run. The country simply cannot take any more of this. Work is impossible - our factories are shut down as the staff cannot work, suppliers cannot fix prices and buyers are frozen in their tracks. The economy is virtually at a stand still and inflation is racing ahead. There is no food in the country and hunger is becoming a real problem, the Reserve Bank has been looted and I understand that enough foreign exchange has been taken out to supply the countries needs for all basic foods for 12 months. It is an absolute disgrace and to think they still want to hang onto power!

What has become clear over the past week is that Zanu PF can no longer command what happens in the administration, power is slipping away and they are already yesterdays men. It is also clear that the army and the police are both divided in their loyalties and now support change. This was the last pillar of support for the Zanu PF regime and with this gone it is just a matter of time.

The region is playing a key role and is trying to persuade Mr. Mugabe to step down and allow a peaceful transition. Mugabe is not co-operating and it is time regional leaders stepped up the pressure. As for the UN, this august body has yet to comment and do anything effective - must we slide into complete chaos and anarchy before they become engaged? Thabo Mbeki is in the UK for a summit of leaders - I am sure he is getting it with both barrels. Last night Aziz Pahad was jousting with Kate Hoey - wish I could have seen that contest.

But for the rest, thank you to all who stood with us - through the criticism of our stand and strategy, through the long nights of despair and finally doing the hard work that will make democracy the tool we used to bring down a corrupt and cruel tyrant. We showed it could be done - not with guns and bullets, not with fire and macheteís, just with the quiet strength of ordinary men and women going out and voting when they got the opportunity.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 6th April 2008