Flushing out the Wounded Buffalo

When hunting a dangerous enemy, especially one that has been wounded but still has the capacity to wreak carnage if we are not careful, vigilance is the key to success. Zanu PF has been mortally wounded, no one expects them to last much longer but they have gone into the Jesse and apart from the sounds of an angry bellow or two and trees being shaken by a massive head with horns, we have seen little of the quarry since our engagement on the 29th March.

We are working hard to flush the devil out of the Jesse - we are beating the surrounding bush. The SADC countries are all doing their bit except for Mbeki who still wants us to negotiate a deal. Time is running out, the inflation rate is bleeding the beast and if he does not move soon he will not have the strength to do so and will die where he is in the bush. The key is to guess - you can never know with certainty, where and when he will come out with a rush and what we will have to do to ensure we get in a clean shot.

Anyone who has hunted one of the big five in Africa will know exactly what I am talking about. That sense of fear and anticipation; the adrenalin is pumping and although its hot you do not notice the weather and all is concentrated on being ready for that final contest. You have checked your weapon, made sure your fingers know where the spare rounds are and that they are all in good working order. Your guide is behind you with his own weapon and you have confidence that if you do not finish off the beast, he will.

Nearly 7 weeks have gone by since this old buffalo was shot. He has had plenty of time to work out an exit strategy and to watch his hunter through beady eyes and allow his own internal hatred and anger build. His campaign is made up of what he has known to work in the past - brute force, terrible terror and fear and deceit and deception before that final fateful rush where he hopes his horns can get close enough to kill.

So Zanu PF has deployed their brown shirts - in all sorts of uniforms and with all sorts of weapons. They have targeted all those whom they thought were in any way responsible for that fatal shot on the 29th. They have beaten and raped, burnt and destroyed. Many have died and thousands are wounded and hurt, tens of thousands have fled to safety. This old adversary is now preparing to leave the Jesse - leave at an unexpected point and time and in areas where it has the best hope of a killing thrust. This is clear from Chinamasa's statement yesterday that Zanu is looking forward to the run off and that it will be held within 90 days of the 2nd May, even though this is illegal.

They are preparing ZEC for a final effort to rig the electoral process hoping that by driving out of the rural areas all those who supported the MDC and by instilling fear in the rest and then falsifying the ballot that this will be enough to turn the tide. How close the old buffalo is to completing this exit strategy is anyone's guess but the postal ballot is under way in Police camps and this is a clear sign that we must be ready.

My own guess is that they might well try to ambush us - and give us a week's notice of the run off. We had intelligence to that effect some weeks ago. In which case we will have a week to campaign and organise to supervise the run off in 9200 polling stations. An impossible task even if it is extended by a week or two, it is still a very tough assignment.

We are advised by all and sundry that we should not participate until the playing field is more level and the violence in the Jesse is halted and conditions returned to normal. The hunt in Africa is not like that and perhaps this is what makes it such a life changing experience. Hunter and the hunted have to anticipate and react - fast and under deadly conditions. This contest is no different, only the weapons are different.

On Sunday we plan a celebration rally in Bulawayo and we hope the President will be there to celebrate our victory in March with the people who have walked this long road together with him. I think sometimes we lose sight of the fact that on the 29th March the people of Zimbabwe voted, almost for the first time, on a national basis. In 1980 we were cleanly divided Ndebele/Shona, north/south. In March we elected a Shona speaking Zimbabwean as President and he was supported in the southwest in the same way that he was in the north of the country.

We will celebrate our victory and look forward to the future under a new government, look forward to a new beginning for this broken and mangled country. We will remember all those who died in our long road to freedom - the men and women who died in the independence struggle, the people murdered in Gukurahundi and those displaced and made homeless in Murambatsvina. The many hundred who have died during the democratic struggle up to 2008.

We will celebrate our victory - made sweeter because it is a democratic one and not one wrought over the innocent bodies of the people in some sort of armed struggle, as has been the case in so many other African States.

Yesterday the Police informed us that they would not allow any campaigning - they said we could not hold the rally as planned. We are taking this to Court today and are planning to go ahead anyway. What more stupidity can these people devise next - weeks or even days away from an election and the main contender is not allowed to campaign? No press access, no freedom of association, widespread political violence against opponents, and attacks on activists, arbitrary arrests and detention all translate into elections, Zanu PF style.

Here we are 7 weeks after the elections and still not one town council has taken office, not one MP has been sworn in, no Senator has taken his seat and we continue to be governed, not by the victors but by the defeated that remain in office illegally and continue to behave as if it was business as usual.

A nasty feature of the present situation is the intensified control over the distribution and sale of basic foods. Maize meal is being tightly controlled and so is sugar. I expect that other basic foods will follow shortly. These are being distributed on a political basis and the recipients are then on selling at huge margins. We will take careful note of all who participate in such activities and will take appropriate action against them when things come right.

I have just heard that Breytentach of the Congo and other misdeeds has bought a massive Ranch - over 1 million acres with huge potential in the Southeast of the country. I also understand he is evicting all the settlers and others who have been using the ranch. This makes a complete mockery of the so-called land reform exercise and demonstrates that Zanu PF it totally corrupt in its business dealings.

Keep it up guys, the gravy train you are on is going nowhere and soon will be derailed and we will then have to pick through the wreckage to decide what to keep and what to throw away.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 15th April 2008