The End Game

Over the past two years my main concern has been that Zanu PF would abandon any pretext that they were a democratic party, simply declare that they were going to govern indefinitely by dictate and continue as a civilian/military junta. Such a junta has effectively governed us since the security chiefs declared in 2002 that they would not accept into power anyone who did not participate in the 1972/80 struggles for Independence.

That they have not done so is due to a number of factors - pride and reluctance to acknowledge that they, among most other African states, were not pursuing democracy as a basic system of determining who governs. Arrogance, in that they believed that somehow they had a divine right to govern and could use whatever means necessary to achieve the retention of power. Belief, that no matter what they did, their links with other SADC States would protect them diplomatically.

There were other factors of course. They had been rigging elections and using violence as a means of intimidating voters from day 1. Their skills in the former area were widely respected in Africa and many other regimes took note of 'how it was done'. The complicity of the Mbeki led government in this process was crucial and they clearly understood how to manipulate South Africa. Finally they viewed local democratic forces with distain and regarded all opposition parties as inferior.

Make no mistake about it, Zanu is a formidable adversary. They are now nearly 60 years old and are well established throughout the country. They have almost unlimited resources by local standards, an infrastructure that has been built up over many years and of course, control of State resources. They use such resources without constraint and the taxpayer pays for much of what goes on.

But aside from this they have learned a great deal over the past 60 years - how to deal with other political movements in Africa, with African States and the AU/SADC. They are skilled at manipulating global opinion and controlling local information flows. Some of this activity is quite crude, but much of it is sophisticated and in recent years I have admired how swiftly they respond to a challenge or a problem. Like all fascist movements they are also very disciplined.

For example, next week they plan to launch a propaganda onslaught on the issue of violence. In the period 1982 to 1987 they were able to conduct the violent suppression of Zapu in Matabeleland very much behind closed doors. Civil Society was not as well organised or resourced in those days and the international community more compliant.

Now when they try to do the same thing in 2008 they have found, after 4 weeks of nation wide violence against MDC and others that they are in all sorts of trouble. American and other foreign diplomats are visiting Zanu bases and torture centers without fear and in a deliberate effort to expose the programme. Civil society is documenting every incident and advertising the perpetrators and the consequences. Modern information technology and the satellite communications system does the rest. I am told the outcry is so great that the UN (that useless lumbering elephant) might actually get off its proverbial posterior and do something.

So next week we expect the regime to start a campaign to blame the MDC for the violence and to show what terrible deeds we are carrying out! We can expect all Zanu actors - Ministers, senior civil servants, diplomats and party aficionados to speak from the same hymnal. Thank goodness we are in fact behaving ourselves. I spoke to a young farmer last week who had been held hostage in his home by a gang of thugs who eventually opened fire with live ammunition. Although he was armed and perfectly capable of doing some damage, common sense prevailed and he kept his cool. Incredible when you think that over the past decade of violence on farms with all the theft and provocation that has taken place, that hardly a shot has been fired in retaliation or retribution. That is strength - not a weakness.

So now at last, and to my personal relief, we have a date with destiny - the 27th June 2008, three months after the March election. The rules will be the same although the regime is changing all the personnel in the ZEC to try and make it more compliant to orders of a political nature from the Zanu PF and its functionaries. But we have an election - a chance to use the only tool for change that we are prepared to use.

For Zanu PF this presents many problems - they must come out of the Jesse where they are at present, into the open and face their mortal enemy. And make no mistake about it - this is a fight to the finish. Both sides have repudiated compromise; we want to see just who has the support of the people. They must finish this game in front of the whole watching world and every move will be watched and analyzed. I hope they also realize it would be a serious mistake to underestimate the MDC or the people.

Watching Mugabe launch his campaign last night on local television was interesting. It told one salutary story - age matters. At 84 he is no spring chicken and those beady eyes no longer have the same impact they once did. Gone was the suave English and Oxford row mannerisms. Sometimes he is a bit unsteady on his feet and must be helped.

By rejecting compromise and opting instead for a hard line and violence, Mr. Mugabe and his closest allies have in fact sealed their fate. When they are defeated on the 27th of June, they will have no option but to relinquish power to the hated MDC and when that happens they are naked in a legal blizzard. Could not happen to a nicer bunch of people.

Now all you Zimbabweans - once more into the fray! You may be weary, you may be bruised and battered, the business may be on its last legs - but we have to garner the energy and the courage to go back into the field for one last time. This is our decisive moment. With a gallery of billions we have to face Zanu and defeat it - defeat it so decisively that no one can argue that MDC has won and then we can get on with the business of rebuilding this great little country.

Spare a thought today for Morgan who comes back into the country and launches the campaign in Bulawayo on Sunday. We eventually got a Judge to rule that we could go ahead and we expect a large crowd. In front of Morgan is six weeks of tough campaigning after the exhausting campaign for the March 29th election. He has not had a break and the pressure on him is massive. Also pray for the family - there is huge pressure on Susan as well.

When we win on the 27th it will be a matter of days and then we will be flung into the arena with many wild animals to fight in a new contest - education, health, starvation and stability, inflation and reconstruction, potholes and shortages of every kind. At least in dealing with those challenges we will not be alone. On the 27th June it's only us - no one else so get involved. Call me if you want to help 091 2227144, its quite secure!

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 17th May 2008