Closing all the doors

Mugabe is closing all the exit doors that lead from the dramatic confrontation that lies ahead of him on the 27th June 2008. He has now destroyed whatever remaining international reputation that he once had, is deeply embarrassing to all his erstwhile admirers in Africa itself and while he remains under the partial protection of Thabo Mbeki, this is a tattered umbrella at best.

As in 2002 when he was facing defeat in the presidential election that year, he is throwing caution to the wind and in the process sealing his fate. In 2002 he lost his credibility as a democratic leader and was stripped of his status as a political leader. In 2008 he will lose much more - his right to lead this country, his freedom perhaps and finally his remaining dignity and standing. He will go down in history not as the man who brought freedom to Zimbabwe but as the man who destroyed the country's economy and tried to hold onto power by starving his people into submission.

His actions this week have simply been outrageous and the global outcry has been not only universally hostile but also informed. If he does not know it now he will never know the truth that in the 21st century, it is just not possible to maintain a closed society. Communications are swift and merciless - you simply can no longer hide the kind of crimes he is committing, or expect to get away with them.

Like Pharaoh in the Old Testament, Mugabe has worked his way through the plagues - each one more severe, now he has allowed the people of Israel to flee bondage for the safely and refuge of the desert but at the last moment has sent his army after the fleeing slaves in a desperate last ditch attempt to hold them in bondage. The people of Israel find themselves up against the Red Sea with the army of Pharaoh approaching in a cloud of dust. I suspect that we are about to see the hand of God and I fear for Mugabe and his henchmen.

I am in Johannesburg - you will recall that I had what was diagnosed as a minor stroke at Christmas. In fact as a result of further tests it was found that I have a restriction in the Basilar artery in my brain. After waiting months for the equipment to arrive for the procedure to insert a stent in the artery, I came down to Unitas Hospital on Sunday for the procedure. As we approached the border a friend in Harare called and told us that there was a warrant of arrest out against me in Harare. Nervous, we cleared the border without incident and came on to Pretoria. The procedure was carried out on Thursday and it was a marvel to be involved. My entire team of specialists were Christians, the hospital superb and the standard of medicine outstanding. I was awake for the whole time and watched the monitors that showed what they were doing. It was very delicate and as the Professor of Neurology who was looking after me said, 'we are in Tiger country'.

When they got into the area they found another obstruction lower down and decided that this had to be dealt with before the Basilar. They did this and the procedure was a 100 percent success. Then they tried to go on to the Basilar - deeper in the actual brain and after two and a half hours the stress on my heart showed and they aborted the procedure.

So now I am recovering and cleaning up my kidneys after all the poisons they used to highlight the artery system and they intend to go back in with new equipment in two weeks time to 'do' the Basilar. The effect of the first stent is already quite apparent - the symptoms I have struggled with over the past 5 months have all but gone and the blood supply to the brain stem is much improved.

I learned a great deal about the management of medicine from my few days in the hospital - the largest private hospital in Africa. The manager was a young woman with a degree in commerce and management and she managed a staff of 1000 with many specialists and doctors. It had all the most modern equipment and was spotless. The nursing staff was caring and competent.

How do we bring this standard of medicine to all our people I mused? Is it possible? I could see that the hospital was a business, a big business and well run for that. My treatment was expensive but life saving and many have helped make it possible. Perhaps that is the key to our dilemma - working together to make it happen. Certainly it is not possible whilst we have Robert Mugabe in place; he will have to go before we can move on. Yesterday I watched Hilary Clinton quit the race for the nomination of the Democratic Party for the November elections in the USA. A passionate and professional performance. I have supported Obama since he started to run for the nomination and I think he will beat McCain in the elections. What a great leap forward for mankind that will be - a man of colour in the White House. At last we can go beyond a man's skin when we deal with him in real life. All my life the colour of one's skin has determined who you are, where you can go and what you can do. Belonging to the MDC has been one of the singular privileges of my life, freeing me from the shackles of racism and prejudice and allowing me to see people just as they are. Now for the Red Sea experience! I am sure that we are going to see a huge wave of support for Morgan Tsvangirai. I am sure also that our erstwhile critics will have no choice but to acknowledge that we have won and won decisively. The next question is who will ensure that he is able to take up his rightful place as Head of State. For me this is the real issue, it will mark the point at which the sea rushes back to claim the ground it has been denied all these years, in the process drowning a tyranny that has survived too long.

Eddie Cross
Pretoria, 8th June 2008