I was stunned today when I watched Morgan Tsvangirai pull out of the June
election. I had not expected this but since then have had a couple of calls
from Zimbabwe that made the situation a bit clearer.
You must first understand how big a decision this was for the MDC. We are a
Party committed to a democratic outcome of this struggle. Elections are our
game - we do not want to take to the streets or to pick up weapons to make
our point. We are democrats.
We won the March 29th election by a wide margin - 73 per cent of the
population voted against Mugabe. The regime was forced to simply lie about
result to get a run off and only the protection of the SADC States prevented
outright MDC victory.
We were and are quite satisfied that in any free and fair contest the MDC
have walked away with the run off. In the event, what we have witnessed over
the past two months since the run off was announced, has been a nation wide
campaign of violence and intimidation, the closing down of all democratic
inside Zimbabwe, intensified restrictions on the media and the complete
militarisation of the functions of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Today armed militias were allowed to attack a MDC rally in Harare even
had been given permission by the High Court and was entirely peaceful. The
leadership meeting in crisis session reviewed the overall situation and
finally, reluctantly, decided they had no option but to withdraw from this
Having done so the way is now open for the new ZEC to declare Mugabe as
President and for him to resume office.
The MDC decision, although painful and difficult for everyone, is in fact a
strategic move. It gives Thabo Mbeki the floor by virtually canceling the
off and opens the door to SADC intervention. Any government that now
Mugabe - in any capacity, will not get recognition from the international
community. It will not therefore attract any international assistance and
be unable to deal with the humanitarian and economic crisis now facing
Zimbabwe. Both leave no room for maneuver and both demand immediate action.
On the humanitarian front we need to import 150 000 tonnes of basic foods
month just to feed the country. Without external help Zimbabwe faces the
real prospect of starvation on a large scale. Currently the country has no
stocks at all. On the economic front with inflation raging at 2 million
or more and run away macro economic fundamentals, a complete economic
is not far off and could be triggered by the magnitude of this new political
The UN is bracing itself for a new flood of refugees - both political and
economic into neighboring States and in my view South Africa must prepare
itself for a fresh influx at the worst time of the year. Millions of
Zimbabweans are preparing to leave the country and the only option for 90
cent of them is South Africa.
From a political standpoint the global consensus is clear. The Mugabe regime
gone too far. There is now talk for the first time of the possibility of
of crimes against humanity at the ICC. The US is calling for the Security
Council to meet urgently on the Zimbabwe crisis. The UN Secretary General
become more vocal and outspoken on the situation and demanded action on
fronts. In the SADC it really looks as if a new consensus is emerging on the
crisis - Angola and Swaziland becoming new critics of the Mugabe regime in
the past few days.
The Zimbabwe crisis team - Mafumadi and Gumbo were both in Harare over the
weekend and I cannot imagine this decision by the MDC being taken without
input. It would seem to me that the stage is set for another emergency SADC
summit, that at such a summit the region will at last decide what to do and
that the only way forward is the formation of a transitional government that
will include all Parties elected to the new Parliament and that will then
the country through a period of stabilization and recovery before holding
It is quite clear that Mugabe simply cannot play any role in such a
- he was clearly defeated in the March 29th elections and is simply no
acceptable to anyone except the Joint Operations Command (JOC). The only
who can head up such an interim administration, unless it is on a caretaker
basis and will function for only a few months until new elections are held,
would be Morgan Tsvangirai. The rest would be up to negotiations sponsored
the SADC and the UN. Clearly South Africa cannot continue in its role as a
mediator and must step aside for someone more distant from the region and
current regime. This would allow South Africa and the SADC States to assume
role of enforcer rather than a mediator.
One of the phone calls I had today spoke of widespread violence in Zimbabwe.
People being forced to do things against their will and children not
school for security reasons. It is quite clear that not only do we have a
regime in Harare, but also it is a rogue out of control. That wounded
mine is just staying in the Jesse and destroying what is left instead of
out and facing his hunter one last time. In effect the MDC as the hunter has
prudently decided to seek help rather than try to deal with the old bull on
own. It may well prove to have been the right decision.
For all our friends all over the world, do not despair, I think you can
see that our first shot was fatal - it is just taking a bit of time to take
effect. Whatever happens now, Mugabe is no longer capable of governing
Zimbabwe. He said on Friday 'only God can remove me from power'. He must
know that his challenge would have been heard where such things matter and
his plea is being attended to.
Johannesburg, 22 June 2008