In the Heat of the Battle

I can just imagine what it must have been like to participate in one of those famous battles in medieval times in Europe. On the ground it must have been quite something - thousands of individual contests of strength and stamina. From a distance and perhaps on a nearby hill or vantage point, the situation would look equally confused as the battle raged back and forth.

Long before the outcome was apparent to those in the thick of the fighting, it would become clear to the watchers from afar that the tide had turned one way or another. Right now it is like that in the fight for democracy and freedom in Zimbabwe. Those on the ground, struggling with the individual contests that make up such battles, have no clear idea of just what is happening overall. Further away it seems that a key turning point has been reached - one, which may well yet determine the final outcome.

Since Morgan announced that he would withdraw from the run off scheduled for this coming Friday, we have seen a rapid coalescing of global opinion leading to the historic decision on Monday night when the UN Secretary General declared the Zimbabwe crisis a threat to world peace and security. The UN Security Council then went on to decide on a unanimous basis, that the recent behavior of the Mugabe regime should be condemned in the strongest terms and the vote on the 27th June declared null and void.

Although the Zimbabwe Ambassador to the UN brushed this decision aside, his face in the debate said it all - he was shamed and humiliated. The Chairman of SADC, the President of Zambia, then called a press conference and stated that he was disappointed in the mediation of Thabo Mbeki on the Zimbabwe crisis, that the crisis had to be addressed by the regional community and he intended to act on the matter independently of Mr. Mbeki whom he claimed was not responding to his calls. That is exactly what has now happened with the SADC meeting today in Swaziland without Mr. Mbeki who was simply not invited.

Today the press - always looking for another dramatic twist to the story to keep the issue in the limelight, is pressing the UN and the major powers to say whether or not they will back military intervention. In fact this is a red herring, as military intervention never was a possibility and in any event is not needed. The region itself knows full well that Zimbabwe, a landlocked State, is very vulnerable to any form of regional blockade. This was clearly demonstrated with the recent arms shipment from China. An arms blockade and restrictions on fuel and electrical energy would quickly deny the Zimbabwe regime with those things they must have to maintain their effort on the battlefield.

Next week the African Union meets and Zimbabwe will be on the agenda. Given the strength of the feelings at the UN and the international media attention, it is likely that in both the SADC and the AU we will see, for the first time not only strong criticism of the Zimbabwe leadership but agreement on certain actions. The UN will almost certainly follow up with additional sanctions and an arms embargo now seems likely.

While these global events are taking place the struggle continues on the ground with individuals and groups engaged in what is virtually hand to hand fighting. The weapons are diverse - the Internet, a hand held camera, clandestine visits by the international media to report the truth, courage and determination by thousands of individuals who are at the receiving end of a brutal and savage regime.

To those on the ground we need to say - hold firm, do not quit! We are winning and the tide has turned. If you can continue a bit longer, help is on the way and the regime will soon be defeated and flee the field of battle. At the same time take care and stand back to back when you can - protect each other and affect a strategic retreat when required before going back into the battle.

I have no doubt that the Mugabe regime will win some local contests - but overall they are now losing this war. It is now just a question of staying power and we will not quit until this battle is won.

We plan to go back to Zimbabwe shortly. My health has improved and I must get back to my constituency and home. Many have said stay out for a bit longer but I really cannot wait to get back into the fight on the ground. Thank you to all those who made this short trip to South Africa possible and who helped us pay for the procedure in Pretoria. I am still not out of the woods but the specialists here want to see me again in three months time to decide if the second and more dangerous procedure is needed.

How to cope with inflation at millions of percent and a currency in freefall is difficult and I have simply no idea what to do in the business, let alone my constituency. I hear food is very short and that many are simply not surviving. They also say that our Party structures are in disarray and many in hiding. Still that is all part of the struggle. There are so many courageous and special people there that I simply cannot wait to get back.

When the final collapse of the regime comes it will be fast and comprehensive. I can still vividly remember the collapse of the East German regime and the collapse of the Soviet empire. Who would have thought that those regimes - far more powerful that the pathetic regime in Harare would end their infamous run in such a way? 6 months before the President of Rumania was executed by his own soldiers, he was granted the freedom of the City of Harare by Mugabe! My own son was denied a visa to visit Berlin in 1989 and when he was there a few weeks later, he witnessed the fall of the wall and was able to walk though under the watching eyes of East German border guards.

So lets keep faith with the future, stay strong and determine to fight on until we finally see the regime flee the field of battle in disarray. What we are fighting for is right and the outcome will determine the future of the entire region. Our final victory will also encourage all those who are engaged in similar struggles with evil autocratic regimes that resist change.

Eddie Cross
Johannesburg, 25th June 2008