Reality Looms

I attended a meeting of supporters recently and asked them why they were so down? I said we could look back on the last six months and record a number of major achievements. We can say that we won the elections on the 29th March, we have won the media war, we have won the diplomatic war and reunited SADC for our cause and now we have the great majority of the AU leadership rooting in our corner. That's quite a bag!

Mugabe by now must know that what he bought for himself and Zanu PF on the 27th June is in fact a nasty concoction of things that are reacting in all sorts of unexpected ways. His Presidency has not been recognised and he leads a regime that has lost all its credibility. The ensuing media blitz has revealed every detail of his nasty plot to rig the election and to beat, maim and traumatize our entire population. He has become an embarrassment to Africa and the meeting of the G8 leaders in Japan this morning revealed how damaging that can be to the wider interests of the continent.

By behaving as he has, he has destroyed the credibility of his closest friends and condemned many to an uncertain future on the run from the law. Included in his list of casualties is Thabo Mbeki who now carries the rotting carcass of Zanu PF around and he cannot escape its foul odor. Any in South Africa who thought that they were immune from the contagion must be watching the floodtide of Zimbabwean refugees crossing the Limpopo with apprehension. If this tide is not halted and reversed they know full well what will follow.

Just to compound his problems, Mugabe's thugs have not yet woken up to the fact that the situation has changed 'out there' and are continuing to obey their orders to kill, maim, displace and intimidate. The picture of a young MDC activist who was abducted two weeks ago and was found this morning outside Harare says it all - he was shot twice and then his body burned beyond recognition. We only found him because his companion survived a shot to the head and crawled 6 kilometers to a road and fell into a coma from which he has just recovered and could tell us what had happened.

I remember this young man because he came to my house several times to collect material for his Province. I can tell you I can hardly write about this stuff without tears.

So when Mr. Mbeki arrived in Harare on Saturday and sent a message to Morgan Tsvangirai requesting him to attend a meeting with Mugabe, Mutambara and Ncube, he was mystified? On what basis was this meeting being held, he asked, what was the agenda? What about our preconditions? No answers - he refused to be drawn into yet another diplomatic trap and be used by Mbeki at the G8 summit in Japan. MDC will not recognise Mugabe as the legitimate Head of State in Zimbabwe, we will not talk to Zanu PF until the present campaign of violence directed at the general population and the MDC in particular is halted and arrangements made to meet the needs of those affected.

On Monday the G8 leaders and 7 African Heads of State spent 3 hours discussing Zimbabwe. What a tragedy that when we have such urgent global needs that require addressing, we have to spend valuable time on a delinquent regime in Zimbabwe. Still the mere fact that the most powerful leaders in the world, together with the key African leadership, spent so much time on the issue must encourage us. It would have reinforced the decision by the African Union last week to get talks underway with the Parties in Zimbabwe so that a political resolution of the crisis can be negotiated.

We spent Friday and Saturday working on our approach to the negotiations that are coming and cleared what our preconditions are and what our stance in the talks will be. We received a very positive report from those who attended the AU summit and felt that we were at last in a strong position when it came to talks. Certainly the pressure on Mugabe and Zanu PF has become enormous.

I have always said that the key to any resolution of the crisis here is South Africa - it alone has the power to be able to dictate to Zanu PF and if they did so they would get compliance immediately. This was the case in September 1976 when South Africa eventually had to confront Ian Smith with the harsh reality of his position. It could be the same today.

I really do not think South Africa has any alternative now but to facilitate dialogue between Zanu PF and the MDC and when necessary to tweak Mugabe's tail. As for us, we really can force the issue by simply withdrawing from the process when unacceptable demands are being made on us. There can be no resolution of the crisis without our participation, no way forward and the status quo is just not tenable in any way.

The economy is now in an advanced state of meltdown - major business organisations are closing down or halting operations. The administration is collapsing and it has become impossible to maintain even the most basic and essential of services. This, coupled to the continued violent physical assault on the MDC and the people is driving people out of the country in unprecedented numbers threatening the stability and security of all our neighbors. This simply cannot go on for much longer, a solution has to be found or the consequences for the whole region will be dire.

Inflation continues to accelerate fed by the activities of the Reserve Bank and the State. It is now almost impossible to operate in local currency - the price changes are so frequent and significant that locals simply cannot afford what little is available and supplies are dwindling. We are surviving on cross border shopping trips to find essentials.

There is plenty of evidence that those in power continue to loot the country and take as much out as they can - they are clearly nervous about the future and are trying to lay aside what they can find here. If you are one of the select few who have access to the Reserve Bank you can now by a luxury car - brand new - for the price of a single cigarette.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 8th July 2008