What is going on?
In my last letter I said that progress was being achieved at the talks in
South Africa. My main reason for saying so was that we had not walked out of
the talks and this signaled that our core demands were being met. MDC
promptly walked out of the talks the next day!
Because of the complete embargo on what is going on at the talks we have
very little information. However there was one leak which basically said
that Zanu PF had tabled a demand that the status quo prevail, Mugabe remains
President until he finishes his 5 year term but that MDC join a Zanu PF led
government with Morgan Tsvangirai as one of three vice Presidents.
I can only assume that when they did that the MDC simply said that there was
no point in continuing with the dialogue and walked out. Mr. Mbeki was at
pains to say that the talks were going well and there was no impasse but I
think that was purely for public consumption - in fact the deadlock was not
resolved for a week and the talks only resumed on Sunday. A week was wasted
as a result and the mediators had to intervene and get the problem sorted
Clearly it was sorted out or the talks would not have resumed. Last night a
journalist on the Star newspaper in South Africa informed us that he had a
draft agreement - all 50 pages of it and that this showed what was on the
table. I have looked at the article this morning and it appears to be a
draft proposal from the mediators to both Parties.
The draft has a titular Presidency - occupied by Mugabe, an executive Prime
Minister - to be Morgan Tsvangirai, with two deputies - one from Zanu and
one from MDC. One aspect that will prove difficult is a blanket amnesty for
all who have committed human rights violations in the past. That will be a
tough call to make - especially as we have thugs still inflicting terrible
injuries on people and the State withholding food from the people - itself a
recognised crime against humanity.
The Star reports that Mbeki is traveling to Harare to hold talks with the
main principals on the draft. These talks are expected in the next day or
so - then the final draft will go to the Parties for their OK and then to
the SADC summit on the 16th August - after that I would expect Parliament to
be called and for the required legislation to be passed and the process of
These developments are totally consistent with what we have felt were the
fundamentals - the final deal may well stick in our collective gullets but
so long as the MDC takes the drivers seat and is clearly in control, we
should be able to live with it. Talks are taking place on the sidelines to
decide what will happen to the key players in the present regime.
This collection of monsters should in fact simply go from their offices to
the ICC in the Hague. Then what about corruption?
Despite the talks, the regime has still not lifted the ban of the
distribution of food aid - some 200 000 tonnes of aid are locked up in
warehouses around the country. More is stored at the Ports and still more is
at sea and due to arrive shortly. The NGO's who have been handling this vast
operation (feeding nearly 5 million people) have all been idle - staff on
full pay and doing nothing for two months. The suffering among the people is
horrific - many children and elderly are dying from hunger.
To me this is a clear crime against humanity and should be treated as such.
Goche - the Minister responsible should be told that if the ban is not
lifted immediately he would be the subject of an ICC prosecution. I am sure
that would get his attention. With the UN as one of the mediator team, this
should not be difficult.
While all of this is going on we are watching the circus in South Africa
with increasing apprehension. At the moment the spectacle of Jacob Zuma
trying to evade justice for a whole range of criminal acts, is hardly
credible. The case against him is solid, no one, not even Zuma, disputes
that - but he is using the legal system to try and delay the process until
he can get into Union Buildings and then deal with the problem from that
lofty perch. In any other democracy Mr. Zuma would not get within a 100
kilometers of the Presidents office.
Its got nothing to do with his ability or popularity - I think he might make
a good President and help unify a deeply divided country, but the charges of
corruption, racketeering and other misdemeanors mean that in ordinary
circumstances he should go to jail for a long time. That alone should
eliminate him from the position of a contender for the highest post in the
land. Instead we are faced with demonstrations outside the Courts and the
support of many key ANC leaders for the campaign to squash the charges. The
ANC is maintaining its commitment to the rule of law - but only just.
While all this is going on the Zimbabwe economy continues its downward
spiral. Inflation is running at 18 million per cent. It is difficult to
maintain any sort of understanding of what that means in the markets.
Somehow the informal sector keeps up and they seem to know, almost by
osmosis, what prices and exchange rates are doing. Many people are simply
working in US dollars or Rand. Business that relies on the local markets is
not coping and many are almost closed down.
In tandem with the rapid inflation in prices, all services are in a very
poor state. Urban roads have all but collapsed, water supplies in the urban
centers are very short and their quality dubious. Public transport is very
expensive and in short supply while all basic foods are virtually
unobtainable. Our schools and hospitals are barely functioning and hundreds
of thousands of our people are on the move to greener pastures.
The decision last week to chop another 10 zero's off our currency and to
issue a new currency was simply an act of desperation. The Reserve Bank had
run out of paper to print money and had no choice but to issue the new
notes - manufactured actually in 2006, to meet the demand for cash. They
brought back the coins - suddenly everyone was scrambling to find the coins
they had in every drawer.
I guess that will last a week and the new currency will be totally devalued
in a month. What does Gono do then? Rumor has it he has decided to retire -
not a day too soon in my book. But he better retire somewhere far away and
very quiet, because you can be sure, his recent past is going to catch up
Bulawayo, 7th July 2008