A New Beginning, a New Zimbabwe
In March 2006 the MDC held its Congress in Harare and 22 500 delegates and
guests spent two days working out what to do to get the process of change
back on track in Zimbabwe. Six months previously the MDC had experienced a
split in its leadership that had weakened its structures and undermined it's
standing in the whole process.
In addition to electing leadership and resolving to rebuild and fight on,
the MDC adopted a road map' back to democracy. This involved getting the
planned elections scheduled for June 2010 back to the date originally set of
March 2008, negotiating conditions for a free and fair election and then
fighting that election and setting the course to a new dispensation in the
Looking back now, after the negotiations concluded last night in Harare, we
can say that nearly all of those goals were achieved. We got the elections
rescheduled to March, we negotiated critical reforms, won the subsequent
election and then had to deal with a fight back by Zanu PF, now desperate to
hold onto power at all costs.
In the context of an escalating economic and political crisis and faced with
growing hostility in the region and Africa as a whole, Zanu PF simply could
not hold its position. They were forced into talks with the MDC and after
six months of tortuous negotiations under the guidance of President Mbeki, a
deal was eventually crafted that all parties were able to endorse - albeit
Final closure came yesterday when Mugabe was finally compelled to agree to a
compromise put to the talks on Tuesday by the MDC leadership. There are all
sorts of stories floating about on the deal but we will not get sight of it
until Monday morning when it is signed at 10.00 hrs in Harare. However I
think we can claim that while we did not get everything we wanted, the final
arrangement is workable and should be good enough to see us through the
process that lies ahead.
Under the agreement both the major parties have no choice but to work
together and on a consensual basis to resolve the economic and political
crisis that faces the country. The MDC on balance holds a fine majority in
the new administration but not enough to allow it to bulldoze its way
through the issues that confront us. This will not be easy. MDC has seen
many hundreds of its leadership and ordinary members murdered, tortured,
beaten, raped and their personal assets destroyed. Now we are required by
this agreement to work with our tormentors!
Our first task is to put together a new Cabinet to run the country. With 31
Ministers and 15 Deputies plus a Prime Minister and two Deputies this is
going to be cumbersome. We had wanted 15 Ministers and no Deputies. The
present Zanu Cabinet has 58 Ministers and Deputies. We have 18 months to put
together a new Constitution and to start the process of stabilisation and
My own calculations put inflation right now at 334 million percent - it was
3,2 million in June 32 million in July and now 334 million in August; and
still climbing. On top of this our Cities have restricted water and little
electricity, fuel is expensive and scarce, food is almost unobtainable.
Preparations for the next cropping season have hardly begun and yet another
year of food production has been lost. Half our kids are not in school and
our hospitals are on strike.
Getting consensus on the many issues that confront the new government will
not be easy, implementation will also be difficult. The one great advantage
that we do have is that everyone is now desperate to change things and get
us back on our feet. In fact I think we will be surprised when we do start
work at just how relieved our Zanu PF colleagues will be, to be able to
start to do the right things.
We have not been idle, a detailed and comprehensive stabilisation and
recovery plan is in existence and we have plans on how to deal with the
humanitarian crisis. The international community has likewise not been
idle - they have structures in place and have made arrangements to respond
to our needs in a significant way.
But in the end this is our task - this was a solution negotiated and
mandated by African leadership, not the United Nations or any international
group. This was an agreement worked out by Zimbabweans with the minimal of
outside help or pressure. It is up to us to deliver a better life to the
At our 2006 Congress we adopted the slogan 'A New Beginning, a NEW Zimbabwe'
. We are there. Rather than celebrating we should all be pondering what
could I do, to make that dream a reality. It's our task to do so.
Bulawayo, September 12th 2008