Is it a Mule?
In a recent meeting with diplomats, faced with serious concerns about the
workability of the arrangements negotiated with Zanu PF, Morgan Tsvangirai
laughingly said 'this new government is like a union between a donkey and a
horse, it could produce a mule - not very pretty, but functional'. One of
the diplomats responded that mules are sterile - they cannot reproduce
themselves. That is probably just as well!
Because the deal has not yet been even consummated, we do not have the
beginnings, so no progress. I understand that Mr. Mugabe came back from his
trip to the UN General Assembly in New York this morning. It had been
rumored that he was not due in until next Friday; so that is progress. Now
we need to get things moving so that a new government can be sworn by next
weekend and we can finally start work.
The one thing that observers are generally failing to see in this situation
is that the swearing in of a new Cabinet and government will in fact signal
the end of the Zanu PF Junta. Over the past ten years we have seen a gradual
shift from Cabinet government to rule by a civilian/military junta. This
Junta remains firmly in charge today and is working at fever pitch to sweep
their tracks and secure a last minute meal at the nations expense. I think
they have now accepted that their time in control is nearly over and that
the SADC process has gone too far to be reversed.
Once a Cabinet is sworn in and Morgan Tsvangirai becomes Prime Minister with
responsibility for supervising and managing all government Ministries, we
will again be governed by a more conventional government system - power and
control will shift from the Junta to the Cabinet where it actually belongs.
The effectiveness of the new arrangements will then depend on our ability to
mould the new team into a cohesive whole that will work together to put the
country back onto its feet. Given our recent history, that will not be
easy - but at the same time its not impossible. We have many advantages over
other States that have had to try and bring their countries back into the
mainstream of development after conflict and decline. We have not been swept
by violence and armed insurrection. Our armed forces, remain generally
disciplined and professional, they will take orders. Our economy is in
tatters and dangerously close to complete collapse, but the fundamentals are
If we finally get this deal consummated, MDC will have very largely achieved
what it set out to achieve 9 years ago - a peaceful, legal and democratic
transfer of power to a new government that can effect fundamental change in
the way our affairs are run. Sure we have had to compromise and share power
with Zanu PF and the transfer has only come about because our neighbors have
helped us hammer out a deal that enables us to work together during the
transition, but once the new team is in place and starts work, we can say
that power is once more in democratic hands and has been wrested from a
military dominated Junta that was destroying our country.
This past week we have been trying to meet all stakeholders in an effort to
try and find out what are the fundamental problems and concerns of the
people who make things happen in Zimbabwe. A team led by the Prime Minister
designate has met the food industry, the bankers, the mining industry
leadership and the combined farmers unions. It is not a pretty picture.
The food people told us they have insufficient stocks to feed the country,
that the capacity to finance and physically import the quantities needed to
prevent starvation and hardship were just not available. Industrialists told
us they were working at 10 per cent of their capacity and could not fund the
necessary recovery in their activity if the wider economy was stabilized and
returned to growth. The miners said that three quarters of all gold mines
were closed and overall the industry was operating at 20 per cent of
capacity. The bankers said they feared for their staff as crowds of people
gathered at all banking halls and ATM's in a desperate effort to gain access
to their funds as inflation, now at over a billion per cent per annum,
simply destroyed their savings and salaries while they stood in queues.
Farmers pleaded for security on their farms and the return of the rule of
law and said that with 4 weeks to go to the annual planting season, only 5
per cent of the necessary inputs for the new crop were in place. They told
us that if nothing was done about this, yet another year of shortages and
hunger would be inevitable in 2009 with no chance of relief until 2010. A
delegation from the cities told us that water shortages were now critical -
that public health and sanitation were in jeopardy throughout the country.
Teachers told us that virtually no real teaching was going on in schools and
that many students would simply have to repeat the year to get back on
Despite the daunting and stark conditions confronting all sectors of our
economy and society we were encouraged as, sector by sector, leadership
pledged themselves to help us get out of this mess as quickly as possible.
Just yesterday I was with a team who were working on what to do in the first
100 days of the new administration. How to improve services and stabilise
the economy. How to get Zimbabwe working again.
Can we do it? Yes we can! Mules may not be pretty but they can work and work
effectively. But we have to demonstrate that before a skeptical and wary
world. We also have to try and meet the needs and aspirations of the
millions of our people who have patiently supported us and fought with us in
what has been a principled and non-violent democratic struggle to regain our
freedoms. We are nearly there.
Bulawayo, 28th September 2008