Today it's the 8th October - nearly 4 weeks since the SADC brokered deal was
signed. It's now 7 months since the March elections took place and both Zanu
PF and Robert Mugabe were soundly beaten by the MDC. Yet we still do not
have a government and Zanu PF continues to behave as if they had the right
to control the State and to make all key decisions. No Minister is in office
legally at this moment of time yet they continue to drive government
vehicles and draw their salaries. Many continue to work in their old offices
as if nothing has happened.
Just as was the case in Kenya, the Party that should have taken over from
the incumbents has been forced by regional pressure to concede a compromise
deal that is proving to be unworkable. If the experience of the past 4 weeks
is anything to go by, we have learned that the SADC brokered agreement is
most likely to produce a dysfunctional government that simply cannot make
the decisions required on a daily basis to resolve our many problems. It is
also clear that Zanu PF does not have any intention of meeting their
obligations in terms of the deal and is not in the slightest way concerned
about the rapid collapse of Zimbabweans society and the economy.
The economy now slides to a halt leaving millions of people without an
income and no access to even the most basic necessities, schools close their
doors and Universities are unable to function. While preparations for the
next cropping season are simply non-existent and water and electricity
supplies dwindle, while poultry, pig and dairy farmers watch their stock
starve and die; Mugabe and Mbeki fiddle and procrastinate.
Since the signing, of course, we have had the ANC coup in South Africa.
Unlike the Zimbabwe process there was no quiet diplomacy involved in that
operation! In four days, the ANC very publicly, recalled Mr. Mbeki, forced
him to resign and appointed a new (not elected) President. Mr. Mbeki and his
supporters in the ANC have subsequently embarked on a political guerilla war
and might shortly announce they are forming a new alliance grouping to
oppose the ANC in elections in early 2009.
I was asked by the staff in our factory what was happening and I said that
the two bulls in South Africa were fighting and were not interested in the
cows next door - even though the Zimbabwe cow was ready for some sort of
consummation of the agreement. They understood that analogy immediately and
saw that this was what was now holding up progress.
Someone else came to me and asked, in real sincerity, why was Zanu PF
delaying the process of forming a government? They were right in that final
part - they are filibustering this deal very effectively and it has nothing
to do with the fundamentals or power sharing. The question of why is not so
easy to determine. One ambassador told me that in his view it was quite
simple - they wanted time to loot the store before they handed over the
keys. And that they are doing - in great style with millions of dollars in
hard currency leaving the country daily for safe refuge elsewhere.
The other part, of course is that they know that the formation of a new
government - the resumption of government by Cabinet selected on a
democratic basis (in so far as the deal recognises the outcome of the March
elections), marks the end of years of luxurious living, access to foreign
exchange on special terms, power and influence and protection from the reach
of law enforcement agencies.
MDC has appealed to the region and the African Union several times in the
past two weeks for the mediation to resume and for help with the issues that
remain. Each time that Mbeki has looked likely to come to the country, Zanu
PF have said 'no, we do not need his help, the issues that remain are
insignificant', and Mbeki has taken them at their word and stayed at home.
An easy decision when you think that he is trying to pick up the remains of
his life and to rescue what is left of his part of the ANC.
But the consequences of this delay in the consummation of the SADC deal are
very serious. In an unstable world where markets are collapsing and rescue
efforts are under way on a scale not seen since the 30's in the last
century, the double impact on South Africa of not only the collapse of the
ANC Alliance but the collapse of the Zimbabwe deal, could put southern
Africa into a tail spin. The Rand may have gone through the 9 to 1 barrier
today and looks set to perhaps hit the lows of several years ago. Inflation
is already too high and global commodity prices are falling rapidly.
The Zimbabwe economy, in my view, is now as close as it has ever been to
real collapse. Companies simply cannot carry on under these circumstances. I
spoke with a young civil servant today about her salary. She said she was
paid $13 000 in local currency credited to her account at a building
society. That is about US$1,50 at the street rate. Even so she had not been
able to draw the money out and was virtually working for nothing.
Hunger and starvation now stalks the land - even those in employment are
going without food for days on end. The flood tide of refugees going to
South Africa is worse than ever and if allowed to continue will create
mayhem in South Africa shortly. The MDC is ready to tackle all these
problems and has well advanced plans to do so, but it cannot move one
millimeter without the formation of a government headed by the new Prime
There is little we can do about this filibustering operation by Zanu PF -
that is the task of regional power brokers. If they do not come to the party
and break the deadlock, the whole thing will collapse in an ignominious heap
and further punish the reputation of Africa and African leadership. We can
ill afford that at this point in our history.
Bulawayo, 8th October 2008