Patience is running out

I know little of the thought process that drives Zanu PF but someone needs to tell them for their own sake that they are now taking things too far. First they loose an election, then, once they had persuaded regional leaders to let them have another go, they run a campaign and is so distorted by rigging and manipulation that not even their friends will acknowledge that the election was 'free and fair'.

Then they insist, in the midst of a nation wide shortage of food that there is no crisis - food is available. Now the acting Minister of Health is saying that there is no health crisis - when even his own officials are admitting 300 deaths and thousands of cases of Cholera. It's a rerun of the play where the King has no clothes but is persuaded by his minions to believe that he is superbly dressed and he parades naked down the street mocked even by the children.

This week the leader of the Zanu PF negotiating team in the SADC talks, wrote to the South African 'President' Thabo Mbeki enclosing 4 copies of a draft amendment to the national constitution that he claims was 'drafted by the 'Government of Zimbabwe' and would he please circulate this to the three parties in Zimbabwe for their consideration. Bizarre!

When we finally got hold of a copy of the draft we find that it still reflects the changes that Zanu PF unilaterally inserted to the Global Political Agreement that was finalised on the 11th September and then foisted onto the MDC at the signing ceremony on the 15th September. It also differs in a number of respects from that agreement and is clearly designed, once again, to protect Zanu PF hold on power and the position of the President in the new dispensation.

In other words; no change in the stance from the one that has effectively held up the implementation of the deal for over two months. Now on Saturday morning they deny entry visas for a group that includes the former Secretary General of the United Nations, a former President of the United States and the wife of Nelson Mandela that wanted to visit Zimbabwe to assess the humanitarian crisis.

In the meantime the food crisis deepens; the water shortages in urban areas takes a turn for the worse and untreated water is circulated in major urban areas where Cholera is taking on epidemic proportions. Inflation continues to spiral out of control and is destroying what is left of savings and capital stock and leading to the closure of remaining companies.

They are still printing m money, still looting what is left in the coffers, still in denial and still organising disappearances and killings and beatings and torture. Someone not connected to the political situation said to me ' does Zanu PF not understand that every time they do these things, they get weaker and less able to protect what is left of their safety and heritage?' I must say that is very perceptive.

I expect the talks to resume on Wednesday this week, they seem to go on forever and we must be getting close point where we must say 'enough is enough'. If Zanu PF does not agree pretty quickly to the amendments required to give effect to the GPA and still insists on an inequitable distribution of ministerial portfolios, let alone the allocation of governor posts and diplomats then we must ask what next? Do we go back to the electoral system and hold fresh elections?

That is what many people are saying including some regional leaders. If we could get reasonable conditions for such a poll and strictly neutral management and supervision of the poll, that it would resolve the crisis once and for all. MDC would win by a wide margin and we could then get on with the task of putting Zimbabwe back on its feet without the complicating presence of the remnants of Zanu PF.

We could also deal with the perpetrators of the recent violence and historical injustices without any fetters. Does Zanu PF really want that for themselves? If they do not then its time they got on with the task of setting up a government in terms of the deal they have already signed and show no signs of respecting. MDC just wants to see the suffering of the people brought to an end and the real problems of the country addressed. But we are not going to go down the road that Zanu PF forced on Zapu in 1987.

In the mean time it has started raining - we have had widespread rains and the veld is greening up and trees starting the come into leaf and flower. This is a wonderful time of the year in Zimbabwe after 7 months of dry weather and recent heat. The only trouble is that land preparation and planting has never been as restricted as it has this year. Farmers have no inputs, no fuel and little incentive to do anything. If they do produce they are paid nothing, forced to sell to state agencies and maybe even have their crops confiscated. Farm invasions continue - even as remaining farmers try desperately to plant new crops.

The R300 million grant made available by South Africa for input supplies has been frozen until a new government is formed and in any case was going to be wasted on the Zanu PF heavies who purport to be farmers on their stolen properties. This means that we will need food assistance for the net year on a scale similar to this year - about 1,4 million tonnes of cereals. Hunger stalks the land and we are now hearing reports of death from hunger plus of course deaths from Cholera, Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Although they were not allowed into Zimbabwe, the three 'Elders' would have received a good briefing in South Africa on the crisis and will go away with a clear understanding of the magnitude of the problem. I only hope that their visit, although not intended to do so, will result is real pressure on the Parties to wrap up the talks on the formation of a new government so that we can start putting things back together again. I have been through the draft of Amendment number 19 and found that if it is finally admitted into law and accurately reflects the GPA, it could give us a workable government. Perhaps that's the best we could ask for right now.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 24th November 2008