Impartial Facilitation

Over the past 10 years during which the MDC has sought to achieve a change of government via legal, political and peaceful means, we have always thought that the rightness of our cause would find a ready hearing in the other democracies of southern Africa. How wrong we were.

Ten years down the line we now know that a network of patronage spreads out from Zimbabwe across the region and that because of this, many regional leaders are either silent on the issues that are presented to them by the Zimbabwe crisis or are in open support of the illegal regime of Robert Mugabe. The patronage links take many forms - illegal contracts that finance political parties, secret holdings in companies that earn hundreds of millions of dollars from regional enterprise and deals and are paid directly outside the country. Illicit dealings in gold and diamonds, copper and cobalt and even in just hard currency looted through the accounts of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe are involved. Just the other day the Reserve Bank sold 2 million carats of diamonds in Mumbai, India - the proceeds going to destinations unknown.

We have evidence of many heads of Government being involved in this activity. The list is astonishing and those who are involved can be identified by their silence or complicity in the Zimbabwe crisis. Why for example does the South African, Zambian and Congolese governments not complain about a tax levied on every tonne of cargo that transits the Beitbridge border over the New Limpopo Bridge? Why is it only the Botswana government that complains about the monopoly granted to the BBR on rail traffic from central Africa going south to South Africa and from South Africa going north?

This willingness to cast principle aside in return for small or even large favors and perhaps hard currency transfers to private accounts is saddening. It also casts doubt on the ability and willingness of many African leaders to support the very principles they have for so long supported in public, only to despise in private.

The demand by the Mugabe regime that they be left alone on the grounds of sovereignty and independence and not called to account for the manner in which they have abused their power and responsibilities in government, is just another example of regional leadership using the power of language to defend the indefensible. When he rises at international forums (as he will do today in the Middle East) Mugabe should be greeted with derision and laughter. He lost the election in March, then carried out a presidential rerun election that was so fraudulent and violent that not even his closest allies could endorse the results. He heads an illegal regime and runs a government without a budget. Yet regional leaders call him 'President' and allow him to sit in their forums. He enters into negotiations to resolve the crisis in his country; signs a deal and then breaks every principle enshrined therein.

He hosted Chogum in Harare and chaired the sessions that produced the Harare Declaration on basic rights and good governance. He then promptly went on to abuse every principle enshrined in the Declaration and finally withdrew from the Commonwealth when challenged. He claims to have two degrees in economics and a high level of basic intelligence yet does not even understand the very basics of how to manage a country's financial system. He speaks out at the UN on issues such as poverty and human and political rights whilst at home his regime destroys the economy, impoverishes a whole nation and denies its entire population all the basic rights enshrined in the UN Declarations.

If I were an observer from another planet watching from outer space - I would find this all rather bemusing. But I am not; I am just another victim like millions of others who have had their personal lives destroyed by a corrupt and incompetent government in Africa. Having listened to and believed in the high sounding promises of leadership seeking to rectify injustice in pre-independence Africa, I must say it is easy not to hold out any credence that African leadership can resolve the problems of Africa.

Then there is Mr. Mbeki - famous for the 'African Peer Review' mechanism, the 'African Renaissance' and the Rainbow nation. Holding out such promise - a quiet, pipe smoking intellectual with a Marxist background. A scion of an iconic family in South Africa that has been synonymous with the struggle for justice and human rights.

What a huge disappointment he has been. He turned out to be corrupt, a racist and locked into an ideological straight jacket that was not used to direct the State in the direction of greater equity or the elimination of poverty or the rehabilitation of the South African family, but fostered the fastest growth in the number of new millionaires in any country in the latter half of the 20th Century, created huge disparities in welfare and wealth and supported distorted views of HIV/Aids that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands who might otherwise have lived.

Appointed as the mediator or facilitator in the Zimbabwe negotiations, he has acted in a partial and negative manner from the very start. MDC negotiators have recounted that they were often confronted in the talks by a solid phalanx of opposing sentiment - Zanu PF and the Mutambara group joining the South African facilitation team in opposition to the MDC position.

In a 37 page memorandum in 2002, Mbeki wrote about the Zimbabwe crisis - accurately predicting the outcome of the illegal farm invasions and advising Zanu PF to abandon the exercise - not on principle or in defence of the rights of those being abused or the legal principles that were involved but on the grounds that the Party of the Revolution' would run the risk of being dispossessed. In pages of closely reasoned argument, he set out the case to defend the right of the 'Party of the Revolution' to retain power - at any cost.

In the 6 years since that time he has done everything in his power to subvert the MDC and to prevent the MDC from coming to power. He has subverted its leadership, supported its opponents, protected Zanu PF in international forums and used his considerable power and influence to deny the MDC recognition in Africa. In the past two years - even as he 'mediated' the talks, he manipulated events and outcomes in a desperate effort to protect the Zanu PF from the very consequences he predicted in his 2002 memo.

Since Monday this week Mr. Mbeki has shown himself to be true to form - still locked into a straight jacket imposed by his past. He has tried to bully the MDC negotiators, derided their principals and supported a fraudulently based version of legal agreements designed to create an inclusive government in Zimbabwe.

MDC is not responsible in any way for the crisis in Zimbabwe and will not allow the efforts of Zanu PF to intensify the crisis as a means to force us into a bad deal. We are fully committed to the deal signed on the 11th September and want to see it implemented in full as soon as possible. But we no longer accept Mr. Mbeki as facilitator but will continue to press the other Zimbabwean participants for a reasonable outcome.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 29th November 2008