Watching the media in recent days has convinced me that the press does not
appreciate just what has happened over the past week. Unheralded, there has
been a sea change in the approach by South Africa to the Zimbabwe crisis. It
has been coming for some time, delayed by the Mbeki influence, but once that
was swept away by the ANC, it has gathered momentum.
You can see it in the way the SABC is reporting the Zimbabwe situation, the
comments in public by senior figures and the growing chorus of African
leaders who are calling for Mugabe to step down. Most international media
are concluding that the Global Political Agreement is a dead letter and that
it simply could not work.
In fact events are slowly pushing Zanu PF towards acceptance of a deal that
will effectively end their monopoly of power in Zimbabwe. The GPA is by no
means perfect - but it is based on a reasonable democratic process and gives
the winners of that process (the MDC) control of the main levers of
Zanu PF only appreciated this after they had signed the deal on the 15th of
September. How much trouble they are in, only became apparent when MDC
discovered that Chinamasa and others in the negotiation process had
surreptitiously altered the final version of the GPA that had been agreed at
the meeting on the 11th of September.
Since then they have been desperately fighting a rearguard action to try and
limit the damage and claw back some of the power and authority they in fact
surrendered on the 11th September. For the military Junta that has run the
country for the past decade and remains substantively in control, they are
fighting the deal with every weapon in their armory.
MDC, for its part has simply stuck to its game plan. In March 2006, at the
second Congress of the Party in Harare, nearly 20 000 delegates agreed to
adopt what they called a 'road map' to a new Zimbabwe. This was a peaceful,
legal programme of democratic resistance to the regime leading to
negotiations. The negotiations leading us to a transitional government and
the transitional government producing a new 'people driven' constitution.
Once this was enacted, new elections - perhaps the first really free and
fair elections with all qualified citizens voting and that would then give
rise to a new government - perhaps the first MDC government.
Its now two years and 3 months since that Congress - not a long time when
you think about it, and the MDC is close to securing its first goal - a
transitional government brought about by negotiations. What we have also
done since the negotiations were concluded on the 11th September is to
insist, against all pressures from all sides, that the deal stands as it is
and is implemented in full.
The significance of the events in South Africa last Thursday is that the two
parties agreed to a draft legal expression of the September 11th agreement.
The MDC being satisfied that the draft reflected the content and meaning of
the GPA. We wanted to go on and wrap up all outstanding issues but Zanu PF
asked for some time out to consult their principals in Harare. This request
was granted - but on the proviso that they get on with the task of preparing
the draft legislation for publication in the Government Gazette.
It is Saturday today - they failed to publish the draft last night in the
Gazette as would normally be the practice and I think we can assume that
Zanu PF did not want this document in the public domain in advance of their
annual Conference which starts of Tuesday. Once this is over - by next
Friday, I would expect the draft to emerge into the public domain and for
the statutory 30 days period required by the present Constitution to start.
This means of course that the changes to the Constitution will only come to
Parliament next year - in mid January.
We are totally distrustful of the present regime and want to see the changes
to the constitution effected before a new government is formed. But the one
thing that we should all recognise - is that once the draft is published in
the Gazette - the clock is ticking for this regime and all its cohorts. It
is the formal and legal start of the transition to a Transitional Government
in which Morgan Tsvangirai will be the new Prime Minister and head of the
new, powerful and democratically elected Council of Ministers who will
assume full control of the affairs of government in late January 2009.
The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers will be responsible for
government policy and for execution of all government decisions. The Prime
Minister will also have what is effectively a veto on all senior
appointments by the President. In any normal democracy MDC would have
assumed unfettered control of the State in the first week of April 2008. But
this is not a normal democracy - it is in fact an autocratic regime, headed
by an unelected President and controlled by a civilian/military Junta.
In other countries the overthrow of this regime would have required physical
violence in one form or another. The remarkable thing about this particular
transfer of power is that it has been achieved without violence, by the
oppressed. The State has employed violence against its opponents and
continues to do so - on a huge scale, but this has not evoked a violent
response even though that is exactly what the regime intended. It only
understands that 'power comes through the barrel of a gun' - in their case
that is how they have tried to protect the power that was already in their
hands as a result of the civil war in the 70's.
Just as in America where Obama is managing the transition into government
and where Bush is accepted as a lame duck, Morgan Tsvangirai is the new
Prime Minister and next Friday could be the start of his formal and legal
transition into government. Just like Obama, Tsvangirai will face
unprecedented challenges - rampant inflation and a collapsed economy. A
dispirited and tired people suffering from food shortages and widespread
epidemics and an administration that is really at the end of their tether.
No money in the Bank - only debts, courtesy of Gono, the Gundwane.
Bulawayo, 6th December 2008