Christmas is missing
There will be very little to celebrate this Christmas in Zimbabwe if you're
not a Christian. There is very little food - my trousers are all hanging on
me as I have lost so much weight in recent months. There is very little sign
of any progress politically and the economic and humanitarian crisis just
goes on deepening. For thousands this will be a Christmas to forget and many
will spend the holiday grieving over loved ones lost.
Since the start of 2008 some 560 people have been abducted - the bodies of
only 220 have been found, many mutilated and burned almost beyond
recognition. In the past three weeks some 44 people have been abducted -
Gandhi Mudzingwa, a senior MDC activist was taken at 16.00 hours in a busy
street and his companion dumped on the street while the abductors - all men
with arms, sped off. Justina Mukoko was abducted from home at 5 am in front
of her children, was taken dressed only in a nightdress and without her
glasses or heart medicine.
On his way to Parliament a senior MDC leader was the victim of an attempted
abduction in the early afternoon in traffic - the brazenness of these
attacks stands out, the perpetrators are all armed, in numbers, driving
unmarked cars - many without number plates and they show no fear of arrest
or discovery. Just who are they? Of one thing you can be sure - they are
organised, financed and protected by the Junta that runs the country today.
In Parliament this week, MDC legislators hammered the message home - 'these
are violations of human rights, they are crimes against humanity and will
not be forgiven or forgotten'. The perpetrators were put on notice; they
will eventually, be brought to book.
On the political front it was not a great week - at least in public. After
the success of the week before where President Motlanthe had forced the Zanu
PF negotiators to accept a draft of the required constitutional amendments
to implement the SADC Agreement, he had thought the game was over. He wrote
a letter to the Parties saying that they should get on with the amendments
and then immediately form a government.
Mugabe responded by writing to Morgan Tsvangirai and inviting him to come to
Harare and be sworn in as Prime Minister. Tsvangirai's response was that
Mugabe had no right to swear in anybody - he was not President until the
Parliament of Zimbabwe said so after adopting the 19th Amendment. We do not
have a legitimate government at present and do what they will, Zanu cannot
pretend otherwise. Nothing they are doing has any legal foundation, and they
Instead Tsvangirai demanded that the remaining issues be dealt with by the
negotiators , the structure and composition of the National Security
Council, the equitable allocation of Ministerial Portfolios and the
appointment of Governors. In addition, Tsvangirai added a new demand -
produce all the people abducted by the 1st of January or the MDC will break
off all contacts with Zanu PF.
I have seen comment in South Africa that these are empty threats - they are
not. I can assure everyone that Morgan Tsvangirai is determined not to move
one iota before these demands are met in full. If MDC does withdraw from the
SADC brokered deal then the country and the region have a very real problem.
There can be no solution to the Zimbabwe crisis without the MDC and if a
solution is not found soon, the consequences for the country and the region
I represent a constituency with thousands of poor, struggling people in a
high-density area of Bulawayo. I rub shoulders with Zimbabweans from all
walks of life every day. I know of no one - not a single person, who would
advise Morgan otherwise. Even though they must struggle to live and face a
completely uncertain future, Zimbabwe is saying to us do not give in and do
not go in until we have a fair and workable deal with MDC in charge of
So the ball is now in Motlanthe's court once again. Zanu PF is in turmoil.
On Tuesday night their Harare Province was electing new leadership and
violence broke out. Live ammunition was used and we understand there were
deaths and injuries. Amos Midzi - a former Minister, was forced to run for
his life. The Police were called and fired tear gas to quell the trouble -
the State media completely ignored the incident. Number three in the
military hierarchy and a member of the Junta was driving on his farm in
Shamva when he was ambushed and shot. His car was riddled with bullet holes
and there is no sign of him at present - he is not in any private hospital
and all the State run hospitals are closed. Our information is that this was
an inside job.
This past week the debate in Parliament has been a nightmare for Zanu PF.
Several issues were debated and a resolution on the food crisis by the MDC
was adopted without opposition. Debates on political violence, the health
crisis and on the false allegations about the MDC training militia were also
debated - almost completely without opposition from the Zanu benches. I was
pleased with the quality of the contributions and the courage of the
speakers - after all they were standing three metres away from Emmerson
Mnangagwa who is nicknamed the 'crocodile' and who sits in his place with
his eyes almost closed but listens to every word that is being said.
But I am convinced that South Africa will now take appropriate action to
ensure that the MDC demands are met, in full and quickly. I would not be
surprised to see this happen before Christmas. Then we might, just might,
have something to celebrate.
At this time of the year we celebrate the birth of Christ. He came as an
ordinary baby to an ordinary family and was raised in poor circumstances and
trained as a manual worker. He never held high office, ministered for a mere
three years before being convicted as a criminal and murdered in one of the
most cruel manners still known to man. His death closed a chapter of hope
for his people - a subject community held in abject slavery to Roman
dominance and colonial cruelty. His small band of disciples were shattered
and thought that it was all over, the light of their lives had gone out.
But Christmas was followed by Easter and the miracle of the resurrection
with its confirmation that everything Christ had said and done was true.
Defeat was transformed into triumph, slavery into freedom, colonial
domination to self-government and discipline. Nothing was the same again -
the world was turned the right side up.
We know from history that tyrants always get their comeuppance. We know that
truth and justice always prevails. But we also know that change, real change
takes a lot of pain and that is what we have been experiencing in the past
ten years. Outside my office right now it's a glorious day - about 25 c with
deep blue skies and a light breeze. The veld is a verdant green, the rains
have come and the long dry season is over, perhaps this Christmas will be a
turning point for us, what a gift that would be!
Bulawayo, 20th December 2008