The Tide Turns

In an estuary the turn of the tide happens every day - when it happens it is difficult to see at first but soon the water starts to run, slowly at first and then like a flood, sweeping all in front of it and even tempering the incoming waves. Are we seeing the first signs in Zimbabwe?

I think Zanu PF now knows that they made some poor choices when they manipulated the final outcome of the GPA and tried to protect their position in the country. MDC ended up with all the Ministries that are concerned with the delivery of the basic needs of ordinary people, health, education, water, sanitation, roads and basic welfare and food requirements. Zanu concentrated on what they saw as controlling the political process - media and information, the security services, the Reserve Bank, the Justice system, foreign affairs and land.

Many of those choices now look like poison chalices. They know now that they will be forced to allow reform of the media - that is just a matter of time and already the media is changing. Their control of the security services without the money to satisfy their need for a liveable wage and decent living and working conditions as well as new toys to play with, is like being tossed a hot coin. This past week the security chiefs gathered to consider what to do with their increasingly restive forces.

The Reserve Bank Governor might still be in his office on the top of that glass and concrete tower, but underneath him are empty vaults and few staff. What staff he still has wonder how they are going to be paid at the month end. It is rumoured that Gono offered to retire - in return for US$10 million. Cheap at any price in my view but he was given no choice by the State President - 'you stay where you are!' MDC attacks on the post were met with a barrage of statements by all sorts of people saying that if necessary, they would 'fight' to defend that empty building.

Why they are defending the position of Gono is no mystery, he know all the secrets, who took what and when and where the stuff is held. He has all the bank account numbers and if he was loose on the streets he would be dangerous to all of the beneficiaries.

Even the control of Foreign Affairs is proving an embarrassment. While Mr. Mugabe has no choice as to where he can or cannot go and who will receive him, the Prime Minister takes off on Saturday and his itinerary looks like a trip through the pages of who is who! Starting with Obama and Merkel, going on to Brown and then the leadership the Nordic States, the Netherlands and France. The Foreign Minister - well it was not even clear that he was going to get a visa! If he does, you bet he will get little else except permission to carry the Prime Ministers bag.

Diplomats, almost universally, give little significance to the Foreign Minister, they simply circumvent him and deal direct with the people they regard as being democrats.

Since Zanu PF destroyed the economy, tax receipts have fallen to less than half of what we need to run the country. The rest has to come from the international community - and that group is dominated by the very countries that are demanding change. So when they release resources they make pretty sure they are not being co-opted by the remaining elements of the old regime. They spend their money in those areas where the MDC happens to be in charge - health services, education, services and essential food supplies.

This means that in many instances the MDC is delivering and the people know it. The transformation of the economy is clearly the result of MDC efforts - after all we have now ring-fenced and neutralised Gono who was the sole prop of the previous regime.

It's not hard to see the continued failures of Zanu PF - they control agriculture and land policy - and both are in a complete shambles. They declared their intention to restore production of basic foods and other agricultural products only to lose what was left of the winter cereals industry. Little wheat and barley has been planted. Now they might lose what is left of the tobacco industry and if that happens then the vast infrastructure that once supported the third largest exporter of tobacco in the world will simple disappear along with tens of thousands of jobs. Everyone will know who was responsible for that.

As far as land reform is concerned the Courts are about to rule that everything Zanu PF have done since 1998 has been illegal. The thousands of people they have turned off their land in an illegal orgy of theft and pillage are going to be granted full compensation by the Courts and they are then going to have to worry about paying the bills that will ensue. Anyway, the people they allowed to loot the industry have proved to be totally incompetent when it comes to making the assets they stole, productive.

The reality is that the centre of their whole political programme over the past decade is disintegrating. They said they were taking the land to rectify an historical wrong and to restore the rights of the indigenous population, only to compound the injustice and to disable two thirds of the total population. Our surveys told us 10 years ago that land reform was low on the list of the priorities of the ordinary Zimbabwean. That has not changed and the huge investment that Zanu has made in this issue has created a political landmine that now lies in their path to survival.

Zanu tried to keep us out of any transitional administration - they have failed. They have done everything that they can to try to evict us and put us back on the street - they have failed. They are trying to show that we do not have any real power in this new administration only to discover that their own weakness is thereby exposed for all to see. They are being gradually forced to actually live up to the deal they were forced to accept and sign in September last year, as that process unfolds, enforced by the region and South Africa, so they will appreciate, like the hard men in South Africa after 1990, that this tide is not reversible and leads in only one direction.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 4th June 2009