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
Bulawayo, 4th June 2009