Zanu is still not facing reality
The Luanda summit of the SADC confirmed all the bad news for Zanu PF. The summit adopted the reports from the previous two meetings - Livingstone and Sandton; they strengthened the position of the facilitator, Jacob Zuma and confirmed the appointment of three regional members to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Commission (JOMIC). This last step was particularly significant as it is the first time that SADC has had 'feet on the ground' in Zimbabwe, something Zanu has always argued is a violation of our sovereignty.
Not one concession to Mr. Mugabe or Zanu PF. Zanu PF is usually very good at strategizing and reacting fast to developments and it is an indication of just how far down they have gone, that the outcome of the summit threw them into a state of confusion and conflict. The military elements in the old regime, now know that the region will not tolerate a coup or anything resembling a coup. They are stuck with the GPA process and road map and an electoral solution.
Finally, after weeks of prevarication the Zanu PF Politburo met on Wednesday and decided on a strategy. This was revealed quite clearly on Friday when Mr. Mugabe made a long speech in Harare. He revealed that they had now accepted that an election in 2011 would be impossible, they had to complete the Constitutional process and then go for an election - in fact he went one step further, stating that as soon as the constitution was adopted, they would press ahead with an election as early as possible - probably March 2012.
So now we know what they are planning - they will now 'allow' the constitution process to be concluded - after holding it up for two years in the hope that they could force a snap election before the reforms kick in. They realize that in fact the constitution is not a major issue when it comes to manipulating an election - our present constitution is not too bad after all and accepting a few reforms in the new one will not change the electoral environment one iota. What we have known for months is that the whole process will now be collapsed into straight negotiations with the MDC and then a referendum fought by both parties working together, just as was the case in Kenya, with civil society fuming on the sidelines.
Then they plan to try and force through the snap election without any of the essential reforms that are needed. They have a carefully crafted new electoral Act now in front of Parliament and a seriously sanitized Human Rights Commission Act and these reveal the strategy - an election with the old voters roll, a new delimitation based on the roll, a violent election with MDC denied access to the rural areas and denied campaign freedom.
Then an election without monitors from abroad, under closed shop conditions where thousands of poling stations will be unsupervised or monitored, voting under supervision by Zanu loyalists and the security services, counting and reporting totally controlled and without transparency. The objective, secure a majority at any cost. They will have unlimited resources from the illegal sale of diamonds from Marange, control of all electronic media as well as all State controlled newspapers. They will clamp down on all NGO activity and use terror and intimidation in all areas where they can get away with it. This will not be a democratic election - it will be a form of electoral guerilla war.
So now the question is - will they get away with this revised strategy, or will the SADC facilitator and the SADC leadership simply head off this new strategy and again confirm what they have said so clearly at all regional meetings this year - no elections outside of the GPA process and road map. That is, following the adoption of a new constitution, the creation of an independent, professionally managed electoral commission, a new voters roll, a new independent and professionally managed delimitation process, a supervised, peaceful election with monitors in every polling station, counting at the polling stations and reporting in a transparent and public manner with all parties having direct access to the count and the reports.
If SADC holds to its position and I cannot see any other possibility, then Zanu PF will have to finally accept that such a process is unavoidable and the outcome predictable - total defeat. Once they do, it will then become plain to them that they have no alternative, but to try to negotiate their way out of the predicament they are in with the MDC.
Already, the decision taken on Wednesday to accept that the election cannot take place this year has probably sealed Mr. Mugabe's fate. Time is not on his side and the longer this goes on, the less likely it is that he will be able to stand as the Zanu PF candidate for the Presidency. Don't get us wrong - for the MDC he is the best candidate to face us in the Presidential ballot, Mai Mujuru would be a more difficult opponent.
I think this fact is widely acknowledged in Zanu PF and is the main reason why Mrs. Mujuru immediately tossed her hat into the ring as the next Presidential candidate for Zanu PF. A clear indication that the succession race is now truly started.
The most common view I hear expressed is that nothing happened at Luanda and the whole process is so slow, there seems to be no end in sight! I spoke to one of the negotiators on Friday in Harare and his comment to me was that events are moving very rapidly. Other information reaching us suggests that Zuma, despite his preoccupations in South Africa, is maintaining the momentum and the pressure.
The dip tank looms, for those of us who are watching, it cannot come soon enough.
Bulawayo, 3rd September 2011