Deviations and the Road Map

Since August 2010, the SADC leaders, prompted by the South African team of facilitators has carefully revised the GPA road map to trim it down to what is essential for Zimbabwe to hold a credible election process that can be recognised by the international community. This is the bottom line, because no other outcome would offer a resolution of the never-ending Zimbabwe crisis.

The amended road map abandons many of the key reforms negotiated under the Global Political Agreement in 2008. The issues of Governors, Ambassadors, Gono, Tomana and Bennett have all been abandoned and remaining we have a new constitution, a new voters roll, new delimitation exercise, new Electoral Act, greater autonomy for the Electoral Commission and strict regional supervision. This trimmed down road map will take some time - we will wrap up the constitution by the end of the year, hold the referendum in February, then spend some 6 months on a new voters roll, a couple of months on a delimitation exercise based on the new roll, the Electoral Act is going through the House right now and then all we have to do is clean up the Electoral Commission, put enough resources aside for he elections and in early 2013 we should be where Zambia was yesterday - swearing in a new President and saying goodbye to the old.

Simple enough really - why then all the uncertainty that is clearly evident across the country? This emanates from a number of sources - the continued paralysis in Government as conflicts rage over State inspired and managed political violence, indigenisation inspired asset grabbing and threats against business, the parochial application of the law and continuous conflicting statements.

Clearly all are deviations from the road map. Deviations meant to delay arrival at the destination of this road, deviations down blind alleys designed to confuse and even attempts to change the road map and chart a new destination altogether. The Prime Minister says that the Indigenisation Regulations were promulgated without Cabinet approval manner and are therefore 'null and void'. Kasukuwere says they are irreversible and he is the only Minister with the right to speak on the issue. The Zanu PF thugs behave as if they are the law and the Regulations have been put in place properly.

The road map says elections simply cannot be held until all the reforms are in place and this means late 2012 or early 2013. The State President says March 2012, the Registrar General says he is registering voters and 'cleaning up the roll' whatever that means. The negotiators for the MDC say that is nonsense - and JZ remains mute. Just whom do we believe? The simple reality on the ground is that farmers continue to be dispossessed of their life times work, people are being beaten for belonging to the MDC and politically inspired killings and disappearances are continuing. New investment is frozen and frightened people are taking their assets out of the country as fast as they can convert them into cash. Only the Mafia has money, the rest of us struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis and the economy has slumped back into a no growth mode.

So just what do we make of all this - who is winning? I hear constant statements to the effect that MDC is ineffective, has no power or influence and is achieving nothing. The other view I hear regularly is that Jacob Zuma has no interest in the Zimbabwe situation and SADC is on the side of Zanu PF - MDC is crazy to depend on these regional leaders for support in its struggle for democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

These critics say we need to change our tactics, we need 'option B', whatever that is. What astounds me about all of this is the general failure to see that the SADC agenda is the agenda of the MDC - it was the March 2006 Congress that adopted the resolutions that we have been faithfully implementing since then. We have forced Zanu PF to the negotiating table and in negotiations that have been running since May 2007 (four and a half years now) we have negotiated Zanu PF into a corner from which they have been struggling to get out of for the past two and half years. While they have succeeded in delaying the inevitable, they have not been able to influence the destination one iota.

What people have to understand is that the GPA process is an MDC construct. We set the rules and all that Zanu PF can do is try to delay the outcome and incapacitate the referee. So far their attempts to curtail or even change the referee has met with no support at all in the SADC region. In fact in recent meetings they have reinforced his role and authority. At best the Mugabe call for an election in early 2012 is another call for 'time out' to enable them to regroup and strategize. It will not help them; for once they are on the wrong side of history and in this particular game, losing the plot.

Why change a strategy that has been so successful? Why abandon a road map that will take us to our destination? All we have to do is keep on track, not lose our sense of direction and keep walking. As one Biblical scholar said - the 'good news' is that we win!

We went into the Transitional Government, despite our misgivings, convinced that we had to stop the headlong collapse that was overtaking the country. We have done so and in every area where the MDC has taken responsibility (I do not like the phrase 'power') we have made huge strides - finance, health, water, education, housing, energy. In contrast every sector controlled by Zanu PF Ministers shows no progress - just continued decline and collapse - railways, Air Zimbabwe, agriculture, police, army, air force and the courts. In the mining sector where we should be booming with high global demand for every thing we produce and record prices for gold and platinum, we remain locked in a sea of uncertainly and corruption.

Even the discovery of diamonds in huge quantities at Marange has brought no real progress or relief - instead Zanu PF has used its remaining power and influence, not to bring the diamond discovery into production in accord with global best practice, but to abuse the rights of the community on whose land the diamonds were found and exploit them using criminal and international mafia elements that are taking the wealth and accumulating it abroad or using it to suppress and subvert the people's rights in Zimbabwe. Had Marange been under MDC management and control, what a difference it would have made to the country and millions of people. But that is the essential difference between the MDC and Zanu PF. We take these things as responsibilities; they take them as opportunities for self-enrichment and exploitation.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, September 24th 2011