The Zanu Strategy Post Luanda

Watching Zanu PF strategize after a setback is always fascinating. They go quiet and then we start to see action as they go about fulfilling their agreed course of action. They exercise good message discipline and use their domestic monopoly of the media very effectively. When they make mistakes it is usually as a result of underestimating their opponents or the ground on which they are playing.

The outcome of the Luanda summit of the SADC Heads of State was a major setback for the Zanu PF leadership: it closed down the planned political coup strategy; confirmed the road map of the GPA and the role of the South African President and his team was reinforced. After three weeks of intense deliberations they have now come up with a new strategy to deal with this situation.

They have done a complete volte face on the issue of a snap election - they are now going for an election at the end of 2013. This will allow the President to plan with safety, his opening speech at the UNWTO Congress scheduled for August 2013. They are going to allow some parts of the GPA road map to be adopted and implemented - for example, just look carefully at the rapid resolution of all outstanding issues in respect to a new Constitution - two weeks ago they presented us with a long list of 'demands' that they and ourselves knew full well, could never be agreed. Had they stuck to those demands, an impasse in the whole process would have been declared and the South African facilitation team engaged.

Instead, they come out and suddenly they want an election date in 15 months time and they are now willing to accept a Constitution that two weeks ago they were repudiating, why? The answer to me is simple, it's to give SADC some reason to think that the process of compliance with the GPA is underway and on track. However, nothing could be further from the truth, they have known for a long time that a free and fair election could be held under our present constitution, or the Kariba draft, they know that a free and fair election is controlled by other, more mundane matters.

So from what I hear, the strategy is to throw Mr. Zuma some bones to keep him occupied, delay the reforms required for a free and fair election until June 2013, when this Government runs out of time and elections must be called, then go for an election in 3 to 4 months after the end of June under conditions where they can control the campaign, the balloting, the counting, the reporting and the final announcements. They have done this before - even in the March 2008 election where they rigged 60 seats and still lost to MDC. They did it in every election in the past 20 years; they think they can get away with it next year.

What are they going to do to ensure they win the next election?
First they have been told that Zanu PF must win the election at any cost - in this campaign, there is only one guideline - do what it takes, no matter the cost (they have lots of money from diamonds), no matter what the means.

Secondly they have been told to use violence and intimidation intelligently - lower level leaders of the MDC will continue to disappear - one by one. They will use fear as a weapon in all areas and the security establishment will not only turn a blind eye to it, but will actually carry out the campaign as they no longer can rely on their ordinary membership.

Thirdly they will not allow any media reform - the 'new' private radio stations are fully Zanu controlled and directed, ZBC and ZTV will be tightly controlled and manipulated. SW Radio will be jammed (listened last night to the latter and they were jammed effectively), they will try to influence and manipulate Studio 7 - arguably the most influential media in Zimbabwe today and broad casting on medium wave from Botswana.

Fourthly they will not allow any reform of the security sector, the voters roll or the Electoral Commission staff; the Registrar General will play the dominant role. If they cannot get a new delimitation based on the voters roll, taking the number of urban seats down from one third to a quarter of the House of Assembly, then they will stick with what they have got.

Fifthly, they will use their occupation of farms on the verges of all urban Councils to allocate thousand of stands for housing to people who will be told, that this allocation of stands is conditional - vote MDC here and they will lose their stands. In rural areas formerly occupied by commercial farms they will exercise complete control over movement and occupation. All settlers will be told that if the MDC wins, they will lose their land rights. The target, win all the seats in these areas and in the peri-urban areas.

Sixthly, they will intensify their campaign to control the Communal areas, they will issue tens of thousands of seed and fertilizer packs, they will establish a fund to pay school fees; they will try to force tradition leaders to restrict MDC activities and access. Try to force them to 'instruct' their people to vote Zanu PF or face hunger and deprivation.

Seventhly, they will attack the urban base of the MDC through surrogates - Makone and Dawn in the Shona speaking areas, Zapu and Dubengwa and the MDC (N) in the southern and central regions. These Parties and candidates will receive funding and media support. Independent candidates will be used to extend this process.

Finally they will continue with their campaign to sabotage economic recovery in every way that they can - new investment will be paralyzed, existing companies threatened with indigenization and the atmosphere of conflict and uncertainly perpetuated. They will attack and undermine all those MDC Ministers and leaders seen to be doing a good and effective job.

They have a number of major problems with this strategy - first their own security is leaking all over the place, if I know what they are planning so do a number of others. Secondly, they are confronted with a region that is just fed up with their antics and procrastination. Regional leaders know that the Zimbabwe situation can only be sorted out by an election or by negotiation. Outcome of their strategy will do nothing to resolve the basic problem - the legitimacy of the Government that it will produce. Fudging the basics is not going to help this time, but in the interim, we have to deal with these political delinquents and their machinations.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 29th June 2012