My Crystal Ball

It is never easy to predict what is going to happen in Zimbabwe. Perhaps it is foolish to try but I think that this Christmas we should give it a go, because in my view, the outlook for 2013 has changed and we should all re-gear ourselves for what is going to be a dramatic year for all of us in Zimbabwe. In my last letter I talked about the final stage in this hunt and how to deal with this wounded buffalo who is trying to lure us into the Jesse where the odds will favor him.

Watching events unfold here since then suggests that the beaters have started to move into the Jesse on the other side of the wounded buffalo and are going to force him out into the open on our side of the bush. A strange mix of influences is at work - the buffalo they call HE in the herd, is strangely committed to the constitutional provisions that say the present Parliament and his own tenure end in June 2013. Zanu PF has decided that they want an election as soon as possible and that on the basis that they can lure us onto their own ground and hold an election as soon as possible, that they can win that election.

It seems to me that they have heard the beaters start their slow drive towards their position and are now determined to go for a confrontation with the MDC. On our part, we have also decided to 'go for it' and have agreed to go for a referendum in March and the election in June. I think our leadership has decided that it is bad for the country to drag this fight out for much longer and that we should get the best conditions we can and take on the old bull as best as we can.

So it looks to me that the idea of a negotiated compromise is suddenly off the table and that everyone has accepted that we go for an election in June. Voter registration on a national basis will start in January; detailed preparations for the campaign and the balloting are underway. In the referendum we will vote on our ID's and in the election in our wards, using the voters roll that we have and to which any new voters will be added in the next three months.

Mr. Tsvangirai has been given the responsibility for preparations for the ballot and he is working hard at this - meetings are being held with the agencies responsible and every effort is being made to ensure that conditions for the June vote will be as free and fair as possible. That is not going to be easy and I doubt that conditions can be made really free and fair by June, but we will just have to do what we can and get the best shot that we can in the circumstances.

We have to identify 2 400 candidates for this election by the end of January, approve our policy platform for the campaign by then and then go to our National Conference in February. After that we are in the referendum campaign and once that is over, we are going to have to hit the ground running for the June elections. I personally am delighted that at last we have a clear task ahead of us. We also know that after the June election, things will never be the same again. I am tired of the waiting game that has gone on since 2008 when we wounded the old buffalo. Let's get this over with - he feels the same way and for that reason alone, this time it is really going to happen.

Just think for a short while of what is at stake. If the old bull survives it will mean that he has been able to beat off his hunter. He will not last long after this but his place will be taken by one of the old 'dugga boys' who are a part of his gang. They have been together for many years and are unlikely to change their policies. The Zimbabwe dollar will be lifted out of the grave, dusted off and reissued. The Reserve Bank will resume its role as the chief looter and funder of last resort. What is left of the productive economy will be taken over and dished out to the cronies and a small minority will enjoy the spoils of the hunt, live lives of luxury and be able to rest secure that their tormentors have been dealt with and will not be able to come back any time soon.

We are in the middle of a severe and prolonged dry spell and this will reduce what crops have been planted and Zimbabwe will remain dependent on food aid. Zimbabwe will become one of the most unequal societies in the world and the regime will tighten its grip on power and deal with its enemies both in the political and the civil society. Another 3 million people will flee to safer climes and countries.

But what happens if the hunter gets in a clean shot and takes the trophy home to hang on the wall? Well the first thing that would happen would be the biggest street party the world has seen. Zimbabwe will be one enormous braai and the meat of choice will be buffalo steaks.

The MDC would announce a small government - a Cabinet of 20 Ministers with 18 Ministries. The President and the Cabinet would be sworn in and would immediately begin a complete overhaul of the State administration. Marange diamond fields would be nationalized and all existing operators expelled. The National Prosecuting Authority would ask all who have amassed wealth in recent years to explain where it all came from. Anyone who could not explain this to their satisfaction and the satisfaction of ZIMRA would have their estate sequestrated and their assets forfeited to the State.

A process of national healing with justice would be launched and would seek to expose the truth about all violations of human, political and economic rights that have occurred in the past. Victims would receive compensation for the losses and injury that they had experienced.

The President would announce that 'Zimbabwe was now open for business' and assure all investors, local and foreign, that their interests were secure and would not be tampered with by the State. The stock market, which is now functioning at about a quarter of its real asset value, would begin a steep climb and within two years, local equities would be trading at real values, similar to those in South Africa. This will push the value of the stock market to over $20 billion - injecting $15 billion into the local economy (three time the present value of all deposits in the banks).

Investment in the mining sector will start first and will accelerate rapidly as confidence in the new government grows. Mineral output will rise by over 30 per cent per annum for the next decade, pushing the mining industries contribution to GDP and exports to new heights. This will be accompanied by massive private sector investment in infrastructure - roads, air travel, railways and pipelines for energy.

Tourism will surge with Zimbabwe receiving 20 per cent of regional tourist arrivals by 2018. This will push national GDP even higher and create tens of thousands of new jobs. By 2018, over one million people will be working in the formal job market.

Agriculture is in such a mess that it will take many years to get back on its feet, but the restoration of secure land rights and the resumption of low cost financing will start to push output in 2014/15. Food security will be restored by 2018 and after that agriculture will assume its rightful place as one of the key drivers and as a major sources of poverty alleviation. Social democratic policies will narrow the differential between the rich and the poor, greater integrity in all spheres will reduce opportunities for corrupt gains.

Do you think this is fanciful? I do not think so, I think this is the reality and to be frank, I am glad the long night is almost over. All we have to do is get that clean shot in and then we are there. Help us - get registered to vote, it is the only weapon we have in this crucial fight.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, December 25th 2012