Life in the Mud Hole

We have been working flat out in the MDC – getting the policy platform through the Party structures, then the primaries – 2300 of them all over the country, a massive exercise and a first for any political Party in Africa. At the same time we have been struggling with the business of Government in the GNU and a hectic programme in Parliament. Also taking our time and attention is JOMIC and the complex process of getting the Constitution through and into law and the constant negotiations with the other Parties to resolve the steady stream of issues that arise out of the GPA process.

While all of that is going on we were ambushed by the Constitutional Court and its decision to “instruct the President” to hold the elections before the 31st July. The application to the Court came from a serving officer of the CIO with no standing in law for such an application and the Court met with completely uncharacteristic haste on a Friday – they have never met on a Friday before. All 9 grey beards sat and then issued their “judgment” with two significant and thoughtful dissenting judgments. It was quite clear that this whole thing was politically motivated, based on lousy law and haste. It was also probably unconstitutional – election dates are reserved for the Executive (in this case the three principals) and not the judiciary.

In Parliament, when we debated this issue last Wednesday the Zanu PF benches were thumping the table and cheering while the MDC bench sat in bemused silence. I looked at the opposition and thought how weird it was. They thought this was a huge victory; at last they were forcing us into an election without the essential reforms to make the process legitimate, free and fair.

The reality is very different – what they do not know is that for more than a year we have had the 27th July as our target date for the elections. Had Zanu PF not delayed the passing of the Constitution by 5 months, such a target would have been easy to reach. Despite the delay we are ready and have everything in place for us to fight the election – our strategies are all thrashed out, candidates will all be in place by the 15th June, our manifesto is ready – one for the Presidential campaign, another for parliament and yet another for local government. Our regalia is nearly all here and some 40 000 people have been selected and are being trained for the Election Day. The stark reality is that only the MDC (T) is ready and even anxious to get this thing over and end the long night that we have all been living through.

Watching Zanu PF in all of this is like watching a mob fighting in a mud hole. They are a complete mess; the hardliners fighting the “moderates”, the young Turks struggling to find their place and to have some influence in the inner circles of the Party. The old guard (the equivalent of the Mao “veterans of the long march”) struggling to remain in control and relevant and then the security establishment – stripped of their power on the open field of the political arena by regional intervention and increasingly bizarre in their futile attempts to engage in a struggle that no one wants them to participate in and in the process everyone is simply getting covered in smelly mud. For those of us in the gallery, watching this strange ritual, the difficulty is to distinguish who is who? The most bizarre aspect of this is the daily commentary in the social media by an unseen observer who calls himself (herself) “Baba Jukwa”.

In the middle of this farce, a guy calling himself Tambo comes in from the outside with a leaky hosepipe and tries to clean up the leader of the Zanu PF pack while he took a short break from the fun in the mud hole. That simply added to the sense of total unreality that surrounds the activity in this circus. I remember one camp where I had 60 boys in camp and we mounted a ‘wide game” in a patch of jungle in the Vumba Mountains. The object of the game was to capture loot from the opposing teams and in the end the team with the most loot won the game. Our headquarters was deep in the jungle in the middle of a large area of swamp and in the end the whole camp looked the same – covered in mud from head to toe. It took us hours of scrubbing to get them clean and their clothes never recovered.

I fear that Tambo was wasting his time and the patience of millions of SABC television clients in that no amount of water and scrubbing is going to cleanse the mud accumulated over the past 33 years on that particular character. In any event, he went straight back into the mud hole after the scrubbing and in seconds he was gloriously covered in Zanu PF mud, smelly, 33 years old and ideal for old buffalo bulls trying to clean themselves of parasites before going off once more into the wilderness.

The reality is that SADC leaders will shortly meet in Maputo and decide on both the road map to an election in Zimbabwe and agree on what has to be done by when to make the event acceptable and legitimate. It is that process and not the Constitutional Court or Zanu PF or the State President who will finally set up the scene for the closing act of this play. And when we finally get there (my own guess is the first week of September 2013) you can be sure we will be ready. Zanu PF will get out of the mud hole and run in the election, but they will be in no state to really make a presentable case for re-election.

In the meantime, voter registration begins on Monday – teams of voter education agents are already on the streets telling people what to do and a list of registration centers was published today in the press. This will be quite different to the earlier process which was run by the Registrar General and was deliberately skewed. People must go to their nearest centre and check if their names are on the roll, if not, register or move their vote to the Ward they live in ands all those who Zanu PF has classified as being “:aliens” must go and check their new status and change their ID’s and register to vote. All this can be done while you wait and teams are in every ward in the country.

This is the second step in the road map towards an election, new legislation, changes to the media and the security services will follow and then the elections, supervised by the international and regional community. Then the final test: the swearing in of a new President and Cabinet who will take the country into the future. In the meantime we watch the idiots in the mud hole struggling to stay upright while they pull each other down into the mire in a senseless struggle for supremacy in a game that has no relevance what so ever to the rest of us.

Eddie Cross
Mutare, June 8th 2013