The Struggle Intensifies
In the past few days it has become quite clear that the people handling the campaign of Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe have begun to panic. Their confidence up to now has been based on their grip on the administration of the electoral process and the electoral playing field. This has begun to unravel and they now face the possibility that their best laid plans might come to naught.
On the MDC side of the game, our team is in the field and fully deployed. Political activity is intense across the country with rallies and house meetings taking place in all areas. Morgan Tsvangirai is working flat out with 3 to 4 rallies a day in the various Provinces and will wrap up this week with rallies in the Midlands and then on Saturday at White City Stadium in Bulawayo. The rallies last weekend in Mutare and Masvingo went very well and reflect a growing swell of popular support across the country.
Today Robert Mugabe was in Marondera and I would be interested to know how he got on after the fantastic rally we held in the same Stadium two weeks ago. One characteristic that seems to separate the two Parties is the energy levels at these events. The media people tell me that the Mugabe rallies are lackluster and lifeless by comparison. The other big difference is that the MDC rallies are not concentrated on character assassination and slander of their opponents and instead concentrate on policies and programmes.
But the real struggle is not in the public sphere – it’s behind closed doors and in the board rooms and corridors of State agencies. Two years ago a secret CIO report to Zanu PF said that they could no longer win elections. It pointed out that a survey showed that the Party now commanded only about 15 per cent support and this could not be overcome by the normal rigging methods.
This report gave rise to the plans for a coup – either a direct military coup or a political coup. Both were initially frustrated by intense pressure from regional leaders led by the South Africans. When finally they were able to engineer an early election (the “political coup”) they found that they were not ready and we were, then they discovered that we knew what they were planning (the ambush scenario) and were working to counter their plans.
So now we have panic – they are hurriedly trying everything and anything. The ZEC and Registrar Generals Offices – previously secure centers of control are slipping away from them. The security services are switching sides – for example the special voting exercise this weekend and today where thousands of police and army were meant to vote. Suddenly they discovered that this would not be under controlled conditions and that the majority were likely to vote MDC. They now had to try and limit the damage and tried to stop the majority voting.
We will have about 1000 observers in the country on voting day – several times the number in 2008. In addition we will have a JOMIC team in every Ward, 2000 floating observers from the MDC and many thousands of polling agents and observers from Civil Society. Their plans to use their physical control of the rural areas to manipulate the polls depends on a skewed voters roll (now fully exposed) and the fact that the polling stations in these areas are almost all uncovered by the Observer Missions (the Five Stare Hotel Brigade) and the Political parties.
From my own personal experience in the past three months, Zanu PF control and dominance in the rural areas is much reduced and they can no longer count on them for this exercise. If they cannot control the voting and then cannot control the counting and reporting of the results, quite frankly they are finished.
In the meantime the groundswell of support for the MDC (T) grows and I think is going to hit a peak at just about the right time. I am constantly amazed by the sophistication and understanding of ordinary Zimbabweans in every walk of life. This coupled to the near pervasive character of the cell phone culture and the social media means that they now have access to information on a scale that has never been possible before. This plus the activities of a secretive group called “Baba Jukwa” is literally tearing the Zanu PF machine apart.
So after 14 years of struggle against almost insuperable odds, we are now just 14 days away from the most important election since 1980. My bottle of Champagne has been sitting on the kitchen table all these years waiting for this day. Next weekend I will put it on ice in preparation for the big day. But at the same time, as I said at two meetings last week in my own Constituency, I will celebrate with a real sense of sadness for all those who cannot celebrate this moment with us and will reflect on the sacrifice so many have made to get us here. I will also somberly ponder the tasks that will face us as we strive to build the new Zimbabwe from the ashes of the old.
Harare 15th July 2013