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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Constitutional Amendment 18 of 2007 - Index of articles, opinion and anaylsis
on Earth is going on?
September 24, 2007
the special index of articles, analysis and opinion on Constitutional
Few decisions by the
MDC have caused such an outcry - we are betrayed, one group said,
others said that the opposition has been dealt a fatal blow, still
others said that it is now clear that Zanu PF will win the next
election and receive a clean bill of health from regional leaders.
The reality could not
be further from the truth. Firstly, in making the decision to co-operate
with the SADC initiative, the MDC very clearly understood the risks
it was and is taking. Secondly, we know the nature of the beast
better than anyone. Thirdly, we are now satisfied that the SADC
States have changed their views on both the MDC and its potential
role in any future government and also the nature and true intentions
of Zanu PF and its beleaguered President.
Lets start with the last
point, the changes in the SADC region since 2005/06. Up to now the
SADC States have argued in private that an MDC victory in an election
in Zimbabwe would not be in the wider interests of the region or
their individual countries. They have used their diplomatic capacity
to lobby this point of view in Africa and beyond and have even supported
actions to reinforce Zanu PF's position inside Zimbabwe and its
hold on power. The reasons are many and I will not bother you with
them at this juncture, but this perspective and assumption has exerted
considerable influence on the ability of the MDC both to press its
point of view home and to make itself heard.
Inside Zimbabwe, observers
now know that the SADC States and South Africa in particular, have
been pursuing, not a regime change agenda in Zimbabwe, but a reform
agenda with the present regime remaining substantively in power.
The truth of the matter,
is that had Mr. Mugabe cooperated with his colleagues as they sought
change, Zanu PF might have actually survived this storm and been
able to maintain its grip and ride into the sunrise with at least
But he has not done so
and stubbornly hangs on to power at any cost. Jesus said once "He
that will lose his life for my sake, shall find it!" Mr. Mugabe
is about to discover that "he who hangs onto power too long
will lose it." For many reasons - again too many to be described
here, the SADC has now decided that regime change through democratic
means might be the only way to restore some sort of dignity to Zimbabwe
and to stop the hemorrhaging that the entire region is experiencing.
In doing so they have lost patience with Mr. Mugabe and are demanding
fundamental changes to the way in which elections are managed and
relations with the opposition structured.
Those who have been engaged
in this process from the beginning have observed this first hand
and have no criticism of how South Africa has managed its role as
the facilitator in this process. Even a superficial understanding
of the process shows that the region is bringing major pressure
to bear on the Zimbabwe regime to change its ways or else!
When I explain to people
the process that is underway in South Africa, they look at me in
disbelief and astonishment. They simply cannot believe that Zanu
PF is engaged in serious dialogue with the MDC and is granting concessions
- major concessions in the process. I agree, it is astonishing,
but it is happening and the reason is that at last, regional leaders,
not least of all, Mr. Mbeki, have been using their leverage and
power to secure new conditions for the next elections.
The second major point
I think needs to be made is that this process is the only game in
town. There is simply no other way we can solve the crisis in Zimbabwe
except by this route. The recent ZCTU stay away just illustrates
that point, it was a near total failure. Despite all the recent
publicity about the situation in Zimbabwe and the pressure being
brought to bear on the UK government by the clerics - Mr. Brown
simply has no solution that he can offer. All he can do is what
he has already done, say that the situation here is intolerable
and that the friends of Zimbabwe must keep that candle burning in
the window and be prepared to help us out of the hole we are in
once we have made the required changes to the way our country is
Mr. Brown's decision
not to attend the EU/ACP summit is not very helpful. In my own personal
view, he should go to the summit and allow Mr. Mugabe to attend,
but only on one condition - that the Zimbabwe crisis and its urgent
resolution be placed on the agenda and debated in open forum by
the leaders present. As it is, all that will happen is that Mr.
Mugabe will attend and strut onto the world stage - completely undermining
the main reasons for the summit itself and further eroding the credibility
of African leadership. Mr. Brown's empty chair will simply say to
the less informed in Africa and perhaps elsewhere that Mugabe continues
to be a slayer of colonial ghosts!
But back to the present
situation; against the backdrop of the changes that have taken place
in the region, the MDC has been negotiating since mid June, a detailed
and comprehensive review of the conditions under which elections
are managed and held in Zimbabwe. These negotiations still have
some way to go and have not been easy or without pain - on both
sides. We are not getting all we wanted but in our view (and I hope
of all those who are being briefed into the process) we are on the
right side of change and what is being forged on this anvil, is
a workable solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe.
On Tuesday we permitted
an interim piece of legislation to go through Parliament unopposed
because it contained the required clauses that will allow the new
Independent Electoral Commission to start work on voter registration,
the voters roll and the subsequent delimitation of electoral districts.
This will take time and we felt that by allowing these elements
of the agreements being thrashed out in the talks to go through
the required Parliamentary steps, we might save time - after all
if we stick to March 2008, we only have 6 months to go - not a lot
of time to get everyone on the voters roll, including all those
who are at present, disenfranchised.
When the talks are finally
concluded - perhaps in 6 to 8 weeks time, a comprehensive agreement
will emerge that will deal with all aspects of the electoral process
and will bring Zimbabwe into line with the SADC principles for democratic
activity. Our main concern at present is that Zanu PF is behaving
as if it is business as usual. The onslaught on the MDC and its
structures continue unabated. A simple application to hold our 8th
anniversary celebrations in Masvingo have been denied by the Police
and the mass exodus of MDC supporters and activists continues driven
by fear, the siege of the urban areas where there is now little
work, food and water and every day is a struggle to survive.
These were the
strategies evolved by the Zanu PF regime after March 2007 when they
were forced by regional pressure to bring the election back to March
2008 and to accept electoral reforms. Clearly if we are to have
free and fair elections and slow down the exodus of people to neighboring
countries, this has to stop. At our Friday Executive meeting we
resolved to request that the regional leadership take this matter
up with the regime here and demand that they start behaving as if
they were real democrats, as they have claimed all this time.
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