Why stay the course? – By Eddie Cross

OPINION – It is now five weeks since we went into the transitional government and I think the most frequently asked question that I hear is “Why are you still in there”.

That is not an easy question to answer but let me have a go at it here. Our objectives, as set out in 1999 when we launched the MDC in Harare were quite simple. We set ourselves the goal of bringing in a new democratic dispensation, which would transform the country into a caring, productive and prosperous nation. We agreed that this goal would be secured by democratic, peaceful and lawful means.

In 2006 when it became clear that normal democratic action would not secure these goals, we decided to change the road map slightly. We agreed that we would strive to achieve change through a five-stage process: democratic resistance; negotiations; transitional regime; new constitution and then democratic elections. In our view we have completed phases one and two and are now engaged in phase three with the pathway to the completion of phase four about to start.

We had no illusions about setting up a transitional regime with Zanu PF and the Mutambara group. We knew the former were devious and totally opposed to the new arrangements – they had been forced to go this route by the March
2008 defeat at the polls and subsequent international and regional pressure.

We also know that Zanu PF was unregenerate, had no ideas other than how to loot and steal and to use their positions in government to perpetuate their hold on power. We knew it would be a struggle.

So when we thought we had got the best deal we were going to get, we stopped arguing and negotiating and simply went into the new partnership. The Zanu hardliners were stunned and had to fall back onto their reserve position, which was to form a secret Cabal to replace the JOC and to continue the fight even while they participated in the new government. So they sought to control key centers of power – the security ministries, the Reserve Bank, the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney Generals Office and the Public Service Commission. Outside of these immediate structures they set up control and communication systems in the Police, the Judiciary, the Army and in many other key areas of civic life.

They carefully manipulated the whole system to ensure that all the Parastatals and State Controlled enterprises were controlled by Zanu PF elements – this was to ensure flows of resources and the use of patronage to maintain political controls. Once the new administration was in place they set about trying to limit its effectiveness and control and its degree of influence. The spat between Webster Shamu and Nelson Chamisa over the control of Tel One and Net One – both substantial cash cows, was and is about this. The continuing battle to maintain their total control over the governors, permanent secretaries and key posts is all about this secret war.

The abductions, arbitrary arrests and the unsubstantiated allegations of treason, guerilla activities including recruitment and training in Botswana, are all about this. The farm invasions and the theft of private property and the flaunting of the rule of law as a political weapon of control, is all about this. Zanu PF has no interest whatsoever in “fixing” the problems of Zimbabwe. They know that, come what may, the international community (mainly the USA and Europe) will feed the people and thus prevent the humanitarian crisis from spilling over into instability and violence.

They feel confident they can subsist on what is left of the economy and maintain their lavish lifestyles. They also feel confident that they can control the process leading up to any future elections and in the process regain control of government. In all of this, President, Mugabe, is an essential stage prop – and will be disposed of as soon as the power base of Zanu PF is secured and alternative leadership established.

The past five weeks say it all. Where the MDC has control – health, education and finance, substantial, even dramatic progress has been made.

Where Zanu PF has control there has either been little progress or we have regressed – the media, the Judiciary and the rule of law, agriculture and land reform. Only the Reserve Bank has been neutralized as a center of power – the Ministry of Finance has cut off its funding and restricted its activities and influence. This is hurting the flow of resources to the clandestine Cabal of criminals in Zanu PF but they are developing alternative sources of funds and using their accumulated resources to support their activities.

Whoever imagined that this was going to be anything but a struggle, was deceiving themselves. We knew that from day one. But this process is the only one in town if you reject, as we have, any thought of an armed struggle to eliminate and defeat this tyranny. Tyrants do not give up power without a fight and we are no different except that we chose not to use armed conflict to change the situation in Zimbabwe. This is the toughest route. It is the best for the country and is the only principled way to achieve change by peaceful, democratic and legal means.

So we see ourselves doing the best that we can in the circumstances. We are pursuing three goals for this phase: stabilise the situation and try to restore some semblance of decency to the way people live; write a new national constitution which reflects the popular will and will lay the foundations for a new society; and prepare for the next elections by rebuilding the MDC as a political party; and keeping the people informed of what is happening and why there is little progress in some sectors.

I think we can do all of these three things while we fight to make the transitional government work. If we can hold onto the beachhead where we landed in this invasion, we will be halfway there. If we can actually make progress during the drive inland, then we can do what we have to do to ensure V Day in 2011. Perhaps then and only then will we be able to create the Zimbabwe we all want. Abandoning the beachhead is just what the criminal Cabal wants, we are not going to give it to them. We are their worst nightmare, we will not quit, and we will not give up the fight until we have secured our goal of a free, democratic and just State.

I am reminded of what Habakkuk wrote 2600 years ago in the Middle East. He
said:

“Woe to him who piles up stolen goods, Woe to him who makes himself wealthy by extortion. Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain, who have plotted to ruin many lives. Woe to him who builds a city by bloodshed.”

To these Habakkuk promises, “Your debtors will suddenly arise and make you tremble, then you will become their victim.”
As for us Habakkuk states, “Though it linger, wait for it, it will certainly come and will not delay. I heard and my heart pounded, decay crept into my bones, yet I will wait for the day of calamity to come upon the nation invading us. The Lord is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer and enables me to go on the heights.”

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 29th March 2009