The rally was preceded by meetings of the National Executive and Council and in those meetings it was decided that the MDC would have to toughen its stance in the transitional government.
The President, Morgan Tsvangirai, will now meet Mr Mugabe on Monday and tell him that the National Leadership has resolved to give their Zanu-PF counterparts one week to begin to implement the full demands of the Global Political Agreement. In addition, the structures of the party have been instructed to go back to the rank and file and ask them if it was not time to reconsider our participation in the Transitional Government.
This tougher stance was triggered by several events in the past week or so. First, at the SADC Heads of State summit in the Congo, Mr Mugabe made a five hour speech in which he stated that the parties to the GPA were working well together and there were no serious problems. Secondly, we felt that our willingness to compromise to try and make this deal work was being misconstrued as compliance and that this impression had to be corrected.
But perhaps the most important challenge came from the ordinary members of the party who felt that the failure to get Zanu-PF to play its part in the Transitional Government was stalling recovery and normalisation. It was felt that after the early progress brought about largely by MDC reforms and their presence in the government, that the economy was still in deep trouble and that social service recovery was a long way off.
Zanu-PF procrastination was impeding progress on all fronts; in the constitutional reform process the attitude of Zanu-PF leadership was holding up progress and their demands that we short circuit the process and accept the Kariba Draft, was totally unacceptable. The failure to consult on all major decisions and to unilaterally appoint people to posts in violation of the GPA had now gone too far and was not tolerable.
Then there are the issues of the failure to effect agreed reforms to repressive legislation and to open up the media. The failure to halt the issuance of hate speech and the public denigration of the MDC and its leadership and the one sided application of the law to MDC legislators where 29 MPs and Senators are now either in court or already convicted on fabricated grounds.
The statement on Saturday when Mr Mugabe met the high level delegation from the EU in Harare that “we have implemented the GPA and therefore that sanctions should be withdrawn” met with little acceptance. His case was not helped by an irresponsible and unlawful statement the previous day at the Zanu-PF Youth Congress to the effect that the “bloody whites” had no place in Zimbabwean affairs and that remaining white farmers had to leave their farms or face eviction by force by the police.
Such rhetoric has no place in a modern society. Zanu-PF racism has gone too far this time. In the past Mr Mugabe has always been careful to maintain some dignity in his public utterances and then done just what he wants behind closed doors. The continuing attacks on white farmers are now blatantly racist and illegal, even in terms of the present law in Zimbabwe.
MDC responded by abandoning its previous stance that the so-called land reform exercise was “irreversible”. The National Executive now states that the Zanu-PF “fast track land reform programme” has been unacceptable and will require a comprehensive review and change. The reality is that if the rule of law is restored in Zimbabwe, the new courts will rule in favour of the farmers and holders of private property rights. Then what do we do? Anyway the present attacks on remaining farms are irresponsible in the face of a situation where we are being forced to import 80 per cent of our food.
Zanu-PF has to ask itself now, “What happens if the Transitional Government” collapses?” Make no mistake; it will not be back to normal business and looting for the Zanu-PF thugs. SADC would have no alternative but to become engaged and this time there would be no Mbeki to protect Zanu-PF interests. MDC’s position would be quite simple – let’s go back to the people and settle this once and for all.
For Zanu-PF that is the very last thing they want – they and Mutambara want the present Transitional arrangements to last for five years in the hope that MDC will screw up and they can benefit from the gradual recovery that is under way. They also hope that by the end of the five year term new leadership might be in place in Zanu-PF and they might be able to re-energise the party. There is no hope for Mutambara unless the present arrangement persists.
So on Monday the other two partners in the Transitional Government face a “High Noon, Main Street” moment. Morgan Tsvangirai will confront clever Dick and the Botox man with the demand that they live up to the deal they signed a year ago in Harare. They know what that entails and although they might shrink back from such a demand, the alternative is worse; it’s a stay of execution for at least a year.
Sitting in the crowd and watching the rally run its course, I felt so proud of the thousands of ordinary people who have fought for the past decade for freedom, democracy, security and safety and a better standard of life and have done so without violence. What an example they are to the world in which we live where so often such disputes and conflicts are resolved by violence and murder.
Morgan summed it all up when he said, “Before God I pledge that I will not rest or retire until we have brought our promise of a future we can all believe in to fruition in Zimbabwe.”
When he asked the crowd if they would join him in that struggle, there was a roar of assent. I could feel the apprehension in Shake Shake building in Harare.