Recent pronouncements by the regime’s activists at the Zimbabwe Euromoney Conference indicate that plans are afoot for grabbing mines, banks, conservancies and anything of value before the elections. That can only take place in an environment of lawlessness.
The MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai would be best advised to stay in and fight from within the government as its detractors are eager to prove their hypothesis of an external enemy syndrome ahead of planned elections. There are reasons why Zanu-pf is panicking including the advanced age and health problems of its presidential candidate.
Therefore, the arrest of Energy Minister Elton Mangoma cannot be seen in isolation of other recent developments which suspiciously appear to be aimed at wrecking the coalition government and create room for lawlessness.
The developments include the nullification of the election of the Speaker of Parliament, Lovemore Moyo; the continued incarceration in remand prison of the co-chairman of the constitutional parliamentary committee (COPAC), Douglas Mwonzora and 24 villagers who include an 82 year-old man after a High Court judge postponed the hearing; and that of human rights and pro-democracy activists.
Although the Prime Minister’s threat of a ‘divorce’ between MDC and Zanu-pf is understandable, it’s not in the country’s national interest for the coalition government to collapse. While some of us were opposed to the GPA and the GNU right from their inception, there is more to be achieved by remaining in the GNU than to walk-out.
The MDC should press for a non-partisan application of the rule of law. That cannot be done effectively outside government. The MDC should not warm up to Mugabe nut demand the arrest and prosecution of those who perpetrated violence in 2008 during which about 200 people were murdered by suspected Zanu-pf sympathisers.
The risks of a collapse outweigh the discomfort being felt by the MDC-T as a result of provocation by Zanu-pf. It looks abundantly clear that there are ‘dark forces’ operating from behind the scenes determined to cause maximum embarrassment, fear and uncertainty to their coalition partners for narrow partisan reasons.
The arrests of MDC-T officials appears clearly stage-managed. The worst that the MDC-T could do would be to immediately call-it off, whereby its opponents would celebrate and plunge the country into a dangerous mode of looting and pillage. Other analysts have predicted a possible coup should Mugabe die in office or if Zanu-pf loses in the next election. That cannot be ruled out. Which leads us to the question, What next then?
It appears Zanu-pf is gunning for a rushed election under SADC or Jacob Zuma’s moribund mediation leading to controversial results again. That should be resisted. Zimbabwe’s civil society should approach the United Nations for an alternative mediator and a viable roadmap for free and fair elections.
Similarly, the United Nations must be involved in peacekeeping and monitoring of the elections if Zimbabwean political parties are serious about free and fair elections.
Such a roadmap should ensure those in the Diaspora have the vote otherwise nothing lasting would have been achieved.
The regime cannot easily manipulate votes of the millions in the Diaspora unlike at present where there have been allegations of soldiers being used to stuff ballot boxes. These are trying moments and they call for maximum restraint.
Clifford Chitupa Mashiri is a London based political analyst and regular columnist for The Zimbabwe Mail, he can be contatcted at email@example.com