white Zimbos to follow Rhodesian Model?

Patrick Bond pbond at SPAMwn.apc.org
Sun May 7 01:14:51 MDT 2000


> From:          "Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky" <gorojovsky at inea.com.ar>
> I should have thought it twice before I sent my
> posting.

That's what I'm going to say after adding this information, but it's
of general interest, perhaps. It comes from the white liberal/neolib
faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (the key
opposition party now scaring Mugabe into vicious intimidation
tactics, a party led by the ex-trade unionist, self-described
"social democrat" Morgan Tsvangirai, but strongly influenced by
white business at this early stage in its development).

As an aside, I think the writer is mistaken that SA's Thabo Mbeki is
truly supporting free/fair elections; Pretoria probably wants a
modernised/reformed ZANU to retain power, from reliable reports I
hear (a change in government in Zim by 2002 could hearten those in SA
seeking to split the ANC/SACP/Cosatu Alliance).

No one need bother debunking the political+economic liberalisation
formula, we know it's kack. But after that hearty Mugabe rave against
Zim whities (yes, I admit, many of my relatives live there), fair
play requires their best chance at rebuttal:

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          6 May 2000 15:40:12 -0000

A MESSAGE OF HOPE FOR ZIMBABWE
Zimbabwe is passing through the darkest chapter of its history in the
run up to the 2000 elections. The economy, which has been battered by
inept ZANU(PF) rule and corruption over the last few years, may well
melt down in the next few weeks. There is no foreign currency.
Factories and other businesses are laying people off. And now to
compound all the pre-existing problems ZANU(PF) has engineered massive
pre-electoral disturbances, violence, murder and general mayhem
centered on the land problem in an effort to divert attention away
from the disastrous state of the economy and to intimidate the growing
numbers of those who support the Movement for Democratic Change. It is
now clear that there is a Third Force, crafted by Mugabe and his
cronies which is designed to intimidate the electorate into either not
voting at all, or voting for ZANU(PF).

The result has been the dramatic loss of confidence in the future by
the electorate. Minorities fear that ethnic cleansing could begin
shortly. There is a real fear that the Police at best have looked the
other way recently and at worst have acted as accomplices to murder.
As a result farmers have left their land and hundreds are so unsettled
by what is going on that they have packed their suitcases (to enable a
quick exit) and are making plans to emigrate in the short to medium
term.

In view of all that is happening can there be any hope for the future
or is Zimbabwe sentenced to an inevitable slide into total anarchy? I
believe that there are six reasons why there is still a lot of hope
for Zimbabwe.

1. The violence is a consequence of ZANU(PF)'s fear of losing the
election I am not surprised by the events of the last few weeks,
indeed months ago I warned that we had a long, hard and rocky
election road to travel on. When there was euphoria over the
Referendum result I warned that ZANU(PF) would fight dirty. Those of
us who lived through the Gukurahundi in Matebeleland know the true
nature of this beast and the lengths Mugabe will go to achieve a
political objective.

Ironically  the increased verocity of the violence is in itself a
source of hope because the increase , both in "quality" and quantity,
is an indication that ZANU(PF) is increasingly frightened of losing
the election. I believe that the violence has been deliberately
notched up over the last few weeks. When the farms were first invaded
the thinking was clearly that invasions alone would deter farmers and
labour from backing the MDC. As we know they did not and if  anything
support for the MDC grew. The violence was then taken up a notch
(beatings and humiliation of farmers started and farms were laid under
seige) but that didn't work and the MDC continued to spread. A
nightmare scenario was being created for ZANU(PF): it knew that it had
lost the towns but was counting on winning the rural areas and
securing a majority - with this development it faced losing outright.
Hence in the last two weeks we have seen violence being taken up one
more notch with the murder and torture of farmers. The point is
simple: whilst the increase in violence is appalling we need to
remember that it would not have happened had ZANU(PF) felt secure.
That the violence continues now against farm workers and communal
villagers is an indication that ZANU(PF) itself knows it can still
lose the election and in that there is hope, ironic as it is.

2. The MDC horse has already bolted
Had the vicious campaign of violence commenced 6 weeks ago there would
be little comfort in making the first point mentioned above. There is
no doubt that  whilst  6 weeks ago the vast majority of Zimbabweans
were fed up with ZANU(PF) rule, they did not know that there was a
viable alternative in the form of the MDC. I recall that during the
time of the Referendum I received  reports from several rural areas to
the effect that the there was no MDC name or election symbol
recognition in those areas. >From the same areas after the Easter
break I have now received reports of widespread MDC name and symbol
recognition. What is more, the same reports detail the establishment
of MDC structures and that there is huge support for the MDC in these
remote areas. Discussions with my colleagues elsewhere indicate a
similar phenomenon throughout Zimbabwe. Perhaps even more
significantly there are now widespread reports of rural and poor
people countrywide stating,in the face of violence, that they now know
how to vote and are simply waiting for election day.

The point is that whilst ZANU(PF) is slamming the stable door shut
through violence, intimidation, abuse of the rule of law and devious
"legal" measures, it is too late:  the MDC horse has already bolted.
And lest people think that intimidation will ultimately still win the
day I should mention the following. Firstly, one must remember that in
Matebeleland in the 1980s the people did not succumb to much greater
intimidation by the 5 Brigade. Despite near genocide and boasting ,in
the media, of a huge swing to ZANU(PF), it did not win a single seat
in  the 1985 election  in Matebeleland. Secondly, the intimidation
strategy is not winning support for ZANU(PF) - it is only creating
more enemies for itself. Thirdly, a critical mass of political opinion
has now been achieved - there is now a clear understanding amongst the
overwhelming majority of Zimbabweans as to what the problems are and
what is needed to solve them - and history in the form of the 1972
Pierce Commission, the 1979 election, the 1980 election (and even the
1985 election as it played out in Matebeleland) show what happens when
a consensus emerges in the electorate. A new consensus has emerged,
namely that change is needed and that the MDC offers the only way
forward. If anything the ZANU(PF) engineered violence will have rammed
that point across.

3. The penny has finally dropped in the international community's mind
For years many of us in the human rights community and in the
opposition have been speaking about the real nature of this tyrannical
regime. Most of our cries have fallen on deaf ears. I can vividly
recall  arguing in the Sate Department in Washington in 1992 that
pressure should be applied on the World Bank not to support the
economic structural adjustment programme unless meaningful steps were
taken to enhance democracy; I was laughed off. In the same year I
wrote in the Financial Gazette that unless economic liberalisation was
accompanied by political liberalisation ESAP would  fail. The
international community and even local business were not interested.

Even when the so called "land demonstrations" began the international
media did not at first understand what it was all about. But the penny
has finally dropped in the minds of the international community that
this is a tyrannical regime that is determined to stay in power at any
cost and which will cause immense damage to the region if not reigned
in. In the last two weeks there has been a marked change in the way
the international media has interpreted what is going on. That in turn
is having a massive influence on domestic opinion in the region and in
the West. That opinion is in turn now dominating how the problem is to
be tackled politically. The point is that there is now massive
antipathy towards the Mugabe regime and increasing sympathy for those
trying to do something about the problem within Zimbabwe.

That has never been the case before. At worst there was, in the past,
indifference to what was happening in Zimbabwe. At best there was
abysmal misunderstanding. Now there is understanding and outrage in
the international community, evidenced by the huge press contingent
(the largest in any single country since the Gulf War) now resident in
Zimbabwe. And whilst that contigent may grow tired and decline in
number the problems of Zimbabwe will never again be treated  in the
same way they were prior to this crisis.

What has emerged in the course of the past week is that there is now a
consensus between South Africa and nations in the EU as to what needs
to be done in Zimbabwe. Whilst the ZANU(PF) controlled media portrayed
the Victoria Falls summit as a triumph for Mugabe the lie to that was
given in 3 ways. Firstly, it was strange that Mugabe, as the host and
the senior "statesman", did not speak at the post meeting press
conference regarding issues that concerned him ie Zimbabwe. Secondly,
if the meeting was such a triumph, then why was he so very glum at the
conference? Indeed Mugabe was visibly angry at the meeting and I
thought at the time it was because he had had the Riot Act read to
him. Thirdly, we now know that he did in fact have the Riot Act read
to him and that the quid pro quo for Southern African support for land
reform was in the form of undertakings from him to hold free and fair
elections, to invite international observers and to get the ZANU(PF)
thugs off the farms. President Mbeki has now cancelled his State visit
to Zimbabwe (a fact confirmed to me in Harare on the 28th April by a
senior South African diplomat) - he will now only come to open Trade
Fair, an undertaking  he felt he should honour.

On Friday the 28th I met three High Commissioners from 1st world
Commonwealth countries, the Ambassador of one of the leading EU
countries, senior representatives from the United States Government
and, as stated above, a senior ranking South African diplomat. I was
astonished by the change in attitude towards the ZANU)PF) regime -
suffice it to say that all referred to it as a corrupt, totalitarian
government. They all had a clear understanding that if the current
violence continues the elections will not be free and fair. All were
desperately concerned about what is going on and listened intently to
what the MDC believes should be done. All were keen to help in the run
up to the elections and I think all will send observers and provide
whatever resources are needed to assist in making the elections as
fair as possible in the circumstances.

The point is that we are no longer alone. There is enormous
international goodwill out there; Governments the world over are
determined not to let ZANU(PF) get away with murder as it has in the
past. Importantly the same Governments have a profound understanding
now about the true nature of this regime and that the land invasions
are about suppression of opposition rather than about land. They will
not let the wool be pulled over their eyes any longer.

4. ZANU(PF) is increasingly divided
It is increasingly apparent that the ZANU(PF) election campaign is
being spearheaded by the President himself and the likes of Hitler
Hunzvi and that there are many in ZANU(PF) who are not at all happy
with this turn of events. We know that in the week before the murders
of farmers happened a majority in cabinet resolved to get the ZANU(PF)
thugs off the farms - that is why Vice President Msika issued the
statement he did ordering them off, only to be rebuffed by Mugabe on
his return from Cuba. It is no coincidence that it was Minister
Dabengwa who a few weeks earlier had made the same call as Msika - he,
like Msika, is a former ZAPU member who was not responsible for the
gross human rights abuses perpetrated against the people of
Matebeleland in the 1980s. This week it was revealed in the London
Times that Perence Shiri, the commander of the 5 Brigade in 1983 at
the hight of the Gukurahundi, is co-ordinating the invasion of farms
and the accompanying violence. That fact will only make the likes of
Dabengwa and other doves in cabinet even more alarmed. They know that
there will be life after a defeat at the polls(that they will not face
prosecution for crimes against humanity) and they do not want to get
sucked into massive human rights abuses on the scale of what happened
in the 1980s. Mugabe and Shiri on the other hand have nothing to lose.

Parliament  dissolved by operation of the Constitution (it cannot be
reconvened) on the 11th April and it is increasingly clear that the
Mugabe is determined to rule by Presidential decree. The advice this
weekend that he will use the Presidential Powers Act to amend the Land
Acquisition Act is evidence of that. But the very use of Presidential
decrees at this juncture will alarm many within ZANU(PF) who believe
that the Mugabe has too much power as it is. The use of this decree
will almost inevitably result in an even more serious Constitutional
crisis than we face at present. The sense of unease within ZANU(PF)
can only grow.

Even the army  in recent weeks has shown that it is not prepared to
follow ZANU(PF) blindly. The statement of Colonel Diye, the Army
spokesman, on the 11th April, that the army will respect a democratic
change in government, is highly significant. The previously held
assumption that the army was just a branch of ZANU(PF) no longer holds
good. The statement in itself reveals that not all in the army are
happy with what is happening.

Thinking people in ZANU(PF) know that Mugabe's actions are devastating
the economy, an economy that they will have to deal with if the
strategy works and ZANU(PF) is returned to power. They are also bright
enough to know that they will have to heal the damage without
international support, which they know will not be forthcoming in the
event that the international community deems ZANU(PF) to have won by
foul means, as will be the case if the current strategy continues. As
the economy continues its freefall the divisions within ZANU(PF) can
only grow. The only question is how long the sane people within
ZANU(PF) will stay on board ship. Not all are prepared to destroy the
country simply to avoid Truth and Justice Commissions and anti
corruption enquiries (which is undoubtedly what is driving Mugabe et
al to stay in power whatever the cost).

The point is that ZANU(PF) is simply not the same monolith it was. It
is seriously divided against itself and as the economy melts down over
the next few weeks its cracks will grow wider and wider.

5. We are in the majority
Despite all the violence and intimidation the fact remains that the
overwhelming majority of Zimbabweans want change and are increasingly
angry about the cynical exploitation of the land issue by Mugabe over
the last few weeks. The findings of the Helen Suzman Foundation prior
to the Referendum (including the finding that the most important issue
in the minds of over 80% of the population is the state of the
economy) simply will not go away. Intimidated people may not speak
openly about what concerns them but their concerns do not vanish. If
anything people are even more concerned now about the state of the
economy and blame Mugabe even more for its failure. The link between
Mugabe's irresponsible behaviour and the quickening collapse of the
economy is now more apparent than ever before. In the other words the
number of people who blame Mugabe and co for the disastrous state of
the economy have grown dramatically since the Referendum.

And in one of the greatest ironies of the campaign Mugabe, Hunzvi and
Professor Moyo have done more than anyone else to promote the MDC as a
viable alternative. During the $50 million Constitutional Commission's
"Yes Campaign" in the run up to the Referendum Professor Moyo was at
pains to establish a link between the National Constitutional Assembly
(NCA) and the MDC, referring to it as the NCA/MDC alliance. The NCA is
of course in truth an umbrella body representing many different
political parties, churches and NGOs. However Professor Moyo's own
propaganda fixed in the mind of the electorate that the NCA and the
MDC were one and the same and as a result the MDC got virtually all
the credit for the Referendum victory (among political parties that
is). Since the Referendum Mugabe, Hunzvi and Moyo have directed all
their venom towards the MDC and whilst MDC rallies are never covered
on the ZBC the attacks on it, to the exclusion of all other opposition
parties, are covered every day. As a result ZANU(PF) has itself
unwittingly promoted the MDC as the only force opposed to it which is
capable of bringing change. In other words  the vast majority of
Zimbabweans now feel that only the MDC has the will or the ability to
satisfy their desires for fundamental change.

The point is that the dissatisfaction felt by an overwhelming majority
of Zimbabweans has if anything grown in recent weeks and that majority
has coalesced around the MDC. The concerns will not go away, the fact
they are felt by a majority of Zimbabweans will not go away and the
fact that ZANU(PF) is held responsible will not go away no matter what
violence is rained on the Zimbabwean electorate. If the majority of
Zimbabweans agreed with the violence and Mugabe's tactics then we
would be in trouble as a Nation. However there is massive hope in the
reality that it is only a tiny, rabid and, increasingly, deranged
minority which is directing the current mayhem.

6. There is ancient wisdom which provides hope
The prophet Isaiah nearly three thousand years ago wrote of the
consequences faced by political leaders when they violate God's most
fundamental principles of governance. Isaiah 1:21-23 describes a
corrupt and unjust regime very similar to that experienced by Zimbabwe
- a regime that is ruled by murderers, rebels, companions of thieves,
people who love bribes and chase after gifts, people who do not defend
the cause of the fatherless and who have no compassion for the cause
of widows.

In Isaiah 1:31 it is written:

   "The mighty man will become tinder and his work a spark;
      both will burn together, with no one to quench the fire."

That is the inevitable consequence for all rulers who fall into the
category mentioned above. History is replete with many examples of
despotic leaders who have eventually been undone not, ironically, by
the works of others but by their own works. This century alone we have
the striking example of Hitler who built up a powerful regime only to
destroy it all by invading Poland and Russia. And in Zimbabwe it is
Mugabe's deployment of troops into the Congo, Mugabe's corruption,
Mugabe's disrespect for the rule of law which have acted as the spark.
He, once a mighty man, is now merely tinder and ZANU(PF) just a shell.

Further along in Isaiah (40:23-24) it is written:

   "He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world
   to
nothing.
     No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown,
     no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them
     and
they wither,
     and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff."

I have no doubt that what is happening in Zimbabwe today is the
whirlwind of change. Whilst it is  terrifying being in the middle of
this whirlwind we need to remind ourselves that it will not last for
ever and positive change will result. In other words the process of
what is unfolding in Zimbabwe will not stop and will move to its
inevitable conclusion no matter what Machiavellian schemes are devised
by the corrupt ruling elite in Zimbabwe.

THE WAY AHEAD
In sounding an optimistic note I must stress that I still anticipate
that violence and abuse of human rights will continue and possibly
even increase as ZANU(PF) becomes increasingly desperate. After all
ZANU(PF) has nothing else to offer the electorate and if it gives up
on its violent campaign it will most certainly lose the election by a
wide margin. Mugabe knows this very well and for this reason will keep
intimidating the electorate right up to the time of the election. What
then are we to do?

Martin Luther King, the great American civil rights activist in the
1960s, provides guidance:

  "When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and
  bomb,
good men must build and bind.
    Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good
    men
must seek to bring into being
    a real order of justice."

That is the task facing all of us. I have no doubt that the
international community will continue to do its bit:  international
pressure is mounting on ZANU(PF) all the time. It is up to Zimbabweans
however to play their part as well. They can do so in the following
ways.

I am appalled by the rumours flying around Zimbabwe. Whilst I have no
doubt that some have been started by the CIO to induce a sense of
panic, especially amongst minorities, many are spread by otherwise
responsible people who take no steps to verify the rumour before
spreading it further and who, frankly, should know better. It is
critically important that those who are committed to democratic change
do not fall for this particularly insidious tactic. In essence do not
start or spread rumours.

I am appalled by reports of people packing their bags and making hasty
plans to emigrate. Whilst I understand the sense of panic, the sense
that there is no one to turn to, the sense that one cannot even turn
to the Police for assistance, the sense that Zimbabwe is spiralling
out of control, I believe that now, more than ever, is the time for
calm and resolute behaviour which recognises the fact that our fears
are shared by the vast majority of Zimbabweans. If the panic was based
on an understanding that the majority were happy with events then
there would be cause for packing bags and getting the first flight
out. But this is not the case. If anything this a test of the
commitment of minority races and black professionals (the two groups
of people most likely to flee) to Zimbabwe and to fellow Zimbabweans.
The vast majority of Zimbabweans simply cannot flee and that includes
the aged, widows and the poor. Are we just going to abandon all these
people? And if altruism is not a compelling enough argument are we
going to give up all that has been built up simply because we have
been held to ransom by a few thugs for a few months? No - Zimbabwe is
too precious a country to abandon in this way and, what is more, we
are far too close to marvellous and profound democratic change to give
up the fight at this juncture.

To quote Martin Luther King again:

  "Freedom has always been an expensive thing. History is fit
  testimony to
the fact that freedom is rarely
   gained without sacrifice and self-denial."

Zimbabweans! Stand firm and  remain determined to play your role in
achieving democratic change!

Yours sincerely,

David Coltart
Secretary for Legal Affairs
Movement for Democratic Change
1st May 2000


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