A couple of things.
I was rather amused to get an email from Sunset Tours this morning with the subject title: Air Zimbabwe Specials and Extra Baggage Allowances. The departure hall at Harare International Airport is a scary sight on the night that Air Zimbabwe flies to London. You can hardly swing a bag for the masses fleeing our sinking ship. Now with Extra Baggage Allowances one wonders if the plane will even get off the ground. By the sound of it (low and loud) it would seem that ScareZim clears my roof – I’m in the flight path – by barely a few feet as it is.
Then I laughed at a headline just seen: Zimbabwe Places Military On Alert: Says Opposition Planning A Coup. Hmmm. The Movement for Democratic can plan an election at best, and interminable board meetings at worst. But a coup is certainly outside of their capabilities. A headline like this is just another example of the type of propaganda that’s churned out by the state.
Meanwhile Tendai Dumbutshena writing for the Zimbabwe Times seems to have his head screwed on right going by his article Time for MDC to make big decision. OK, we got that, awhile back. Besides the fact that they are way over the deadline on making a decision, the fact is that they need to make a decision. Scary thought, I know. But Tendai puts things quite clearly . . .
Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC meets on Sunday 18 January to decide whether to join the proposed inclusive government. It is imperative for the MDC to arrive at a clear decision that leaves no room for uncertainty or ambiguity. It is now four months since the Global Political Agreement (GPA) was signed on 15 September 2008. A lot has transpired in that time. The MDC should be in a position to make a firm decision based on concrete facts and not unrealistic hopes.
This is no time to dilly-dally. The party is either joining the government or opting out. There are no more SADC summits that will help the situation. All parties including SADC have made their positions crystal clear. It is decision time for the MDC.
A coalition or unity government only works if parties in it have a common purpose. In Zimbabwe this is clearly not the case. Mugabe sees the inclusive government as a tactical ploy to ultimately outmaneuvre the MDC. He does not see it as a vehicle through which the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe can be genuinely tackled. His main objective is not to bring prosperity to the people of Zimbabwe but to rule them until he drops dead. He only signed the agreement to secure legitimacy for his presidency which he could not obtain through the ballot box. He detests the idea of having the MDC in government even as junior partners.
He has no intention of allowing the inclusive government to serve a full five – year term. His intention is to call for an early election when he believes the MDC is sufficiently weakened. Mugabe is shrewd enough to know that the MDC’s presence as junior partners in a largely ineffectual government will have serious political consequences for it. With no improvement in the lives of Zimbabweans the MDC’s political fortunes will rapidly nosedive. At the same time the MDC’s foot soldiers – the backbone of the party – will continue to be killed, arrested, tortured and displaced. With its organizers battered and demoralized and its structures crippled, the MDC will be ripe for easy pickings in an early snap election.
We should however debate one of the observations Tendai makes . . .
The argument is often presented by some analysts that the MDC will be cast into the political wilderness if it declines to join the inclusive government. This is a false argument bereft of any merit. The MDC’s raison d’etre is to seek democratic change in Zimbabwe. That is supposed to be its mission. It is not to seek political accommodation with a regime hell bent on preserving its own tyrannical rule.
As Amanda raised in her recent blog, perhaps the MDC is in fact seeking some sort of political accommodation rather than the ousting of Mugabe. Clearly the MDC has struggled to get rid of Mugabe democratically, and if they are unable to pull off a coup (and who wants one anyway), then politicians (rather than freedom fighters) opt for political accommodation.
On the 18th January Tsvangirai will have a hard time persuading his colleagues and MPs to walk away from a negotiated settlement. They will want to keep the dollars and perks that Mugabe has been dangling in front of them.