Zimbabwe 2007: Year MDC saw the African light
Posted: Saturday, December 29, 2007
By Reason Wafawarova
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December 29, 2007
NOW that the year 2007 is coming to an end and inflation is not at 1,5 million percent, Zanu-PF is still intact, Zimbabwean soldiers are still in the barracks and not at State House and Munhumutapa Building and the Government of Zimbabwe is still going strong it may be necessary to look at some of the political predictions and events of the year that may pass for the highlights of the year.
The year 2007 began with the suspicious "attack" on Lovemore Madhuku’s residence on January 1 that many neutral observers believe was a self-inflicted and convenient sympathy-hunting antic meant to hoodwink gullible Western donors as well as to attract international attention.
Two days later, Morgan Tsvangirai, the faction leader of one of the two fragments of the MDC capitalised on the Madhuku incident in his New Year address and claimed that the "attack" was a sign that President Mugabe and Zanu-PF were "on the verge of collapse". In the same address, Tsvangirai also claimed, authoritatively, that there was irreparable disenchantment within Zanu-PF and he even invited the so-called reformists to join his "democratic forces".
Arthur Mutambara weighed in with his own New Year message in which he bragged that he was going to lead a "defiance campaign" that would see laws being disregarded. Tsvangirai and members of the so-called Save Zimbabwe Coalition joined in the campaign for defiance.
This led to the terrible cruising for a bruising when some of those who chose to defy the law went on a collision course with the police in Highfield, Harare and as history now records the opposition activists ended up inviting the full wrath of the law on that fateful March 11. Before March 11 there were a number of interesting developments that showed that the opposition was either acting on faulty intelligence or plain naiveté. There was a belief that members of the police force would sympathise with the violent revolters, for example, and Tsvangirai even invited the police to join the "march".
The events of March 11 turned out to be the turning point where the MDC began to take African lessons down the throat, as events would show. While the West found good politics in displaying the bruises of those who front-lined the defiance campaign particularly the pictures of Tsvangirai, Africa through Sadc, decided to look at what had caused the bruises in the first place or put analytically, to look beyond the bruises and burns on both sides of the collision.
Sadc sought to tackle the issue at its ExtraOrdinary Summit held at the end of March and the prediction within the MDC and the Western circles was that President Mugabe was going to be condemned by fellow Heads of States at the Summit and that Africa through Sadc, was going to stand by the MDC.
The 14 Heads of State and Government held their closed-door session and came out to meet a legion of journalists ready to "scoop on Mugabe’s downfall". Jakaya Kikwete, the Tanzanian President and then Sadc chairman delivered a communiqué with resolutions that left a bitter taste in the mouths of MDC activists and Western journalists present.
He said Sadc noted that Zimbabwe had carried out free and fair elections in 2000 and 2002 and therefore fully believed that President Mugabe and his Government was the legitimate choice by the people of Zimbabwe – that Britain had an obligation to honour its Lancaster House commitments, that sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the Western alliance had to be lifted and that Zanu-PF and the MDC should mediate under the auspices of Sadc.
Britain immediately announced its disapproval of the stance taken by Sadc and Tendai Biti charged that Sadc was playing "ping pong with the people of Zimbabwe". Mutambara inferred that Sadc was a "club of dictators" and the US administration expressed dismay at the failure by Sadc to play to the Western bidding while the BBC marvelled at the sight of President Mugabe coming from the summit "with a spring in his step".
Then came Christopher Dell’s departure from Zimbabwe on a lower-level posting to Afghanistan in June, well coinciding with the departure of Tony Blair from No. 10 Downing Street.
These two men had a commission to see the demise of the Zimbabwean Government – a commission deriving its roots from the legacy of Western "supremacy" as well as from the mandates of imperialism as enforced by corporate democracy. Blair was going to leave his MDC political project at the mercy of these African natives who in his eyes were so mean and primitive that they seemed to okay images of terrible bruises and to be going along with a "ruthless dictator". Not least – Blair was going to suffer regime change ahead of President Mugabe and there was no sign or hope that the millions of pounds he had poured into the MDC project would yield any positive result.
As for Dell, it was a combination of shame, humiliation and self-cursing for a complete failure of a Milosovech replay on a turf he had thought to be an easy stroll in the park. He could not believe that the natives could not be stirred into an uprising and he had to make face saving predictions to the effect that inflation would be 1,5 million percent by year-end and that "the regime cannot survive."
Many will remember that Dell’s predictions were immediately followed by a sharp rise in commodity prices and that the price madness had to be arrested by a price blitz from the Government – that resulting in the current commodity shortages.
It was back to the African forum in July when all African leaders gathered for the 9th Ordinary Session of the AU in Accra, Ghana. The MDC still thought there was something fundamentally wrong with Sadc and they sent a delegation led by Thokozani Khupe to impress upon the African leaders that Zimbabwe was under a "ruthless dictatorship".
Not only were the African leaders clearly not interested in Khupe’s presence at the summit – but the Ghanaians as well as their Press also demanded to know from Khupe and her colleagues – why such a revolutionary as President Mugabe is, could suddenly just turn into the monster Khupe was preaching. They also demanded to know why her party was so much liked by the West and why they were receiving western funding and why they were opposed to the land reform programme.
Meanwhile, President Mugabe was addressing multitudes and was being honoured as a successor to the Kwame Nkrumah legacy of Pan-Africanism.
For the second time Africa was speaking to the MDC and telling them that it was the African way or the high way – and no midway measures.
In August, Sadc was once again meeting in Lusaka, Zambia for its 27th Summit, and again the MDC dispatched the battle-weary Khupe to try another demonisation campaign against the Government of Zimbabwe – this time with the support of hired protesters. Most of the hired thugs were deported at the Zimbabwe-Zambia border post while those who sneaked in had to make do with humiliating booing from the Zambian public as well as the Zambian political leaders from both sides of the divide.
The message was the same. Africa did not take kindly to the treacherous identity of the MDC.
This continued show of solidarity with Zimbabwe by African leaders was clearly not going down well in the Western circles and immediately after the Lusaka Summit something had to be done. In came Australia’s Alexander Downer with his enormous victory over eight Zimbabwean university students who were studying in Australia at the time. Downer, the then Foreign Minister reckoned that these youngsters had a case to answer in all that was happening since they happened to be born to Zimbabwean politicians and senior officials whose policies differed from the Australian government’s perspective.
During this time Downer, personally invited Tsvangirai to Australia and Tsvangirai enthusiastically thanked Downer and the Australian government for the isolation of Zimbabwe and pleaded for more isolation and more sanctions, only to be restrained by Downer who had to tell him that the measures in place then were adequate.
There was an announcement about funding of "democratic forces" in Zimbabwe to the tune of 18 million Australian dollars and while addressing invited guests at the Lowly Institute in Sydney Alexander Downer told Tsvangirai that "we definitely want to see the back of Mr Mugabe".
It is ironic that from Sydney, Tsvangirai went straight for a weaker target and showed the world the back of a poor woman by the name Lucia Matibenga, much to the surprise of Downer – whose own back was to be seen by President Mugabe as the Howard government was dismissed by the Australian electorate in an election in November.
Anyway, on September 18, 2007 Zimbabwe witnessed the first fruit of the talks between Zanu-PF and the MDC. The two parties co-sponsored Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 18) Act, which harmonised elections for Zimbabwe beginning 2008.
There was apparent disquiet from Western quarters with Tsvangirai rushing to Washington to explain issues but there was nowhere to rush in order to pacify marauding voices from Zinasu, NCA, Woza and other pro-MDC civic organisations. Madhuku literally went mad and accused the MDC of "treachery" and many political hangers-on of the MDC complained bitterly about being left out of the talks.
Britain could not understand the MDC move of moving in unison with Zanu-PF and Gordon Brown made the biggest mistake of his political life on the 21st of September when he chose to reinforce his resentment for what was happening by declaring that he would boycott the EU-Africa Summit in Portugal if President Mugabe was invited. It was game on about who would be watching the other’s empty chair.
President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia, the Sadc chair, immediately declared that Sadc would boycott the Summit if President Mugabe was not invited, and when the Ghanaian foreign minister, whose country chaired the AU, announced that the AU position was that all African leaders were to be invited that made it minus 53 countries or NO summit.
Faced with this scenario, and a history of a Blair boycott in 2000 and a cancellation of the Summit in 2003, Europe was divided; with German, Portugal and other countries insisting that the Summit had to go ahead according to the wish of the African leaders. That left the unelected, Blair-appointed Gordon Brown with egg in the face.
Of course the Summit did materialise on December 8/9 and President Mugabe was right there watching a little lady of the African colour sitting in Brown’s chair and clearly overwhelmed by events. Attempts by the MDC to build up Brown’s case at the Summit through anti-Zimbabwe demonstrations backfired when pro-Zimbabwe protesters countered their hired protesters.
On October 30, Tsvangirai sent Khupe to preside over what is now known as the "restaurant congress" at which one Theresa Makone was "elected" to replace the ousted Lucia Matibenga. Civic groups, MDC senior officials and the private media went berserk after this and on November 7, Nelson Chamisa ranted against the media blitz claiming that there was no fall out in the MDC and accused everyone of being delusional.
On November 30, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association organised the Million Men and Women March in support of President Mugabe’s candidature in March 2008 and the crowd that turned up shocked the MDC the most. Zanu-PF’s Extraordinary Congress followed the March and and again the opposition was shocked by the unanimous endorsement of President Mugabe as the ruling party’s candidate in the harmonised elections in March 2008.
All the predictions of pandemonium and fireworks from perceived factions within Zanu-PF were just not there at the Congress and there was no sign of a political party coming out of Zanu-PF as had been predicted throughout the year.
On December 18, amendments Bills for the Broadcasting Services Act, the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act were all fast-tracked through the House of Assembly – again co-sponsored by both the MDC and Zanu-PF and the same voices of descend are crying foul.
This writer has chronicled these events in light of the new orientation the events have given to the MDC. While some argue and say the MDC just did not do its work in creating synergies in Africa, this writer asserts that it is the MDC ideology, or is it lack of it, that actually alienated the MDC from the African polity.
No government can be comfortable with a foreign funded and foreign directed opposition party, even if the party was just next-door. If the MDC were standing for African values and not doing such treacherous things as calling for sanctions against their own country they barely needed to mobilise friends in Africa – they would just get them. Is it not surprising that even other opposition parties in other African countries like Zambia have a problem with the MDC?
Now that election 2008 is around the corner and the Government of Zimbabwe has not collapsed it is time for the MDC to evaluate itself and not to blame the Constitution, food distribution, chiefs and so on and so forth for its defeat.
A clearly disintegrating opposition cannot keep blaming outside factors for its lack of organisational skills and now that the African language has been spoken loud and clear it is time to go back to the drawing board for the MDC and an introduction of an ideology might be the starting point. Abandoning the imperial agenda might be second and selling alternative policies in place of vilification might be third. That way we can start talking of movement for democratic change.
Reason Wafawarova is a Zimbabwean political writer and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
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