Home / Politics / Opinion / Alternatives to flies on #Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s corpse

Alternatives to flies on #Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s corpse

Alternatives to flies on #Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s corpse

Southern Africa is rushing pell-mell into the cauldron of Zimbabwe’s Presidential election.

If the election is held and Mugabe wins, but it is declared to be unfair and not acceptable by Zimbabweans and the world, there will be chaos in Zimbabwe. The chances of this happening are high; Mugabe can only win by cheating and violence. South Africa may have to intervene militarily.

Not only ZANU, but also the Army, the Police and the Administration are deeply riven. Ultimately Mugabe has built a worthless edifice by doing little more than playing populist politics. He has abused land and race and conjured up a host of “enemies” from the global economy to Britain to, fashionably but cynically, branding the opposition “terrorists”. The ace in his pack of cards is his and his cronies’ rape of the DRC, the land, violence against internal and external enemies, and officially controlled resources – their joint culpability.

It is long since time to call Mugabe’s bluff, to openly avoid him and his cronies and to stand squarely behind the citizens of Zimbabwe.

The region and the international community must now prepare to help the MDC establish political, social and economic stability either after the March election if there is a normal transfer of power or after a period of chaos and bloodletting.

South Africa remains the key player. There are still creative measures that can be taken to both help ensure an acceptable election and to prepare for the likely aftermath. During the SADC monitoring visit two weeks ago, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana reported that the delegation was “amazed” by the cooperation of the Zimbabwean ministers. He added, “Normally, there is a flat-footed denial. They are now accepting that the situation is beyond their control and that they need help,” He said many issues were “raised sharply” with the Zimbabweans, including reports of state-sponsored violence and land invasions.

The view reported by Mdladlana no doubt led to the current ANC fraternal visit to ZANU. The outcome has to show the ANC putting aside ZANU as paralytic and destroyed by corruption. The ANC must be seen to treasure the worth of Zimbabwe as a people and an economy, just as the Constitution would demand.

The ZANU and the MDC Congresses have just been held. They revealed two worlds far apart. Zanu’s was a mad, ranting, demagogic and frightening example of lunatic showmanship. The MDC’s was a serious, participatory, comradely, democratic meeting espousing human rights, dignity and a courageous resolve to bravely soldier on so that, maybe, the voters could vote. The MDC is relying on Mugabe not being able to stop its messages being spread by word of mouth and by a new external and independent short wave radio station. The aim is to encourage Zimbabweans to vote in droves if they can.

Days before the Zanu Congress, the Zimbabwe Army, Police, Intelligence Organisation, and Air Force brass urged Mugabe to quit and to anoint a successor to enhance Zanu PF’s chances in the election. Most of these officers are heavily implicated in corruption, political violence, the rape of the natural resources of the Congo, and many have received farms and other favours.

They no longer see Mugabe as able to protect them. They know that there is rampant factionalism tearing ZANU apart. Mugabe had now lost the former Zanu strongholds of Masvingo, the Midlands and Manicaland together with his complete lack of support in all the cities. He can only bank on the Mashonaland vote.

If Zimbabweans can vote, Mugabe will lose. That loss will herald the political oblivion of the corrupt, venial and grasping political elite that has all but destroyed a wonderful people and country. This explains that elite’s desperation to avoid jail by clinging to power at whatever national and individual cost. Hence the general’s “advice” to Mugabe to go!

Many senior ZANU officials share the sentiment of one quoted in the free press in Harare, “Campaigning for Mugabe is a futile exercise. People are tired of him and it is clear to all of us that the writing is on the wall. It will be a miracle if we win.”

A senior party member summed up the mood of the ZANU Congress thus, “It’s only an ill-advised fly that follows a corpse to the grave.” ZANU as a coherent political party could fall apart quite suddenly. Zimbabweans will recognise that moment and act accordingly.

When the MDC President, Morgan Tsvangirai, reminded Mugabe that the people might be driven by the collapsing social order and economy to throw him out, Mugabe had him charged with treason. Now Mugabe, above the law, is openly inciting violence. Worse, acting as a dictator or fascist, Mugabe is saying that his followers must go out and use brute force because victory can only be achieved by violence.

To underwrite his on-going war against citizens, Mugabe has added three further threats.

1. The army is being largely recalled from the DRC, up to 10,000 troops, till after the election with all leave cancelled. He has already deployed troops in the townships and the regional strongholds of the MDC, ostensibly to “protect his supporters from terrorism”. Defence officials are reported as saying openly that, “The president has indicated he needs the entire army for the forthcoming election.”

2. Zanu has long resolved to bar the opposition from campaigning in the rural constituencies. Apart from the army, the “War Veterans”, as they did at the last general election and since in a long orgy of terror aimed at villagers, white farmers and farm labour, will ensure this by intimidation. Again, they will operate beyond the law, be protected by the Police and be guided by the Central Intelligence Organisation.

Zanu regards its followers as its property, as cattle, not people; “The MDC must leave our rural supporters alone,” stated the Vets Secretary-General, Mhlanga.

3. Having violated the adults and letting the Vets loose on citizens, Mugabe is turning to the youth and children as his newest foot soldiers. The youth brigades trained under the national service programme are not doing community work. They have been deployed in different areas where they beat up civilians.

The infamous Fifth Brigade massacred some 20,000 civilians in Matabeleland during the 1980s. Now, on a countrywide footing, with all the troops, the police, the Vets and his new foot soldiers, the youth and children, all Mugabe’s commissioned thugs, the numbers massacred could multiply to many times 20,000.

To hide Mugabe’s methods, his desperation, new savage press, security, defamation and electoral rules are being promulgated. Hundreds of thousands of voters will be prevented from voting because they come from places that oppose Mugabe’s terror. Only civil servants will monitor the vote. The outside world will be banished.

A bloody electoral battle is looming. Violence and intimidation already hold sway across vast swathes of the political landscape.
The ANC and the South African Government have to make a stand. The ANC must stop being the “ill-advised” fly that fraternally follows Mugabe’s corpse to the grave. The South African Government and the international community must do the following: –

§ Effectively deal with the food crisis. After eight months of clear food emergency, the UN has failed to reach agreement with Mugabe that imported food must not go through government (ZANU) channels where it will be used for political gain. Some US$54 million of imported foodstuffs (high protein biscuits etc) is now on its way to feed a present target group of 750,000 women and children. It will be distributed through Church and NGO agencies. This will not relieve the general food crisis beyond a month or so. The larger food problem remains.

§ Because of its strategic location and capacities, South Africa must set itself up as Trustee for Zimbabweans. It must oversee the immediate import and strategic storage of around US$250 million of maize, wheat and other basic foodstuffs so that there can be quick import into and distribution within Zimbabwe.

§ South Africa must set a number of actions that Mugabe must take and adhere to on a very tight timetable. At each failure, South Africa must turn off the lights, fuel or transport for a given period against another brief chance to make good. Gandhi would approve the method.

§ South Africa and Botswana, old Lesotho pals, must undertake serious war games on Zimbabwe’s borders aimed at forcing division within the Zimbabwe army and capable of being the launching pad for intervention.

§ South Africa, with international help, must set up “homes from homes” across the borders to care for Zimbabwean refugees. The refugees must be supported to re-enter to register and to vote or to stay and do both by agreement forced upon Mugabe.

§ These “camps” must be staffed by Zimbabwean and South African trainers to prepare refugees, most well educated, for the likely post-election economic and social work South Africa and other countries must support to help Zimbabwe to quickly sort out security and to establish civil and economic stability. This could be called, “the Zimbabwean Robben Island”!

§ South Africa and the international community must support a mixed Zimbabwe and international group to take further the general economic and social programme support the country will need. This must be done to advance implementation after a transfer of power, whether democratically or militarily. The UNDP simply cannot do this type of work. ZANU cannot think usefully about a normal future and the MDC has to fight an election under dangerous and trying conditions. Time must not be wasted.

§ The international community must announce and plan for US$300 million to be issued as ‘Work” and as “Training Rights” during 2002 to be issued to all adults every six months to inject family economic security, mobilize communities for joint investment and to secure individual opportunities to resurrect careers.

§ South Africa and other nations must offer Zimbabweans assistance and begin to put into place the Commission of Inquiry needed to nail those responsible for corruption, violence and human rights abuses. This time Truth and Reconciliation must be driven by the abused, not the guilty.

§ A fund must be established to support an independent national Land Commission to listen to all Zimbabweans talk about how they wish to see the land issue treated. The international community can help select Zimbabwean and international Commissioners to give it secure independent status. The MDC, with great maturity, has proposed such an independent body to both listen to citizens and to report, with recommendations, and to then oversee land reforms apart from Government.

Southern Africa is rushing pell-mell into the cauldron of Zimbabwe’s Presidential election.

If the election is held and Mugabe wins, but it is declared to be unfair and not acceptable by Zimbabweans and the world, there will be chaos in Zimbabwe. The chances of this happening are high; Mugabe can only win by cheating and violence. South Africa may have to intervene militarily.

Not only ZANU, but also the Army, the Police and the Administration are deeply riven. Ultimately Mugabe has built a worthless edifice by doing little more than playing populist politics. He has abused land and race and conjured up a host of “enemies” from the global economy to Britain to, fashionably but cynically, branding the opposition “terrorists”. The ace in his pack of cards is his and his cronies’ rape of the DRC, the land, violence against internal and external enemies, and officially controlled resources – their joint culpability.

It is long since time to call Mugabe’s bluff, to openly avoid him and his cronies and to stand squarely behind the citizens of Zimbabwe.

The region and the international community must now prepare to help the MDC establish political, social and economic stability either after the March election if there is a normal transfer of power or after a period of chaos and bloodletting.

South Africa remains the key player. There are still creative measures that can be taken to both help ensure an acceptable election and to prepare for the likely aftermath. During the SADC monitoring visit two weeks ago, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana reported that the delegation was “amazed” by the cooperation of the Zimbabwean ministers. He added, “Normally, there is a flat-footed denial. They are now accepting that the situation is beyond their control and that they need help,” He said many issues were “raised sharply” with the Zimbabweans, including reports of state-sponsored violence and land invasions.

The view reported by Mdladlana no doubt led to the current ANC fraternal visit to ZANU. The outcome has to show the ANC putting aside ZANU as paralytic and destroyed by corruption. The ANC must be seen to treasure the worth of Zimbabwe as a people and an economy, just as the Constitution would demand.

The ZANU and the MDC Congresses have just been held. They revealed two worlds far apart. Zanu’s was a mad, ranting, demagogic and frightening example of lunatic showmanship. The MDC’s was a serious, participatory, comradely, democratic meeting espousing human rights, dignity and a courageous resolve to bravely soldier on so that, maybe, the voters could vote. The MDC is relying on Mugabe not being able to stop its messages being spread by word of mouth and by a new external and independent short wave radio station. The aim is to encourage Zimbabweans to vote in droves if they can.

Days before the Zanu Congress, the Zimbabwe Army, Police, Intelligence Organisation, and Air Force brass urged Mugabe to quit and to anoint a successor to enhance Zanu PF’s chances in the election. Most of these officers are heavily implicated in corruption, political violence, the rape of the natural resources of the Congo, and many have received farms and other favours.

They no longer see Mugabe as able to protect them. They know that there is rampant factionalism tearing ZANU apart. Mugabe had now lost the former Zanu strongholds of Masvingo, the Midlands and Manicaland together with his complete lack of support in all the cities. He can only bank on the Mashonaland vote.

If Zimbabweans can vote, Mugabe will lose. That loss will herald the political oblivion of the corrupt, venial and grasping political elite that has all but destroyed a wonderful people and country. This explains that elite’s desperation to avoid jail by clinging to power at whatever national and individual cost. Hence the general’s “advice” to Mugabe to go!

Many senior ZANU officials share the sentiment of one quoted in the free press in Harare, “Campaigning for Mugabe is a futile exercise. People are tired of him and it is clear to all of us that the writing is on the wall. It will be a miracle if we win.”

A senior party member summed up the mood of the ZANU Congress thus, “It’s only an ill-advised fly that follows a corpse to the grave.” ZANU as a coherent political party could fall apart quite suddenly. Zimbabweans will recognise that moment and act accordingly.

Mugabe, unable to think beyond himself, turned that unwelcome “advice” around. He tried at the Congress to address the issue of factionalism and dwindling support by urging supporters to close ranks and rally behind him. True to form, he stole the brass’s thunder. Declaring the MDC “terrorists” and thus the enemy, he anointed all ZANU followers as troops. “What we are now headed for is real war, a total war. This is war. This is not a game. This is no longer just a contest. This is a revolutionary war. You are soldiers of Zanu PF for the people.”

The Financial Gazette recalled that, like a fanatic (who Winston Churchill described as someone who won’t change the subject or his mind) Mugabe persisted with attacks on British Prime Minister Tony Blair, this time calling him a “crook, scoundrel and liar”. Mugabe reveals surprising desires to be white, English and homosexual by vociferously hating all three. More to the point, as George Will once observed: “A politician’s words reveal less about what he thinks about his subject than what he thinks about his audience.” Mugabe hates his people who, in turn, have long seen through him.

When the MDC President, Morgan Tsvangirai, reminded Mugabe that the people might be driven by the collapsing social order and economy to throw him out, Mugabe had him charged with treason. Now Mugabe, above the law, is openly inciting violence. Worse, acting as a dictator or fascist, Mugabe is saying that his followers must go out and use brute force because victory can only be achieved by violence.

To underwrite his on-going war against citizens, Mugabe has added three further threats.

1. The army is being largely recalled from the DRC, up to 10,000 troops, till after the election with all leave cancelled. He has already deployed troops in the townships and the regional strongholds of the MDC, ostensibly to “protect his supporters from terrorism”. Defence officials are reported as saying openly that, “The president has indicated he needs the entire army for the forthcoming election.”

2. Zanu has long resolved to bar the opposition from campaigning in the rural constituencies. Apart from the army, the “War Veterans”, as they did at the last general election and since in a long orgy of terror aimed at villagers, white farmers and farm labour, will ensure this by intimidation. Again, they will operate beyond the law, be protected by the Police and be guided by the Central Intelligence Organisation.

Zanu regards its followers as its property, as cattle, not people; “The MDC must leave our rural supporters alone,” stated the Vets Secretary-General, Mhlanga.

3. Having violated the adults and letting the Vets loose on citizens, Mugabe is turning to the youth and children as his newest foot soldiers. The youth brigades trained under the national service programme are not doing community work. They have been deployed in different areas where they beat up civilians.

The infamous Fifth Brigade massacred some 20,000 civilians in Matabeleland during the 1980s. Now, on a countrywide footing, with all the troops, the police, the Vets and his new foot soldiers, the youth and children, all Mugabe’s commissioned thugs, the numbers massacred could multiply to many times 20,000.

To hide Mugabe’s methods, his desperation, new savage press, security, defamation and electoral rules are being promulgated. Hundreds of thousands of voters will be prevented from voting because they come from places that oppose Mugabe’s terror. Only civil servants will monitor the vote. The outside world will be banished.

A bloody electoral battle is looming. Violence and intimidation already hold sway across vast swathes of the political landscape.
The ANC and the South African Government have to make a stand. The ANC must stop being the “ill-advised” fly that fraternally follows Mugabe’s corpse to the grave. The South African Government and the international community must do the following: –

§ Effectively deal with the food crisis. After eight months of clear food emergency, the UN has failed to reach agreement with Mugabe that imported food must not go through government (ZANU) channels where it will be used for political gain. Some US$54 million of imported foodstuffs (high protein biscuits etc) is now on its way to feed a present target group of 750,000 women and children. It will be distributed through Church and NGO agencies. This will not relieve the general food crisis beyond a month or so. The larger food problem remains.

§ Because of its strategic location and capacities, South Africa must set itself up as Trustee for Zimbabweans. It must oversee the immediate import and strategic storage of around US$250 million of maize, wheat and other basic foodstuffs so that there can be quick import into and distribution within Zimbabwe.

§ South Africa must set a number of actions that Mugabe must take and adhere to on a very tight timetable. At each failure, South Africa must turn off the lights, fuel or transport for a given period against another brief chance to make good. Gandhi would approve the method.

§ South Africa and Botswana, old Lesotho pals, must undertake serious war games on Zimbabwe’s borders aimed at forcing division within the Zimbabwe army and capable of being the launching pad for intervention.

§ South Africa, with international help, must set up “homes from homes” across the borders to care for Zimbabwean refugees. The refugees must be supported to re-enter to register and to vote or to stay and do both by agreement forced upon Mugabe.

§ These “camps” must be staffed by Zimbabwean and South African trainers to prepare refugees, most well educated, for the likely post-election economic and social work South Africa and other countries must support to help Zimbabwe to quickly sort out security and to establish civil and economic stability. This could be called, “the Zimbabwean Robben Island”!

§ South Africa and the international community must support a mixed Zimbabwe and international group to take further the general economic and social programme support the country will need. This must be done to advance implementation after a transfer of power, whether democratically or militarily. The UNDP simply cannot do this type of work. ZANU cannot think usefully about a normal future and the MDC has to fight an election under dangerous and trying conditions. Time must not be wasted.

§ The international community must announce and plan for US$300 million to be issued as ‘Work” and as “Training Rights” during 2002 to be issued to all adults every six months to inject family economic security, mobilize communities for joint investment and to secure individual opportunities to resurrect careers.

§ South Africa and other nations must offer Zimbabweans assistance and begin to put into place the Commission of Inquiry needed to nail those responsible for corruption, violence and human rights abuses. This time Truth and Reconciliation must be driven by the abused, not the guilty.

§ A fund must be established to support an independent national Land Commission to listen to all Zimbabweans talk about how they wish to see the land issue treated. The international community can help select Zimbabwean and international Commissioners to give it secure independent status. The MDC, with great maturity, has proposed such an independent body to both listen to citizens and to report, with recommendations, and to then oversee land reforms apart from Government.

* Norman Reynolds (Former Chief Economist to the Government of Zimbabwe)

Source :

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