African Democracy

July 9, 2008

Restoring democracy in Zimbabwe – MDC’s options

Filed under: Zimbabwe — africandemocrat @ 2:59 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

According to an article on hararetribune.com Mugabe’s Zanu(PF) party wants to make a deal with the breakaway MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara and then pass off the result as a de facto Government of National Unity.

While that might suit Mutambara and Zanu(PF), it ignores the reality that the larger MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai won 99 of the 210 seats in the Zimbabwe parliament and Tsvangirai won the most votes in the March 29 presidential election.

Clearly, Tsvangirai’s MDC has the support of a majority of Zimbabwe’s voters.

What are the MDC’s options?

They can choose to flounder around and hope that Zanu(PF) regime collapses soon.  They can hope that a negotiator other than South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki is appointed soon.  They can try to survive for the next ten months or so until a new Parliament and President are sworn in in South Africa.

What does appear to be happening is that Zanu(PF) is quietly going about executing a plan to neutralise MDC as a viable opponent.  It’s not necessary to round up all the MDC elected officials and party leaders and kill them, although some of them will probably be eliminated that way.  All that Zanu(PF) has to do is imprison and harrass MPs so that they are unable to put in an appearance in Parliment for more than 21 days.  That will result in the absent MP being automatically unseated and a by-election held in the vacant constitution.  Zanu(PF) can then concentrate their efforts on winning the by-election.

The indications are that Zanu(PF) wants to ensure that if and when any future elections are held, that the MDC will be a spent force and no threat to the re-election of the incumbent party.

While it is possible that Thabo Mbeki’s intentions are entirely honourable and that he will do his level best to broker an inclusive deal with all the Zimbabwean parties, it’s also possible that his game plan is to drag things out for long enough for Zimbabwe to drop off the radar.  Once Zimbabwe is not longer a front page story, the world’s interest will soon enough dissapate.  Since this is a black versus black issue, the same moral indignation that kept the anti-apartheid activists going just isn’t there.

Perhaps the MDC should learn from the South African experience.  The African National Congress (ANC) was opposed by a hostile and well armed regime in South Africa.  The whites-only National Party did their utmost to wipe out the ANC.  Some were killed by undercover agents of the state, some were imprisoned, tortured, subject to house arrest and some were slapped with banning orders that restricted their rights to travel and attend meetings and the like.  The ANC’s response was to set up a government in exile and to establish and support resistance groups within South Africa’s borders.  The Trade Unions were mobilised against Apartheid and the United Democratic Front (UDF) was launched.  The ANC set up offices in various Western and former Soviet Union countries and mobilised support for their cause.

The ANC and the MDC causes share other similarities.  The ANC sought to bring democracy to South Africa.  The MDC is faced by a ruling party that does not care about the democratic rights of the people and uses elections just to give it a democratic facade.  The ANC fought to bring democratic rights to all South Africans and negotiated a new constitution to facilitate that.  The process followed in South Africa was to set up an interim government, engage in formal negotiations with all parties to draw up a constitution and hold credible, inclusive elections that were monitored by both civil society and foreign observers.

With the ongoing violence being perpetrated on the people of Zimbabwe, and the unlikeliness of South Africa putting meaningful pressure on Mugabe and Zanu(PF) to stop the violence any time soon, perhaps the MDC should consider the ANC model.

That would involve setting up a government in exile.  Lusaka comes to mind as a suitable venue, and Zambia has been one of the few African countries that has declared Mugabe’s presidency to be illegitimate.  They could send delegates to the AU and the UN and set up offices in London, Washington DC, Stockholm, Brussels, The Hague and other strategic cities.  Then they can lobby for support in Africa and the rest of the World and organise resistance to the Zanu(PF) regime both outside of Zimbabwe and within her borders.

Given the intransigence of Mugabe and his allies, the ANC model might be the best option that the MDC has.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.