Saturday, 7 June 2008

MDC: Going, Going, Gone

MDC: Going, Going, Gone

IT must be quite painful for the puppet masters to watch MDC’s evanescent March victory vanish so inexorably, much like morning mist.

One reads this from the mounting panic gripping Britain and America, which panic is now disguised as daring but disingenuous media stunts performed by their little diplomats here.

They know March 29 is not repeatable. They know that Zanu-PF, once nearly bitten and almost swallowed, now shies at nothing ahead of June 27. The euphoria is all but gone and the masters stare disheartening statistics presaging total defeat for the MDC. Relative to 2002, Tsvangirai’s March 29 vote actually shrunk against utmost effort the MDC could ever put.

Any extra ounce of effort passes for a vain attempt at flying beyond one’s wings, in fact recalls Icarus’s fatal overreaching on wings of mere wax. That is not to say the MDC will not try.

It has already tried, tried to turn political fluke and windfall into a repeatable and recurring victory. The heavily invested wand for this to happen has been wanton violence the MDC has been visiting on Zanu-PF’s rural strongholds, pointedly in Mashonaland Central, East and Manicaland.

The calculation has been to keep Zanu-PF busy, unsure and uncomfortable in its own backyard, both to dent Zanu-PF’s support base and to prevent it from projecting itself into MDC’s urban strongholds.

Zanu-PF’s initial chaotic response to the challenge of MDC violence triggered a pursuit instinct in the opposition which read a smouldering pyre in Zanu-PF’s welling, smoking anger. Now the smoke has fanned into leaping, engulfing flames.

The tide has since turned, which is why BBC, CNN and the angry SKY are running riot, exhibiting MDC’s lacerated body for global pathos. Its retributive lacerations are more than bodily, in fact are metaphoric hints to its political misfortunes in the run-off. It is bandaged, it is fractured, it is limping, it is gasping.

Disguised decline

Few understand why the MDC was so prompt to go on a bloody offensive. But the truth inheres in the net decline of support in all its urban strongholds. Zanu-PF’s appalling performance, coupled by MDC’s symbolic pickings in rural Zimbabwe, did much to disguise this decline.

Today Zanu-PF’s mane stands fully erect and stiff, a loud presentiment of a frontal charge about to happen. The rural vote which MDC picked up was bred by Zanu-PF’s levity and playfulness, by a very dangerous underestimation of the formidable enemy it faced, and the complacency it did not need.

It was a once-off vote carved out more from complacency than from choice and conviction. It will not come back this time around, for Zanu-PF has realised a fight against imperialism is not farcical. It is deadly.

The threat of sinecures

MDC backers are also aware that rousing MDC’s urban vote which is so frigid, is more challenging in reactivating than rousing Zanu-PF’s very loyal but often playful rural vote. The former is cynical and phlegmatic; the latter rallies quickly, more so in the face of real danger. Much worse, more than ever before, the Matabeleland vote is looking most insecure for Tsvangirai.

What with Mutambara signing away what he does not control, let alone have. What with Tsvangirai’s sinecures feeling threatened by any reunion with the Welshman Ncube group, and Ncube’s bitter officials feeling humiliated the more and more, marginalised more and more.

It is a schism set to exact a cost on Tsvangirai, albeit without delivering a gain on Mugabe. But Mugabe does not need to gain that vote. Tsvangirai only needs to lose it.

Building global pathos

All the dirty tricks which the MDC and its handlers employed to cause an upset are now known. Zanu-PF has been jolted out of its slumber and its clear all the gaps are being plugged. It will not be easy this time around and the handlers of the MDC know it. Which takes me to the shifting strategy of the West and its MDC.

The Western news networks are now infatuated with Tsvangirai. He is as regular on their screens as an ill-wind in the month of July. You would think he is an angry ratepayer from Luton. Equally, BBC reporters’ treatment of the Zimbabwe story recalls their passion in dealing with Northern Ireland. Tsvangirai is their man, and they his image minders. After all, they instructed him back home, to finish the campaign.

To all intents and purposes, both the Americans and the British are nearer this vote than they are to that involving McCain, Obama and Clinton. They are using their networks to consolidate Tsvangirai’s international profile. This is not new.

What is new is the fact that they have dropped their initial bullish attitude towards his prospects in the run-off to package him as a tragic figure, a victim of political entrapment. They are already preparing the world for his sound beating. They have seen something on the ground and I can confirm to them that they have seen well and correctly.

From Chicago to Chipadze

What is worse, they are increasingly becoming extended and hysterical patients of the run-off. This week saw them pushing their involvement to incongruous limits. Only less than two weeks ago, McGee played campaign manager to Tsvangirai.

This week, British and American defence and security personnel turned themselves into campaign agents of the opposition.

How does a lowly official from so far away a country know Shorai Sandie Chikinvharo of No. 510 Kudzanai Street, in Chipadze, Bindura, who is an MDC activist? How do these ashen white officials, all with a security background, leap out of their colour mode to look for an African living in a high-density suburb of a small mining town? Or Peter Mabika, also of the MDC?

It is clear that their subject is under so much pressure and diplomatic etiquette has little room. It is important to keep pushing these monsters until they are thoroughly exposed. What is more, when they take risks on behalf of their countries, risks disguised as election monitoring, the authorities must not be in a hurry to pluck them out of sticky situations.

Whoever swallows a pestle has chosen to sleep standing, so goes a Shona saying. These people press to be allowed free movement when, in fact, our delegation is kept within the 25-mile radius in New York? What are we reciprocating by this kind of permissiveness?

What is worse, what is the diplomatic value of British and American embassies here? To equip them with cells from which to subvert our country in the name of the Vienna Convention? I always tell my friends that we have hit the bottom, we should not fear to fall. Part of our reaction to Western hostility should be to strip their interests of direct consular protection. We have no interests in the US and UK. What the heck?

Poisonous philanthropy

But another hurtful blow has been dealt on these Westerners. Their political NGOs which have been plying food with politics have been frozen for the duration of the campaign. As I write, the BBC, Sky and CNN are shouting hoarse against the measure which Minister Goche announced.

The claim is that Zimbabweans will starve. Since when has there been this compassionate feeling for Zimbabweans? Why hurt us with sanctions when your wish is to ensure we do not starve? And why are you not active in Ethiopia, an African country which has been hit by another devastating drought?

The West is indifferent because Ethiopia has no Mugabe and is not going to the polls! Well, let them howl as much as they please. They have asked for free and fair elections, indeed for a levelled playing field. This is it. No NGOs will politic this time around. Never. After all, these NGOs bade goodbye just before the March 29 polls. Why have they not left?

Only one President

I was amused to note that in Rome, the British and American media had one singular interest: To talk to President Mugabe and get his latest picture. He was the only person worthy of their coverage. At one point, an African head of state who shared the same hotel with President Mugabe got to the hotel concourse.

These news haunts were not interested. At which point a friend quipped: "There is only one President for the Western media!" Indeed, there is. What would happen to journalism if he exited? But the whole escapade was not without its light moments.

Having held a permanent vigil at the President’s hotel, one official from the Zimbabwe delegation asked a BBC reporter whose eyes looked red from foregone sleep: "How is my President?" To which the reporter responded: "You should tell us!" "Well, you have been a little more diligent in watching over him that I am ever capable of," he shot back scornful laughter echoing in Rome’s long corridors. This earth my brother!



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