Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Election 2008: Strategies and Counter Strategies

By Reason Wafawarova ⋅ February 24, 2008

The Zimbabwe March 29 harmonised election is coming on the backdrop of strategies and counter strategies by the two major political parties and the three major Presidential candidates. In the 2000 parliamentary election, the 2002 presidential election and the 2005 parliamentary election it was a two horse race for all political offices available.

The tradition for this period has been that the opposition MDC has always tried to ride on the protest vote – a vote whose strength was obviously overestimated on the basis of an unscientifically assumed correlation between economic hardships and electoral political behaviour.

On the other hand the ruling party, ZANU PF has been capitalising on the proven links between the MDC and some Western governments to label the opposition an outfit of traitors and puppets – an assertion the opposition has shown little interest to either deny or disprove. The ruling party has coupled these attacks on the opposition with the mileage resulting from the land reclamation programme of 2000.

While the opposition MDC have endeavoured to buttress the protest vote by cultivating anger and animosity between the electorate and the ruling party the ruling party has always stood firm in the claim that whatever economic problems there is in the country, they are all a result of a call for sanctions by the MDC. The MDC tried in vain to capitalise on the assumed anger of the electorate, particularly the urban electorate by endless attempts at mobilising people to embark on an uprising.

It has been a well-calculated cycle alongside the examples of Guatemala in 1954, Chile in 1973 and Panama in 1990. This is the cycle where an opposition party or a rebel movement calls for sanctions from the super powers of this world. The sanctions create an unprecedented economic strangulation for the sitting government. The economic situation is bound to deteriorate and in the process it is bound to naturally result in protests. The protests are calculated to bring repression and the activities of repression are hoped to grow ever more rigorous due to the growing effects of the policy of economic strangulation and the intention is to achieve a cycle of more repression, more dissidence and hopefully more violence – preferably of a catastrophic nature.

This end result of violence of a catastrophic nature has always been the philosophy behind the MDC calls for things like Mass Action, the Final Push, Winter of Discontent and the ill fated Defiance Campaign of March 2007. This philosophy is based on the hope that when the situation has deteriorated to catastrophic levels the scenario will be so bad that it warrants intervention – most preferably with the approval of the population, unable to stand the situation any longer. This intervention can come in the form of promised economic rescue packages as was promised by Australia when the former Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer promised in August 2007; that it would take an MDC government three months to restore the Zimbabwe economy if only the MDC could come to power.

The intervention could also come by way of international mediation as is the case in Kenya right now or it could come by way of military intervention as was the case with Panama in 1991 and Chile in 1973.

Needless to say this cycle has not really worked in the case of Zimbabwe and the opposition MDC, particularly the Tsvangirai faction, has been under pressure to change strategy. The MDC has been pressured to sell more of their alternative policies than merely highlighting the failures of the ruling ZANU PF.

This has resulted in what was seen in Mutare on February 23 when Tsvangirai launched his election campaign at Sakubva. More will come about the launch but for now it is important to look at the strategies being adopted by the opposition MDC, by presidential aspirant Simba Makoni and by the ruling ZANU PF.

The MDC will shift towards alternative policy but they will maintain their combative line of labelling the ruling party a dictatorship and an illegitimate regime. This means that the MDC line of hate politics is going to continue, their strategy of character assassination will continue, their belief in appeasing puberty behaviour by behaving like teenagers to attract the youth will continue and the culture of vilification will continue. The only change will be a bit more emphasis on promises for jobs, education or anything socio-economic that can be picked up by the mind.

On the other hand the ruling party looks like set to pursue their politics of ideas. They will sell the revolutionary ideas of national resistance to the imperialist forces and their surrogates in the MDC. They will continue to rally the nation around the agrarian revolution, particularly its current farm mechanisation phase and they are likely to produce more evidence that the MDC is a British project. They are also likely to step up the resolve that an MDC win is akin to re-colonisation and to this end the war veterans will most certainly come in handy.

The ruling party will have to have an answer for the economic challenges facing the urban population and its likely that the Look East policy will be sold big time on this one, most likely with tangible programmes being unveiled in the coming weeks. Already, there has been an unveiling of a US42 million-dollar loan facility availed by China.

Most importantly, the ruling party will sell its long history of success measured against the sanctions-induced eight years of faltering. This success will be premised on self-determination, national liberation, social services, mass education and the concept of sovereignty.

In all this there is Dr. Simba Makoni who looks like he is not prepared to play confrontational politics with either the opposition MDC or his former party, ZANU PF. When Makoni was called “old wine in a new skin” by Morgan Tsvangirai he totally refused to be drawn into a counter response insisting that the matter was trivial and he would rather concentrate on more pressing issues. President Mugabe compared Makoni to a prostitute and again he has refused to be drawn into a counter response and he has insisted that this is just a matter of opinion.

It is clear Dr. Makoni wants to ride on the “prince” myth that pushed him into this presidential race and as much as possible he will endeavour to stay away from the mud. His advisors know the advantages of creating fewer enemies at a time like this. They want the MDC and the ruling party to be throwing mud at each other openly so that Dr. Makoni can play his stainless prince politics to the amusement of the tired voters.

Dr. Makoni is also aware of the dangers of playing vilification politics against a revolutionary like President Mugabe, something Tsvangirai has failed to learn over the years. Makoni is also wary of attacking the West over their hostility towards Zimbabwe because he knows that may chunk away an element of the electorate from the urban vote.

Put simply, Dr. Makoni will try everything in the book not to be tainted. He will want to prove that he is different from ZANU PF and also totally different from the MDC. One easy way is to avoid confrontation by any of the two and try as much as possible to play victim to any attacks that may come from either way.

The danger of this strategy has been that no one trusts Dr. Makoni. Those in ZANU PF will assert that Makoni cannot condemn the MDC because he is part of the opposition crusade to reverse the gains of independence. On the other hand the opposition have asserted that Dr. Makoni will never condemn ZANU PF because he is a decoy of the ruling party planted to split the opposition vote.

Whichever way the West has taken a keen interest in the Makoni political entry. The BBC has been covering him quite favourably and in him they see someone they can work with and that means someone that can accommodate the interests of Britain in Zimbabwe – interests at whose centre is the returning of farms to those white settler farmers who may still be interested in coming back to the country.

Makoni has already indicated that his idea of land reform is production oriented and not politically oriented, explicitly meaning that those who cannot match the production of erst farmers have no business to be on the pieces of land they occupy – never mind the determining factors. Makoni has even scoffed at the idea of giving ploughs and scotch carts to peasant farmers as “a mockery to our people.”

The ruling ZANU PF is likely to maintain that Makoni is a self-glorified dissident who suffers delusions of popularity. They are also likely to exploit his soft spot for the West and his failure to acknowledge the ruinous effect of sanctions on Zimbabwe. Needless to say they will also pounce on his independent status and they will question Makoni’s idea of a National Authority made up of free lancing politicians who are unaccountable to anyone.

This writer did promise to come back to Morgan Tsvangirai’s election campaign launch at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare on February 23.

Tsvangirai tasked everyone at the stadium to go back to their cities and villages and ask whomever they met two questions, “Are you hungry? Are you angry?”

Tsvangirai has always been desperate to command a large support base of hungry and angry people. That is about all that can be expected from a protest politician of Tsvangirai’s calibre.

The MDC leader asked if his listeners had enough hunger and anger for jobs, education, justice, change (whatever that means), hope and land. It is interesting that Tsvangirai seems to have a solution for people who are hungry for land much as he is opposed to the mushrooming of peasants on productive land.

Tsvangirai assured his listeners that the MDC was the face of change – that irregardless of the fact that the MDC has failed to achieve objectives like hope and justice right within the party’s own structures – where Tsvangirai has been labelled to command dictatorial tendencies so many times.

In typical discipleship to John Quincy Adams’ theory of the “law of political gravitation,” Tsvangirai declared that the MDC was a party of people “weak with hunger but strong with anger”. Dear reader, the above theory is the concept of economic strangulation to the point where a state is made so weak that its people can accept the oppressor as the liberator. This is the point where a state is said to be “ripe for the picking” and Adams, one of the US Empire’s founding fathers, expounded this theory.

In apparent reference to Makoni’s politics of reforms, Tsvangirai said that the MDC was not there to reform but to transform the nation. He then focussed on attacking The Herald for claiming that he is a man of no education and that his party has no programme.

The response to this was that ZANU PF has a programme of “poverty, exile, starvation and disease.” He also claimed that like Winston Churchill who once worked as a waiter, he; as a former miner, had enough experience to listen to the people just like what Churchill did with his experience of taking orders from customers at a restaurant. One would understand Churchill’s claim to the relevance of his experience but its difficult to imagine how a miner gains the listening experience from dealing with rocks. Sometimes a political rally can make one to say anything that sounds like a sentence.

After talking about his listening experience gained through mining contact with Trojan Mine rocks Tsvangirai said he had used this vital experience to go around the country on a “Listening Tour”. It is sincerely hoped that Tsvangirai listened attentively to what the people of Zimbabwe really want.

Away from the working experience stuff, Tsvangirai went on to talk about his party’s Election Manifesto. He talked of the usual issues of a new constitution to be implemented in the first 100 days of his government. He also talked of economic recovery under the RESTART policy document, about introducing what he called “the rule of law” and also promised to “end corruption”. It seems Tsvangirai will never acknowledge that he is contesting this election because of the rule of law and of course it is easy to say that corruption can be absolutely ended, especially when one is talking to voters.

Tsvangirai then made a promise to secure US$10 billion – money that he said the world was “waiting” with. Tsvangirai’s idea of the world is well documented and we al know who makes up this “world”.

It is the prioritisation of redressing the needs of groups of people whom Tsvangirai considered to be victims of the excesses of the ruling ZANU PF party that is quiet interesting. He actually outlined these groups in their order of preference and at the top was the War Veterans whom he promised benefits comparable to “other countries abroad”. He did put up a good show in pretending to have the interests of what his supporters call “Whore Veterans” at heart but like Tsvangirai himself said, the war veterans are “not getting any younger” and are likely not to be fooled by such childish gestures.

Second was the group of what he called “victims of Operation Murambatsvina” whom he also promised compensation and housing.

Most surprisingly, the much talked about victims of the Matebeleland civil conflict of the eighties came third on Tsvangirai’s priority list and he promised to deal with this phase of history by embarking on developmental projects like roads and schools. It takes no rocket science that the rating of the Matebeleland people below the so called Murambatsvina victims is not going to be taken kindly by many people in the MDC itself and from Matebeleland in partcular.

Lastly, the MDC leader talked of restoring business for all that have gone out of business in the recent past but he did not explain how he would revive these businesses.

On land reform he said those allocated land would answer the following questions from his land audit team. They would answer “where” they got the land from, “how” they came to be on that land and “what” they were producing on that land.

From there a Tsvangirai government would embark on “a participatory and all inclusive land resettlement programme.”

He would also establish land-holding quotas for each region and again this was not explained.

He said land ownership would be limited to one household –one piece of land and that he would introduce a Land Tax not for the servicing of land related activities but as a way of discouraging land waste.

This whole land issue was handled in a very colourful way meant to tell the people that one will have to be a former white farmer in order to meet the requirements for occupying land under Tsvangiarai’s new government, if he were elected into office.

Tsvangirai then ambitiously promised not only to restore the health sector but also to “bring back our doctors and nurses,” apparently from the Diaspora. Really?

He promised to bring education to some 1.5 million children who are said to have no access to education. It is only Tsvangirai who can justify how authentic this statistic is.

He said his government would embark on a commercial foreign policy and move away from what he called a “warrior foreign policy”. However, it would appear like Tsvangirai makes judgements on the current foreign policy away from the provocations of sanctions and the regime change politics of which is a big player.

The last part of the speech talked of attracting tourists, bringing a new currency regime and paying the civil service well.

It would appear like Tsvangirai has learnt well not to antagonise the civil service and the security forces. In the past Tsvangirai thought threatening civil servants and the security forces would coerce the public service into cooperating with the MDC but that proved to be disastrous. The new approach is this newly found love for war veterans, soldiers, the police and all the civil service. Whether this new strategy will work is a matter of speculation now.

Once we get the ZANU PF manifesto it is this writer’s duty to analyse it the same way we have looked at the MDC document.

It would appear like the major threat to the MDC vote comes from Makoni’s market based policies as well as from the Mutambara led MDC’s perceived control of Matebeleland.

To its advantage, ZANU PF has not had control of the constituencies in question for the past eight years and their rural strongholds are likely to stand solidly behind the politics of ideas and land based policies, policy areas ZANU PF can articulate with so much fluency.

If this trend is not overturned by unforseen factors then the ruling ZANU PF should have fewer problems with this election than the opposition in its collective sense.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on

Tsvangirai: A puppetry and parrotry cocktail.

Consequently, Adam Smith International
produced a report offering recommendations
to a future Zimbabwean government as well
as to the international community. The first
part of the report addresses the government
directly providing an agenda consisting of
approximately 30 policy recommendations;
the second part provides donors with a set
of actions that will be necessary to support
the government’s agenda; both parts focus
only on the first 100 days following the
transition to a new government. These
three innovations help to create a practical
and practicable development agenda that
can secure the physical infrastructure of
government, restart key government functions
and provide a platform from which to rebuild
the civil service. These are the critical steps
to putting the country back on its feet. It is
these steps that were taken too late by those
involved in rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan
and it is these steps that will be sorely missing
if the international community does not
prepare to support a new Zimbabwe

And there goes the parroting puppet Tsvangirai

“As demonstrated by our manifesto,” Tsvangirai said, “we have the will and the capacity to put in place correct mechanisms to bring this economy back on its feet with 100 days of forming a democratic government.”

See full details of the Adam Smith report that Tsvangirai has been instructed to tout as an MDC manifesto here:

To the west its not about elections or democracy, but Mugabe going and the settler being re-imposed.

Britain's plan for a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe

By The Rt Hon William Hague, MP Shadow Foreign Secretary
Last Updated: 2:39am GMT 12/12/2007


Gordon Brown was right not to attend this weekend's EU/Africa summit which is providing a publicity coup for a tyrant.
# Merkel attacks Mugabe at Lisbon summit

It is a scandal that while Zimbabwe's economy is obliterated, its citizens made destitute, its children malnourished and one in four people have fled the country, the man who has run Zimbabwe into the ground is being feted in Lisbon.

By inviting President Mugabe, the EU chose to whitewash this reality. Britain takes a different view.

There were moments this year when it seemed that the country might have reached a tipping point which would sweep away the current regime, or that Mugabe might be ousted by his own disgruntled party.

He clings on, but his hold cannot last forever and the current situation is unsustainable.

We cannot predict when the change will happen, or who will emerge as the new face of Zimbabwe, but it is likely to come with little warning.

Too often the debate on Zimbabwe is consumed by the here and now. But there will be a day after Mugabe.

So while keeping up pressure on the regime, through targeted EU sanctions and tough diplomacy, our strategy must comprehend the possibility of a dramatic change.

We and other nations have a duty to prepare for that moment, to ensure that we can assist in the country's difficult transition from authoritarian rule and economic and social collapse.

Waiting until the day after the fall of the dictator could be too late.

Zimbabwe will need the same support as a country emerging from war. It exhibits many of the scars and characteristics of a post-conflict state: massive population displacement, depleted infrastructure, the breakdown of basic services, social trauma, a lack of justice, and a shattered economy.

Incredibly, several other African countries which experienced full scale civil wars have emerged with stronger economies than Zimbabwe, ravaged instead by two decades of misrule.

Mugabe's departure will create a "golden hour"; a short window of time when expectations are high and the political situation fluid. In Iraq, as we have learnt to our cost, this moment was squandered.

We have hard-won experience in rebuilding broken societies in Bosnia, Sierra Leone and East Timor. These lessons will need to be applied, to help Zimbabwe to recovery.

The international community should develop a clear package of assistance, to be given as soon as a caretaker administration in Zimbabwe makes clear that it will implement democratic reforms, and permit free and fair elections.

Such a government should be offered help to move from a culture of violence to one of the rule of law. We should support reform of the security sector, including the restructuring of the National Army and the Zimbabwe Republic Police, disbanding of paramilitary groups, and training for officials in civilian policing and human rights.

We should also be ready to set up a "Contact Group," backed by the weight and resources of the UN, to engage closely with regional partners like South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana and Malawi.

Such a body was successful in overseeing Bosnia's recovery, and could pool international efforts on Zimbabwe, manage the inflow of assistance, advance the political process, and pave the way for normalising Zimbabwe's relations abroad.

Urgent steps will also be needed to promote Zimbabwe's economic recovery, from ensuring protection, food and shelter for internally displaced people, to restoring basic infrastructure and institution-building.

We should also be prepared to help those who have left Zimbabwe to return and reintegrate.

In the event of a major deterioration in security we ought also to be ready for an international observer mission, or over the horizon humanitarian force under the auspices of the African Union and backed by the major powers.

There is no time to waste in developing a response to the unavoidable in Harare. Nor is there any reason to be shy about preparing for the it.

Our active preparation for the day after Mugabe should signal to the Zimbabwe's people that they are not forgotten, and that the world stands ready to help once Robert Mugabe is gone.

The international community must be ready. It is time for the preparations to commence.

A Four-Step Recovery Plan for Zimbabwe

By Marian L. Tupy Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Filed under: World Watch, Economic Policy
Post-Mugabe recovery should start with sound economic policy.

Reports from Zimbabwe suggest that Robert Mugabe’s dictatorial reign may be nearing its end: Mugabe may soon be forced out, paving the way for a new government consisting of elements of his own ZANU-PF and the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

If and when this happens, the new government will have to pick up the pieces of a shattered Zimbabwean economy. Zimbabwe currently ranks last of 130 countries in the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report. To get the economy on the right track to growth, the new government might consider the following steps:

1. Stabilize the currency situation

With runaway inflation approaching 2,000 percent, Zimbabwe is sure to face some difficulty getting ordinary Zimbabweans to trust the currency, much less the financial markets. But Zimbabwe will not have time to lose and currency stabilization is a vital step toward stabilizing the economy as a whole. Pegging the Zimbabwean dollar to a foreign currency might not send a strong enough signal to reassure the markets, because abandoning the peg in the future is relatively easy. The government should therefore adopt the South African Rand or the Euro as its national currency—since South Africa and the European Union are Zimbabwe’s main trading partners—and the possession, use, and exchange of other currencies should be freely permitted. Since most Zimbabweans have already seen their savings eaten away by inflation, and have either turned to foreign currency or been reduced to barter, the switch should be relatively easy to accomplish.

2. Liberalize trade
Zimbabwe’s weighted average tariff rate is almost 19 percent, with additional non-tariff barriers including import and export bans. Customs officials are corrupt and inefficient. However, Zimbabwe also lacks strong domestic industries seeking protection from overseas competition—an unintended consequence of Mugabe’s mismanagement of the economy. The government should exploit that weakness and immediately abolish all tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.

Doing so would mean ignoring the advice of Oxfam and Zimbabwe-based Seatini, both of which oppose unilateral trade liberalization and favor protecting infant industries. Historical evidence suggests that domestic protectionism tends to encourage inefficiency and increase the cost of consumer goods and services, rather than encouraging cub industries to become globally competitive.

3. Reform taxes

The government should abolish the existing plethora of taxes and eliminate all subsidies, thus sending a powerful signal that Zimbabwe is committed to establishing a friendly and non-discriminatory business environment. To raise enough revenue to pay for the state's most basic functions—primarily maintenance of law and order—the government should instead introduce a low-rate and broad-based consumption tax. Consumption taxes are relatively neutral with respect to altering behavioral patterns and spending habits, leading to minimal misallocation of resources. Along with the economy, the provision of public services has totally collapsed in Zimbabwe; the government cannot be expected to reintroduce those public services in the short run. Thus, radical tax reform is all the more achievable—and a radical tax overhaul could substantially increase future revenue without increasing the tax rate.

4. Secure property rights

Securing private property is a fundamental requirement for economic growth. Unfortunately, over the past seven years Mugabe has severely undermined Zimbabweans’ property rights. Pre-Mugabe Zimbabwe had a long history of protecting private-property rights, so returning to the status quo ante should be possible. Zimbabwe is likely to rely on agriculture as the main source of revenue and employment for the foreseeable future. Land reform will thus have to be revisited. Mugabe’s expropriation of white farms was an unmitigated catastrophe; the collapse of agricultural production clearly demonstrates the need to end the state-sponsored subsistence farming experiment and reconstitute large-scale commercial farming. Such a shift cannot be achieved without restoring at least some of the land to white farmers and compensating them for expropriation, perhaps with bonds that would mature in 15 or 20 years. Nicaragua undertook a similar and moderately successful compensation scheme after the end of the Sandinista rule. The rest of Zimbabwe’s government-owned agricultural land ought to be auctioned off, with small-scale farmers who already occupy the land among the potential buyers.

Of course, these four steps will be just the beginning for Zimbabwe. Additional reforms must include liberalization of the labor market and of business regulation. With unemployment approaching 80 percent, Zimbabwe will need to create new jobs, and quickly. For the private sector to recover, obstacles to entrepreneurship must be reduced: currently it takes 96 days to start a business in Zimbabwe (as opposed to 24 hours in Hong Kong, and a world average of 48 days). To maximize foreign investment, exchange-rate restrictions and capital controls should be eliminated. And just as most Iraqi debt acquired by Saddam Hussein was forgiven after the 2003 U.S. invasion, the new Zimbabwean government should request that public debt acquired by Mugabe’s regime be forgiven on “odious debt” grounds. But just as the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, a new Zimbabwe would do well to begin by repudiating Mugabe-era economics—and taking the above four steps to get rid of any lingering traces of Mugabe’s failed policies.

Marian L. Tupy is a Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

Spring 2006, Volume 1
Todd Moss and Stewart Patrick*

Zimbabwe is a country in deep economic and political crisis, but also one whose situation could change quickly. Waiting until the day after the fall of Robert Mugabe could be too late, so the international community should start preliminary planning now for responses to a transition in Zimbabwe. Given the war-like trauma experienced by the country and acute conditions today, any donor strategy cannot be limited to traditional development practice but must be informed by recent post-conflict experiences. This paper lays out a framework for an international effort and identifies priority actions to support a political transition and economic recovery. It also suggests some immediate steps that the US and other donors can take, including the formation of a Commission for Assistance to a Free Zimbabwe. Beginning the planning process now is not only prudent, but such a public effort could also be catalytic: letting the Zimbabwean people know they have not been forgotten and that the world stands ready to help once Robert Mugabe is gone could perhaps help to bring about that day a little sooner.

1. Introduction

It is not too early to start planning for a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe. The southern African country is in a perilous state of decline and could face a major transition at any time. The government, led since independence in 1980 by President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), appears impervious to international pressure to reform or even moderate political repression and disastrous economic policies. Zimbabwe is now an international pariah, having quit the Commonwealth, nearly been expelled from the International Monetary Fund, and listed by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as an ‘outpost of tyranny’ alongside the likes of Burma and North Korea. It is also clear that the situation inside the country is both extremely fragile and ultimately unsustainable: tensions are high, there are serious divisions within the ruling party and the military, and the economy is dangerously close to outright collapse. Importantly, this precarious state of affairs is being held together mainly by Mugabe himself. Although resilient and politically cunning, he is nonetheless 82 years old.

Once Mugabe is gone, the reality of his misrule will be immediately faced by a new government. Several post-Mugabe scenarios are possible, including a transition to a handpicked successor, the rise of a reformist faction within ZANU-PF, a broad government of national unity, a military coup, or even a descent into chaos. It is of course impossible to predict the outcome. What is likely is that the change will come without much warning and that a speedy and substantial international response will be necessary. Without presuming any particular configuration, this paper assumes that the next government is reform-minded enough that it seeks a genuine normalization of external relations and that the new leadership is sufficiently distanced from Mugabe and his cronies that the international community is willing to respond in kind.

However the transition unfolds, the United States and the international community should avoid getting caught flat-footed. As in post-conflict situations, Mugabe’s departure will create a brief “golden hour,” a fluid situation in which expectations are high and multiple possibilities quickly emerge. The international community can exploit this window of opportunity through targeted interventions to help set Zimbabwe on the right path to sustainable peace and recovery. Once this window closes, the odds of making a difference will become much longer.

Based on these assumptions, this paper argues that (1) the international community should start preliminary planning now for possible responses to a transition in Zimbabwe because (as with Cuba) waiting until the day after the fall of the dictator could be too late, and (2) given the acute conditions in Zimbabwe today, this response cannot be limited to traditional development practice but must be informed by recent post-conflict experiences. While Zimbabwe presents unique challenges of its own, the lessons learned from war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Bosnia, East Timor, El Salvador, Liberia, and Mozambique can be instructive in thinking about how to respond to a post-Mugabe era.

2. Why Treat Zimbabwe as a Post-Conflict Situation?

Zimbabwe has not been at war since 1979, so it may seem strange to treat its upcoming transition as a post-conflict one. Even the recent upsurge of political violence since 2000 has been fairly low-level and never approached a full blown civil war. But the country nonetheless exhibits many extreme characteristics of a society in violent conflict.

• The scale of economic collapse. Zimbabwe’s economy has shrunk by a third since 1999, a far worse decline than was seen during full-scale civil wars in other African countries (Figure 1). This compares to an average GDP decline in civil wars of “only” 15%.1 Indeed, the purchasing power of the average Zimbabwean has fallen so far in the past seven years that it has returned to 1953 levels2 (Figure 2). About 35% of the population lived below the poverty line in 1996, but this share grew to an estimated 80% by 2003.3 Inflation, which is under control in nearly every African country (the regional average is in the single digits), reached 782% in Zimbabwe in February 2006.4

• Political violence and social trauma. Zimbabwean society has undergone intense stress stemming from organized violence and intimidation by the state. The security forces, intelligence services, and an array of government-backed militias have terrorized civilians, committed gross human rights violations, and been deployed to infiltrate and disrupt the opposition.5 In some cases, tactics from the guerilla war—including re-education camps, propaganda bombardment, and all-night pungwes—have been revived.6 Hundreds of thousands of citizens have been forcibly relocated. These conditions have produced high levels of suspicion, low levels of trust, and a steep deterioration of social capital.

Figure 1: The Economic Impact of War

Sources: World Bank, IMF

Figure 2: Zimbabwean income, 1950-2005

Source: Clemens and Moss (2005) 7

• Breakdown of basic services. Although the party structure of ZANU-PF remains intact, state social services—which had once been among the best in Africa—no longer effectively function. This erosion of state services has contributed to a deterioration in already low human development indicators, dropping Zimbabwe in the UN rankings from the 64th percentile in 1990 to the 82nd percentile by 2003.8 The number of health professionals fleeing the country has escalated while resources for the health sector have collapsed.9

• Erosion of economic foundations. Agriculture, the mainstay of the pre-crisis economy, is a shell of its former self. Commercial production of maize, the national staple, has dropped 86% between 2000 and 2005.10 The volume of tobacco exports, once the country’s leading foreign exchange earner, is down by more than 60% since 2000.11 Industry, and to a lesser degree mining, have also suffered tremendously. Indicative of the scale and tragedy of the decline, Zimbabwe had once been a food exporter, but it is now food insecure with more than one-third the population reliant on imported food aid.12 This is mostly the result of chaotic land seizures and the departure of at least 80% of the country’s commercial farmers (not drought or donor withdrawal, as the government claims).13 Violence on the farms has also led to widespread destruction of infrastructure. Just a few years ago Zimbabwe had Africa’s most extensive system of dams and irrigation; today that is nearly all gone.

• De-formalization of the economy. As in war situations, most people in Zimbabwe now operate in the informal sector. The decimation of a once-considerable middle class has forced even more people to turn to the black market to survive. As in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the industries that have endured best are mostly enclave projects like platinum mining that are physically isolated from the wider economy. Much of the remaining formal economy has been effectively captured by Mugabe’s cronies, ZANU-PF leaders, and the military elite.

• Mass flight of people and capital. Officially, there were 3.4 million Zimbabweans, or nearly 30% of the population, living outside the country in 2002.14 The true number today is surely higher, with more people leaving every day. In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people, the result of the dislocation of some 800,000 farm workers and their families since 2000 and of the May-June 2005 Operation Murambatsvina, which forced another 700,000 people from their homes.15 No precise figures on capital flight are available, but the collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar—losing 99.94% of its value against the US dollar in the past five years16 — reflects the extent of the financial bleeding.

There are of course differences between other countries’ wars and Zimbabwe’s collapse. No large scale demobilization is required, for instance. But there will be an urgent need for reintegration of thousands of youths indoctrinated into the ‘green bombers’ and other government-sponsored militias implicated in intimidation and human rights violations against civilians. Perhaps most importantly, unlike many other African post-conflict situations, Zimbabwe does have recent experience with mostly functional and capable government (and arguably democracy). It also has an ample stock of highly capable people, even if most are now abroad. Thus the foundations for rapid institutional recovery are available, a much easier prospect than trying to build from scratch, as was the case in Cambodia or Mozambique, for example.

3. Framework for International Support of Zimbabwe’s Recovery

The extreme conditions nevertheless suggest that the revitalization of Zimbabwe’s society and economy will require many elements typically associated with a strategy for post-conflict reconstruction. The main impetus for recovery will of course have to come from within Zimbabwe itself. Any revival will depend on domestic groups willing to reconcile and organize to rebuild and, fortuitously, the country has a wealth of capable people (many of which are abroad) who can contribute to a rebound.

Zimbabwe is also fortunate to have South Africa, a large and relatively wealthy neighbor with a strong interest in fostering a rebound. South Africa and other regional players such as the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and Nigeria should, however, be urged by the international community to more vigorously pursue diplomatic engagement. Just as importantly, the major international donors—the World Bank, the IMF, UN agencies, the British and American governments, and other key players—will need to play an active role in shepherding and supporting the locally-owned recovery strategy.

Recent post-conflict experiences in poor countries provide important lessons about the priority tasks for promoting peace, stability and economic reconstruction in failed states, and about the principles that should guide donor engagement in those countries.17 The broad priority tasks especially relevant for Zimbabwe are:

* Establishing security and the rule of law;
* Fostering political reconciliation and legitimate institutions of government;
* Rebuilding the institutional capacities of the state;18
* Encouraging a comprehensive and inclusive economic recovery, including
timely normalization of relations with the international community and rapid
support comprised of aid, debt relief, and private finance.19

3.1 Crucial Political Support
Since Zimbabwe’s troubles are at root political, getting the politics right is a necessary precondition for recovery. The key interventions where the international community can support Zimbabwean efforts to improve governance include:

1. Be ready to provide assistance to smooth the political transition. The post-Mugabe political configuration is impossible to predict, but there is a reasonable chance that some kind of transitional or caretaker government may become desirable. The international community must be prepared to help provide the political neutrality required for such an arrangement, including the facilitation of either a government of national unity or temporary third-party management (perhaps headed by a non-partisan Zimbabwean). Over the past decade and a half, the international community has frequently created ad hoc arrangements to support countries emerging from conflict or crisis, with a select group of countries serving in effect as shepherds of the political transition. After Mugabe departs the scene, the leading international donors might need to create a “Contact Group,” as was successfully employed in Bosnia, or a regional framework similar to the “6 plus 2” formula for Afghanistan, to help nurture the internal political process and focus international attention. This arrangement would be tasked to normalize relations with the international community, manage the inflow of assistance, and lay the groundwork for credible elections and possibly a new constitution-writing effort. If security deteriorates, there might also be scope for an international observer-mission, perhaps led by South Africa but under the auspices of SADC or the African Union (AU) and backed by the major powers

2. Help to reform the security sector. Politicization and corruption of the police, military, intelligence services, and judiciary have undermined what were once professional and highly regarded institutions. International donors must be prepared to move quickly to persuade and assist the successor government in moving from a culture of violence and impunity to one of the rule of law. They should support a thorough reform of the security sector, including restructuring the “power” institutions (especially the Zimbabwe National Army, the Central Intelligence Organization, and the Zimbabwe Republic Police), vetting officials for past abuses, training officials in civilian policing and criminal justice, mainstreaming human rights, and disbanding paramilitaries.20 In the immediate term, the abrupt demise of the Mugabe regime could paradoxically increase human insecurity by removing an unpalatable but effective system of repression. This possibility means that the international community, probably led by South Africa, should make contingency plans for temporary military intervention to ensure physical safety and public order if necessary.

3. Promote justice and reconciliation. A critical dimension in recovering from crisis is coming to terms with the past and seeking accountability for past crimes and abuses. Presumably, any such effort would not only cover recent violence, but also the gukurahundi killings of some 20,000 people in Matabeleland in the early 1980s21 and perhaps atrocities committed by both sides during the liberation war. The people of Zimbabwe will need to decide for themselves between pursuing a truth and reconciliation commission, as has been adopted in countries from El Salvador to South Africa, or a more punitive approach like a war crimes tribunal.22 Whichever option they choose, the donor community should provide legal and technical assistance.

3.2 Necessary economic support
Parallel with political reform steps will be necessary to revive the economy. To promote economic recovery, the international community should focus on the following areas, derived from lessons learned in other ‘post-conflict’ situations:

1. Meet essential humanitarian needs. With a large share of Zimbabwe’s population currently relying on emergency assistance, many people will continue to depend on relief during the political transition. The focus of humanitarian action must be on ensuring protection, food and shelter for internally displaces people, while seeking durable solutions that provide livelihoods and permit their orderly return and reintegration into communities. Although donors once spoke of a linear “relief to development continuum,” they have discovered that in practice relief, reconstruction and development proceed simultaneously in different parts of a post-crisis country.23 One challenge for international donors will be to continue meeting immediate food requirements without undercutting the revival of local agricultural markets.24 Donors must also continue to support efforts to address the HIV/AIDS crisis, which is slowly showing improvements through declining infection rates.25

2. Facilitate an orderly return of migrants from the diaspora. Perhaps a third of Zimbabweans currently live abroad. If post-conflict situations like Afghanistan are any guide, regime change in Zimbabwe may lead many of those living in neighboring countries to vote with their feet and return in large numbers, overwhelming any rudimentary public services that remain. Donors, especially the UN refugee agency UNHCR, USAID, and the South African government, can start thinking ahead for plans to help smoothly reintegrate exiles and refugees in the region. Although many of those abroad will have means to manage their own return, particular attention should be paid to the poorest unskilled workers who may be prematurely and haphazardly forced back by neighboring authorities without the means to resettle and rebuild. At the same time, many of the high-skill Zimbabweans are now in Europe, North America, and South Africa and may want to contribute to a recovery by either returning or investing. The donor community should ensure that its own immigration and asylum laws are not creating barriers or disincentives to potential returnees or Diaspora investors.26

3. Help formulate and implement a multidimensional economic recovery strategy. Although a number of external donors maintain “watching briefs” to permit modest engagement with Zimbabwe, baseline data on socioeconomic conditions in the country are rudimentary. Prior to developing a comprehensive response plan, the transitional authorities and representatives of the World Bank, the IMF, UN agencies, and select bilateral donors should undertake a joint assessment of Zimbabwe’s priority needs, including evaluations of the infrastructure deficit and other areas that might be privately financed. On the basis of this assessment, international donors ? probably under the auspices of the World Bank ? should assist the Zimbabwean transitional authorities in developing a comprehensive National Reconstruction and Development Framework, setting out the priorities and sequence for the first five years. Any economic strategy for recovery will need to stabilize the macro-economy, try to restore basic public services, and generate jobs. Reviving the agricultural sector (see below) and the country’s HIV/AIDS control program will also be priority areas. Private investment in banking, mining, industry, and telecommunications is likely to return on its own once the business environment can be improved (especially if private property rights are restored and foreign exchange constraints are lifted), but public-private cooperation could catalyze much-needed infrastructure investment.

4. Provide coordinated assistance. The international community must help the transitional government to establish a strong national coordinating body to manage inflows and projects from multiple sources. The donors should then:

• Pledge early. A World Bank-chaired consultative group meeting could quickly mobilize official financial pledges with multi-year commitments. Particularly during the first years of the post-Mugabe era, international donors will need to provide a large proportion of the funds to meet Zimbabwe’s reconstruction needs. Whereas traditional donor practice for most developing countries is to set levels of support based on performance, post-conflict countries are exceptional cases that merit “early and sustained engagement” upfront to encourage a recovering country down the right path.27 This logic also applies in the case of Zimbabwe, where the British, American, and South African governments will be strongly disposed to provide resources after Mugabe is gone.

• Create a Trust Fund. While Zimbabwe’s upfront financing needs will be considerable, its immediate absorptive capacity will be fairly modest. Recent findings from the post-conflict literature suggests that external assistance following crisis should taper in gradually, peaking about four years after the beginning of the transition, when in fact the reverse is the more general donor pattern (due to incentives in donor capitals).28 In order to facilitate aid coordination, to ensure that recovery is driven by host rather than donor priorities, and that absorption constraints are mitigated, the international community should work with the transitional government to create a Zimbabwe Reconstruction Trust Fund (ZRTF). Two precedents for this are the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund and the Holst Fund for the Palestinian Territories in the 1990s.29

• Quickly normalize Bretton Woods relations. Any successor government will immediately find a number of obstacles in the way of rejoining the international financial community, so steps will have to be taken to facilitate their re-entry. The IMF will have to re-open its office in Harare and prepare for an interim stand-by arrangement. The World Bank may need to reclassify Zimbabwe as ‘IDA only’ to qualify the country for greater assistance, grants, and possible debt relief. The government will also have to deal with an inherited external debt of some $5 billion. Clearing arrears will be the first step, but the arrears accrued within the past few years account for nearly half the current debt stock, suggesting that some special dispensation may need to be found with the multilateral institutions and the Paris Club of creditors. The US and EU may need to review their sanctions legislation to ensure that it does not create a legal problem or disincentive for re-engagement or private investment.30 Zimbabwe should also be considered for preferential trade access, such as the African Growth of Opportunity Act (AGOA) in the US or the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative for the EU.

• Convene an investment conference. The donors can play a facilitator role in marshalling both public and private investment in infrastructure and raising awareness among potential investors. There are numerous investors, particularly in South Africa, awaiting a turnaround in Zimbabwe, and the donor community can spur inflows by helping to identify projects, assisting the national authorities in making policies that will encourage private investment, and, in some cases, using public funds or guarantees to catalyze certain kinds of investments.

5. Promote a new approach to land use. Land has been a central political and economic issue for Zimbabwe for several generations. However haphazard and destructive the manner in which it unfolded, land redistribution in Zimbabwe has occurred. The goal for any transitional government will now be to find a way forward to improve land use by reinvigorating the agricultural sector in a manner that provides increased employment and productivity. Priority needs will likely include a comprehensive system of land titling and the rebuilding of the farm extension and credit system. The donor community can play an important role in assisting with the stock-taking of land use and ownership, formulation of a new agricultural strategy, and consideration (and financing) of options for further distribution. External agencies can also provide independent oversight to some kind of transparent arbitration process that is almost certainly going to be necessary as disputes over land ownership and compensation arise.

4. Steps for the United States: A Commission for Assistance to a Free Zimbabwe?

There has been growing donor interest in ways to better engage “fragile” or weak states.31 At the same time, the international community is still struggling with how to engage with “difficult” performers, which lack the will and/or capacity to deliver effective governance.32 Zimbabwe has been one of the hardest such cases, with many of the major players deferring to South Africa. In addition, all too often the US and the international community have been reactive rather than proactive toward countries emerging from conflict or transition from political crisis. Given the possibility of a quick change in Harare and the substantial agenda outlined above, planning for an international response to Zimbabwe should begin now.
The challenge for US policy is to arrive at a comprehensive but flexible strategy that can integrate all relevant agencies and instruments of influence to support a peaceful transition from authoritarian rule and sustainable reconstruction. Within the United States government, the locus of contingency planning for a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe could be the newly established Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) within the State Department, which was created in August 2004 with the explicit mandate to plan and assist the recovery of failed states and countries emerging from civil strife. S/CRS has already taken the lead in planning for a response to Sudan and has held roundtables on Haiti, Nepal, Cuba, and the Great Lakes region of central Africa. There might also be bipartisan congressional interest in creating a Zimbabwe version of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, which provided both a planning and a propaganda function.33
Liaising with other partners can also start now. The UK government has a similar post-conflict reconstruction unit that can play a parallel role to S/CRS. Great Britain, as the former colonial power, has a strong historical interest in helping the country turn around and can play an important role. The World Bank, while unable to participate in actual contingency planning for diplomatic reasons, should continue to maintain its analytical and low-income country under stress (LICUS) work on the country. This will be critical to enable the Bank and other donors to spring into action once the transition occurs. Nevertheless, information sharing and beginning the multilateral discussions and contingency planning now can help to ensure a more nimble and effective international response to support a post-Mugabe transition in Zimbabwe.

5. Conclusion

Zimbabwe is a country on the edge. It may technically be at peace, but it is suffering war-like trauma to its polity and economy. In the not-distant future, the international community will likely confront the challenge of assisting the country’s difficult transition from a bleak period of economic collapse and authoritarian rule. Fortunately, the world has learned lessons from post-conflict interventions in other countries, many of which it can apply to Zimbabwe ? once a new leadership is in place. No donor should provide assistance to the government at the present time since a recovery is impossible with the current leadership. But there is no time to waste in developing a multilateral framework to respond to the transition that is unavoidably coming to Harare.
There is also no reason to keep this contingency planning effort secret. Diplomatic etiquette notwithstanding, there would be considerable benefit to making this an open and consultative exercise. Letting Zimbabwe’s people know that they have not been forgotten and that the world stands ready to help once Robert Mugabe is gone could even help to bring about that day a little sooner.


Ball, Nicole. “Reforming Security Sector Governance”, Conflict, Security & Development, Vol. 4, No. 3, December 2004.

Barrett, Christopher and Daniel Maxwell. Food Aid After Fifty Years: Recasting Its Role. London: Routledge, 2005.

Brynen, Rex. A Very Political Economy: Peacebuilding and Foreign Aid in Palestine. New York: US Institute of Peace, 2000.

Brynen, Rex. “The Palestinian Territories.” In Good Intentions: Pledges of Aid for Postconflict Recovery. Edited by Shepard Forman and Stewart Patrick. New York: Center on International Cooperation, 2000.

Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and the Legal Resources Foundation. Breaking the Silence. Building True Peace: A Report on the Disturbances in Matabeleland and the Midlands, 1980 to 1988. Harare, 1997.

Center for Strategic and International Studies and Association of the US Army. Play to Win: The Commission on Post-Conflict Reconstruction. Washington DC: CSIS, January 2003.

Chesterman, Simon, Michael Ignatieff, and Ramesh Thakur. Making States Work: State Failure and the Crisis of Governance. Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2005.

Clemens, Michael. Do No Harm: Is the Emigration of Health Professionals Bad for Africa? Washington DC: Center for Global Development, 2006 forthcoming.

Clemens, Michael and Todd Moss. Costs and Causes of Zimbabwe’s Crisis. CGD Note. Washington DC: Center for Global Development, July 2005.

Clément, Jean. Postconflict Economics In Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Washington DC: IMF, 2005.

Collier, Paul et al. Breaking the Conflict Trap: Civil War and Development Policy. Washington DC: World Bank, 2003.
Commission on Weak States and National Security. On the Brink: Weak States and National Security. Washington DC: Center for Global Development, 2004.

Department for International Development. Why We Need to Work More Effectively in Fragile States. January. London: DFID, 2005.
Forman, Shepard and Stewart Patrick. Good Intentions: Pledges of Aid for Postconflict Recovery. New York: Center on International Cooperation, 2000.

Fukuyama, Francis. State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004.

Ghani, Ashraf, Clare Lockhart and Michael Carnahan. Closing the Sovereignty Gap: An Approach to State-Building. Working Paper 253, September. London: Overseas Development Institute, 2005.

Gregson, Simon et al. HIV Decline Associated with Behavior Change in Eastern Zimbabwe. Science 311: 5761, February 2006.

Harmer, Adele and Joanna Macrae. Beyond the Continuum: The Changing Role of Aid Policies in Protracted Crises. HPG Research Report. London: Overseas Development Institute, 18. July 2004.

IMF. Zimbabwe: Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix. Washington DC, October 2005.

Kriger, Norma. Zimbabwe’s Guerilla War: Peasant Voices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Kriger, Norma. “ZANU(PF) strategies in general elections, 1980–2000: Discourse and coercion.” African Affairs 1 (2005) 04: 414.

Michailof, Serge, Markus Kostner, and Xavier Devictor. Post-Conflict Recovery in Africa: An Agenda for the Africa Region. Africa Region Working Paper Series No. 30. Washington DC: World Bank, 2002.

Ottaway, Marina. “Rebuilding State Institutions in Collapsed States” In State Failure and Reconstruction. Edited by Jennifer Milliken. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2003.

Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. Investing in Prevention: An International Strategy to Manage Risks of Instability and Improve Crisis Response. London: PMSU, February 2005.

Richardson, Craig. “The Loss of Property Rights and the Collapse in Zimbabwe”, Cato Journal, Fall 2005, 25: 3.

Rotberg, Robert. When States Fail: Causes and Consequences, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Rubin, Barnett. “Peace-building as State-Building,” Survival Winter 2005, 47: 4.

Snyder, Jack and Leslie Vinjamuri. “Trials and Errors: Principle and Pragmatism in Strategies of International Justice”. International Security, Winter 2003 28: 3.

Tibaijuka, Anna Kajumulo. Report of the Fact-Finding Mission to Zimbabwe to assess the Scope and Impact of Operation Murambatsvina by the UN Special Envoy on Human Settlements Issues in Zimbabwe. July. United Nations, 2005.

UNDP. Human Development Report 2005. Geneva: United Nations, 2005.

US Agency for International Development. Fragile States Strategy. Washington DC, February 2005.

US Department of State. Report to the President: Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. Washington DC, May 6 2004.

World Bank. World Bank Group Work in Low-Income Countries under Stress: A Task Force Report. Washington DC, September 2002.

World Bank. World Development Indicators 2005. Washington DC, 2005.

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. Politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe 2000-2001. Harare, August 2001.

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. Torture By State Agents In Zimbabwe: January 2001 to August 2002. Harare, March 2003.


* Todd Moss ( and Stewart Patrick ( are Research Fellows at the Center for Global Development, an independent research institute in Washington DC. The authors thank Robert Rotberg, Milan Vaishnav, Greg Michaelidis, and Kaysie Brown for comments on an earlier draft. The views expressed and any errors are strictly those of the authors.

1 Paul Collier et al., Breaking the Conflict Trap: Civil War and Development Policy (Washington DC: World Bank, 2003)

2 Michael Clemens and Todd Moss, “Costs and Causes of Zimbabwe’s Crisis,” (Center for Global Development, July 2005)

3 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2005 and IMF, “Zimbabwe: Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix,” (Harare, October 2005)

4 “Zim leads the world in inflation stakes,” Financial Gazette, (Harare, March 22, 2006)

5 See multiple reports by the Amani Trust and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, including “Politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe 2000-2001,” (August 2001) and “Torture By State Agents In Zimbabwe: January 2001 to August 2002,” (March 2003)

6 Norma Kriger, “ZANU(PF) strategies in general elections, 1980–2000: Discourse and coercion,” African Affairs, Vol. 104, No. 414 (2005) and Kriger’s Zimbabwe’s Guerilla War: Peasant Voices (Cambridge University Press, 1992). A ‘pungwe’ is a Shona word for an all-night meeting of songs and political education (and sometimes intimidation), used by guerillas during the liberation war to build support among the local population for ZANU.

7 EIU is the Economist Intelligence Unit, PPP stands for purchasing power parity, which is an exchange rate that adjusts for the cost of local goods.

8 UN, Human Development Report 2005. Zimbabwe’s index score on the UN’s Human Development Index fell from 0.637 to 0.505 in 2003, dropping them from 87th out of 136 countries in 1990 to 145th out of 177 in 2003.

9 Michael Clemens, “Do No Harm: Is the Emigration of Health Professionals Bad for Africa?” (Center for Global Development, Forthcoming 2006)

10 Based on estimates from Robertson Economic Information Services, Harare.

11 IMF, p. 103 (Washington DC, 1995)

12 UN World Food Program projects 4.4 million people will need food assistance; see “Projected 2006 Needs”, WFP.

13 Clemens and Moss, 2005; Craig Richardson, “The Loss of Property Rights and the Collapse in Zimbabwe,” Cato Journal, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Fall 2005).

14 IMF, p. 7 (Washington DC, 1995)

15 Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, “Report of the Fact-Finding Mission to Zimbabwe to assess the Scope and Impact of Operation Murambatsvina by the UN Special Envoy on Human Settlements Issues in Zimbabwe,” (United Nations, July 2005)

16 The rate has dropped from Z$55:US$1 in 2000 to over Z$160,000 on the parallel market by early March 2006.

17 Among a large literature, see Robert I. Rotberg (ed.), When States Fail: Causes and Consequences, (Princeton University Press, 2003); Shepard Forman and Stewart Patrick (eds.), Good Intentions: Pledges of Aid for Postconflict Recovery, Center on International Cooperation (2000); and “Play to Win: The Commission on Post-Conflict Reconstruction” (CSIS and Association of the US Army, January 2003)

18 Ashraf Ghani, Clare Lockhart and Michael Carnahan, “Closing the Sovereignty Gap: An Approach to State-Building,” Working Paper 253 (Overseas Development Institute, September 2005). Simon Chesterman, Michael Ignatieff, and Ramesh Thakur, Making States Work: State Failure and the Crisis of Governance (United Nations University Press, 2005); Francis Fukuyama, State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century (Cornell University Press, 2004); Marina Ottaway, “Rebuilding State Institutions in Collapsed States,” in Jennifer Milliken (ed.), State Failure and Reconstruction (Blackwell Publishers, 2003); Barnett Rubin, “Peace-building as State-Building,” Survival Vol. 47, No. 4 (Winter 2005-2006).

19 See, for example, Jean Clément (ed.), Postconflict Economics In Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (IMF, 2005); Serge Michailof, Markus Kostner, and Xavier Devictor, “Post-Conflict Recovery in Africa: An Agenda for the Africa Region,” Africa Region Working Paper Series No. 30 (World Bank, 2002).

20 Nicole Ball, “Reforming Security Sector Governance,” Conflict, Security & Development, Vol. 4, No. 3 (December 2004)

21 Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and the Legal Resources Foundation, “Breaking the Silence. Building True Peace: A Report on the Disturbances in Matabeleland and the Midlands, 1980 to 1988,”(1997)

22 Jack Snyder and Leslie Vinjamuri, “Trials and Errors: Principle and Pragmatism in Strategies of International Justice, International Security, Vol. 28, No. 3 (Winter 2003)

23 Adele Harmer and Joanna Macrae (eds.), “Beyond the Continuum: The Changing Role of Aid Policies in Protracted Crises,” HPG Research Report 18 (Overseas Development Institute, July 2004)

24 Christopher Barrett and Daniel Maxwell, Food Aid After Fifty Years: Recasting Its Role, Routledge, 2005.

25 Simon Gregson et al. “HIV Decline Associated with Behavior Change in Eastern Zimbabwe,” Science, Vol. 311, No. 5761 (February 2006)

26 Zimbabweans living abroad may risk losing their residency or asylum status by returning. In the United States, for instance, Senator Joseph Biden has proposed a “return of talent” program to provide visa waivers for diaspora populations who wish to return for brief periods to lend their skills to assist political and economic transitions.

27 Michailof et al. (2002)

28 Collier (2003). Unlike most post-conflict countries, there is unlikely to be a need for interim donor support of recurrent expenditure, since revenue generation rates are fairly high; total revenue was some 34% of GDP in 2004. Zimbabwe’s fiscal problem is primarily on the expenditure side.

29 On the Holst Fund, see Rex Brynen, “The Palestinian Territories,” in Good Intentions, pp. 237-8. More generally, see Rex Brynen, A Very Political Economy: Peacebuilding and Foreign Aid in Palestine (US Institute of Peace, 2000)

30 Travel and financial sanctions by the EU and US should not pose an immediate problem, since they are only targeted at individuals, but they may need to be revisited and the lists altered if they present a barrier.

31 Commission on Weak States and National Security, On the Brink: Weak States and National Security (Center for Global Development, 2004); United States Agency for International Development, Fragile States Strategy (USAID, February 2005); United Kingdom Department for International Development, Why We Need to Work More Effectively in Fragile States (DFID, January 2005); United Kingdom Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, Investing in Prevention: An International Strategy to Manage Risks of Instability and Improve Crisis Response (PMSU, February 2005)

32 The World Bank’s Low Income Countries under Stress (LICUS) unit, for example, tries to find limited engagement points in countries where normal Bank operations are deemed impossible. See World Bank, World Bank Group Work in Low-Income Countries under Stress: A Task Force Report (September 2002); See also the OECD/DAC’s Working Group on Development Effectiveness in Fragile States.

33 US Department of State, Report to the President: Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba (Washington DC, May 6, 2004)
ZIMBABWE: After Mugabe - analysts say donor aid must flow

JOHANNESBURG, 26 May 2006 (IRIN) - Despite its often prophesised collapse, Zimbabwe is still standing - but experts have warned that planning for economic recovery by the international community is now critical.

Presenting a paper on the economic, political and security situation in Zimbabwe, Tony Hawkins, professor at the Graduate School of Management of the University of Zimbabwe, commented: "Eight years into economic decline that has cut GDP [gross domestic product] by 40 percent and halved income per head, Zimbabwe is still standing - highlighting the yawning chasm that separates economic decline and political change in Africa."

A recent report, 'After Mugabe: Applying post-conflict recovery lessons to Zimbabwe', published in the Harvard University Africa Policy Journal (APJ), underscores the need for the international community to "start preliminary planning now for responses to a transition in Zimbabwe", given the "war-like trauma experienced by the country and acute conditions today".

The report warns that "the southern African country is in a perilous state of decline and could face a transition at any time. Waiting until the day after the fall of [president] Robert Mugabe could be too late". President Mugabe's current term in office ends in 2008.

Presenting a wide range of steadily deterioration economic indicators - plummeting GDP growth, employment and real wages, and skyrocketing inflation - Hawkins stressed that "whatever the economic indicator, the numbers are uniformly dismal".

Until 2002, Zimbabwe was the second largest economy after South Africa in the 14-member Southern African Development Community; now only Malawi and tiny Swaziland and Lesotho are worse off.

The government has insisted the fault lies with western governments, determined to punish Zimbabwe's violent land reform programme with "sanctions". It has launched a series of recovery plans, but without an agreement with the International Monetary Fund and confidence from investors, none have managed to halt the slide.

"In political democracies, prolonged economic decline almost always sparks political change, through the ballot box or more radical confrontation on the streets," Hawkins remarked. But Mugabe has won every election from independence, although since 2000 the ballot results have been disputed.

Political change in Zimbabwe remained elusive, said Hawkins, "there is no 'tipping point'". The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, "deeply split and demoralised", has promised a campaign of protest but according to Hawkins, there is "no willingness to lead, let alone follow, a campaign of protest" which would be challenged by the security forces.

Economies eventually "pass the point of no return" and can only get back on their feet with "massive outside assistance", but inevitably, "the donor community comes to the country's rescue, often in 'too little, too late' mode," Hawkins said.

The APJ report thought change in Zimbabwe would come without much warning, given the "extremely fragile and ultimately unstable" situation held together by "Mugabe himself - [and] he is, nonetheless, 82 years old".

In a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe "a speedy and substantial international response will be necessary". Assuming the next government was "reform-minded enough" and donors were "willing to respond", the international community would have a "window of opportunity" to make a difference.

It suggested that the response not be limited to traditional development practices "but must be informed by recent post-conflict experience", establishing security and the rule of law, fostering political reconciliation, "legitimate" institutions of government, and encouraging economic recovery through the normalisation of relations with the international community.

Although Zimbabwe has not suffered civil war, "the country nonetheless exhibits many extreme characteristics of a society in violent conflict", such as the breakdown of basic services and the mass flight of people and capital.

The report maintained that "no donor should provide assistance to the government at the present time, since recovery is impossible with the current leadership. But there is not time to waste in developing a multilateral framework to respond to the transition that is unavoidably coming to Harare".

Zimbabwe was fortunate to have South Africa, a large and relatively wealthy neighbour with a strong interest in fostering a rebound. Reportedly already sheltering an estimated two million Zimbabwean immigrants, South Africa's concern was that further deterioration in Zimbabwe would trigger a larger exodus.

In an interview with the Financial Times on Wednesday, South African President Thabo Mbeki said, "Zimbabweans have agreed to receive [UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan]. We all await the outcome of the intervention with regard to Zimbabwe. You need to normalise the relations between Zimbabwe and the rest of the world, so his [Annan's] interaction with the Zimbabwean government would be intended for those outcomes, including indicating what sort of assistance the UN would give."

The Zimbabwean authorities were quick to say the invitation had been revoked, reportedly fearing Annan's visit might be used to press Mugabe to step down.

"This is one of the things that the United Nations wants to get across: that assistance is being provided in an impartial way, without any association with a political position one way or the other. Our concern is to ensure that the most vulnerable, those whose livelihoods are most at risk for whatever reason, are being catered for," Chris Kaye, Regional Representative of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told IRIN.

The international community does have planning for Zimbabwe in place, drawn up in consultation with the Zimbabwe government, local NGO's and a number of UN agencies, to cover contingencies from epidemic outbreaks to a crack in the Kariba dam, but not including measures to rescue Zimbabwe from its present economic plight.

"The plans are not really that different from those in neighbouring countries. What is important is that we are prepared to deal with the consequences, whatever they may be, regardless of what the cause has been," Kaye said.

Transition in Zimbabwe would not be easy, said Hawkins. "Social and economic damage is not just long-term but permanent. It will take at least a dozen years to regain the living standards of the 1990s, and the price to be paid by future generations for the follies of their forefathers will be a heavy one."

After Mugabe, Zimbabwe Will Need Help

By Todd Moss and Stewart Patrick
Global Beat Syndicate
WASHINGTON—After a quarter century of his iron rule, it is hard to imagine life in Zimbabwe without Robert Mugabe. But that day is coming soon, and when it does, the international community will need to respond quickly. Even though Zimbabwe is not at war, international donors should be thinking about Zimbabwe's recovery as if it were.

The southern African country is on the verge of collapse, held together by Mugabe himself, and his regime's days are numbered. Although resilient and cunning, he is also 81-years old. Political tensions are high, the military is nervous, and the government is dead broke.

Led by Mugabe since its independence in 1980, Zimbabwe is now an international pariah. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice lists it with places like Burma and North Korea as an “outpost of tyranny.” It has quit the Commonwealth and is on the brink of expulsion from the International Monetary Fund. Mugabe's rantings, including a recent tirade comparing George Bush and Tony Blair to Hitler and Mussolini, only further his isolation.

Once he is gone, a new government will face the tragic consequences of his misrule. Zimbabwe has suffered so much that it now shows extreme characteristics typical of a society emerging from violent conflict. State security forces and militias have terrorized civilians, committed gross human rights violations, and disrupted political opposition. The economy has shrunk by at least one-third since 2000—a meltdown worse than full-scale civil wars in Congo, Sierra Leone, or Ivory Coast. A few years ago Zimbabwe exported food. Today, up to half the population needs donations to survive. Unsurprisingly, one in three Zimbabweans have voted with their feet and fled the country.

Although it is impossible to predict what the political transition will bring, the United States and its allies must not get caught flat-footed. Mugabe's departure will create a “golden hour,” a brief window of opportunity to help set the country on the right path to sustainable peace and economic recovery. Setting up a plan, starting on the day after Mugabe's fall could be too late; the time to start contingency planning is now.

If the next government in Zimbabwe is sufficiently distanced from Mugabe and his cronies, the international community should launch a coordinated response that is both ample and agile. The main impetus for recovery will, of course, have to come from within Zimbabwe itself. But the major international donors—the World Bank, the IMF, UN agencies, and the British, American, and South African governments—will need to support the locally-owned recovery plans.

Given how far Zimbabwe has fallen, any recovery strategy should draw lessons from post-conflict reconstruction in places like Bosnia, East Timor, and Afghanistan. Because Zimbabwe's troubles are, at the core, political, getting the politics right is a necessary precondition. The international community can help smooth any transition by providing a “contact group” or helping establish a caretaker government. The donors can promote security and the rule of law by supporting reform of the police, military, intelligence services, and the courts. There may also be a need for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission or a war crimes tribunal, both of which could use external backing.

The economy will also have to be rebuilt. The immediate priority will be to provide food to the hungry, shelter to thousands displaced by their own government, and short-term assistance for those returning to start over. Donors can set up a Zimbabwe Reconstruction Trust Fund to coordinate external aid and assist the transitional government in drawing up sensible recovery plans. Pledging early and for a five-year recuperation period would also build momentum and raise the chances for success. Finding ways to raise farm productivity and generate employment will also be essential for both economic and political healing.

To get started, the Bush administration should direct the State Department to start considering options now. A Zimbabwe version of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba might also be useful. We should also begin working with allies, sharing information and strategy to ensure a more nimble and effective response.

There is no reason to keep these efforts secret. Diplomatic etiquette aside, there are benefits to making this an open and consultative exercise. Letting Zimbabwe's people know that they have not been forgotten and that the world stands ready to help once Robert Mugabe is gone could even help to bring about that day a bit sooner.
Todd Moss and Stewart Patrick are research fellows at the independent Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C. Patrick assisted Afghan reconstruction on the State Department’s policy planning staff from 2002-5. This article is based on “The Day After Comrade Bob: Applying Post-Conflict Recovery Lessons to Zimbabwe,” available on

© 2005 The Center for War, Peace and the News Media. All Rights Reserved. The Global Beat Syndicate, a service of The Center for War, Peace, and the News Media, provides editors with commentary and perspective articles on critical global issues from contributors around the world. For more information, check out

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

US enemy of Zim democracy

US enemy of Zim democracy

By Caesar Zvayi

JAMES MCGEE, born August 11 1950, is an English novelist known for historical novels about a fictional investigative officer, Matthew Hawkwood.

McGee’s books are set in Regency London, at a time Britain was at war with Napoleon. The hero, Hawkwood, is working as a Bow Street Runner, an early investigative officer working out of London’s Bow Street Magistrates’ Court who is called upon to solve a number of civil crimes, including murder, body-snatching and highway robbery.

His previous military experience also makes him ably suited to investigate issues of national security.

McGee’s imagination is excellent as can be seen in the way he portrays his characters and wartime London, which is why McGee’s three novels received critical acclaim.

Reading an op-ed piece from a man who shares the British novelist’s name, James D. McGee, the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, one would be mistaken for thinking it was extracted from the British writer’s latest manuscript.

McGee from Washington wrote a 505-word piece that was reproduced in full yesterday lecturing Zimbabweans on the elitist conception of democracy, electoral democracy, how government should be by the consent of the governed, and dismissing Zimbabwe’s capacity to hold free and fair elections, among other things.

McGee’s unwarranted lecture was strange in two respects.

Firstly, the US ambassador seemed blissfully ignorant of the fact that his adopted country has no moral ground to lecture Zimbabweans on any form of democracy as Zimbabwe had to wage a 14-year war of attrition against a white minority regime that had the overt and covert support of four US administrations from Lyndon Johnson (1963-69); Richard Nixon (1969-74); Gerald Ford (1974-77) to Jimmy Carter (1977-1981).

A bit of history may help the historically naive McGee appreciate the destructive role his war-mongering country played during Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle and how those actions served to delay the dawn of independence at a cost of over 50 000 innocent lives, the same way Washington’s illegal sanctions today seek to torpedo Zimbabwe’s quest for economic independence.

When Rhodesian prime minister Ian Douglas Smith made his Unilateral Declaration of Independence on November 11 1965, the progressive world was naturally outraged and the UN Security Council promptly responded by slapping the Smith regime with a raft of sanctions beginning that year till the brief restoration of British rule in December 1979.

Though the terms of the sanctions forbade trade or financial dealings with Rhodesia, the US supported the beleaguered settler regime regardless and covertly channelled assistance through apartheid South Africa.

US allies among them Portugal — then under Marcello Caetano, Israel, and Iran then under the US proxy — Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi — also assisted and traded with Rhodesia. In an attempt to bypass the UN sanctions, the US passed the so-called Byrd Amendment in 1971 and continued to buy chrome from Rhodesia in violation of the UN sanctions arguing that the mineral was a strategic raw material yet it went on to adorn the chrome-plated bumpers of America’s monstrous vehicles.

As if that was not enough, Washington also contributed to the establishment of an armaments industry in Rhodesia that enabled the Rhodesian Front to decimate over 50 000 black Zimbabweans whose only "crime" was daring to demand black majority rule.

The US also provided the technical knowledge and support, again through apartheid South Africa, toward establishing the 700-kilometre Border Minefield Obstacle along Zimbabwe’s borders with Zambia and Mozambique in an attempt to stop aspiring cadres from crossing to training camps and to blow-up trained combatants who were crossing back into Zimbabwe. Furthermore, other American mercenaries and US servicemen joined the Rhodesian Security Forces ranks, with many of them bringing back to Rhodesia military ideas and concepts from Vietnam where the US had just been routed in 1975.

To get a detailed expose of the extent of US destabilisation of the Second Chimurenga, McGee should get hold of a 2001 book titled ‘‘From the Barrel of a Gun — The United States and the War Against Zimbabwe, 1965-1980’’ that was authored by a fellow African-American, Gerald Horne, and published by the University of North Carolina Press at Chapel Hill.

McGee doesn’t even have to order a copy from the US; he can easily borrow one from the Centre for Defence Studies at the University of Zimbabwe, about 7km from his base in Herbert Chitepo.

The bottom line is Washington not only significantly contributed to Rhodesia’s national income, which enabled the Smith regime to buy more weapons to pulverise freedom fighters; it actually assisted Rhodesia’s fight against Zipra and Zanla combatants.

As such as this writer said in an earlier instalment, McGee must read history before exercising his jaws on Zimbabwe. By acquainting himself with history, McGee will find that his government, which today is at the forefront of demonising Zimbabwe to the extent of enacting a sanctions law — the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act which decrees that the sanctions can only be lifted if land tenure is restored to pre-2000 levels — openly supported Zimbabwe on land at the Lancaster House Constitutional Conference, with the then US president Jimmy Carter promising that Washington would significantly fund land reforms and also urged the British to do the same.

Carter’s promise — which was delivered by the then US ambassador to London, Kingman Brewster — was made after the Patriotic Front leaders threatened to walk out of the Conference when the British sought to scuttle demands for land reforms. All this was recently revealed in a report aired by BBC on August 22 last year at 12:23GMT, which McGee can access at

Secondly, McGee — who was sent to Harare by a man holding the distinction of being the first unelected president of the US having lost the popular vote to Al Gore in 2000 — has no moral ground to lecture anyone on electoral democracy. Without the help of his brother John Ellis "Jeb" Bush, the then governor of Florida and George H. W’s appointments to the US Supreme Court, George W. would not have been in the White House today as he lost the popular vote to Gore by over 500 000 votes.

George W. also bears the distinction of being the first president, in the history of the US, to bar UN election inspectors during the 2002 US election which was again equally scandal-ridden as electronic voting machines were reportedly manipulated by right-wing politicians with the connivance of several voting machine manufacturers.

For want of space, this writer will not delve into Bush’s human rights record apart from reminding McGee that Bush is again the first US president to prevail on the UN to remove the US from the then Human Rights Commission; withdraw the US from the International Court of Justice, and to refuse to allow inspector’s access to US "prisoners of war" being held in various bases in and out of Iraq as required by the Geneva Conventions.

Many believe Bush has scant regard for due process because of yet another infamous first, he is the first US president to assume office with a criminal record.

So McGee, as a resident of a glass house, must not throw stones.

McGee also appears to have a warped conception of democracy as he claimed, ‘‘democracy cannot flourish unless at election time the people educate themselves about their choices and express their preferences by voting.’’

He seems to believe that Zimbabweans are suckers for the narrow conception of democracy the Westerners always try to ram down the developing world’s throat. A truncated conception that focuses only on civil and social rights to the total exclusion of economic and cultural rights.

According to the minimalist school of thought, to which McGee is sold, democracy is basically a method of making decisions whose most important characteristic is free and fair elections for choosing government officials, a process where the elites compete for votes to win political office. According to this view, ultimate power rests in the hands of the people at election time but after vote counting the people cede decision-making authority to the elites ‘‘who are well-versed in matters of governance.’’

Westerners favour this minimalist view of democracy for the developing world not because it is ideal, but because they use it as a red herring that diverts people’s attention from interrogating the source of their poverty. Developing world poverty is then simplistically blamed on ‘‘corrupt’’ governments but not on centuries of plunder and the fact that the Westerners all but own developing world economies which they manipulate to suit their ends — the way American billionaire George Soros almost single-handedly wrecked Asian economies precipitating the so-called Asian economic crisis.

The obverse of minimalist democracy holds that democracy is much more than a political system with free and fair elections, but is an economy and society that reflects a democratic desire for equality and respect for political differences, which differences should not be on matters of national interest, what is called conflict within consensus.

For this school, democracy means much more than going to the polls every few years. It means citizens owning their resources and participating in the institutions of society such as corporations, unions, factories, in fact, all aspects of economic, social and cultural production.

The former is what is commonly known as limited democracy while the latter is popular or expansive democracy. McGee, being an African-American, should have no problems understanding that in a developing country like Zimbabwe, what the populace needs even more than elections, is total empowerment not only in decision-making but also in economic, social and cultural production. This is the path Zimbabwe has taken, which path has invited the fierce backlash from the West as the McGees of this world eagerly hand Uncle Sam fresh whips to lacerate Zimbabwe’s backside.

For McGee’s own information, Zimbabwe has held democratic multi-party elections whenever they were due since 1980, and the forthcoming March 29 poll will be Zimbabwe’s 10th in 28 years, showing Zimbabwe has a rich democratic tradition that gives people the chance to choose their leaders time and time again.

To put things into perspective, very few African countries, some that were independent since the 1960s have held as many suffrages as Zimbabwe has. Most had their first multiparty elections during the neo-liberal decade 1990 to 2000 but only because multilateral lending institutions made it a pre-condition for balance of payment support and aid. While many others had leaders obtain power through bloody coups, but not so in the case of Zimbabwe which is why McGee’s amateur lecture is misplaced.

This writer also found ironic, McGee’s assertion that, ‘‘a growing chorus of voices is expressing doubt about the coming poll.’’ McGee should have been more specific by identifying the source of the ‘‘chorus.’’ Is it emanating from Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe or Rushinga? Aren’t the voices coming from 172 Herbert Chitepo Avenue and its opposition embeds? In case McGee has forgotten, only last year the US State Department confirmed in its report titled, "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The US record-2006," that it has the entire opposition camp in its pocket and the noises the so-called activists make are merely sponsored psalms for their supper.

The State Department report revealed that the US sponsors the MDC; and so-called civil society groups comprising non-governmental organisations and ‘‘non-governmental individuals,’’ so-called advocacy groups, newspapers, newsletters, some Church leaders and journalists to ‘‘present economic and social analyses discrediting the government’s excuses for its failed policies."

In fact only last week, British premier Gordon Brown revealed that his government had released £3,3million pounds into opposition coffers to help them intensify their anti-Zimbabwe campaigns by producing damning reports trashing Zimbabwe’s democratic record, the human rights situation, rule of law and judiciary to create self-fulfilling prophecies that would help the MDC explain imminent loss at the polls.

There you have it; the chorus you claim McGee is a sponsored one and can be traced back to your offices and those of your allies. It is not coming from Mbare or Makokoba.

McGee’s howler was his concluding paragraph that claimed, among other things, ‘‘while the Zimbabwean people do not have the power alone to ensure that democracy prevails, it will surely not prevail unless they play their part.’’

Who has that power Jimmy? Aren’t you here simply presenting a lame case for your country’s meddling in other countries internal affairs? Are you prepared to reverse the scenario and say ‘‘Americans alone do not have the power to ensure that democracy prevails in the US come November?’’

This is why earlier on, this writer said you are historically naïve, it is Zimbabweans, and Zimbabweans alone who have the right to chart their own destiny, they do not need Uncle Sam’s supervision. The days of the master and slave are long gone, or hadn’t you noticed?

Roy Bennet claims the MDC has created the economic crisis in Zimbabwe in order to fight Mugabe.

Roy Bennett, a controversial former MP and treasurer of the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai was a guest on SW Radio Africa's Hot Seat programme broadcast last Friday. Journalist Violet Gonda asked the questions::
Broadcast February 22, 2008
Last updated: 02/25/2008 12:11:33
Violet Gonda: My guest on the programme Hot Seat is Roy Bennett, the Treasurer General of the Tsvangirai MDC. Thank you for joining us Mr Bennett.

Roy Bennett: My pleasure Violet.

Violet: Crucial elections for the President, Parliament, Senate and Council representatives are going to be held countrywide next month. Do you think these elections are going to be free and fair?

Bennett: Most definitely not. Already they are not free and fair. Already the outcome is contested. When the ruling party goes ahead, fails to implement paper agreements that they have agreed in the Talks, goes ahead putting in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that is partisan, goes and does delimitations without the participation of the opposition, you’ve already set the grounds for a rigged election.

There are still incidents of violence, there are still incidents where the police are not respecting their own law and allowing peaceful demonstrations.

We still have no access to media, we still have no access to public gatherings, so the whole playing field is already skewed in favour of the ruling party to keep their defend power project and to keep the people of Zimbabwe repressed and without the norms and freedoms of the SADC declaration.

Violet: So this is not new for the opposition and after all this rigging of elections and the unequal playing field that you have mentioned. Why is the opposition participating?

Bennett: Very simple Violet, very, very simple. We are involved in a process, we are involved in a process of evolving into a democracy in Zimbabwe through the people of Zimbabwe. We just have to go back to the formation of the MDC which came from the people led by Morgan Tsvangirai from the labour movement. It was a people driven project. It came from the people, the people put their representatives in place to represent them, I am very proud to say that those who stayed the course with President Tsvangirai at our helm have never let those people down. We have remained loyal; we have remained honest to those people. That is why there is a crisis in Zimbabwe today, that is why the whole issue has come to the proportion that it has come at.

The people of Zimbabwe have refused to accept Zanu PF as their leaders, they have refused the defend power project that Mugabe and his cronies have forced upon the people. They have been beaten, have been raped, they have had their homes destroyed, they have had absolutely no access to information, they have had every single norm taken away from them and yet they have remained resolute which is why the crisis is there today.

And for us, we continue with this process. We are going to elections. Sure the elections will be rigged but this time they will have to steal those elections and very visibly steal those elections. And those that wish to endorse a rigged election, we have on record President Mbeki, we have on record SADC directing President Mbeki that a process will be laid on the ground - that these elections, and that was what the whole talks were about, that these elections will be uncontested and that the people of Zimbabwe would have an election that will follow the norms and standards of the SADC elections. That has not happened. So therefore if those people endorse a stolen election or endorse something that is undemocratic, I don’t see the forces of good and the forces in the world that can help Zimbabwe out of the mess they are in come to the party and endorse a fraud or a stolen election.

Violet: But Mugabe told SADC that he will not accept an MDC victory. What is your response to that?

Bennett: Very simple again. If SADC wants to go ahead listening and being dictated to by a man who is totally discredited and through his actions is totally discredited within his country and within SADC and Africa and allow a man like that to manipulate and steal and force his will upon people then so be it. Let the world see and let everybody see it for what it is.

Violet: But still Mr Bennett your critics say the MDC’s responses to the rigged elections have been somewhat sterile in the past. In the event that elections are rigged this time around, what is going to happen the day that Mugabe is declared winner?

Bennett: Violet we don’t believe in violence. We certainly don’t believe in violence in any form whatsoever. We don’t believe in subjecting the people to a popular uprising that will see thousands slaughtered as has happened in Kenya . We will be resolute to continue with our process of evolution in democratising what has happened in Zimbabwe . We will make sure that it is very, very visible that those elections have been stolen. We are part of the global village, we are part of Africa , and we are part of SADC and the International community.

If they allow an election to be stolen, and they stand by and watch the people of Zimbabwe subjected to further theft of elections so be it. We will continue as we have done quietly and silently, resolute in our course to have free and fair elections and a democratic Zimbabwe . We will not resort to violence, we will not mobilise people to get on the streets and be shot. We have completely different circumstances to Kenya or anywhere else in the world where we have had to deal with a dictatorship in the manner that we are having to deal with this one with absolutely no assistance from anybody other than the people of Zimbabwe .

We are facing 85% unemployment, we are facing hundreds of percent of inflation, we are facing starvation and you expect those people to get out of the street and be shot furthermore and add to all the problems that they’ve got, it’s not going to happen Violet. We are going to continue in our quest by the people coming out in large numbers and voting and exposing the things that take place and stand back and watch what the reaction is to the norms and standards of the international community, the regional community and SADC.

Violet: It would appear as some would say that your strategies have failed because Mugabe is still in power. Are your strategies working and in your opinion are they effective?

Bennett: Absolutely Violet. What is the situation in Zimbabwe today and how it has come about, has it just happened? Has it just been plucked out of air that the type of crisis that is in Zimbabwe today? Or is it the type of crisis because the people have remained resolute in their quest to support Morgan Tsvangirai and the opposition movement to bring about complete change that Zimbabwe is the crisis it is in today. How can you say it has failed? How can you say that about Zimbabwe today? We are on the verge of change- what’s brought that about?

Violet: But Mugabe is still in power so how do you measure your effectiveness?

Bennett: Surely he is in power because elections are lost by the incumbent they are never won by the opposition and he is going to lose these elections. If not this time, within six months, within a year there has to be fresh elections. If he steals which he is visibly doing this election how long will he continue doing so, Violet? We are patient people, we are doing this democratically. We are doing this in the interest of the people of Zimbabwe and for the future of Zimbabwe. We don’t want violence. Africa is dotted with it. We are a new beginning and a new Zimbabwe ; we will bring about the first, first world state in Africa , starting in Zimbabwe and the people have suffered for it. They have suffered for it by being silent and patient and allowing the bully and all his cohorts to fall by the wayside through the failure of all their policies and the total collapse of the country.

Violet: Now let’s talk about the issue of the Unity Talks between the two MDC formations. There were talks between the MDC factions and the objective as I understand it was to bring the two camps together to contest the elections. Now why didn’t that happen? What went wrong?

Bennett: Very simple the whole split that occurred in the MDC was a Matebeleland split. We had the leadership of Matebeleland splitting away from the MDC without the knowledge or endorsement of the grassroots of Zimbabwe - including the grassroots of Matebeleland. When that split took place you had a vacuum within the Matebeleland region. That vacuum then pushed people to elect new leadership to replace the leadership that had left their party and so a new leadership was elected in Matebeleland. We now have, if you look at: apart from one or two the major leadership of the splinter faction was in Matebeleland.

So when it came to the Talks and when it came to finalizing this and we were 100% committed to reuniting the two factions. It broke down over the battle for the heart and soul of Matebeleland and we were saying that you cannot reward those that have splinted away by giving them more seats than those who have remained behind. At the same time you cannot reward those who have remained behind by giving them more seats than those that have splinted away.

The fairest way to do would be to share the Matebeleland seats on a 50/50 basis. Well of course neither leadership accepted this and the whole thing broke down. Again its not an issue Violet, lets go back to 1980 and the birth of Zimbabwe there were three political parties then. There was ZAPU, there was ZANU and there was ZANU NDONGA. The International Community, the chattering class, the diplomatic community, were saying you have to stand together to win this election. And no matter how much pressure they put on them and no matter how much they tried to force them together, they entered into that election as three separate entities.

Ndabaningi Sithole went on under ZANU NDONGA, Mugabe went on under Zanu PF and Joshua Nkomo went under ZAPU. The emblem of the Jongwe - for Zanu PF - was brought about two months before those elections. So it’s nothing new. People split away, you have different views we now have two political parties, we no longer have two MDC’s. We have two different political formations heading in their own directions and good luck and let it happen it is what the people want. You can’t force something together that’s not there.

We’ve tried, we’ve given it our biggest effort, we’ve suffered severe criticism from all quarters but at the end of the day, as leaders you can’t demand on people what they must do. We are a democratic movement. We come from the people we listen to the people and those talks broke down because the people themselves from Matebeleland would not accept each other, and that’s were we are today, so they go ahead, we go ahead. Good luck.

Violet: When you say there are no two MDCs, is this really the case on the ground because when you look at the … (interrupted)

Bennett: Absolutely. We are entering into a Presidential election and that’s what counts Violet. There is a MDC President and there is two Zanu PF Presidents, so we haven’t got a problem.

Violet: What about the other elections for the parliament, the senate and the council because even on the ballot box it will have MDC Tsvangirai and MDC Mutambara, isn’t that an issue?

Bennett: That’s not an issue. It’s two different political parties, everybody knows that and everyone will vote for the political party they want. It’s not going to confuse anyone.

Violet: Just a last thing on the issue of the Unity Talks. The Tsvangirai MDC has said no to the senate elections but now you are participating this time what has changed since 2005?

Bennett: I have just explained to you Violet that we are in a process. If we don’t participate in these things we become irrelevant. Then we were talking about senatorial elections. We weren’t talking about total parliament and presidential elections. Here we are talking about presidential, parliamentary, council and the senate elections. We can overlook the senator in favour of the president, parliamentary and the council elections and deal with the senatorial issue once we are in power which is in April next month. I guarantee you and I am sitting here telling you that by the first of April Morgan Tsvangirai will be President of Zimbabwe and he is going to shock the world, shock the chattering class, shock the Diplomatic Community that all try to impose people of their choice rather than listening to the grassroots of Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe.

Violet: In your view who is the Diplomatic Community trying to impose?

Bennett: They are trying to impose Simba Makoni right now.

Violet: Can you talk a bit more about that? What is your assessment on the emergence of Simba Makoni, and what makes you say that the Diplomatic Community is supporting him?

Bennett: Well basically all you have to do is to look at the chattering class, look at the internet that is not available to the average people and listen to the Diplomats and pick up on their communications between each other that’s very, very easy to see. What people don’t realize Violet is that everybody wants a solution to Zimbabwe and they want a quick solution and they want a solution that they believe will happen and that Zanu PF will have to be part of that solution. It’s not going to happen. The people of Zimbabwe want change, they want rid and gone of Zanu PF and they will settle for nothing else.

Again it was the same with the entrance of Arthur Mutambara into the whole issue of the President of the MDC. How and where in the world does someone parachute into a Presidential position never having addressed a branch meeting in the rural areas? And right now as we watch Simba Makoni, we see Simba Makoni walking with three people from his house into a room and making press statements. He tells us he is not alone, we’ve seen nobody else come up and stand next to him. There are rumours of that person and this person but at this stage how can we take him seriously? Have we seen him standing in front of a gathering of people, have we seen him addressing a branch? He throws a manifesto and puts out a manifesto without a political party.

Just say by some fluke chance he gets elected into government and you’ve got the MDC with so many seats and Zanu PF have so many seats, one obviously being in the majority of the other, we have got a Westminster system of government, so how now do you form a government? He has to go back to that party and ask them to form a government. What does this manifesto stand for if he is going to either go to one of them to form a government? Surely it’s their manifesto that is going to count. We have to look a lot deeper into this to understand the dynamics of what is happening. And will not settle for a stooge to be pushed forward to be given a soft landing for the very people who have committed atrocities right across the lengths and breadths of Zimbabwe

Violet: So what do you think are the implications of Makoni’s candidature?

Bennett: Well I think when I give it some deep thought and look into the whole issue, I can only think of one thing, Violet. I can think that having no party, standing as an independent President, he is going to have to form a government. Should, and he is only banking on Zanu PF because he is a Zanu PF man he’s banking that Zanu PF will win the highest number of seats within parliament. Mugabe will be very, very embarrassed because they have won the highest number of seats and he will have been defeated as President. So he will have to stand down or they will have to have a vote of no confidence and remove him, in which case they will call a congress and then appoint Simba Makoni as the President and therefore he can take off as President of Zimbabwe.

Violet: What I also don’t understand and maybe you can give us your thoughts on this. Many people say that Makoni is just an extension of Zanu PF and that if the goal is to keep the regime in power, so why not just have Makoni stand as the Zanu PF candidate instead of him becoming and independent candidate?

Bennett: Well for exactly the same reasons as what happened in our split. A minority decides that they want to be President and it’s not being endorsed by the majority. So they connive and make plans to defeat the majority in order to achieve their goals. He was defeated at the presidency of Zanu PF, but now he has come in, and he said that he has people behind him and he is hoping to pick up votes across the board because he is an opportunist and right now it’s ripe for the picking in Zimbabwe because as I said to you earlier an incumbent loses an election and an opposition never wins an election.

An incumbent loses the election by his policies. Every man and his dog today in Zimbabwe want change. Why do they want change, they want change because of their life and difficulties that they face on a day-today basis. There is not a single person who cannot see the failure of Zanu PF and they have lived under the violence and distraction for the last 28 years so they want change. Simba Makoni through his cohorts realized this so they have like opportunists tried to jump in to take advantage of that change in order to then go back to Zanu PF when he is the President and install himself as the President of Zanu PF, and for those that are with him to protect the ill gotten gains, to protect the human rights abuses and not to face the people of Zimbabwe. That’s the way I see it and that’s the way I believe it Violet.

Violet: What about the fact that Mutambara MDC is waiting to throw its support behind Simba Makoni?

Bennett: I think that clearly explains that the split in our MDC and that is the way it always has been. They are going home, they are joining Zanu PF were they belong.

Violet: But wasn’t the ethos of the Mutambara camp - wasn’t it to destroy Zanu PF from within and that included working with reformers within Zanu PF. There are some who believe that Makoni is a moderate and that he could help weaken the Mugabe regime. So if the Tsvangirai MDC is calling for all progressive forces to fight Robert Mugabe, why not form an alliance with him to do so, if that is the case?

Bennett: We understand, that’s why I said, we haven’t seen it yet but we believe from the press and the chattering class and what is thrown at us that Solomon Majuro is backing Simba Makoni. Now, the properties that Solomon Majuro has stolen, the wealth that he has stolen through corrupt practices, do you really think that after the suffering we’ve had in the last eight, nine years by standing up for democracy and challenging the system of Zanu PF of corruption, of murder, of rape and of blunder; do you really think that we could get into bed with him now and call that an alliance of all democracies or an alliance of all democratic forces to defeat the dictators? Why don’t we just join up with Mugabe and say we are all one and let’s just go ahead.

Violet: Your critics say this issue of people coming from Zanu PF should not really be a factor because a lot of MDC leaders were members of Zanu PF. They say that Mr Tsvangirai was a member of Zanu PF until the late 80s and said nothing during Gukurahundi and that you almost stood as a Zanu PF candidate in 2000. How would you answer them?

Bennett: Very, very simply, Violet. We listen to the call of the people and they told us that Zanu PF was rotten and the policies of Zanu PF were wrong so we formed the opposition. We have welcomed and continued to welcome with absolute open arms anybody who rejects Zanu PF and joins change. We will never accept a lukewarm change within inside Zanu PF and Simba Makoni has come out categorically and said on many, many occasions, he is Zanu PF, he believes in Zanu PF and Zanu PF is his party. So therefore it’s not a case of Zanu PF people leaving Zanu PF coming to join the opposition and fight against everything that’s destroyed our country.

They are saying to us that Morgan Tsvangirai should stand down and we should come under Zanu PF to form this wonderful new country of democracy. Where they have sat on the Politburo, they have sat and stood by very silently and watched every act that has been perpetrated against our country and against the people of our country. So I don’t know Violet whether people think the people of Zimbabwe are fools, whether they think because they are rural devastated populations through the policies of the government, 85% unemployed, can’t get any medical help, can’t eat, whether they think that has affected their brains, I don’t know.

The people of Zimbabwe know what they want. They have stood up for change they have stood behind our President Morgan Tsvangirai a man they can trust, its all about trust. Can I trust Simba Makoni? I very much doubt it. I can trust Morgan Tsvangirai, he’s never ever backtracked on what he stood for, and he has never changed on his quest to stand for the people of Zimbabwe to bring them a better life and a new beginning. That’s where we are Violet, nothing and nobody is going to change us and we are going to get there even if not this time, next time we will keep going, we will keep trying, and we will get there.

Violet: But what about someone like Professor Jonathan Moyo who was in the Cabinet, he was the Information Minister. What about this trust issue, can you trust Jonathan Moyo because I understand that you had a gentlemen’s agreement with Professor Moyo in Tsholotsho and agreed as the MDC’s not to file a candidate in his constituency? So in your opinion how different is Professor Jonathan Moyo from Dr Simba Makoni?
Bennett: Very different because he has completely disassociated himself with Zanu PF. But then again, don’t get me wrong Violet, and let’s not twist issues. Anyone associated with Jonathan Moyo would be a kiss of death. He is the person that destroyed the media in Zimbabwe , he is the person that advised Mugabe at the time that he was in Mugabe’s Cabinet to carry out most of the acts that took place because it was his scheming and conniving that brought it all about. There is a big difference between him and Dr Simba Makoni. You know there is something about these people with degrees. They come in from the top and think that they can thrust leadership down to the grassroots because they have got a degree.

Let me tell you something Violet, Morgan Tsvangirai, myself, Nelson Chamisa, we might not have degrees, but we’ve got degrees in people. We are honest, we stand for people, we deliver what they want not what we want, and we listen to them. So the issue of Jonathan Moyo, he was fighting Robert Mugabe. He had a seat, that seat was secure. When we made the deal with the splinter group, we had said that as there was a short time to go, we would not challenge seating MPs and he fell into that category. It’s not because we have made an alliance with him. We let him stand because he is in opposition to Mugabe and Zanu PF. And that is why he is there and we haven’t been against him. It’s not the same with Simba Makoni, Simba Makoni is still telling us he is with Zanu PF and that he is changing Zanu PF from within and that we must come and join him. It’s not possible Violet, its not going to happen.

Violet: If I were to say to you that Dr Simba Makoni is an MDC sympathiser for the following reasons: Firstly, it is rumoured that he has had an MDC party card since 2000; Secondly, we understand that he has held talks with President Tsvangirai before; Thirdly, that he visited President Morgan Tsvangirai, Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinjeh in SA when they were receiving treatment after their assaults by government agents; Fourthly, his strategy is to appeal to disgruntled MDC supporters; and Fifthly, the almighty Herald has characterized him as an MDC sympathizer – what would your response be to these five points?

Bennett: Firstly, he couldn’t have visited Morgan Tsvangirai in the hospital in South Africa because he never came here to hospital after his beating. But never mind that. I would say to you… (interrupted)

Violet: But what about Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinjeh?

Bennett: I don’t know! But he is a decent human being if he did that. But let’s get back to the issue Violet and the issue is; if he is genuine in wanting change and he is genuine in bringing a new dispensation to Zimbabwe he would understand the politics within Zimbabwe . And if he has genuine backers within Zanu PF who want change they would know who has the popular support of the people of Zimbabwe . They would know who has fiercely and honestly - a man that we can trust - led the people of Zimbabwe in their quest for change for the last nine years.

Ndodakumbotaura neShona zvishoma shoma Violet. (I would like to speak in Shona for a bit Violet).

Violet: Taurayi zvenyu (go ahead).

Bennett: Ndirikuda kumuudzayi kuti muchivanhu – ndinobva kuManyika – chandakadzidziswa kubvira ndiri mwana mudiki inyaya yetsika. Munoziya nyaya yetsika? In English we say manners. Saka kana zvese izvi zvine chokwadi, iye Dr Makoni achida kuita President yeZimbabwe ari munhu kwaye asina zvaari kuwiga kuseriuko chakamutadza – and what stopped him from going to President Tsvangirai quietly and say ‘Morgan I have come to see you. There is a call from inside Zanu PF for change. We are anti everything that has happened. We have to recognise you for your fight and everything you have done for this democratic movement. But we believe we can bring the military on board, we believe we can bring the securocrats on board and deliver change. But it would mean that I would have to stand for President and you come under me. What do you say?’

Let me tell you Violet, Morgan Tsvangirai would have jumped at that if it was genuine and it was going to deliver the sort of change that is needed to bring about a complete change in culture, and bury the culture, the patronage, the corruption that has killed this country, he would have been the first person to accept that, but that’s not what happened. How arrogant and how lack of manners to send somebody and say; ‘Iwe chimbo swederuka ndakumira sePresident. Unogona kumira pasi pangu!’ (Hey you, stand aside I am going to stand as President. You can come under me!) Where does that happen Violet? What kind of manners are those? For me personally that’s where I lost my respect and I realized that this thing is nothing more than a sham.

Violet: What about the rumour that he had an MDC party card since 2000, including the wife - that Chipo Makoni also had a card? Would that persuade you that he would sympathise with the MDC if these reports were true?

Bennett: (Laughs) Zvikadaro ka, ndizvo zvetaitaura kuti matsotsi muchamhanya. He is not the only one achabuda kuti tanga tinemaCard eMDC. Wese warikuona mamirire ezvinhu kumba muchaona maparty cards eMDC echibuda kwese kwese. Hazvimbo ndinyadza kuti Tyson Kasukuwere achabuditsa card reMDC. ( This is what we were saying to all those crooked that their time would be up.) He is not the only one who will confess that he had an MDC card. All those who are observing the situation in Zimbabwe will see MDC party cards emerge from all directions . I would not be surprised that even Tyson Kasukuwere has an MDC card.)

Violet: Are you saying that Dr Makoni had an MDC party card?

Bennett: I have no idea. Since I have been Treasurer it has never been brought to my attention that he bought a party card so I have no idea. I am sure it’s his decision and it’s his privacy whether he has got one or not. It’s not for me to comment Violet.

Violet: NowI would like to talk about the Thabo Mbeki negotiations. Certain sections of civil society have characterized the talks as failure, for the reason that they never yielded any substantive change or reform. Did they fail in your view?

Bennett: Absolutely,they are deadlocked. Nothing has come out of those talks whatsoever.

Violet: Did the talks fail by default or by design?

Bennett: I think by default. I honestly believe that SADC were very, very genuine and that they wanted a free and fair election contest in Zimbabwe and I believe that President Mbeki; I wouldn’t say that he failed, failed is the wrong word Violet. I would say that they didn’t succeed. That’s the way I would put it. It was not because of the efforts of President Mbeki that these Talks never succeeded. It was because of the duplicity and the nature of the beast of Robert Mugabe. He led them on a long, and still continues to lead them on. And I think it is still difficult for President Mbeki to say something bad about Mugabe. But let the truth be known that SADC should be informed, Africa should be informed and the world should be informed that you cannot talk to Robert Mugabe. He will not accept anything other than his will and he will do what he wants. And that is exactly what happened, and that is the short and long of it Violet.

Violet: There are many who believe that the prospects for progress at the talks caused the MDC to put all its eggs in one basket and the opposition’s desperation to reach a resolution to the crisis caused it to ignore a fundamental fact that Mugabe was incapable of change. How would you respond to that statement?

Bennett: No I would say that is totally wrong and I will give my due here to both Welshman Ncube (Mutambara-MDC) and Tendai Biti (Tsvangirai –MDC) because I was privy to the amount of work and effort they put to those Talks. And I think nobody is more devastated and embarrassed than they are as to how those talks have turned out because we were genuine. We were genuine because SADC initiated the mediator, and in all contact with the mediation team led by Sydney Mufamadi it was genuine and our guys were genuine. I think they were devastated when at the end of the road, where they thought they had made huge progress Robert Mugabe turned out to (inaudible)… but we all knew he is and remained true to form and just scuppered everything that had been hard worked on, undone.

Violet: Did the MDC blindly pursue the talks out of desperation?

Bennett: No definitely not. You know you can’t tell me someone like Tendai Biti or Welshman Ncube would blindly do anything. I honestly think they are both brilliant men. I think they worked very, very hard together to try and bring about a resolution to the crisis in Zimbabwe not through desperation but through genuineness and through sincere effort. I honestly believe that, it’s so sad Violet because they get the flack for this whole thing but let me tell you as far as the talks are concerned and their efforts to change things through those talks, I hold them both in very high esteem.

Violet: But still, Mr Bennett if you know that Mugabe is incapable of change, why did you honestly think he would change at the negotiating table?

Bennett: I just explained to you Violet, and you know a child should know, when SADC – which is the Southern African Development Community, which is the states that are all our neighbours, comes up with an initiative and appoints a mediator it would be highly disrespectful and absolutely arrogant of us to tell them that they don’t know what they are talking about and for us to snub that effort before it’s even begun.

So therefore as far as the Talks are concerned, to all those concerned I can only give 100% praise on their effort, 100% praise on their content but again what it has done is to show the nature of the beast of Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF with their duplicity, their lack of genuineness and their total, total commitment to defend power by even duping SADC and duping the mediator. So what it has done is show them up. I still believe we had to do it, we had to go into it, and we had to give it our best shot. I believe that those who went into it gave it their best shot and I believe Mugabe acted true to form but nevertheless, we had to go down that road.

Violet: What about those who have criticized Thabo Mbeki for the way he has dealt with the negotiations with the political parties. Do you think the influence of the regional and international community exacerbated the tensions with the political groups?

Bennett: I don’t think so at all Violet. Again I go back and say they all totally and blindly thought that something would come out of Robert Mugabe. Again it’s nobody’s fault and you can’t put fault at anyone’s door. It’s a process, it’s not an event. You have to give an honest account from the bottom of your heart in what you are doing and you try your best and I believe that is what happened. As you go through the process so the people are exposed and so the process is exposed and that is exactly what happened with the Talks.

Violet: What about on the issue of the Makoni formation, do you think the region is propping Makoni up?

Bennett: I imagine they probably would like to support someone like Simba Makoni because it gives an out to Mugabe and brings in a reformed Zanu PF and it brings in change where a nationalist movement, a liberation movement is not changed by a non nationalist movement and a non-liberation movement. I honestly believe that is one of the issues that caused us problems in Zimbabwe . Is that we the MDC are not a nationalist movement, we are not a liberation movement and because of that fact alone we have taken the flack from the African continent and SADC and they don’t want to face up to the fact that one of their own has failed the people and completely destroyed the country. So therefore they would like that to continue and then rebuild it from there, so you can never say that area was a failure.

Violet: Turning away from the other issues you have raised. Let’s look at the state of the MDC. Many people believe that the party has been wrecked by infighting and indiscipline, and critics of the party have said that Mr Tsvangirai is now incapable of running the country. What is your comment?

Bennett: (laughs). It’s very easy for someone to sit outside and throw stones. I think President Tsvangirai, who I got to know very well and is a personal friend of mine and I honestly believe he has done the best he can under very difficult circumstances. And in an issue around what we are facing where all sorts of factors can create problems. I think he is the glue that has held the whole thing together. And all I can say to you Violet is that we have the launch of our campaign on Saturday and I think that launch is going to shock the world. It’s going to shock all the people who have had all these things to say about Morgan Tsvangirai when they see the people that will turn up to that launch and see the success of how that launch is planned and handled. And then we will hear them say that he is not fit to form a government.

Violet: And has the structure of the MDC worked against the objectives of the party? For example it is widely believed that some MPS are no longer engaged in these objectives because people are jostling for positions and power while some are trying to eke out a living during these harsh economic times? What can you say about that?

Bennett: I would say of course they are. In every instance you have individuals who have those sort of agendas and are for self-serving interest, but I don’t think we can generalize and at the same time we have to take cognisance of the state of affairs in the country. We have a country that has absolutely no rule of law, we have a securocratic government that dishes out masses of violence on anybody that dares to stand up. Of course you are going to get all sorts of people that are going to stand up in that environment. But it is the step of the process of democratizing our country and for those who do stand up for whatever reasons they do – they are there. They are bringing about change. As soon as there is change we can then move on to the next phase which is dealing with the caliber and the delivery of those who are coming into those positions.

Violet: With the way that that these elections have been structured where a voter is going to be voting in four different kinds of elections in one day - for a President, MP, Senator and Councilor. Has there been adequate voter education?

Bennett: I think in the last 10 years we have had massive voter education. All we have done is vote, vote, vote. I think people are very aware and I think they would easily make their distinctions and make their mark. They know what they want Violet, you are not going to pull the wool over their eyes and they will pull it off.

Violet: There is extensive media coverage during elections around the world but this is not the case in Zimbabwe. What do you think about the media coverage in Zimbabwe so far?

Bennett: As I have said to you there has been no reform to the laws that were agreed on – that Tendai and Welshman fought hard for. And I suspect that at the 11 th hour the press freedom will be turned on, journalists will be allowed into the country and the international communities but it will be at the 11 th hour Violet. But whatever they do they are not going to hide the fact that if they steal these elections it is going to be very, very visible. The fact that the press are or aren’t there it’s not going to be able to hide that fact.

Every election we have suffered under the same conditions – those elections have been stolen – but this time it’s completely different because the very machinery, the very apparatus, the securocrats, the military, the police that have all been used against the people by politicians are hurting the same as anybody else. You know they realize that they are mere tools and that the people accountable for the mess are politicians. They also want change right across the length and breath of Zimbabwe everybody is sick and tired of living like animals foraging for a living, lining up at banks. Everybody is sick of it. So the very machinery that has been used in the past is not as energized and committed to stealing anything at this stage. I think it’s more for change than anything else.

Violet: And you are there is South Africa, what about the way the media has been covering the crisis in Zimbabwe?

Bennett: Unfortunately what has happened is that there are certain journalists who got emotionally involved in the issues of Zimbabwe and have taken sides and therefore they have used their reporting in their newspapers to report very unprofessionally and favorably in whatever they believe in. I know of one newspaper that has been advocating a Third Way for sometime now – as the only way you are going to sort things out in Zimbabwe and as soon as Dr Simba Makoni comes in throws their full weight to Makoni.

The very newspapers have been denigrating the opposition under Morgan Tsvangirai. I have, in my capacity of the Treasurer General of the Standing Committee on the National Executive, responded to those articles with letters but never once have any of my letters been published. And it’s very, very sad when journalists becomes emotionally involved and take sides. And use their journalistic abilities and newspapers to punt their point of view rather than a balanced point of view representative of the circumstances on the ground.

Violet: I agree that we should remain impartial as journalists but in Zimbabwe isn’t it very had now to distance yourself emotionally from what is happening and very hard to be impartial?

Bennett: You are either a journalist or not a journalist. And you either report the facts on the ground or you don’t report the facts on the ground. When you start skewing articles and skewing information in favour of what you believe in you shouldn’t be a journalist. When you feel that you have been sucked into something and you are now not reporting objectively but you are genuinely reporting because you firmly believe in a particular issue you should – if you have the ethics and if you are an honorable person - remove yourself from journalistic printing and get involved in politics. Join the political party concerned. Stick your head out, say whatever you have to say and be a man! Have some cajons and say ‘I am so and so, I am standing for so and so’ and don’t hide behind the press. Don’t hide behind some little articles showing where you stand and claiming you can’t be impartial because of the circumstances. If you are an ethical person, if you are an honest person, if you are a decent person and you realize that you have been sucked into the emotions of the politics of Zimbabwe recuse yourself!

Violet: But do you agree also that the situation in Zimbabwe is so difficult to get the facts and perhaps journalists are forced to write what they write because there is little information coming from the political parties and that nobody is free and open with information from all the political parties – whether it’s Zanu PF or MDC?

Bennett: Not at all Violet. Not at all. I am giving you particular examples and everybody knows who those journalists are. You ask anybody in Zimbabwe; even if a stranger in the world was to pick up the articles from those journalists concerned they will be able to tell you immediately that those people have an agenda. There have been many, many, many balanced articles to come out of Zimbabwe. Fortunately there are only one or two, maybe two journalists that do this. And they remain unnamed, they know who they are and the people of Zimbabwe know who they are. The rest have been very objective, have been very balanced and we have seen very objective and balanced reporting come out of Zimbabwe.

Violet: And before we go a final word?

Bennett: A final word? Heh heh heh (laughs). Itai basa vanhu vekumusha ikoko. Takutonga (laughs). Rwendo runo harikone, tapinda basa nderedu. We are in power already Violet I can feel the vibe in my communications with people and there is a buzz and I tell you the biggest shock will be in the rural areas. Within the rural areas every single one of them wants changes and anybody who has followed the politics of Zimbabwe and understands the politics of Zimbabwe will understand Zimbabweans vote in block. It’s going to be a landslide in April and I will stick my head to it. If it’s stolen? It will be visibly seen that a landslide victory has been stolen.

Violet Gonda: Thank you very much Mr Roy Bennett.

Roy Bennett: Pleasure Violet thank you.

Audio interview can be heard on SW Radio Africa’s Hot Seat programme. Comments and feedback can be emailed to