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Home | ZimCrisis#136 -- Eddie Cross, Zimbabwe this Week, August 18th

Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2000 14:14:34 -0700
To: "Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List":;
From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis#136 -- Eddie Cross, Zimbabwe this Week, August 18th


This human, economic and political tragedy continues to evolve and develop ≠ we stand in the wings as spectators and players and are almost paralyzed as we watch an African country with such potential, simply implode. The old diehards stand back and say "we told you so", our friends all over the world and here inside the country wring their hands and are now gradually turning away in dismay. International observers shake their heads, suddenly, this is part of "hopeless Africa".

And yet it is totally a product of our own actions. This tragedy is not of someone elseís making ≠ its home grown. It need not be happening and it was always avoidable and one man is responsible ≠ Robert Mugabe. Obviously others have some responsibility but they do not have the power to change the situation. Mugabe and his clique have made this the reality by a series of constitutional amendments over the past 20 years that give the president almost total power.

What is so distressing is that the good people in Zanu PF are so silent and seem to go along with the tragedy as it is played out in front of them. The past few days have seen the collapse of any hope that regional leaders would say enough is enough and call a halt to Mugabeís mad dash for destruction. They met in Namibia and then endorsed Mugabeís "land policy" and said that the world community had a colonial responsibility to pay for the madness. They even agreed to travel abroad to try and sell this impossible demand in major capitals.

Then Mugabe said that they were now going for 3000 farms ≠ he announced that they were revising this to 3200 and would not stop there if they needed more land. Individual leaders inside Zanu went even further to say they were going for all white owned farms. They were going to force all whites off the land and replace them with landless people drawn from Zanuís remaining constituency. We were inundated with pictures of provincial governors handing out small parcels of land to hapless peasants rounded up with promises of free land.

To round it off we had the failed summit of regional leaders on the Congo conflict. They were all there ≠ and meant business. Kabila turned up and walked out at midnight on the second day rejecting the position of the regional leaders and the international community. Mugabe, who has risked his political life and spent in excess of US$750 million in defence of Kabila and his thugs, was left looking powerless and ineffective. Kabila shrugged off his attempt to influence his stance and thereby enhance Mugabeís position regionally and instead went back to Kinshasa and told everyone they could get lost.

Finally the most persistent of the supporters of the Mugabe regime, the United Nations, finally decided that enough was enough and they declared they were abandoning their efforts in support of the land reform program in Zimbabwe. A consistent supporter of land reform and Zimbabwe, the country representative of the UNDP, Carlos Lopez leaves Zimbabwe after a number of years of effort to get the country working on a sustainable basis which would improve the lives of millions of ordinary Zimbabweans. "We have achieved very little" Carlos said as he left the country which he had tied so hard to save from itself.

At home we ran out of fuel and traffic almost came to a standstill ≠ some wag said it was a Mugabe "stay away". We are expecting the IMF here this weekend ≠ they plan to spend a couple of weeks in Zimbabwe talking to government officials and others and trying to make sense of our economy. We meet them on the 1st of September and our team has started to prepare our presentation. We discussed the economy this week and agreed on the broad parameters; GDP down by 5 to 7 per cent or more. Inflation rising to 70 per cent by the year end, foreign earnings down by as much as 50 per cent; domestic debt rising to as much as 152 billion Zimbabwe dollars by the year end. Interest on the debt to absorb 50 per cent of total revenues this year and 65 per cent next year ≠ whatever they do in the interim. Life expectancy falling 15 years in a decade ≠ the biggest decline in history; incomes down by nearly 50 per cent over the same period. And now the prospect of food shortages and the final collapse of the economy as all our basic industries fall to the axe of Zanu PF mismanagement and corruption.

When we have run through these frightening figures ≠ surely the worst such scenario that these hardened men of international finance have ever seen, then we have to say what we think is needed to put things right. We wrestled with that one for some time and eventually decided that before we even talk about the technical and financial side of a recovery program, we had to state quite clearly that the only hope of any rescue package working, was a radical shift in political policies and management. If these are not put in place they, and we are wasting our time.

Fortunately for us, the world community knows this and they will not come to our rescue until we start behaving as citizens of planet earth, circa 2000. This means more suffering for those of us who live here and its terrible to watch the plight of the millions who have lost their sources of income and who face a daily struggle to survive. But the end justifies the means in this circumstance and anything that might prolong the rule of this rapacious regime must not be accepted. We are trying to do what we can to alleviate the suffering which is likely to be our common experience in the next two years while we seek to correct the political environment which governs our lives.

The legal battle is now fully joined ≠ we are contesting 39 Zanu PF seats and won the first major legal case this past week when the entire bench of the Supreme Court ruled that the postal ballot in the recent election had not been handled properly. They ruled that the postal votes had to be taken out of the result of the past election. We now wait to see which seats will be affected. We do not expect to pick up any new seats but the decision sets the tone for the more serious legal processes that will follow. We are certain that a number of the disputed seats will eventually go to the MDC, but not without a fight.

The latest report from Amani Trust who monitor political violence is disturbing. They reported 8 deaths and 238 serious physical attacks in the weeks since the election. They said the violence was escalating. This is a clear sign that the election campaign of Zanu PF is still being waged. If Mugabe decides to run in 2002 we are in for a torrid time and have no doubt that the campaign will be characterised by widespread violence. Land and the clenched fist are the only instruments left in the governmentís hands.

The one element they have not factored into this situation and which is the only guarantee that we will come out of this nightmare and be able to recover and go on, is our determination to stay the course. We are not going to quit and leave the field to the thugs. Bullies inevitably back down when faced with determination and courage. We have right and principle on our side and in all of history this has always prevailed when pursued with energy and intelligence.


Eddie Cross
18th August 2000




Craig
Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List
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