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Region still has a chance to help Zim

I’M tired of reading articles berating the MDC for not having a Plan B. Don’t people understand that we live in a country in which the head of state and his party flout most democratic principles?

T face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>It would seem the MDC have exhausted all means of conventional, non-violent resistance to a corrupt and entrenched Zanu PF-dominated government, so surely it can be no wonder that they have their hands in the air.

Acts of civil disobedience as advocated by certain opponents of the ruling party are unlikely to have the desired impact given people’s understandable reluctance to stand up to a partisan army and police force and Mugabe’s apparent willingness to use them in such situations.

The most radical option is that of an armed resistance struggle, which already some quarters are calling for. Do I advocate such a response from the MDC? No, I do not. To do so would be to ignore the most important lesson of our recent history — being that people of militant disposition do not seem to make good leaders during peace-time. Perhaps, however, another course of action is open to us.

At present only the goodwill of regional nations with grain surpluses — and I don’t think there are many of them — and donor food aid are going to keep much of the population alive in the near future.

Mugabe knows this and has been able to manipulate circumstances to his great advantage. It is time to force Mugabe’s hand and to see who he puts first — himself or his people.

The time has come to phase out the food handout policy of donors and instead make people go to the food. Ideally, one or more of our neighbours would open their borders in good faith to the tide of hungry refugees, but at present this seems unlikely, given that most of them, notably South Africa, do not seem very sympathetic to our plight.

I believe this is the time for the UN to flex its muscles and come to the fore and show that it is capable of taking pre-emptive measures to forestall a protracted and worsening humanitarian crisis here in Zimbabwe. If the UN were to co-ordinate efforts to accommodate vast numbers of Zimbabweans in neighbouring territory, be it in temporary refugee camps but with the guarantee of food, shelter and sanitation, I think a steady stream of people would cross the borders.

We are all accustomed to the persistent deceit and lies propagated by the ruling party and I am willing to bet that recent statements made by certain politicians alluding to the procurement of food by the government using re-directed funds from the state treasury so that “no-one will face starvation”, will amount to one of the more malicious of them.

It won’t be long before Mugabe and Agriculture minister Joseph Made sound the alarm and “invite” donors to come to the aid of a starving nation besieged by drought and other “unforeseen” maladies. Quite rightly, the world at large is not prepared to ignore such a cry for help, regardless of the politics behind it, because the majority of the victims of hunger would be innocent.

However, if this time around provision were made for the hungry masses ex patria, lives would be saved whilst great pressure brought to bear upon the ruling party. For one it would suffer massive loss of its apparent rural power-base as well as the undermining of its propaganda regarding its controversial land reform exercise.

Mugabe would be faced with the choice of allowing people to emigrate en masse or he could choose to intervene.

In the unlikely event that he is able to source enough food to entice people to remain, perhaps with the help of his good pal Thabo Mbeki or allies further afield, the situation would be protracted but would not disappear.

If on the other hand he realised that assistance to the interior was not forthcoming, he might decide to forcibly prevent people from leaving by mobilising the army. In so doing he would place many people in mortal danger and hence justify interventionist measures by some manner of peace-keeping force, preferably under the auspices of the UN.

Perhaps too an external referendum on the perceived legality of the Zimbabwean government, or an outright restaging of the recent election, could ultimately be held for all exiled Zimbabweans including many who were recently disenfranchised.

I imagine that even those who had managed to continue living within our borders in such a scenario would choose to temporarily emigrate to participate in such a procedure, provided it was conducted transparently.

Some may be shocked by the implications of this plan of action but recall an old saying that in some situations “it is best to be cruel to be kind”.

I for one would much rather like to see my country reborn from the ashes after a short and forcible demise than continue limping along with little prospect of a better future and the prolonged suffering of millions of people.

Hope for Tomorrow,


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