The reason was quite clear — Zanu PF and the Arthur Mutambara group simply do not know what to do. If they agree to do what the region wants, they are dead in the water.
But they signed the deal, they have nowhere to go and there have been intense discussions behind closed doors for weeks now. When the MDC-T resolved to suspend all contact with Zanu PF in the Cabinet and Council of Ministers, they reacted with glee and started talking about “caretaker ministers” and going it alone.
President Robert Mugabe made a speech in Zhombe — in the Midlands — where he said that the Zimbabwe dollar would be back before the end of the year. Rumours of the Reserve Bank printing new currency were rife.
But they had underestimated the sophistication of the MDC-T decision and the reaction of regional leaders. They also misread the full implications of the
Sadc decision to divert the management of the Zimbabwe crisis to the troika.
By doing so regional leaders reduced the status of Mugabe from Head of State (at the Sadc summit) to president of Zanu PF on a par with
Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara at the meetings of the troika.
This past week it was reported that an
aircraft arrived at Harare airport with tonnes of new local currency onboard. They tried to keep it secret but without success and we were called by people to say the consignment was at the airport. When this news found its way through the corridors in Harare speculation was
widespread. The most frequently asked question was “why”?
Printing a new currency simply did not make sense, who would accept the new currency? It would mean a rapid and complete collapse of the already fragile economy — empty shops and no fuel. It would run the risk of a national revolt and it was doubted if the army and the police would accept the new currency. A violent reaction was probable; certainly the people did not want to see a new local currency so soon after the 2008 collapse.
There was only one logical explanation — Zanu PF was contemplating a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the region rather than go along with what they regard as political suicide. This made complete sense — they could arrest the MDC-T leadership, appoint “caretaker ministers” and simply go it alone.
Issue the new currency and exile Tsvangirai. That is exactly what Ian Smith did in 1965 in reaction to what the Rhodesian leadership regarded as unreasonable political demands by the international community.
But on reflection, even the crazies in Zanu PF (and there are many) would soon appreciate that Smith could contemplate such a move, encouraged by regional support from neighbouring states, particularly South Africa. Zimbabwe is a land-locked state and very dependent on its neighbours.
It is also a minnow — with a GDP today of less than that of Swaziland and Lesotho. A large army but poorly equipped and motivated. No major sponsors after China and other international states began to distance themselves from Zanu PF and its widely perceived rogue status.
Any talk of a UDI from the regional block would soon be heard in Pretoria and I have no doubt that it would be dealt with swiftly. So I do not expect to have to spend the next few weeks in a detention centre. I think the new currency will quietly go into storage at the Reserve Bank and will not be
heard of again.
I would guess that after a tense two weeks, the negotiators would be in discussion this weekend to decide what to recommend on the way forward on the issues to the party leadership early next week.
The MDC-T is not taking any chances and Tsvangirai visited the leadership of the African Union (past and present) last weekend. When he returns he is expected to pick up from where the negotiators left off and reach a deal with his colleagues in government so that they could report positively to the president of South Africa when he makes his planned visit to the country.
El Niño is once again working its menace in the Pacific Ocean. In the past month temperatures have risen 1,5 degrees centigrade. and the signs are all there that this is not going to be as good a season as in 2008/9. The wet season has started and all areas had heavy rains since last weekend. Parts of South Africa have had floods, but typically for an El Niño season, parts of the Cape are bone dry and drought-stricken.
We are busy distributing small allocations of fertiliser and seed to a target of one million families in the rural areas. I am sceptical that this will make much difference. What concerns me even more is that the international agencies that deal with the question of food availability to the disadvantaged simply do not have the resources to do the same job they did last year.
We have millions who do not have the money to buy what food is now available, tens of thousands of elderly and orphans — the remnants of the aftermath of 30 years of Zanu PF delinquency and failure. The Diaspora plays a key role by sending money to the affected families where the links exist, but they have problems this year finding the resources to maintain the flow of money to their relatives.
Then there is the ongoing saga of the trial of Roy Bennett in Harare. This dragged on all week with Bennett‘s lawyers tearing holes in the prosecution and
the fabricated nature of the charges becoming apparent to all.
Displays of weapons that are supposed to be evidence of the arms dealing by Bennett were found to include weapons from another case altogether. No evidence linking Bennett to the arms was presented and the state claimed state secrecy to withhold evidence on which they based their claims.
But in all of this, just remember what we have said many times in the past — this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and it takes not only physical
stamina but also intellectual commitment.
We are in this to the finish line. Perhaps for the first time we sense this is ahead and that the final leg is going to be in the form of a guided suicide for Zanu PF. They must make decisions in the next few days that will seal their fate in the next two years, perhaps even next year.
Cross is the MDC-T policy coordinator.
By Eddie Cross