The MDC Plan

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Mugabe is still running away with the goalpost, it appears, 8 months after the election he lost to Morgan Tsvangirai. But Morgan Tsvangirai, although he won the game and outwitted all the defenders, is still being denied the chance for the winning goal by the goalkeeper, Bob.


Most of you are still probably puzzled by the contradictory statement that came out of the MDC National Executive on Friday. I also saw today (Sunday), that my post in which I announced that the MDC had agreed to join the Government of National Unity has generated quite a heated debate on the Zimbabwe Times website, amongst others.

The issue is whether the MDC agreed to participate. The short answer is that they did, as is clearly stated in Resolution Number 3.


But to fully understand what the MDC are trying to do with this position they have taken requires some analysis. The analysis, as well as good information from insiders together make the game plan extremely clear. So here goes:

The MDC are in a tight corner because the AU referred the Zimbabwe issue to SADC (Southern African Development Community). This regional body has now basically ordered the MDC and ZANU PF to form a government in light of the fact that this country has had no government in place since March of this year. It is the MDCs misfortune that they are the ones who asked for the impasse over government formation to be referred back to SADC. It was also Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, who asked SADC to make a ruling and to put a deadline on the formation of this government as well as asking them to make a ruling on how the Ministry of Home Affairs, which controls the police, was to be allocated. He was sure that the SAC leaders would see the sense of his position and agree that he should get sole control of the ministry. It did not work out like that.
Now, if the MDC are to refuse to form a government outright, they would lose the support of SADC and the sympathy of any other leaders who were supporting them. Sam Nujoma, the retired president of Namibia, was here a couple of weeks ago and told Mugabe to give Home Affairs to the MDC. Kikwete, president of Tanzania and Chairman of the African Union, was also here and brought the same message. All these people have sympathy for the MDC leader, if not outright support. MDC could not afford to lose that goodwill. Besides, if they just refuse outright to join, then there is no way they can take their issue to the African Union, because the African Union is being guided on this matter by SADC.


So, here's the MDC gameplan. That Resoultion Number 3 allows them to say to SADC, "Look we agreed to participate." That is why you are not getting a contradiction to my reading of their acceptance from Tsvangirai or Mrs Khupe, their deputy leader. Having said they will participate only after Amendment Number 19 is passed and effected into law, the MDC will now buy time to continue lobbying. Tsvangirai is in Belgium at the moment, the home of the European Union, doing just that. They buy time because the amendment will have to be debated and it can take two months just for it to be debated before voting on it begins. Should the Bill, by some miracle, be passed, it will then go to Mugabe to sign it into law. All this takes time. And this is all part of the plan.

You see, Mugabe is impatient to form a government. He does not like the fact that MDC yamugadzika mudish, basically that they have him by the short and curlies. The MDC strategy is two-pronged, then. First, they hope by putting this condition in, they will force Mugabe, in his impatience, to form a government made up of only the ministers that he is entitled to while he waits for the process to finish. If he does this, the MDC will then run back to SADC and declare that Mugabe has broken the agreement and SADC, which had washed its hands of the Zimbabwe issue and declared that it would only look at that matter again in six months time, will be forced to reconvene and look at it again and come up with a new position. It is a strategy that could succeed.
But then, we are dealing with an old fox here. Mugabe is NOT going to form that government prematurely. He will wait for the process to finish. This he will do because he knows the second prong of the MDC strategy. That being for the MDC Members of parliament to vote against the amendment when it comes to the vote in parliament. This is almost certainly what the MDC will do if Mugabe does not form a government prematurely to give the opposition party a pretext for going back to SADC to ask for more mediation. You must keep in mind that the purpose of all these twists and turns by the MDC is to find a way to get back to SADC and get more mediation. Right now, they can not do ANYTHING because there is a SADC ruling on the table which they must show some signs of respecting before taking the matter elsewhere, because, as already pointed out, both the UN and the African Union have referred the Zimbabwe matter to SADC as the body to deal with it. This is compounded by the fact that the decisions it made were demanded by Tsvangirai. It is just that he disagrees with the contents of those decisions.Now, once the MDC has voted against the amendment in parliament, there will be a fresh crisis, which Mugabe can not solve within the borders of Zimbabwe. The matter will have to go back to SADC.

The hope from the MDC-T then, is that SADC will throw its hands up in the air and escalate the issue to the African Union for final arbitration, deferring to a higher body than itself. This assumes that SADC will at that point admit failure, a prospect that would effectively kill this regional grouping.
So, it is very likely that the MDC has miscalculated here. Because SADC is extremely reluctant to have the Zimbabwe issue taken out of its hands. Most likely, the regional grouping will decide to rule that it is the MDC that is in breach, by blocking the implementation of a SADC ruling. It will then be up to the African Union to unilaterally step in and take the matter out of the hands of SADC, if it dares. This is also unlikely considering the sort of people we have running the African Union and also considering the precedent it will set. In Zambia, for instance, Rupiah Banda will start wondering if Michael Sata, who is disputing his election as president of that country, could also escalate his dispute to the African Union. There are many other presidents on this rotten continent who will be fearing the same thing, either now or in the future. Hence the AU is unlikely to step in without being handed the matter by SADC, and SADC is unlikely to hand the matter over to them without emasculating itself.

The MDC strategy says after all this has been done and if they truly see that there is no way for them to go further with their grievances in Africa, they will then reluctantly form a government with ZANU PF and wait for the six months SADC stipulated in order to go back there with a dossier of ZANU PF violations of the agreement in the preceding six months, so that new crisis talks can begin.

If they decide to sit out the government after all these processes they are counting on, then there will be no comeback for them for the next five years. Reason? If, after exhausting their strategy and realising finally that there is no other way out except to form a government for six months at the very least, they decide not to give it a shot, SADC is most certainly going to give Mugabe its blessing to form a minority government, which will last for five years or however long it takes to break the impasse.

The problem with Mugabe being given SADCs blessing to form a minority government is that he does not have the majority in parliament to even a pass a budget to get that government paid and functioning. His budget would require the votes of MDC MPs to even get just a simple majority. And Mugabe does not have those appointed MPs anymore, so he is stuck. Basically, the MDC are planning here to use the instruments of government to make the country ungovernable.

But not so fast. The SADC blessing for him to form a government will not specify what form of government he can form and this is what Mugabe has decided will be his escape clause. In a normal democracy (which is the mistake the MDC is making, playing by the rules of a normal democracy), Mugabe would have no option but to call a new election. But this is not a normal emocracy. This is a dictatorship masquerading as a democracy. So, Mugabe has already made up his mind that, at the end of all these games, he will then simply declare a state of emergency. This will allow him to run a government using martial (military) law, albeit fronted by a civilian administration. But the MDC would then not sniff power at all, because under martial law and emergency rule, parliament is not needed and can be suspended.
Yes, folks, we are looking at this country being run by decree in about three months time, with the blessing of SADC. Let those who snicker do so now and we will meet in January. There is going to be no government in this country until then. Mugabe, in other words, is not going to be able to enjoy his traditional annual leave, taken every year since he became president for a month between January and February.

For the first time since it was formed, the MDC is now using its brains, as opposed to just emotion. The sad thing is that the realisation may have come too late to them. And their strategic planning department, is still too reliant on a legalistic outlook. Looking at the strategy they have chosen, it is also clear that they have omitted the vital ingredient of scenario planning. Their strategists have not asked all the What-ifs. That is the Achilles Heel of this whole thing and the only chink in an otherwise well-made, if somewhat unrealistic armour. But then again, Mugabe and SADC have left the opposition party little choice.

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