The latest from Zimbabwe.
First, let's get one thing straight: my articles are normally fairly long if they have something important and complicated to explain. Those who are too lazy to read through them should refrain from commenting on them on the basis of the two or so paragraphs they have read, otherwise they make fools of themselves in their eagerness to "prove me wrong."
Also please take note that our policy on the blog, going forward, is that we will not publish any information or comments from people calling themselves "Anonymous". That is all there is to it
That said, let's go to the meat of this latest wonder.
Since last Tuesday, state media has been showing Zimbabweans, apparently ZANU PF supporters, whom the reporters say are being horrendously beaten up by MDC supporters in the countryside.
On Tuesday, it was weeping Mutoko villagers claiming that they have had property destroyed and they themselves beaten up thoroughly by these MDC supporters. A couple of days later, it was villagers in Bindura, in the Mt Darwin area.
Both are "unassailable" ZANU PF "strongholds."
Zimbabweans with a brain will tell you that it is inconceivable for any MDC supporter in any of these areas to beat up a single ZANU PF supporter, let alone whole villages of them. Mugabe's people in these areas are guaranteed impunity. They do as they please and are supported by policemen who refuse to investigate political violence meted out by ZANU PF supporters.
This, by the way, is still going on, despite some misguided wishful thinking by my countrymen outside the country who now believe that the "rank and file" of the police are anti-Mugabe. It is good that Tsvangirai refuses to listen to such wishful thinking, otherwise his strategies would be completely off-target.
So what is the purpose of these scenes that we are witnessing on state television?
Simple: Morgan Tsvangirai and his people, including the jailed Roy Bennett, are refusing to strike a deal with ZANU PF to wipe the slate clean on violence around the June 27 run-off and also going back to the Gukurahundi era. They are saying, "OK, go ahead and and persecute these people you have arrested, but then we will also push for the prosecution of crimes by your supporters." They have the number in parliament (for now) to pull this off, the MDC do.
The Prime Minister himself has personally confirmed that this is the approach the MDC is taking, and it is scaring ZANU PF, because it is a can of worms.
Mugabe and ZANU PF, therefore, are falling back on their plan as explained here in December. They are trying to build a fresh case for cracking down on MDC supporters.
They want to find an excuse for that massive crackdown on MDC supporters as I explained in my article that exposed their plans for a state of emergency, which was only going to be put in place in the event that Morgan Tsvangirai refused to join government. The purpose, as explained before, would have been to ensure that conditions for campaigning for the MDC be very bad indeed in the event of fresh elections being called as a result of GNU impasse.
The pressure that Mugabe's party had put on the MDC to drop its insistence on investigating violence around the June run-off has not worked. Roy Bennett is refusing to play ball, as is Tsvangirai and his executive.
So this is Plan B.
First we have these reports of MDC supporters beating up ZANU PF supporters. You will notice that there are no reports of ZANU PF supporters retaliating. Which may appear strange.
But it isn't. Mugabe prefers to use arms of the state to then "retaliate" against MDC supporters. The next stage will be the mass arrests of MDC supporters, to be charged with this violence and locked up. Mugabe still controls the police, the prisons and the judiciary. Those arrested will rot in jail, like Bennett and Jestina Mukoko.
Mugabe and his people hope that this will cow the MDC supporters enough to give ZANU PF a win at the next elections. Zimbabweans in the country will tell you just how terrifying violence around election time is, knowing that there is nothing anybody can do to protect you.
People, do not fool yourselves. Tsvangirai did well in March 2008, beating Mugabe at the polls, only because that election was completely devoid of violence. It was, as you remember, only peaceful because of Simba Makoni's presence on the ballot.
So, we know that violence and intimidation still work for ZANU PF, especially in the rural areas.
Mugabe, therefore, is preparing for a new election already, in the best way he knows. At the same time, this is a form of intimidation against Tsvangirai and his people, to warn them against pursuing ZANU PF perpetrators of previous violence.
If, however, Morgan Tsvangirai's people refuse to take all of this lying down and react to the staged beatings and the subsequent provocation from ZANU PF, then we might see genocide in our rural areas, as ZANU PF people cleanse their areas of MDC supporters.
It has happened before, after Mugabe's little-remembered speech to "get rid of the tree stumps in our fields."
The risk is very real, but ZANU PF believes it is able to control the situation, with one senior member saying his party has perfected the art of "turning violence on and off like a tap."
As is typical, Zimbabweans tend to dismiss these sorts of things until it is too late, and then impotently shout and scream, instead of scheming now to ensure that Mugabe's plans do not come off in the future.
But believe you me, ZANU PF is indeed setting the stage for a crackdown. They are determined to continue ruling this country and see the GNU as an evil they have to tolerate for a little while before they gain supremacy in Zimbabwe again at the next elections.
If we are not alive to this scheme, we will be shouting impotently, back to square one, asking the world to "help us" once more as new elections come and a win is snatched by Mugabe through these intimidatory means.