BULAWAYO – Last year I wrote a weekly letter saying that in 2008, Mugabe’s Zanu PF was seriously wounded by the MDC. I alluded to them being like a wounded Buffalo, wounded but not fatally and retreating back into the bush to wait for its adversary to try to follow up.
I outlined how dangerous this situation was for the MDC as the Buffalo is a very dangerous and devious adversary whose strength is legendary.
I can recall an incident in the lowveld when an old Buffalo bull was seriously injured by a lion and retreated to the safety of a local Ranch house where he felt safe and was allowed to graze and rest with water close by until he recovered.
In a way the wounded Zanu PF is like those two examples – in both scenarios the Buffalo retreats to recover, regain strength then goes back into the fray seeking to confront his tormentor, avoid further injury or even death and in the process inflict real damage to his hunter. Anyone who has hunted the African Buffalo knows exactly what I am talking about. In thick bush or Jesse scrub, a Buffalo lying up in such bush is nearly impossible to see until it’s too late.
At the Zanu PF conference last week, they issued a clear challenge to the MDC – they called out, “let’s go to an election in March 2013 and resolve the power issue once and for all.” I take this as a grunting call by that old Buffalo that we shot 4 years ago. The question for us is how to respond? We are young – much younger than that old Bull in the bush and quite confident of our ability to come out of any final confrontation with his head on our trophy wall. But we are not dumb!
Anyone who rushes in and tries to take out a wounded Buffalo on his terms is inviting disaster. They have had four years to prepare the ground and make their plans for how to deal with us in the MDC. Zanu PF is physically much stronger than ourselves and we can only lose any confrontation that simply involves physical strength. We have a weapon and under the right conditions we can deal with that old animal without any risk to ourselves, but we need therefore to entice the animal out of his cover, into the open where he can be dealt with.
The key lies in the Global Political Agreement that was signed in 2008 and in a way gave the wounded Bull its chance to retreat to a nearby place of safety where he has been able to recover. However the GPA lays down the condition under which the old Bull can leave its place of safety and go back into the bush. Those conditions are quite clear: A new Constitution (nearly done), free and fair conditions for the campaign and then an election held under circumstances that will comply with the laid down SADC norms.
We are in charge of this process – we chose the ground on which this tableau is going to be played out. Zanu PF has no say in the matter except to make the choice to respond and enter the fray on ground chosen by its opponents. It’s a tough call, but their signature is on the deal and they have no choice in this matter.
Some time ago we issued a list of our minimum demands to be fulfilled before we would go into an election. Our position has not changed and the great difference today as against what was the situation in 2009, is that today the SADC leaders support the GPA position and are prepared to push local leaders to make decisions and progress.
If we go back to our simile, what is needed is for the employment of beaters to start a drive on the other side of this patch of Jesse and work their way towards where the old Buffalo is hiding. He must be driven out into the open so that the hunters on the other side can deal with him. Then we can hang his head on the wall and tell all our friends what a fight he gave us during the hunt.
For that cunning old bull in the bush, the choices are stark – get driven into the open and face almost certain elimination, or turn back on the beaters and try to make an escape through the back door. My understanding is that he has so alienated the beaters, that if he does turn back and try to escape, he may have difficulty. The next few weeks are going to be interesting whatever happens.