Friday, February 6, 2009
To keep up to date on the events of Zimbabwe, check out Eddie's website: http://www.eddiecross.africanherd.com/
A big thanks to Eddie for allowing us to repost this article of his.
What Zimbabwe Means to the World
Twelve years ago, after trying to effect change to the way the Zimbabwe government was running our affairs, a small group of people decided that it was time to launch a new opposition party to effect change. They never realised how far the regime would go to defend its grip on power.
In the intervening years, the regime in power here has used every trick in the book to ensure that its grip on the State is not weakened and in this they have had the support of many different elements across the world. Despite this, the Movement for Democratic Change – the Party that emerged in 1999 to fight Zanu PF in subsequent elections, has refused to give up or move away from its primary goal, which was to secure a peaceful, legal, democratic change of government.
The challenges have included a shortage of resources with which to fight the regime, an intense violent campaign of terror and intimidation against its rank and file, a propaganda blitz that uses all State controlled media and considerable foreign resources as well as 49 diplomatic offices throughout the world. Despite this the MDC has made steady progress leading eventually to the March 29th elections where it trounced Zanu PF in an election despite the fact that, like all the ones before it, the election itself was heavily rigged in favor of the regime.
Since then Zanu PF has refused to relinquish power and the MDC was forced into negotiations with Zanu PF to try and form a transitional government designed to draft a new constitution and then hold fresh elections that could not be disputed. Even this process has not been straightforward; the region has hardly played its role as impartial mediator with distinction and Zanu PF has done everything in its power to frustrate the process.
Even so, the likelihood is that within the next month or so, a transitional government may be formed in Zimbabwe and then take up the complex task of drafting a new constitution, embarking on a stabilisation and recovery plan and begin rebuilding, what has become a failed State.
Zimbabwe is a tiny blip on the earth surface with a GDP smaller than many small companies in the global sphere. Its total population is less than that of London and the great majority is poor and disadvantaged. 80 per cent of all food consumed is imported and the largest source of foreign exchange is in the form of remittances from relatives living abroad.
Why is the struggle in Zimbabwe of such importance? It is important for a number of reasons. First, the question of principle; here are a small group of people trying to remove a dictatorial, military Junta that has held them captive for 30 years. They are doing so, not with guns and street violence but by a determined and sustained democratic effort and using only normal political means. Secondly, Zimbabwe is at the heart of a region of Africa that shows great promise in terms of establishing democratic practice and economic growth. Its collapse threatens the whole region and its prospects of prosperity and progress.
This is most avidly demonstrated by the Cholera epidemic that has taken root in Zimbabwe and now threatens to infect neighboring States. It was also demonstrated when Xenophobic attacks on Zimbabweans and other foreigners took place in South Africa in 2008. If allowed to continue the crisis affects not only those who remain in Zimbabwe but also the stability and lives of the 250 million people who share the region with Zimbabwe.
Bulawayo, 1st January 2009