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25 April 2007
I write as I please - biweekly column by Wilf Mbanga

When Mugabe sent his storm troops to beat senseless the leaders of opposition and civil groups, as well as defenceless members of the public, even he did not anticipate the consequences that would reverberate around the world.

Mugabe has already decided to have a 210–member parliament – up from 150. This will entail re-drawing constituency boundaries - a huge exercise which normally takes a year or more.

The opposition MDC has made it clear that they will not participate in any election under the present constitution – so a new constitution has to be agreed upon. This is another lengthy process.

Registration of voters is another thorny issue that has caused huge problems in the past, as has the diaspora vote issue with more than a quarter of the entire population now living outside the country.

During the past few general elections Zanu (PF) has successfully disenfranchised late sections of the population through various means, such as requiring letters from Chiefs, urban utility bills, and citizens of foreign descent.

Countless issues need to be grappled with. And they can only be tackled after agreement between the parties involved. Negotiations of this nature take time – a lot of time.

We have serious problems in Zimbabwe. They embrace every sphere of life. It is a complex issue.

Mugabe is vigorously destroying the MDC structures – arresting and torturing officials, invading the party headquarters and confiscating computers, files, etc, thrashing suspected supporters. He is effectively rendering the opposition ineffective.

In addition, Zanu (PF) has already launched its election campaign and is holding rallies throughout the country, while the MDC is banned from holding public meetings in many urban areas.

While all this is going on, Mbeki is quiet. He says he is writing letters to the parties concerned. His own brother, Moeletsi, sums it up succinctly: “It’s a do-nothing scenario. However, you appear to be doing a lot.” Herein lies our problem. To the outside world, Mbeki’s mediation process might seem to underway. But nothing substantive is happening.

What is needed is to get all the parties involved into a room somewhere, lock the door and tell them they’re not getting out until they agree on some compromise solution. Nothing short of this will solve our problems.

Apart from Mugabe and Zanu (PF) the greatest threat to the people of Zimbabwe is the South Africa government. They are not honest brokers.

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Wilf Mbanga, one of the founders of the independent Zimbabwean daily newspaper "The Daily News", is currently living in the UK. He writes about the current situation in Zimbabwe.


Recent documents:
Difficult dialogue: Zimbabwe-South Africa economic relations since 2000
Solidarity Peace Trust, Oct 23, 2007
To what extent is South African business profiting from the crisis in Zimbabwe?
Destructive Engagement: violence, mediation and politics in Zimbabwe
Solidarity Peace Trust, July 10, 2007
Increasing repression, what are the chances for mediation by South African president Mbeki?
Zimbabwe: an end to the stalemate?
International Crisis Group, March 5, 2007
Is Mugabe finally loosing his grip on power?