has proved it commands a decisive support from Zimbabweans. The party’s organizational skills – especially Tsvangirai’s door-to-door campaigning – was evidence that the MDC is gaining consummate skills in mobilizing the people.
Judging by recent revelations that Zanu (PF) was planning to rig the Budiriro election it appears the MDC victory was so overwhelming that Mugabe got cold feet in his attempts to secure a victory.
But Mugabe may also have had other motives for not rigging the elections completely. With the national mood now overwhelmingly in favour of mass action, Mugabe is hard pressed. He might have thought that, by not rigging this vote, he could calm down public anger and gain some breathing space.
Another very important outcome was that the existence of two candidates representing the MDC did not confuse people at all. The people were able to distinguish between the Tsvangirai-led MDC and the Mutambara-led MDC. The Mutambara rebel camp has been clinging on to the name MDC in the hope they will garner some semblance of popularity. Well the Budiriro election proved them dead wrong.
Mutambara and his group have a right to form their own political party and try their chances at the next elections. But Mutambara’s regrinding, refocusing, and all that geek wifi talk has simply shown how alien he is to the Zimbabwean political landscape.
Some people argue that MDC has been left very weak because of the split. But the Budiriro election has proved that this is far from the truth. Quite the contrary, MDC has emerged even stronger now. The split appears to have been a blessing in disguise for the MDC. It gave MDC an opportunity to rid itself of retrogressive elements. The Liberation Team that leads the MDC appears comprised of visionaries, people who have now selflessly invested all their energies in the liberation of Zimbabweans. This is what matters more than anything else – that the party be led by people who are dedicated to fight Mugabe to the very last person. If the MDC “Liberation Team” can maintain that character they will be the next post-Mugabe government.
Yet another important outcome of the Budiriro election is the fact that Budiriro may well be a microcosm of the thinking of Zimbabweans nationwide. Zimbabwe is now MDC’s Budiriro. There is no part of the country that is a politically safe seat for Mugabe or Mutambara. There has never been!
The Budiriro election, coupled with the nationwide sentiment, and apparent readiness for, a mass protest may signal that Zimbabweans are moving to the frontlines of the struggle against Mugabe. This major repositioning is being noticed from outside Zimbabwe.
Even the failure of South Africa’s quiet diplomacy on Zimbabwe may signal the beginning of a strategic rethink on the part of Thabo Mbeki.
The remarks reportedly by South Africa’s deputy foreign minister Azziz Pahad that deepening economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe is adversely affecting the economies of the region represents the admission by the South African government that Thabo Mbeki’s policy of quiet diplomacy has been a dismal failure.
Now that the dark clouds of political discontent are gathering momentum in Zimbabwe, South Africa is suddenly realizing how Robert Mugabe’s disastrous policies in Zimbabwe are damaging the region’s effort at economic development.
The same Mbeki who once told the world to leave Zimbabweans alone to deal with their problems is now belatedly trying to involve SADC and the African Union into finding a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis. Mbeki is also reportedly looking to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to play a leading role in bringing about changes in Zimbabwe.
Many Zimbabweans have written off Mbeki. He is too close to Mugabe to be an honest broker. And not much can be expected from him now that his term of office ends in 2008. How much can he realistically accomplish in two years after his failure in the past five years?
BY STANFORD MUKASA
WASHINGTON - While it was not been prudent for the MDC to participate in elections under the present circumstances of rigging elections by Mugabe, there are a number of significant developments from the results of the Budiriro by-election.
The MDC under Morgan Tsvangirai