ngirai calls for a constitutional conference to hammer out a new constitution that will lead to free and fair elections supervised by the international community. Once these steps have been followed, or irrevocably agreed upon, Zimbabwe can start, with the help of the international community, a period of reconstruction, rehabilitation and stabilization through the transitional era.
This roadmap appears to represent MDC’s negotiating position in the event Mugabe, by some miracle, agrees to sit and talk.
It comes in the wake of the British High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Andrew Pocock, reportedly having committed himself to the process of building bridges, a request that came directly from Mugabe.
Will Pocock present to Mugabe the MDC roadmap as a basis for building the bridges that Mugabe has called for? Or does Britain fear that if it presents to Mugabe what looks like, or is seen as, an MDC agenda for change it risks justifying Mugabe’s accusations that MDC is a stooge of Britain?
Whatever Mugabe and Zanu (PF) may think, it appears a process of negotiations has begun behind closed doors.
But what are the chances of behind-the-scenes diplomacy leading to a successful resolution of the problem? Are there any signs at all that Mugabe may be willing to see reason?
Considering the growing rift within the ruling party there is a chance that a faction could seize this opportunity to negotiate for a way out of the mess.
Mugabe sees himself negotiating from the position of strength. He has militarized the state institutions and the policymaking structure of the party. The interests of the Zimbabwean military in the top echelons of power are not the same as those of the majority of the population. And Mugabe has shown a propensity for granting the military whatever it demands.
But within the military there are sub-factions or fractions, along political ideological, ethnic and class lines. Top army officials are getting a disproportionate share of the wealth Mugabe is doling out to his sycophants.
Thus, the militarization of the state institutions benefits mostly the top army officer, but it will not guarantee Mugabe a permanent security. Neither will his plans to create a reserve army of ex-combatants and war veterans. They know they are watching over a dying dictator. Once the dictator is gone all hell will break loose. For that reason Mugabe’s sycophants are probably paying lip service to Mugabe while planning their own options for maximizing their selfish interests in the post-Mugabe Zimbabwe.
If indeed divisions in the party have reached a new level in the deadly game of political power, Zimbabweans should be able to tell one faction from another. The problem is they all have one thing in common that binds them together. This is the fear of prosecution for their crimes against humanity. Not one of the estimated eight factions is not contaminated by involvement in crimes against Zimbabweans. This is why they dare not criticize each other or Mugabe in public.
Another factor that unifies them all is the fear of a mass protest. If hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans were to take to the streets all the factions would be swept into oblivion by the tidal wave of popular protest.
The big question now is: Will people actually heed a call to mass action if Tsvangirai were to make the clarion call to take to the streets?
Zimbabweans appear to have been afflicted by the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak syndrome. There is, however, some guarded optimism that the economic conditions have now reached a point where Zimbabweans are now willing to stage a mass protest.
The message to the Zimbabweans is loud and clear. Zimbabweans have the power in numbers to stage an effective mass protest that can bring down the Mugabe regime. It is not a question of the civic society leadership organizing or educating Zimbabweans about mass protests. Zimbabweans are aware that conditions for mass protests now exist in the country.
Any failure of the mass protest cannot be wholly blamed on the leadership – you can lead a horse to the river but you cannot make it drink the water.There is really no need for anyone to tell Zimbabweans they are suffering and need to go on a mass protest. A spontaneous mass protest should have started years ago.
The liberation of Zimbabwe from the oppressive dictatorship of the Mugabe regime now lies squarely in the hands of the people themselves.