Pass the formaldehyde

The end of the year is traditionally a time for reflection and at the last Vigil of 2011 we discussed likely developments at home in the next twelve months. Sadly they were rather pessimistic. Few people at the Vigil expect a happy outcome in Zimbabwe to 2012.

A happy new year from everyone at the Vigil.
A happy new year from everyone at the Vigil.

There was agreement at the Vigil on the most likely options:

1. The situation could continue as it is for another year with halting progress on the constitution front, not helped by Mugabe spending most of his time flying to and from Singapore for medical treatment. The MDC says it will refuse to agree to elections until the right conditions are in place and, given the lack of urgency shown by Zuma, elections are unlikely before they are constitutionally due in 2013 – if then!

2. Zanu PF (and we include in this military leaders), desperate to see a dying Mugabe returned to office, could engineer elections by collapsing the government – for instance, arresting Tsvangirai

People at the Vigil made a number of observations including the urgent question of what happens if Mugabe dies before the elections? Would we even know? Will Zanu PF do a Franco and keep Mugabe going with ever increasing doses of formaldehyde until no one knows if he is alive or dead? More seriously, can we expect Zanu PF to do anything else but go into emergency mode, with Defence Minister Mnangagwa or General Chiwenga openly seizing power? They would then employ their usual violence and vote rigging to stay in office – in defiance of SADC bleating.

But the prospect that most encourages us is the likely spread of the Arab, West African, Chinese and Russian peoples’ protests to Southern Africa. Mnangagwa has already expressed alarm at the ability of social media to galvanise opposition. The Zimbabwean diaspora and organisations such as Zimbabwe We Can would then be a valuable resource.

It is the people’s right to call for change. It is not the right of the state to use violence against us.

Other points

· The MDC UK is joining the Vigil for a demonstration outside South African House on Saturday 21st January. It is part of an MDC global protest to urge South Africa to pressure Mugabe to honour the Global Political Agreement. More details next week.

· Our wristband ‘Mugabe Must Go’ has been popular over the years, but, given Mugabe’s medical condition, we can’t bank on them much longer so as from next week they will be available at sale price.

· We were joined by a foreign diplomat who is being posted to Harare. The diplomat came to hear what we had to say and is to come to the Vigil again.

· Thanks to Margaret Gotora for bringing chocolates and doughnuts for us to share on New Year’s Eve.

FOR THE RECORD: 35 signed the register.

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