By Tessa Trafford
Everyday, no matter how much we plead ignorance when it comes to news, we hear something, somewhere about Zimbabwe. We hear stories of personal struggles, gross human rights violations and, of course, the madness surrounding the infamous Robert ‘Bob’ Mugabe. So, what’s really going on in this country once known as ‘the jewel of Africa’? Honestly, there are so many different reports and articles about what is happening that it’s hard to give you an accurate picture. Then again, since when have you ever been able to get an accurate report regarding a dictatorial state? Well, what we do know is that Thabo Mbeki has recently been in Zimbabwe for talks between the MDC and Zanu-PF.
The MDC is refusing to back down in their demand for a mandate to form the next government and ultimately control the state. They hope to have state control from September 1 of this year, but these demands are proving problematic for Zanu-PF. Having controlled the state since independence, they are finding it difficult to let go.
Zanu-PF has stated that they will only agree to such a demand if the MDC agrees to work in a junior capacity. The interesting thing is that the MDC will have the majority of power in the state and will effectively be running it anyway. Zanu-PF says that they will allow for a transitional period of two years, after which they will have ‘free and fair elections’.
However, the success of these talks really does seem to be the only option for the crumbling country. If the MDC succeeds and is placed in a position of legitimate power, Zimbabwe may just have a chance at recovery. Surely one of the first things the MDC will do is to introduce a new currency – the only realistic way out of hyper-inflation. What happens if these talks fail? Firstly, Mbeki will have failed miserably in his efforts to change Zimbabwe’s current situation. Zanu-PF will have signed their own death warrant because there is definitely the chance that no one will continue to recognise them as a legitimate party. Sanctions will be further tightened and the economy will continue to collapse. This will make living in Zimbabwe very nearly impossible. People will flood into South Africa, putting pressure on an already fragile economy.
In a controversial twist, Zimbabwe opened parliament last Tuesday without having reached a final agreement in negotiations. Things became tense when Mugabe was apparently booed and jeered at by members of the MDC. The next installment in this political soap-opera really does remain to be seen. Mugabe might as well be holding a placard saying: “stay tuned ‘til next time folks.”