IND: What happened at Sadc?
Biti: The Sadc summit of November 9 presented a great opportunity of resolving once and for all the Zimbabwean question. As far as we were concerned, there were six broad issues.
First was the question of the equitable and fair distribution of portfolios based on the recognition that the people of Zimbabwe spoke on March 29 and further that there cannot be responsibility without authority.
The second was the question of Constitutional Amendment No 19. In our view, logic demands that this law be enacted before the formation of any government.
Next is the important issue of the constitution and composition of the National Security Council. This is an oversight body that deals with the operations of state security agents and every security issue in the country.
Next was the question of senior appointments of governors and other senior government officials. The last was the question of the discrepancies between the document of September 11 and the one of September 15.
Sadly, none of these issues were addressed and we are now worse off than we were before. We are in square zero.
Ind: Why does the MDC not accept the Sadc ruling?
Biti: With great respect to the wise heads in Sadc, a dangerously reductionist approach was taken which oversimplified the Zimbabwean dispute to the sole issue of Home Affairs. This, in light of the firm positions appearing in our various letters to Sadc and our president’s report to the troika on October 28 as well as to the Sadc summit itself, was unfortunate.
As we have argued before, Sadc approached this summit without any concrete strategy or game plan. Sadc must know that Zanu PF has been in this game for half a century. Zanu PF are Machiavellian masters of chicanery, deceit, mischief, shenanigans and thuggery. Secondly, Sadc did not have the moral courage of confronting the regime and of treating all the parties equally. Thirdly, there were gross procedural irregularities. The most gross one was allowing Mugabe not to recuse himself and to sit in during the deliberations.
Ind: What next for Sadc?
Biti: This issue has to be brought to finality. There is a major meltdown in Zimbabwe and a total collapse of the patrimonial state. People are dying at the rate of 5 000 per week and another 10 000 are leaving Zimbabwe illegally. At this rate, we will have no population. The education system has collapsed with 2008 a totally wasted academic year. The health sector is shambolic and 1920s diseases like cholera and dysentery are killing our people. The regime has failed and failed totally.
Sadc must thus provide leadership based on the canons of honesty and decisiveness. That at this very late stage, we can continue to patronise each other and play burial society politics is totally unacceptable. Sadc has to be seen to put the interest of its citizens ahead of the interests of its leaders.Â Â
Ind: What next for Zanu PF?
Biti: Zanu PF has effectively killed these jokes (talks). In short, Zanu PF must have the decency of openly burying the corpse of these talks at a provincial heroes’ acre. They have been busy killing these talks by arresting the likes of Jenni Williams and our own Concilia Chinanzvavana. Only yesterday (Tuesday) they were harassing (Lovemore) Madhuku. They are busy obstructing the distribution of food in the countryside. Even now, they have not had the decency of giving President Tsvangirai his passport.
We are aware that Zanu PF has a new “Operation Eliminate” which is a wipe-out campaign of the top leadership of the party. We are aware that they are brewing up fresh treason charges and allegations of banditry and terrorism against the MDC. We are aware that they going to fake an invasion by Zanu PF militias whom they have been training in neighbouring countries. In short, we are aware that they are going to throw everything at us. You don’t have to be a diesel n’anga to know that they are going to form their cabinet. Notwithstanding that, the whole process will be illegitimate. If they do so, then God save Zimbabwe.
Ind: What is the way forward for the MDC?
Biti: Despite the incessant pressure on us from members of our party, the MDC will be the last party to walk away. However, we have no illusions and we have learnt hard lessons in a very short period of time. To us, the immediate answer lies in the agreement itself, which places Sadc and the AU as guarantors and underwriters of this agreement. There is therefore an onus on Sadc and the AU to deal with this issue. However, what is critical to us at this stage is strengthening our party, rebuilding our party in light of the run-off violence and increasing our chemistry and synergy with our civil society partners. That is our focus.
Fortunately, this is a programme that is going on well and you only need to look at the massive rallies we have had across the country.
I want to stress that the MDC is committed to fighting this dictatorship through constitutional, peaceful and non-violent means. We have shown that under exceptionally difficult circumstances it is possible to fight without firing any gun. We are proud of this achievement.
However, it is a long lonely battle with very few friends and many fall by the wayside. It is a struggle in which none of us has degrees and each day we make mistakes. However, it is the knowledge that we are bona fide and honest in everything that we are doing and that we have people on our side that keeps us going. We will continue executing the same until the full goal of democratisation of our society is achieved.
IND: What happened at Sadc?