A wounded buffalo

As the argument about who won the election in Zimbabwe goes on the situation deteriorates by the minute. I received the following letter from Bulawayo along with an accompanying article.
Dear all
This is an interesting analogy and describes exactly the situation here at
present. It has just come over the tv that the courts have no jurisdiction
over the electoral commission and cannot force them to make the results
known. Is there NO ONE out there who can help us? The situation is
becoming more desperate by the day. I queued this morning for a bag of
very second grade rolls, limited to 6 per customer! One does not ask the
price these days we are just grateful if we can get. I made some soda
bread yesterday with bread flour I had but used the last of the bi-carb and,
of course, there is none in the shops. The shelves remain pathetically
empty and managers are reluctant to put anything on the shelves as there is
still the threat that they may be required to halve the pces and they
certainly cannot survive a further episode like that. If the situation is
like it is in Bulawayo what can it be like throughout the country? We
experienced people passing by when we were having a picnic indicating that
they too were hungry but we just were not in a position to help as we had
barely enough for us. If we had not had a chance to go out of the country
several times recently we certainly would not be able to cope now. One
chap waiting in the bread queue went down on his knees. I do not know if
he was praying or just too weak to stand for as long as was required.
Life is indeed pathetic here at the moment and deteriorating by the day.
My brother and his wife leave next week and I leave the week after until
February and January respectively. Charles will come back for part of that
time. Everyone one speaks to is getting ready to move on but there are so
many who do not have the luxury of that option. I have resigned as
Chairman of the senior citizen centre but it does not mean I will forget
about them. I certainly will do what I can from afar. It seems one of
the senior citizens misunderstood the situation and was frantic that the
soup kitchen was closing! We were able to assure him that this would not
be the case. I hear today that a small piece of beef now costs Z$2
billion! How many people are going to be afford such a luxury.
We just appeal to any of you who can to help if you can. We are very
nearly flat on our backs, let alone being on our knees! The situation is
Eddie Cross who wrote the piece which follows is a very optimistic man but
does not always get things right! That crystal ball does have a habit of
dimming over.
Best wishes to all, Juliet

A Wounded Buffalo
Zanu PF is behaving just like a wounded buffalo. The African buffalo is
of the most dangerous adversaries in the world of wildlife. It has an
enormous capacity to take punishment, is extremely difficult to kill
outright and when wounded – even fatally, it has the ability to do great
damage. It is also a highly intelligent adversary.
I have never hunted buffalo but have friends who have and had a senior in
department when I was a young man actually ambushed by a wounded buffalo
the Zambezi Valley. He was very lucky to survive and was never quite the
same again. A frequent target of the trophy hunter are the lone bulls who
move about in small groups or on their own and have a magnificent set of
horns with that huge mass of bone across the head.
If the hunter gets a clean heart shot, the buffalo has the capacity to run
for some considerable distance before collapsing. If the shot is not
then the buffalo is known to run and then circle back and lie in ambush
his hunter. That is what happened to my senior in the valley. Although a
large animal, the buffalo knows exactly how to stand in the shade and to
blend in with his background. Often the only thing that might alert you to
his presence is a flick of the ears or a tail. Fail to spot him and you
could be on the receiving end of a short and furious rush and fall victim
the horns or just his mass.
Zanu PF lost this election massively – if you take the combined vote of
Makoni and Tsvangirai, 73 per cent of the people who voted (2,4 million)
voted against him – he only got 27 per cent of the vote. The poll was 41
cent if you use the voter’s roll but by my calculation (2,8 to 3 million
actual voters) it was nearer 80 per cent. Even when the National Command
Centre had spent a day massaging the results they only got them down to 50
per cent for Tsvangirai and nearly 10 per cent for Makoni – still a huge
defeat for a sitting President.
In addition they have lost control, even with the rigging, of the House of
Assembly. In the Senate it looks as if we will have a stand off – but this
does not make that much of a difference. But any measure, Zanu PF has
a shot that has fatally wounded the old bull. However, like the buffalo I
described above, he is still dangerous.
As things stand right now, the Zanu PF Politburo has decided that a full
audit of the Presidential results can go ahead. We demanded this when we
the results for Mashonaland Central four days ago. When this is completed
(perhaps today) then we will hear if the final tally gives Morgan 49 or 50
per cent of the final count. If its 49, they want a rerun, if he gets 50
cent plus one vote, he will be sworn in as President and we will get a new
I will not bore you with all the gory details of what has gone on this
but just to say that Zanu PF and Robert Gabriel Mugabe have had a tough
accepting the reality of the loss of power and privilege. I understand
Grace Mugabe has left the country and has taken a very considerable sum of
money (real money) with her. There is also a strong rumor that the man who
led 5th Brigade during the genocide in the 80’s has committed suicide. But
that may or may not be true. Nevertheless it shows how much of a total
this has been for the Zanu machine.
If there is a run off, I can only anticipate an electoral massacre. Ex
President Mugabe will not even get the numbers he currently has in the
It will be, in effect, a coup de grace.
So we are thinking through what a re-run might mean for us – how we might
handle it. It is already clear that despite the fact that so far the
have committed no acts of violence in any way, that Zanu PF is going to
violence to try and get its way in the re-run. Already yesterday we have
seen new violence in several areas, Masvingo especially. Morgan Tsvangirai
said in his press conference yesterday that Mugabe is preparing to go to
against the people. It will not help him.
I just pray that there will not be a re-run. The country simply cannot
any more of this. Work is impossible – our factories are shut down as the
staff cannot work, suppliers cannot fix prices and buyers are frozen in
their tracks. The economy is virtually at a stand still and inflation is
racing ahead. There is no food in the country and hunger is becoming a
problem, the Reserve Bank has been looted and I understand that enough
foreign exchange has been taken out to supply the countries needs for all
basic foods for 12 months. It is an absolute disgrace and to think they
still want to hang onto power!
What has become clear over the past week is that Zanu PF can no longer
command what happens in the administration, power is slipping away and
are already yesterdays men. It is also clear that the army and the police
are both divided in their loyalties and now support change. This was the
last pillar of support for the Zanu PF regime and with this gone it is
a matter of time.
The region is playing a key role and is trying to persuade Mr. Mugabe to
step down and allow a peaceful transition. Mugabe is not co-operating and
is time regional leaders stepped up the pressure. As for the UN, this
body has yet to comment and do anything effective – must we slide into
complete chaos and anarchy before they become engaged? Thabo Mbeki is in
UK for a summit of leaders – I am sure he is getting it with both barrels.
Last night Aziz Pahad was jousting with Kate Hoey – wish I could have seen
that contest.
But for the rest, thank you to all who stood with us – through the
of our stand and strategy, through the long nights of despair and finally
doing the hard work that will make democracy the tool we used to bring
a corrupt and cruel tyrant. We showed it could be done – not with guns and
bullets, not with fire and machete’s, just with the quiet strength of
ordinary men and women going out and voting when they got the opportunity.
Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 6th April 2008

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