Harare has been gray and overcast for the last five days but the sun broke through the clouds as Morgan Tsvangirai (MT) was acquitted in the High Court. Supporters who came to witness the appearance of MT were barred from being close to the courthouse, or they were aggressively moved on by the black booted riot police who were out in full force.
This is the canny move on Mugabe’s part. Of course he’s going to release Tsvangirai. It’ll twist yet further the MDC’s indecision over whether they ought to participate in the next elections. It’ll be hailed by ZANU-PF as proof that the judiciary is independent. It’ll be claimed as a victory by the MDC. And it’ll be accompanied by a fierce show of state power.
The entire Tsvangirai affair was a lesson in discipline not only for the MDC, but also for those who might be tempted to support them. The jackbooted police and jets strafing Harare were an articulate reminder about who wears the combat trousers, and polices the air you breathe. The lessons for resistance in Zimbabwe are clear:
1. Expect more state repression,
2. Commit unequivocally to an election boycott.
But, of course, I’m not in the middle of the Zim nightmare at the moment, where bittersweet victories like this are all there are to sustain the movement.