Ingredients for a successful protest

What makes a successful mass protest? Why are some mass protests successful and others not successful? What are the prospects of a successful mass protest in Zimbabwe?
Mobilizing a mass protest is like playing chess. You have to make your move according to how you anti

cipate the opponent will react. There are three players in the protest movement: the leadership of the protest movement, the masses and the enemy.
The factors that come into play are the resources available to all players. What are their real strengths and weaknesses, and what are their perceived strengths and weaknesses? Do the key players see the real strengths and weaknesses in each other, or do they see what they think are the strengths and weaknesses?
Mugabe’s real strength lies in the control of the army, police, CIO and militia thugs. But this strength can potentially be his weakness as well. The army, the police and the CIO are not a homogenous military machine. They are drawn from different ethnic groups as well as different social and economic status in life. Top army officers have all the benefits they want while the rest of the members are suffering just like everyone else.
Many coups have been led by so-called young Turks, or junior officers, reflecting the social and economic divisions in the army. Mugabe’s real source of support in the army and police are the top officers.
A successful mass protest will therefore need a combination of the masses and the junior officers or disgruntled members in the army. There are signs that a significant section of the army and police may not actively participate in quelling a popular mass protest. This would be a good indicator to launch the mass protest.
Surprise is another very important element of mass protest. The opposition leadership should plan in total darkness. They should not be publicizing their plans for mass protest. Mugabe will be a major beneficiary of such publicity because it gives him an opportunity to plan a counter strategy.
Mugabe has been advised by his intelligence chiefs that there is a national mood for mass protest. That should be all he needs to know at this point.

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