At large with John Makumbe

Tackling the dictator
'Presidents of classic banana republics are laughing at our senile dictator'
'You cannot rig the economy - it operates strictly on the basis of the truth'
HARARE - Full points to the ZCTU for, once again confronting the evil regime of Robert Mugabe through the street d

emonstration a few weeks ago. That was a clear demonstration of courage and commitment to the freedom of all of us. It was a selfless act. There are those who think that the demonstration was not successful. I am of the view that the demonstration was highly successful because it forced the dictator to show his true colours for all to see.
I suspect that just before the demonstration there were a few local and international elements that were beginning to believe that Mugabe is not as evil as civil society and the MDC seem to portray after all. Thank God for the ZCTU demo, this fallacy was projected in graphic style. The dictator’s praise for the Zanu (PF) Repressive Police (ZRP) when he arrived back from abusing the West was so unstatesmanlike that even presidents of classic banana republics are still laughing at our senile dictator.
Having said all this, it must be admitted that there is now an urgent need for civil society to re-group and re-strategise for the purpose of effectively tackling the dictator head on. In my opinion, the ZCTU approach, which is also commonly used by the NCA, can only make but small dents to the armoury of the dictator. There has to be a revisit to that strategy in order to re-order it in relation with the current circumstances that the nation is now facing.
We must not forget, for example, that the evil regime is far more desperate now than it was only three or so years ago. Now why is that? First, the Zimbabwe economy has declined so badly that even the very rich are watching their ill-gotten wealth virtually spirited away each time Gono gets close to a microphone. I have always held the view that the economy is the fear factor that is going to knock the dictator down for six.
So how do you hit at the economy in order to hurt the dictator? Some people have argued against stay aways as ineffective. I personally think otherwise; I think in the face of a vicious dictator who has perfected the art of inflicting pain on the ruled, it is necessary to involve the people in carefully orchestrated job boycotts. This can start with one day per week for three weeks, and then escalate to two days per week for another three weeks.
The best will be a full five days of no work, no school and no public transport on the roads. This is bound to result in two major developments. First, it will get the people confident that they can defy the regime and live to tell the story. The people will begin to believe in their power once again. Second, this will send the economy into spasms of failure that the regime will hate to experience. It is essential for progressive forces to make governance of this nation a very costly affair.
The ZCTU alone, or the NCA alone cannot accomplish this difficult task. It is therefore necessary to combine forces to include all civic bodies and their memberships, all the churches, student bodies, as well as professional bodies in the stay aways. Public transport operators will have to be persuaded to keep their buses of the road on the designated days. Civil servants will have to be advised to fail to get transport to get to work.
If necessary they may have to be threatened to stay away from work. It is only after such a series of civic disobedience activities that a nationwide demonstration can be called and it will be successful. The Christian Alliance, in my view, is best placed to coordinate such a thorough national effort. Freedom is not free; there is a price to be paid. Are we willing to pay it?

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