Civil society needs to learn from the past

Civil society needs to pause and think about the forthcoming elections in relation to the nation’s experiences of 2008.

John Makumbe
John Makumbe

It is wonderful that the Sadc and all other sane forces are actively resisting Zanu (PF)’s mindless attempt at holding the next elections this year. This enables civil society to have adequate time to prepare for any and all eventualities that may arise given the increasing political tension in the country.

We are all aware of the fact that in June 2008, civil society was caught napping as it were. We took too much for granted; for example, we thought that since the March 2008 elections had been relatively peaceful and violence free, the June elections were also going to be the same.

When the nation’s most violent political party unleashed its running dogs onto the innocent people, we were not able to intervene in any meaningful way. Most of us were so ill-prepared for what happened that we literally turned away from some of the victims of the Zanu (PF) violence because we just could not help them. This should not be allowed to happen again, unless we are morons.

A further weakness we displayed in June 2008 is that we left too much to the MDC-T to handle on its own. We failed to realize that the fledgling political party could not single-handedly shoulder the burden of protecting the people and caring for the victims of the Zanu (PF) violence.

Further, we assumed that Morgan Tsvangirai’s withdrawal from the race would make the murderous Zanu (PF) hoodlums and securocrats stop their violence and intimidation. We were wrong on both those counts, and the people bore the brunt of the wrath of the rejected party.

We need to prepare adequately for the next elections so that what happened in 2008 will not recur. If it means mobilising the people to defend themselves by any means possible then so be it. Zanu (PF) must not be allowed to get away with murder and rape again come next elections.

There was also limited humanitarian cover for the victims of the Mugabe sponsored violence of 2008. Both civic groups and donor agencies were ill-prepared to shelter, feed and assist the displaced people. Indeed, some people had to flee to the mountains where they stayed for weeks in fear for their lives.

Some people remained in the forest for several days after the announcement of the dubious run-off election results. Reports that the beleaguered former liberation movement is planning to deploy some 80 000 militia and securocrats throughout the country should be worrying to all people of a peaceful nature.

Sadc is hardly capable of stopping the dictatorial regime from taking this action. We must not be fooled by the existence of the so-called inclusive government. Only Mugabe and his underlings command the running dogs of dictatorship to massacre the people.

There is therefore an urgent need for proactive planning for the next elections. The planning has to be undertaken right now if we are to be effective. Provision for food, shelter, medicines, and other needs has to be sourced now and made ready well in advance of the elections.

Tasks need to be allocated to the various civic groups, which must work in specific clusters. Financial and other resources need to be identified as soon as possible, or at any rate before the end of this year. There may also be need to train some of the civic personnel in how to manage volatile situations without losing your head. Structures of information dissemination need to be laid out right away and tested before the feared elections are held.

History matters, but what history shall we teach?
The devil de-horned: Vigil

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis
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