What options do we have?

A group of Zanu (PF) youth militia thugs calling themselves Chipangano are intensifying their acts of terrorism in Harare and other areas in Zimbabwe - almost always under the protective umbrella of the police.

Augustine Chihuri
Augustine Chihuri

Fully dressed in party regalia with the picture of President Robert Mugabe, they confiscate stalls and produce that impoverished Zimbabweans are selling to try to make ends meet in a country where unemployment is now over 90 percent. They even disrupt the business of the Harare City Council.

One female member boasted in an external radio interview recently that they deliberately target MDC-T members for assault because they are “responsible for bringing sanctions and suffering to Zimbabwe”. She openly claimed she and her colleagues were now committed to inflicting maximum pain and suffering on MDC-T members.

She said party officials gave the thugs “something to eat” before they went on their barbaric raiding missions. It has been confirmed by many former thugs that they were given drugs before being sent out on missions to murder MDC-T supporters and, in some cases, rape elderly women.

This is glaring evidence of the absence of the rule of law in Zimbabwe. The lackluster statement by Commissioner of Police Chihuri that police will deal with anyone who engages in violence was not convincing. He was quick to blame civil society and the victims of violence but said nothing about the Zanu (PF) perpetrators.

This is not the first time he has said this. In one of his most misleading reports, Chihuri said most violence was inflicted by MDC-T against Zanu (PF). The amazing thing was he said this with an unashamedly straight face – a lie that will haunt him to his grave.

What options do Zimbabweans have to deal with this terrorism in their midst?

Several months ago, civilians put up a solid resistance to this terrorism and managed to drive the Chipangano thugs back. At one MDC-T rally in Epworth, supporters mobilized and successfully fought back the invading thugs.

A few weeks ago, MDC-T made it abundantly clear that it was well prepared and ready to deal with any attempts to disrupt its 12th anniversary celebrations. The celebrations went ahead without any disruption.

In one rural area, local villagers dismantled the torture base erected by the thugs. One individual who is knowledgeable about, and involved in, this strategy of resistance, said last week that Zimbabweans were increasingly organizing themselves outside the party structures into resistance movements.

But many believe Mugabe and his party are trying to provoke a violent confrontation in order to give themselves an excuse to unleash the full power of the army, police and militia thugs.

For the most part, Zimbabweans have restrained themselves and maintained a nonviolent option which has turned out to be very costly to them in terms of lost lives and property.

But, in some ways, they can claim victory in that they have endured over 12 years of barbaric Zanu (PF) force. At every election, notwithstanding threats, killings and others acts of mayhem and intimidation, they have never wavered in their overwhelming vote against Mugabe and his party.

But resilience by itself does not hasten victory over oppression. It can take forever for people to wait until tyrannical regimes fall. Acts of civil disobedience, like mass demonstrations, will lend greater weight to the onslaught against oppression. This is what happened in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and other countries where regimes fell after mass demonstrations.

Some will argue that, at this historic moment in the Zimbabwean narrative, Mugabe and Zanu (PF) are falling apart because of the seeds of destruction within this evil party. They will point to the fact that Mugabe is now 87 years old and teetering on the brink of death as a result of both age and a host of health problems.

But even more depressing on Mugabe is the fact that the Mugabe-must-go chorus and sentiment has reportedly been more vociferous among his own trusted lieutenants in the party than from the traditional perceived enemies.

In a typical et tu Brute last gasp, his closest friends are circling above him like vultures.

Many therefore think: “Why climb a tree to bring down a rotten fruit when it is about to drop on its own weight to the ground?”

Apart from hastening the day of reckoning for Mugabe, there are other reasons why Zimbabweans should adopt civil disobedience in addition to resilience. Whoever eventually succeeds Mugabe will either be a reformer or try to imitate Mugabe.

There is a widely-held view that if Joyce Mujuru succeeds Mugabe, she will likely be a reformer, whereas if Emerson Mnangagwa succeeds Mugabe, he will be inclined to imitate Mugabe’s style. This scenario assumes election results will be rigged in favor of Zanu (PF).

The bottom line is: Whether MDC-T wins with Tsvangirai as the successor president to Mugabe, or either Mujuru or Mnangagwa impose themselves as rulers, Zimbabweans have an obligation not to give any ruler the choice of becoming dictators or reformers.

By engaging in mass demonstrations, a loud and clear message will be sent to whoever emerges winner in the next elections that Zimbabweans will no longer tolerate the Mugabe criminal and insidious politics of repression.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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