If ED truly listened to the citizenry’s cries, complaints, and criticisms, he would have been the people’s hero

At times I look back, in amazement, at the events of November 2017 - when thousands upon thousands of Zimbabweans flooded the streets of the capital Harare, in overwhelming jubilant support of the military coup d'etat, that ousted then president Robert Gabriel Mugabe, and the subsequent wild celebrations after his resignation was announced a few days later.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana 

In spite of the indisputable fact that, this rapacious military takeover was merely a direct result of the vicious and highly explosive factional fighting within the ruling ZANU PF party – which had spread over a course of decades, pitting several groups, and had absolutely nothing to do with the welfare and wellbeing of the ordinary citizenry – nonetheless, this did not deter a very significant section of the population (who clearly had nothing to do with, or to gain from, the shenanigans within ZANU PF) to throng the streets.

Furthermore, as these intra-party fights had been playing out in the public domain – with the latest being the firing of then vice president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa (who led a group calling itself “Lacoste”), at the behest of the rival faction (referred to as the G40) believed to be supporting the ascendency of the then First Lady Grace, in a bitter struggle to succeed Mugabe – only an unredeemable fool would have not known the real reasons behind the coup, and who was most likely to take over the reigns of power in the country.

The entire nation had been treated to front row seats in the bitter fights – first, between Mnangagwa and the vice president before him, Joice Taurai Ropa Mujuru, leading to her (and, her “Gamatox” colleagues’) expulsion from both the government and ZANU PF in 2015 (interestingly, with Grace fighting in Mnangagwa’s corner), after which he assumed the vice presidency, only for Grace to turn against him, shortly after.

I am sure Soap Opera, or Telenovela, script writers may get an idea or two from this circus!

Only, after the explosion of Mnangagwa in early November 2017 by Mugabe, apparently at the behest of his wife, did the whole coup d’etat play out – not before, military generals, fronted by then Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, Constantino Guveya Chiwenga, had addressed a press conference, whereby they issued a threat of their possible intervention.

Thus, the question that has always perplexed me for the past four years is, “Why, knowing fully well who was likely to take over the country, after the removal of Mugabe, would such imaginable multitudes go out onto the streets – especially, considering that, the coup plotters were well-known enforcers and henchmen of Mugabe’a evil and cold-blooded 37 year reign of terror?”

How, on God’s good Earth, did all these thousands upon thousands of Zimbabweans (and, millions more at home and abroad) believe this “new dispensation” would be different from the hell they had been subjected to under Mugabe’s tyrannical misrule?

These were the very same questions I asked in several of my articles, penned immediately after the coup d’etat – as, I found such mass support for the obvious replacement of one dictatorship with another, quite unsettling.

Well, the answer eventually, but painfully, dawned on me – once a leader becomes loathed by the people he is supposed to be leading, the primary issue on their minds would simply be to get rid of him – without much consideration on the potential successor, even if he may actually be just as horrid, if not worse.

That is just how hated Mugabe had become.

When nearly the whole nation supports, and even jubilates, the ousting of their president – no matter how illegal and treasonous the method used – that paints a very clear picture of the magnitude and extent of this hatred.

Then, another question arises – how did a man, once touted as a hero, and a darling of the people, for his emaculate role in leading the struggle for the country’s independence against colonial rule, become “pubic enemy number one”?

Simple enough – he failed to take heed of the cries, complaints, and criticisms from those he was supposed to be leading.

When Zimbabweans were crying of hunger, complaining over the lack of decent jobs, and criticizing him over his autocratic rule – he consistently plugged his ears, arrogantly refused to care and listen, and went as far as unleashing fear and terror, under the pretext of fighting “foreign-sponsored illegal regime change agents and puppets”…who were, in actual fact, ordinary citizens trying to express their displeasure over how his regime had ruined their lives.

As it turned out, the ones who ended up carrying out any semblance of an “illegal regime change” were not the usual “suspects” – the opposition MDC, which had been at the receiving end of all the accusations and persecution – but, his very own brethren, whom he dined and wined with.

Anyway, if ever there was a lesson to be leaned from the events of November 2017 – more so, for the country’s ruling elite – this would be that, when the people cry out, when the nation complains, and when the citizens criticize them…then, those in power need to listen, and respond favourably to all the concerns expressed.

If the so-called “Second Republic” – which wrestled power from Mugabe in November 2017, amid widespread public backing and ecstacy – does not want to find themselves at the receiving end of similar overwhelming animosity and loathing from the people of Zimbabwe, then they should stop following in his (Mugabe’s) ruinous, corrupt, and barbaric footsteps.

If Mugabe had been a truly popular leader, who listened to his people, then, those behind the November 2017 coup d’etat would have been forced to think twice about their plans, as most certainly, thousands upon thousands would have thronged the streets of Harare – but, this time not to support them, but to resist them, in defence of Mugabe.

The so-called “new dispensation” should stop copying and pasting Mugabe’s notorious stubborn, haughty, and brutal response to the citizenry’s cries, complaints, and criticisms – or else, they will find themselves faced with a population that eagerly awaits (and, wishes for) the day they will, again, flood the streets, in their droves, to support and celebrate the removal of a regime that has turned their lives upside down.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263733399640, or email: mbofana.tendairuben[email protected]

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