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Street protests are an important first step but first of many even tougher to follow

by Wilbert Mukori
20 Jul 2016 at 06:52hrs | Views
Wilbert Mukori
Zimbabweans must not allowed themselves to be misled by those who see the street protests as all the nation needed to do to end Mugabe's reign of terror and have, in its place, economic prosperity and political stability. Patrick Kuwana wrote one such misleading article

"Zimbabwe's tipping point  Here's why it can turn around quickly" in the Zimbabwe Independent and in Zimbabwe Situation. His was an academic case study that was so far divorced from the reality of the Zimbabwe situation it was supposed to fit one can only compare it expecting a doll's dress to fit an adult.

"'Change seldom occurs until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of change.' There is a point where this statement proves to be true especially when a nation drops from being the 'breadbasket to the begging bowl of Africa' within a single generation," he started off.
Started off on the wrong foot, for a start! The ongoing street protests are not the first time the people of Zimbabwe have staged a revolt; the war of independence was a revolution in its own right. The people's economic situation then was definitely better than it has ever been since 1980; from the day we attained our independence our national economy has been on stead path of decline. We certainly had our breadbasket status throughout the nation's fight for independence.

If it was a simple matter of the pain cause by economic meltdown finally becoming unbearable then one has to ask whether Zimbabweans have an unusually high tolerance for pain, way above most other human beings. As Patrick readily admitted Zimbabweans have endured "hyperinflation, lack of access to cash and +80% unemployment". Most other nationals would have been out on the street demanding regime change long before unemployment reach 10% especially when they knew, as Zimbabwe have known for decades, that the root causes of the country's economic problems were gross mismanagement and rampant corruption.

Mugabe told the nation on prime time TV that $15 billion was looted (nearly four times the $4 billion government's annual revenue and happening at a time when the regime was failing to pay civil servant wages much less anything else). The revelation did not even cause a ripple of public disquiet.

President Mugabe and his Foreign Affairs Minister have both attributed the people of Zimbabwe's apparent indifference to their on suffering and even deaths to their "resilience", a variation to Patrick's theory that the people have not demand reform until now because they had not suffered enough. It is all nonsense, the people of Zimbabwe feel the pain as acutely as anyone else out there; they revolted against white colonial oppression and exploitation because they felt the injustice of being denied freedoms and basic humans regardless of the nation's breadbasket status.

The people have felt the economic hardship and political suffering brought on by Zanu PF's misrule and the brutal repression just as cutely. They have been very slow in revolting because each time in the past they have done so, reached "the transformative tipping point" as Patrick called it; nothing has changed.

"For the sake of clarity," explained Patrick, "it's worthwhile to define the word transformation  'It is a process of profound and radical change that orients an individual, organisation, community, city or nation in a new direction and takes them/it to an entirely different level of effectiveness.'
"Now that Zimbabwe seems to be drawing closer towards this transformational tipping point, it is a good time to look at some of the elements why this has the potential of being a model case for African national recovery and restoration."

Zimbabwe had a transformative tipping points in 1980 and in 2008 but both failed to deliver the freedom, justice and human rights for the former and not even one democratic change for the latter. This has happened because the people failed to think though what changes the nation needed to carry out to ensure freedom, justice, etc. for all. So whilst Mugabe and Tsvangirai have failed to deliver on what they promised the nation, the people have never hold the two leaders to account because the people did not have a clue what they wanted.

There is a depressing déjà vu feeling about the current street protests; they too will result in no meaningful change because the people still have no clue what they want beyond the standard call for democratic change.

It is not as if the required democratic reforms are complex and thus beyond the comprehension of most people; on the contrary, the reforms are simple and logical. Police reforms, for example, demand the structural reforms to give parliament the power to ask for detailed accounts of Policing matters from senior Police Officers and to demand of the State President to replace all those Officers parliament is not pleased with their performance. Parliament does not have these powers at present. 

"'Any organisation (or country) can never move beyond the constraints of its leadership', concluded Patrick. "With the right leadership in place a strong business case can be put forward that will open up the doors of human and financial capital flow to kick start the recovery process. In fact, with the South Africa's economic growth projections tending towards 0%, Zimbabwe might just end up being the investors new destination of choice.

"Is what we are seeing the start of the greatest national turnaround in Africa?"

The people have not yet grasped the need for democratic reforms designed to dismantle the Zanu PF dictatorship. As long as the Zanu PF dictatorship remains, in one form or another, Zimbabwe's economy will never really recover let alone be "the greatest national (economic) turnaround in Africa"!

A few people accept that the street protests in themselves are not enough to deliver meaningful change hence the reason they have been asking the question "What next?" A lot more people must ask themselves this and find the answers.

"Totenda maruva tadya chakata!" so goes the Shona saying. (We should believe in the blossoms after eating the fruit.) This is particularly important since street protests is the easy bit, thinking through what the democratic reforms are and then making sure they are all implemented properly are the really tough bits.

If we do not implement the reforms properly then the ongoing revolution will too accomplish very little has already happened in 1980 and in 2008.

Source - Wilbert Mukori