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MDC 16 August Demonstrations: Why there shall be a huge turnout!

15 Aug 2019 at 07:41hrs | Views
In 1918, Eller Wheeler Wilcox the great American author once said "to sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of many" . Subsequently, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has called for public demonstrations which shall commense on Friday the 16th of August 2019. This comes after a long series of threats from the MDC leadership since their loss in the 2018 disputed Elections. In their recent press briefing, they have described their " Free Zimbabwe March" as a continuous protest whose success or failure is under the onus of its administrative arm. Ceteris paribas, here is why there shall be a huge turn-out on the 16th of August 2019;

Uniformed Forces : The MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa has extended his hand to the uniformed forces as witnessed in his Defense Forces speech. He has psychologically roped in the families, relatives and friends of approximately 85,000 members of the uniformed forces in Zimbabwe. He said that the March would represent the men in uniform since their occupation prohibits them from protests. More-so, the Comander of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) General Philip V. Sibanda has also assured the nation that the military will not interfere with the socio-political affairs in Zimbabwe. Nelson Chamisa's outreach to the uniformed forces can play a major role in increasing the turn-up of protesters on the 16th of August 2019.

Christian community: Christians are the majority religious group in Zimbabwe characterised by a staggering 13.6 million (85%) followers, while 15% is comprised of Muslims, African Traditional Religious sects, Atheists inter-alia. The MDC has made efforts to engage Christians through a socio-psychological campaign witnessed by a series of prayer calls, fasting and social media devotion. Beyond doubt, this move cannot be underestimated as the majority of the citizens gave heed to Chamisa's devotion calls. The MDC is a political party that has evidently captured a huge spectrum of the religious circle. Considering the afore-mentioned insight, the MDC Protest is expected to witness a huge turnout with the Christian group maximising the overall turnout!

Reactionary Groups: The Zanu-PF supporters have proved to be the only conservative group in the country whilst the rest of Zimbabweans tend to be reactionary. The conservative groups are comprised of the minority population that is gaining from Zimbabwe's current socio-economic catastrophe. However on the other side lies millions of reactionary individuals who have been victims of the current economic challenges. The majority of the citizens are currently feeling the agony of unemployment, corruption, poverty and inflation. These millions of aggrieved people are longing for a shift of the saddening current affairs. The MDC has made efforts to reach out to these masses of reactionary supporters and citizens through social media and  and on spot rallies. It is from this huge group that the MDC demonstrations shall be anchored!

Endorsements: The Movement for Democratic change in its quest for alleviating the current crisis has also enjoyed numerous endorsements from various influential groups in Zimbabwe. These groups include the Tajamuka Pressure group which recently made a public statement that it will be taking part in the 16 August protests. The Tajamuka Pressure group is well known for radical protests that terrorised the Zanu-PF regime during the Mugabe epoch. The MDC also enjoys a defacto endorsement from its metaphoric parent, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union ( ZCTU). ZCTU was founded in 1981 and has amassed tremendous affiliation from 25 employee unions in Zimbabwe including Zimbabwe Domestic and Allied Workers Union (ZDAWU), Zimbabwe Textile Workers Union (ZTWU), Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) et ali. This has a positive impact on the turnout of protesters on the 16th August as most workers are affiliates of the ZCTU. The MDC has also been endorsed by most religious leaders inter-alia Emmanuel Makandiwa who recently warned the Zanu-PF governed against blocking public protests. Talent Chiwenga, a renowned street preacher has also been on record exposing the current government and supporting the young MDC leadership in his sermons. These criticisms of the current government by religious leaders is a green light for their followers to support the Movement for Democratic Change, mutatis mutandis their demonstrations on the 16th of August 2019.
With this religious, political and technological approach, the MDC is likely to witness a huge turnout of its supporters on the 16th of August 2019!

Nemine contradecentre, the MDC must also take note of the following facts lests we witness poor attendance of the much awaited demonstrations.

Reign of Military Terror: After the Mugabe epoch, Zimbabwe has devolved from being a police state to a military state. The government has been deploying soldiers to interfere with civil affairs. As a result, a lot of citizens have lost their lives on August 1, 2018 and January 15, 2019 respectively . Abductions of citizens like Dzamara and the recent abduction and torturer of Tatenda Mombeyarara have added more harm to injury. This has degenerated into a general paranoia of the citizens. Zanu-PF big wigs like Mr. Matemadanda are also on record promising the citizens that the military is ready to thwart any public protests. This fear and reign of terror will definitely have a negative impact on the attendance of protesters on 16 August, 2019 .

Friday is a week day: Majority of the employed Zimbabweans will be at their workplace on the 16th of August 2019. Due to the current employment hardships, only a few Zimbabweans can risk their jobs due to a national protest. This anomaly has a negative impact in minimising the turn-up of protesters on the first day of the Demonstrations.

Informal Economy: Due to the decline of Industrialisation and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Zimbabwe now has 97% unemployment rate. This entails that the majority of the population is now active in the underground economy and informal markets. Therefore, most of the citizens of Zimbabwe are self-employed and rely on daily profits for survival. The call for national protests to them comes as a negative blow to their day's income. It is therefore hard for them to risk raising money for residential rent, education fees for children and general house welfare because of a national demonstration. This pitiful state of affairs will have a negative impact on the protest attendance .

Passive citizenry: Zimbabweans have proved to be passive political actors as compared to their neighboring counterparts in South Africa or Malawi. It is clear from Zimbabwean history that no public demonstrations against the Zanu-PF regime have produced tangible results.  Zimbabwe has seen teacher protests (ARTUZ), student demonstrations of 2007, the lawyers march of 2019 and the recurrent Tajamuka protests. Most of these demonstrations however did not result in any meaningful change, but rather resulted in loss of lives. This has discouraged the ordinary citizens from taking part in the demonstrations.

It is however a clear fact that despite all the odds, the MDC demonstration is going to witness a huge turnout. The outcome of these demonstrations may degenerate into civil unrest and chaos, but ultimately, they may push the country's leaders to the negotiation table! Let's wait and see

 Erasmus Pongo is a Political Analyst and International HR Consultant_ _( Travel, Talent and Employment Service)
 He can be reached at erasmuspong@gmail.com


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Source - Erasmus Pongo
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