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Zimbabwe's weak opposition falls prey to vultures

06 Oct 2020 at 07:09hrs | Views
CELEBRATING Zimbabwe's main opposition party's 21st anniversary on September 26, MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa tweeted: "MDCA 21st anniversary celebrations ... Thank you beloved and fellow citizens for believing in us and the struggle ..."

His statement came at a crunch moment when the southern African country is at crossroads with its neighbour, South Africa, for denying there is a crisis despite the incessant economic dereliction, impoverishment of the general citizens, galloping inflation just below 800%, torture and abduction of human rights activists.

The position adopted by MDC Alliance so far has generated more questions, with the majority wondering if their hope in Chamisa will bear fruit.

Preceding events orchestrated by the ruling Zanu-PF in its attempt to decimate opposition politics in Zimbabwe, including recalling of the party's legislators from Parliament, have gone unchallenged.

The menacing machinations employed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to brutalise and pauperise the already disgruntled masses also continue unabated, while Chamisa's promise to give a signal to dare the oppressive regime is yet to be fulfilled.

While his "soft and probably diplomatic" approach has ensured there is relative peace in the country, the truth is that the citizens have been subjected to massive suppression to become "peacefully docile".

When the so-called new dispensation took over the reins of power after dislodging the country's late long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in November 2017 through a military coup, there were high expectations that the new leadership would embrace democracy and discard Mugabe's iron fist rule.

Contrary to coup euphoria three years after the dictatorial system has been perfected to become more intolerant and ruthless than during Mnangagwa's predecessor's time.

Opposition politicians such as Job Sikhala, Jacob Ngarivhume and Joanah Mamombe have been subjected to torture and arbitrary arrests.

Media freedom has also been curtailed, with journalist Hopewell Chin'ono in July getting incarcerated for exposing corruption in the procurement of COVID-19 material.

The case, now known in the country as Draxgate scandal, involved bigwigs in the ruling party.

Ironically, in Zimbabwe, speaking against corruption is criminalised while the corrupt walk scot free.

In addition, Zanu-PF channelled more energy during the coronavirus-induced lockdown that commenced on March 30 sowing discord in the MDC Alliance, working in cahoots with splinter opposition party MDC-T leaders Thokozani Khupe and Douglas Mwonzora to wreak havoc and tear asunder Chamisa's structures.

While this political funeral dirge is ringing louder on a daily basis, the ideal hope Zimbabweans seem to have so far Chamisa has been silent or plotting what he cannot share in public.

His visibility on social media has never transformed the volatile political environment for the better.

Responses to his messages have been shifting from consent to dissent.

After garnering more than two million votes in a widely contested presidential poll against Mnangagwa in July 2018, his supporters had hoped that he would not be submissive, but proactive in the fight against perceived endless electoral rigging blighting the country's quest for democracy.

The "captured" courts declared Mnangagwa the winner after MDC Alliance had contested the electoral outcome, forcing the young politician to hibernate.

Riding on his perplexing inactivity, Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF have seized the opportunity to infiltrate the MDC Alliance, forcing Chamisa's former close allies such as Morgen Komichi to turn swords against him.

As the opposition tragicomedy unfolds, South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) recently dispatched two groups of envoys to Harare in an attempt to bring to an end the suffering being endured by many Zimbabweans who can no longer afford to put food on the table.

That country's opposition leader Economic Freedom Fighters' Julius Malema has also on several occasions voiced concern over the Mnangagwa government's deteriorating human rights record.

The dissenting messages emanating from South Africa should be the sterner position adopted by Chamisa if, honestly, he yearns to drag Zanu-PF to the negotiating table to establish an inclusive pact.

Replicating Zanu-PF's insensitive modus operandi, MDC Alliance appears detached from the suffering of workers earning salaries inadequate to grant them a decent living.
Chamisa remains stuck in the prayer room, instead of taking bold action to force Zanu-PF out of its comfort zone.

Applying to the courts to demonstrate against dictatorship and expecting a favourable ruling is like expecting divine healing from the devil.

Change does not come on a silver platter. In the words of Paulo Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed: "Liberation is childbirth, and a painful one."

Protests are constitutionally guaranteed.

The opposition must prove its determination to salvage the fortunes of a country drifting towards a failed State by mobilising the masses to challenge repression.

Chamisa can hardly achieve this if he continues to tweet and speak from the corridors of his political hideouts without taking to the streets.

Submitting to Zanu-PF's whims will be an endgame for opposition. Zimbabwe needs a strong opposition; a weak one is inevitably limping prey for Zanu-PF to easily devour.

Gumisai Nyoni is a Zimbabwean journalist and writes here in his personal capacity

Source - newsday
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