Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

'War veterans must show their unflinching war time vibrancy' - fighting whom and for what

30 Mar 2021 at 06:27hrs | Views
When Robert Mugabe got into power in 1980, he was cocksure his scientific socialism would bring economic prosperity to the masses, "Gutsva ruzhinji!" as he never tired of saying. Instead of build on the robust and vibrant economy, he had inherit at independence he destroyed it. Instead of delivering mass prosperity he delivered mass poverty.

When President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe following the November 2017 military coup; "military assisted transition", as the coup plotters insisted in calling it; he was cocksure he would revive Zimbabwe's comatose economy and everyone will live happily ever after! He was sure there would be a flood of investors in answer to his "Zimbabwe is open for business!" clarion call.

Sadly, there was not even a single investor much less a flood!

Mugabe's Zimbabwe was renowned for gross mismanagement, rampant corruption and rank lawlessness marked it as pariah state. The decades of the criminal waste of human and material resources was the root cause of the economic meltdown. The November 2017 coup had not addressed any of these underlying problems and by blatantly rigging the July 2018 elections, Mnangagwa had confirmed that Zimbabwe was still a pariah state. Investors are a shrewd and savvy lot; they were not going to do any business in a pariah state!

By the late 1990s it was clear to Robert Mugabe that his regime had failed to deliver Gutsva ruzhinji and to stay in power he resorted to the use of violence. The 2008 elections were particularly hard for Mugabe and Zanu PF as they took place at a time when the Zimbabwe economy had all but collapsed.

The collapse of the country's agricultural sector, triggered by the seizure of the white owned farms that started in 2000, coupled with the voodoo-economic of printing money had fuelling the hyperinflation peaking at to world record heights of 500 billion percent in 2008! The Z$ was a worthless piece of paper, pensions, life-savings and investments lost their value, etc. The Zimbabwe electorate were angry with Zanu PF and were desperate for change.

"If there was Mugabe and the donkey on the ballot, people will vote for the donkey!" remarked Professor Jonathan Moyo, at the time!

Mugabe and Zanu PF were soundly beaten by Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC in the March 2008 vote. Zanu PF, notably Mnangagwa who boasted about it, stop the results being announces and ordered a recount that was to last six weeks. Mugabe admitted in a Freudian slip that Tsvangirai had garnered 73% of the votes and the recount had whittled that down to 47% to justify a run-off.

To make sure that Mugabe was going to win the run-off, Zanu PF launched "Operation Mavhotera papi!" (Operation Whom did you vote for!) This was a rhetorical question to the electorate who were being punished for having voted for Tsvangirai in the March vote.

Zanu PF mobilised the militant war veterans and the party's militia youths, the green-bombers (nicknamed after the greenfly feeds and lay its maggots on faeces) as the foot-soldiers in the reign of terror that was to follow. The Army, Police, CIO and Prison Service personal provided the plains, backup and cover to the foot-soldiers and also carried out the tougher assignments such as the abductions and cold-blooded murders.

Millions of Zimbabweans had their property destroyed, beaten and/or raped and over 500 were murdered during Operation Mavhotera papi.  

"Zanu PF has declared war on the people!" said Tsvangirai when he announced his withdrawal from the run-off!

We have come a full circle!

Now that it is clear to Mnangagwa that his "Zimbabwe is open for business!" is well and truly dead in the water and the country's economic melt is not as bad as 2008 but is sure heading that way. He knows that the Zimbabwean people are once again desperate for change and would want to see the coming 2023 elections deliver that change. His reaction is to once again mobilise the foot-soldiers and all for Operation Mavhotera papi mark 2 with a subtle difference!

Zanu PF will be going into the 2023 elections with a well-oiled vote rigging juggernaut. Unlike in 2008 when the party had to stop the counting and took six weeks cooking the vote count; the party must control every aspect of the election process and intervene early to ensure party victory. The party must deny a whole segment of the electorate, such as those in diaspora, the vote. Once again, there will be no verified voters' roll and the party must exploit the many opportunities this gives to rig the vote; etc.

Mnangagwa is mobilising the coercive component of the 2008 Operation "Mavhotera papi!" (Whom did you vote for!) now, 28 months before the elections!

"In our political mobilisation matrix, our women and youth leagues must not be left behind. I commend the Youth League for their recent successful mobilisation efforts," Mnangagwa told party members," instructed his Zanu PF Central Committee meeting.

"However, much more needs to be done by the Youth League structures at provincial, district, branch and cell levels to encourage their peers to join the party as voters.

"To this end, joint grassroots mobilisation activities between leagues of the party and its affiliate organisations must now saturate the political space.

"War veterans are challenged to display their unflinching war time vibrancy and mobilisation acumen as we prepare for 2023 elections."

No doubt the Joint Operation Command (JOC) comprising the top brass in the Army, Police, CIO and Prison Services who provided the plans, backing, etc. in the 2008 Operation Mavhotera papi have the plans, personal, everything ready for deployment.

The early deployment of the coercive arm is to remind the voters they will be punished if the voted for the opposition. The violence will be turned down during the campaigning period when election observers are around and thus creating the impression the whole election was free of violence. This is project harvest fear!   

Still, the economic and social situation in Zimbabwe is desperate; 50% of the population are living in abject poverty, education and health care have all but collapsed, etc. The cup is full and overflowing. This cannot go on for much longer, change is coming.  

No mortal can stop change. We get to choose to have peaceful evolutionary change or violent revolutionary change. And those who seek to delay change, are building a wall; the higher the wall the greater the delay but also the greater the danger when it finally collapses as it is certain to do.

Source -
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.