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Nigel Chanakira, please leave politics to politicians

28 Jun 2022 at 14:44hrs | Views
Nigel Chanakira, please leave politics to politicians-no single individual, group, or political party can fight an entrenched dictator alone. One of the requirements of regime change is Unity of Opposition Forces-unfortunately Nelson Chamisa, your hero, has failed to stop the mushrooming of opposition political parties in the country so what makes you think he can unite the country when he can't unit 100 political parties?

To bring any meaningful change to any country, we need to stop this hero-worshipping mentality and look at the bigger picture. We need to look at how some revolutions in other countries were successful. One of our problems is that we think Zimbabwe is unique; sadly, we are not unique in any way and all the problems we are facing have been experienced somewhere else-some were overcome and some failed but let us look at the ones that succeeded today. Our duty is to figure out how other countries did it.

In almost every country where there was a successful revolution, everything began as massive street protests by the youth-often university students-that caught both the government and the established opposition political elite by surprise. The trigger was often steep hikes in taxes or in the prices of necessities (Ghana, Poland in 1988) or some crude attempt by a despot to perpetuate himself in office, either through a fraudulent election, manipulation of the constitution, or some bald-faced attempt to impose a new political order in which the military dominated, Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, and Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan.

In other countries, the authoritarian regime was open to democratic change. Where the regime was willing to accept change, the revolutions tended to be nonviolent, peaceful, and of short duration. Such was the case with the former Soviet republics, which formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). To some extent, I feel like President Emmerson Mnangagwa is such a dictator willing to reform through POLAD. The former Soviet republics broke away peacefully from the former Soviet Union because the communist apparatchiks had already accepted the need for reform. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev had introduced glasnost and perestroika (restructuring), which resulted in the Singing and Velvet Revolutions. Similarly, Africa's village revolutions were successful and peaceful because the ruling elites had accepted the need to reform their ramshackle political systems even though there were few street protests.

However, where the autocratic regime was unwilling to accept reform, revolutions turned confrontational, bloody, and street protests were brutally crushed: Ethiopia (2005), Lebanon (2005), and Pakistan (2008), Zimbabwe (2008) are examples.

Please note the nature of the despotic regime is very important. The military variety tends to be more ruthless than its civilian counterpart. This distinction is important because the strategies required to fight a military junta are different from those needed for a civilian regime. As I have said before, it takes an institution to fight another institution: The most potent weapon against any military junta is a civil service strike. If you shut down the civil service, any military regime will collapse. There are not enough soldiers to replace the civil servants. This happened in Niger (1996), Nigeria (1998), Ivory

Coast (2000), and Guinea (2009).

Mr. Chanakira, an alliance of opposition forces is needed to unite against a common enemy. This cannot be emphasized enough. Further, the opposition must be broad based-not confined to the urban areas or restricted to certain professional, religious, sectarian, or tribal groups. You see we have Mtwakazi which is very tribal, ZANU (PF) with their Mapositori base, and the ZEZURU are super nonsense. The

message must be very clear: FREEDOM. It is not a cause to be monopolized by a yellow group. In Poland, for example, Solidarity was broad-based with 9 million members.

It is also critical to join hands with auxiliary groups. Remember the role Pope John Paul II played in Poland in the 1980s, and Cardinal Archbishop of Manila Jaime Sin in the Philippines where he urged the people to go to the defense of the rebel officers and they responded. The media, if used responsibly is crucial in bringing change to a country for example the color revolutions (Czechoslovakia, Georgia, and Ukraine). In the Philippines the role played by Radio Veritas and Radyo Bandido was widely acclaimed. In the Philippines, President Francisco Nemenzo stated that, "Without Radio Veritas, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to mobilize millions of people in a matter of hours." Similarly, an account of the event said that "Radio Veritas, in fact, was our umbilical cord to whatever else was going on."

The judiciary must play its independent and professional role as in Georgia in 2003 when the supreme court annulled the first run-off election and ordered a second one that, under intense scrutiny, became more transparent. In Pakistan the judiciary led the frontal assault on Musharraf's military dictatorship in 2007. Do you think such judiciary independence can be achieved in Zimbabwe in the next 20 years with the likes of excitable Chamisa running his mouth like a fool?

To show you how messed up our Zimbabwean situation is, nurses went on strike, and everyone looked at them as if they had lost it; I don't even remember seeing Chamisa who shows up at every given opportunity making a comment about the nurses' strike. Support of professional bodies is crucial. Lawyers, trade unionists, teachers, and others went on strikes to support street demonstrators in Ghana (1978), Sudan (1985) and Tunisia (2011). Even bankers joined the protests in Ghana-this is the only way, that is what we need in Zimbabwe.

Chanakira Sir, you can use your pockets to Split the Security Forces. The game is usually over for a despot when his own security forces split like in Zimbabwe (2017), Philippines (1986), Romania (1989), Nigeria (1998), Georgia (2003), Guinea (2009), and Tunisia (2011). Within the Philippine military and the police, disillusioned junior officers silently conveyed their grievances-leading to the formation of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), Soldier of the Filipino People (SFP), and Young Officers Union (YOU). RAM which was led by graduates of the Philippine Military Academy Class of '71, Lt. Col. Gringo Honasan, Lt. Col. Victor Batac, and Lt. Col. Eduardo Kapunan, found an ally and mentor in the Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile. In Tunisia, the army and military sympathized with the protesters, and senior army chiefs refused to fire on them.

In addition, the ordinary people can neutralize the security forces as in Georgia where the security forces were charmed with roses (hence the Rose Revolution). In Kyrgyzstan, the security forces were overwhelmed by the presence of huge crowds of people, leading large numbers of police officers to switch sides. In Tunisia, the military sympathized with the street protesters. In Egypt, the riot police were outwitted by the youth movement and the crowd at Tahrir Square managed to charm the soldiers, who had been sent in a column of tanks to crush them.

I have zero faith in Chamisa, if at all he held the keys for a better Zimbabwe, we would be counting numerous community projects attributed to him today. What has he done? Talk, talk, talk…

Last, few people have the stomach for an extended opposition struggle that is led by same familiar faces. Enthusiasm to demonstrate in the streets faded with the passage of time, and that is the opposition forces' worst enemy. The Romanian revolution lasted 7 days; the Rose Revolution 21 days; the Orange Revolution 34 days; the Tulip Revolution 6 days; the Jasmine Revolution 28 days; and the revolution in Egypt 18 days-in Zimbabwe it has been 22 years and counting!

Source - Sam Wezhira
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