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#Flag - Age of lone ranger, knight rider political activists

03 Jun 2016 at 05:28hrs | Views
\Events in Zimbabwe's political space are fast becoming interesting, lately.

If one were to look at the mainstream and social media, they would be presented with a range of characters that have cropped up, whether for celebrity or notoriety.

Out of this, one comes up with a number of critical observations that speak to the social, economic and political questions of the day.

The biggest observation, perhaps, is that Zimbabwe has entered the age of "lone ranger" or "knight rider" political activists that are crowding the political arena.

How this has come about can be explained in a number of ways – and it also has to be explained whether these are fads or revolutions.

Context

It will be critical to look at Zimbabwean politics and the current matrix.

The country is a multi-party democracy with, at the last count, around 30 registered political parties that are free to contest for office.

In fact, just this week, five political parties formed a convention dubbed "Coalition of Democrats".

The figures and their respective parties were as follows: Simba Makoni and Mavambo Kusile Dawn (MKD); Elton Mangoma (Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe); Welshman Ncube (MDC); Farai Mbira (Zimbabweans United for Democracy); and Gilbert Dzikiti (Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment).

These are considered "smaller" parties – and there are even more in the field in that league of minnows.

Another minnow, Tendai Biti's Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe, felt it did not quite belong and snubbed the coalition at the 11th hour.

The main opposition, MDC-T party led by Morgan Tsvangirai, is considered by many the face of the opposition and brags, justifiably, about numbers that have come close to upsetting the ruling Zanu-PF.

For the past 16 years, Tsvangirai himself has been considered the "face of democratic struggle" in Zimbabwe.

Now a new player, former Vice-President and struggle stalwart Joice Mujuru has entered the political field with her Zimbabwe Patriotic Front.

All these political parties and characters have been seeking to defeat President Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and in less than two years, there is going to be a big contest by way of harmonised local government, parliamentary and presidential elections.

Blow of 2013

Many observers see the battle of Zimbabwe's soul being between Zanu-PF and MDC-T.

Mujuru and her newly formed ZPF are just going to season the battle that has already existed for 16 years now.

That is what is being understood, in the short term.

And the role of the new entrants is largely framed around how much they can eat into Zanu-PF's electoral base, never mind how people like Edgar Tekere, Dumiso Dabengwa and Simba Makoni have never in the past achieved much.

It is a fact of life that Joice Mujuru is not the brightest pebble.

So, the battle shall continue to be about Zanu-PF and MDC-T and what is interesting is that Zanu-PF, even considered weak by its revolutionary standards, is today way too strong for the main opposition.

The politics of street mobilisation that played out this year alone have settled that as Zanu-PF held a resounding Million Man March a fortnight ago, garnering hundreds of thousands of people where the MDC-T managed only a few thousand a few months back.

But in 2013, Zanu-PF delivered a big blow to the MDC-T when it wallopped the opposition in national election, sweeping more than two thirds majority in Parliament while President Mugabe flogged Tsvangirai by 61 percent of the total vote and Tsvangirai managed a paltry 34 percent.

The party went on to split into three giving us leaders of political parties in Biti and Mangoma.

The pacification of the MDC-T as an opposition was complete.

Many serious pundits know that the success of the opposition to upstage Zanu-PF in this fragmented state is close to nothing.

Even Zanu-PF can afford moments of infighting and other tomfoolery, including complacency.

Enter lone-ranger, knight-rider types

Many in the opposition have been dismayed by their party's failure to capture power.

This has led to growing apathy and disillusionment.

But it has also given us individuals that think that what the opposition has failed, they can achieve.

Perhaps having watched a lot of television featuring American "heroes" who went on solo efforts to correct social "injustices" and lately the so-called Arab Spring, the lone rangers and knight riders of political activism in Zimbabwe have sought to take over the space formerly occupied by the main opposition.

It perhaps started with one Itai Dzamara, a known MDC-T activist and journalist who supported the party in the run up to that 2013 defeat.

For those that followed carefully, just after the defeat of the MDC-T Dzamara started expressing disillusionment with organised politics and fell just short of condemning Tsvangirai and the party.

He came up with his Occupy Unity Square Movement which was supposed to rally people in protest against President Mugabe, calling for his resignation – ironically after resoundingly winning the elections.

Predictably, the "movement" failed and Dzamara cut a lone figure in Africa Unity Square in Harare where he never at any point gathered more than six people and later tried to ensconce with the MDC-T.

The thing was a failure, roundly ridiculed even by fellow opposition supporters.

Then Dzamara "disappeared".

While his solo demonstrations were close to fruitless, a lot of political capital has been gleaned by the opposition which tried to cast his "disappearance" as a rallying point for a revolution, holding numerous political rallies disguised as prayer meetings and eventually staging a march on March 9, the anniversary of the so-called disappearance, which again was hoped to spark a nationwide uprising.

It didn't, and the Dzamara issue threatened to die forever.

Only, it hasn't quite.

Rather, it has given us his brother Patson who in the ostensible fight against the disappearance of his brother appears rooted for his own glory, having been a lacklustre publisher of dozens of "motivational" books.

He is giving us another version of the lone ranger Itai, only where Itai appeared genuine — whatever his cause — this sibling of his smells all egotistical, having been given perfect publicity coattails of Itai to ride on.

There have been other individuals of different hues who have sporadically bubbled onto recognizable space.

These include the so-called "Kariba Pastor" Patrick Phillip Mugadza who had a solo demonstration at the Zanu-PF Annual People's Conference in Victoria Falls last year.

There is also another pastor Ancellimo Magaya who has attempted to reunite the opposition.

Yet another pastor Evan Mawarire hogged the limelight in recent weeks with his #ThisFlag campaign, which appears to have fizzled out now.

The common denominator in all this is that these are all opposition guys and they have been failed by their gods.

Source - the herlad
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