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July 31 exposed Mnangagwa

02 Aug 2020 at 09:36hrs | Views
In order to legitimise anti-democratic politics, violence and human rights abuses to the world, Zanu-PF has gone back to its exhausted ideological settings.

This follows a widespread call by active citizens for a demonstration on July 31, 2020 against menacing corruption, deepening poverty and Zanu-PF's autocratic rule, among other genuine demands.

The calculated response was predicated on the rhetoric around fighting global capitalism, neo-imperialism, Covid-19 and defending the gains of the liberation struggle.

However, July 31, 2020 has shown that the Zanu-PF rhetoric is still meant to mask a violent and bigoted mode of governance.

It seems it was meant to mimic the late Robert Mugabe without his sophistication.

Instead of addressing the citizens' legitimate cries, the regime apparatchiks framed the problem as that of fighting global capitalism as a way to appeal to Africa, the global south and progressives in the world.

Douglas Mahiya (the war veterans' secretary in the Zanu-PF politburo) alleged that the problem is that of global capitalism at a Zanu-PF presser on July 27, 2020.

He said, "we know the original enemy and when we are talking about the original enemy we are talking about global capitalists..."

He then promised "to turn the young people into an army" against these imagined forces.

This was meant to sway the anticapitalist movements but he ignored the fact that it is Zanu-PF that has been on an aggressive mission to invite the global capitalists from November 2017 with its slogan of "Zimbabwe is Open for Business".

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also the Zanu-PF leader sought to justify the uncivilised response as a defence of the liberation struggle.

As Brian Raftopolous has argued, Zanu-PF strives to position itself as a sole arbiter of national interest and patriotism.

In that vein, Mnangagwa, Patrick Chinamasa (Zanu-PF acting secretary for information and publicity) and other Zanu-PF senior officials have cast the opposition and active citizens as "terrorists", "hoodlums", "malcontents", "hooligans" et cetera.

Mnangagwa and Chinamasa denigrated the active citizens as a front of the West and the demonstrations as a creation of the foreigners.

At the heart of this is a justification to deny the active citizens their right to citizenship, protection under the constitution which includes fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights.

This was not mere talk as on July 31, 2020 many active citizens were arrested such as Fadzayi Mahere, the MDC Alliance spokesperson and Tsitsi Dangarembga, an internationally renowned novelist).

Cecilia Chimbiri, the MDC Alliance youth assembly vice chairperson, Joana Mamombe, MDC Alliance Member of Parliament and Netsai Marova, the MDC youth assembly national deputy organiser were victims too.

The last three were tortured, sexually abused and face trial for allegedly participating in a demonstration in May 2020.

Nevertheless, they were detained on July 31, 2020 at a roadblock.

Advocate Thabani Mpofu "witnessed a soldier physically assault and molest Cecilia Chimbiri..." on July 31, 2020 near Zanu-PF's headquarters.

The police refused to take an official complaint.

Mamombe and Marova were later released without charge but Chimbiri was charged with insulting a 'green bomber'.

The assault on Chimbiri confirms the continued use of sexual violence as a weapon of politics by the ruling regime.

Obey Shava, a top human rights lawyer, was also briefly detained for defending the three ladies.

Many more active citizens were arrested.

Meanwhile, state agents hunted some active citizens and they are now living in the bush such as the outspoken Job Sikhala, an MDC Alliance MP and Zengeza West MP, Ostallos Siziba, MDC Alliance secretary general, Denford Ngadziore, MDC Alliance Harare province organising secretary, Makomborero Haruzivishe, MDC Alliance youth assembly and Mduduzi Mathuthu, a prominent journalist.

Others like Hopewell Chin'ono, a prominent journalist) and Jacob Ngarivhume, the Transform Zimbabwe president were locked and denied bail well ahead of July 31 on frivolous charges.

Mazwi Ndlovu, an MDC Alliance youth assembly national executive member, died after being beaten by Zanu-PF thugs.

It is not by coincidence that most victims were MDC Alliance, journalists and active citizens.

The idea is to annihilate any opposing voices.

To Zanu-PF, violence is justified and hence Mahiya's unashamed appeal to war.

Further legitimating the autocratic assault by Mnangagwa is the use of Covid-19 to suffocate democracy in what now seems to be the norm of authoritarian leaders globally.

Chinamasa also framed his response as a struggle against neo-imperialism but the idea is to demonise and delegitimise the opposition and active citizens.

Nelson Chamisa , the MDC Alliance president, Tendai Biti, the MDC Alliance vice president and Sikhala were attacked in the same breath with Brian Nichols the American ambassador to Zimbabwe.

Nichols was accused of funding a regime change agenda.

On July 27, 2020, Chinamasa did not hesitate to call the US Ambassador a "gangster" and a "thug".

He told Nichols to know that "Zimbabwe is a sovereign republic and a full state under the Montevideo Convention".

The idea was to appeal to a very particular regional and international audience and legitimate social movements that face similar struggles against neo-imperialism.

That is the purported logic in the madness.

The opposition, citizens and organised civil society need to forcefully expose this duplicitous view of Zanu-PF.

The battle needs to be won on the streets and ideologically.

They must develop and sustain a modern neo-imperialist critique that embraces democratic politics as they engage the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), African Union (AU) and progressive global forces.

The last week of July 2020 has shown that there could be some space outside the controlled judiciary courts to contest Zanu-PF's authoritarian politics.

There is potential for active citizens to move out of that technical politics or what Neocosmos called "de-politicised politics".

July 31 has gone beyond Zanu-PF's comfort zone and forced the leopard to show its true spots as it unleashed a military armed to the teeth against its citizens and shut down all businesses in the country.

The irony of it is that Zimbabwe on July 31, 2020 resembled a successful stayaway with a huge cost on the state.

The last week of July 2020 has further shown that Mnangagwa was all, but deceptive in an unsustainable manner when he came into power through a military coup in November 2017.

He had promised a shift from what he viewed as hard nationalism to economic nationalism.

He emphasised he was reframing the national question to one predicated on re-engaging the West, promotion of foreign based investments and all the liberal niceties.

Whatever remains of that deceit will continue to fall after the July 31, 2020's tired response.

The structural problems facing Zimbabwe will not go away on ideological rhetoric.

I am inclined to conclude by quoting Frantz Fanon who said, "a bourgeoisie that provides nationalism alone as food for the masses fails in its mission and gets caught up in a whole series of mishaps".

For feedback you can contact Phillan Zamchiya on pres1zamchiya@gmail,com

Source - the standard
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