CRITICISM of the “failed” June street protests has one wondering about the meaning of political victory. From the mild attacks on the MDC to the scathing attack on the public for not heeding the
call, one is inclined to suspect that a carpet of dead bodies on the streets or a takeover of State House would have constituted victory!
Morgan Tsvangirai misread the situation and underestimated Mugabe’s readiness to decimate his own people when he called on “millions” to take part in the protests.
With the state security apparatus deployed on the streets days before the protests, the stage was set for a scene reminiscent of the merciless massacre of hundreds during the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests. Fortunately, the people intervened and scored a victory of a kind.
Today, we’re relieved and disappointed. We’re relieved because we’ll not spend our hard-earned dollars on a mass funeral. We’re disappointed because Mugabe is still the tenant at State House. After our historic rejection of Mugabe’s bogus constitution in 2000, and impressive feats in the parliamentary and presidential elections, we still hold the final nail to drive into Zanu PF’s coffin.
Zimbabweans were in agreement with Tsvangirai, but were monitoring the enemy much more closely. They hijacked the MDC’s battle and fought it on their own terms. Come Monday, June 2, they made the best of decisions under the emerging police-state scenario. A few ventured into the streets but millions stayed home.
By the end of the week, Zimbabweans had scored a stunning victory.
The military and militia who had for weeks been psyched up for a rendezvous of target-shooting practice on our streets returned home a disappointed lot. The people saved themselves from an approaching bloodbath. Theirs was a tactical retreat, not surrender. They redefined political victory.
Political victory in the context of the struggle in Zimbabwe has assumed a new meaning. It is now people-power that provokes Mugabe’s full military muscle into the streets. Now it is fearless, unarmed students and the public confronting military tanks and trigger-happy cops toting AK47s.
Victory is the defiant spirit of the minimum-wage labourer who stays home; it is the commuter omnibus operator who gives his overused vehicle a deserved rest. Victory is the hungry school boy deprived of the chance to attend school. Don’t forget Mohamed X, the shop owner in downtown Harare, Michael Y, the industrialist, and the flamboyant Musorobanga Z, who temporarily closed shop in spite of government threats.
The late Marcus Garvey once said: “Action, sacrifice, self-reliance, the vision of self and the future have been the only means by which the oppressed have seen and realised the light of their own freedom.”
Only Zimbabweans can slay this monster, Zanu PF.
During the “failed” protests, millions of Zimbabweans poured into the streets, stood defiant to Mugabe’s tyranny, called him to step down – in spirit. Even if by some miracle the MDC and its leadership were wiped off the face of the earth, we’d still have the opposition we have today – the people.
Zimbabweans would be their own worst enemies if they abandoned this revolution on the basis that one episode failed to dethrone the tyrant. Mugabe’s tyranny is the sire of our current political revolt; his terror, our motivation. The longer he stays, the stronger would be our resolve to remove him.
By unleashing his full arsenal of terror on an innocent, defenceless population, Mugabe has pushed the people’s drive for change deeper into their public psyche. Winston Churchill once urged that: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
From now on, defiance of Mugabe’s dictatorship becomes our culture, a cancer in his obsolete brain. To exorcise it, he’d have to round up all adult Zimbabweans and toss them on the bonfire of his vanities.
Obert Ronald Madondo,