I FAILED to be swayed by Eric Bloch’s defence of his anti-mass action position (Independent, July 4).
In his attempted rebuttal of my letter critical of his posit
ion he claims that my disagreement with his perspectives of the mass action “was founded upon a complete misunderstanding of the foundations upon which (his) views were based”.
I would dispute that assertion, but if there is truth to it then I can only plead in self-defence my ongoing difficulties with Bloch’s prose. Bloch’s prose continues to read more like that of a legal draughtsman.
Most sentences containing so many sub-clauses and qualifications that the point being made has long been lost, are destroyed by the collective weight of all the verbal meandering. However, my main dispute is with what I perceive to be Bloch’s argument, rather than the manner of its presentation.
His claim is that the mass action was “ill-considered and destructive”.
Nevertheless he does support, I think, the principle of legal and peaceful protest against dictatorial rule and tyranny.
However, he then argues that “the protest must be such as has the prospect of success, instead of one which … cannot achieve anything other than further to divide a desperately severed nation and of causing even greater hardships, poverty and death for hundreds and thousands, if not millions”.
“It was with the latter in mind that I condemned the recent MDC organised mass action,” states Bloch.
There are many arguments to counter those expressed by Bloch, not the least whether he has the gift of prophecy or merely the wisdom of hindsight. However, let me keep the discussion limited to basics.
The headline to Bloch’s defence of his anti-mass action position was “Protests: Yes, destruction and death: No!”
Precisely, I could not have put it better or more succinctly.
Perhaps I might pose some questions for Bloch and others who might share his opposition to what are, in the short-term, economically damaging mass actions.
l Who is directly and deliberately responsible for the “death and destruction” which is such a prominent feature of Zimbabwe’s current political, social and economic landscape, and to which we are both strongly opposed?
Does he agree that the Zanu PF regime is dictatorial, corrupt, and the direct cause of the present disastrous (and ever-worsening) state of the economy?
Is there even a remote possibility that this regime will voluntarily relinquish power?
Which poses the greater threat to the population in terms of the “hardships, poverty and death” about which Bloch rightly expresses concern – the long-term continuance in power of Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF or the exertion of more pressure on the regime until it is forced to capitulate?
What leads Bloch to think that a boycott of Zanu PF businesses could succeed where mass action, in his view, could not? He mentions Tendai Biti as a proponent of such a business boycott.
What he did not mention is that Biti is in the forefront of those supporting MDC’s mass actions. I doubt that Biti believes that a business boycott alone could achieve the desired result. I personally would not knowingly give business to a Zanu PF-affiliated company or individual, but unfortunately such a national boycott would be impossible to organise effectively.
Zanu PF’s corrupt tentacles have spread far too widely throughout the economy, not least into the “parallel economy” upon which so many Zimbabweans are forced to depend. The unfortunate fact is that it is Zanu PF and its fellow travellers who are benefiting from the economic chaos and destruction that their policies and greed for personal power and wealth have visited upon Zimbabwe. And they will continue to benefit until the increasingly impoverished masses realise the power that lies in their own hands, if only they will collectively use that power.
Sadly, Mr Bloch, in the current Zimbabwean environment, short-term pain, even that which is partly self-inflicted, is a necessary pre-requisite to the long-term prosperity for all to which so many of us aspire.