NEXT Wednesday Zimbabweans will have an historic opportunity, a last chance really, to vote out President Robert Mugabe and stop sweltering in the unbearable heat of repression and poverty.
There is no sugarcoating here. Mugabe’s radical authoritarian nationalism, with its fascist leanings, has been corrosive; for he will leave Zimbabwe in a worse-off situation than he took it in 1980 as poverty and suffering go viral.
Mugabe took over a relatively thriving economy, but today Zimbabwe is a basket case, courtesy of his leadership and policy failures.
However, next week’s elections will not be about Mugabe per se, but the future of the nation and people’s destiny.
It will also be about future generations. So far, Mugabe has shown he belongs to the past. He has dismally failed in 33 years to take the country forward.
His campaigns and messages offer no hope. They are about history, polemics and other negativities.
Besides, he is evidently reeling from old age and frailty, hence memory lapses, incoherent rhetoric and valedictory-style speeches.
In short, he is manifestly a hopeless case. So, Zimbabweans must next week rise to the occasion, face the beast and not fear the face. The power is within your hands to do so. This is not the time to feel powerless, frightened or to wallow in self-pity. There is no room for fear or defeatism. It is time to act, and do so fearlessly and decisively.
We are acutely aware elections under dictators are rigidly controlled plebiscites to get public endorsement of their regimes. Dictators, who exist primarily because of unequal internal power relations, are not in the business of allowing elections that could remove them from power.
Most of the time, polls are just a charade to give the dictator a veneer of legitimacy, but people must next week seize the opportunity to push the frontiers and horizons of change.
Although most Zimbabweans have tenaciously fought Mugabe’s ruthless regime, sustaining serious physical and emotional scars, and even losing their lives in the process, especially at the height of fierce political repression and economic meltdown, the battle is still on.
Yes, people have voted in their numbers against Mugabe and Zanu PF in past elections and results were crudely rigged, while a militarised reaction to defeat was mounted, but they have not used their critical mass to make change inescapable.
Mugabe still holds the cards as he controls electoral institutions and the army, but the ballot can be more powerful than all that — just like an idea whose time has come. As Victor Hugo said, no army is stronger than an idea whose time has come.
A day will come when Zimbabwe will be free of Mugabe’s rule. A day will come when Zimbabwe will be more democratic and free, but that day will only come if Zimbabweans decide, once and for all, to break the chains of injustice and tyranny.
Next Wednesday offers such an historic opportunity. It is time to stand up and be counted. All that is needed for forces of evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.