Threats of repression and police crackdowns by President Robert Mugabe at a Zanu PF meeting on Wednesday will not resolve the socio-economic crisis bedevilling the country.
Candid Comment,Faith Zaba
While he played to the gallery, cheered on by Zanu PF supporters, the grandstanding will not solve problems of rising corruption, high unemployment of over 95%, a debilitating cash crisis, company closures and retrenchments, which have impoverished Zimbabweans. Even if the Zanu PF government arrests those perceived to be Mugabe’s opponents or the so-called masterminds behind the unstoppable rise in dissenting voices in the country, it will not address the problem of his misrule and mismanagement of the economy. If anything, it will make things worse.
Characteristically, whenever issues are raised which he cannot or is unwilling to solve, he automatically regresses to his normal reaction, which is threats and intimidation of his opponents as well as blaming the West for the country’s ills.
During his speech, Mugabe was animated on two occasions — when he spoke about how they dealt with “rebels” in the late 1970s in Mozambique, and when he threatened #ThisFlag founder Pastor Evan Mawarire, who has been calling for peaceful stay-aways in protest against government’s mismanagement of the economy.
To show that he has the authoritarian streak in him, he was relishing the time when he detained and imprisoned members of a group known as Vashandi, including former Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, which clashed with Mugabe over the direction of the liberation struggle. They were imprisoned in pits on charges of plotting a coup.
In previous interviews, Gumbo said: “When we were detained, Mugabe would come to see us in the pits where we were kept like animals. He would laugh at us, taunt us, we were tortured. He enjoyed seeing us suffering. He is ruthless.”
This shows that Mugabe is a cruel leader.
Will he ever understand that terror tactics do not work and will never work?
What Mugabe needs to do is to address the root causes of the problems and realise that the clash with war veterans is a manifestation of his misrule and destruction of a once vibrant economy, which was second only to South Africa in the sub-saharan region in the 1980s and 1990s.
Mugabe must also not choose to have selective amnesia when the history of the liberation struggle clearly shows the role churches and their leaders played during that period. That Mugabe only sees the importance of the clergy when they support his case shows he is a hypocrite, not a principled leader.
In the end there is very little difference between Mugabe and Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith, as he has employed the same tactics and instruments of depression his oppressors used against him and others. They used the police to crackdown on opponents through arrests, violence, threats and intimidation. It is sad and disgraceful that we have a leader who comes from the liberation struggle only to adopt the same methods as his erstwhile oppressors. History will judge him harshly.