“The voice of the people is the voice of God”, said President Emmerson Mnangagwa before the 2018 elections. Little did he know that this will backfire on him. People spoke during the elections, but he refused to listen. He actually changed their words to suit what he wanted. Some voices he muzzled, muzzling the voice of God to use his logic. Even now activists continue to face arbitrary arrests.
A panic-stricken government has already come out guns blazing labelling the looming peaceful protests violent well before they occur. Zanu PF youths who are suffering just like anybody else, have promised to derail the protests. Protests are provided for in the constitution, and thwarting them is like muting the people, closing the mouth of God according to Mnangagwa.
The opposition should show leadership and resolve to lead the people in their demand that Mnangagwa must step down and new elections take place. The situation is now unbearable and Zimbabweans with no option are ready to protest. Preferably a transitional authority should then be formed to implement reforms, including and especially electoral reforms and make sure that Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is independent of control of Zanu PF and incumbent government. Media reforms are also critical and we could be expecting debates on national media.
People are frustrated and ready to go into the streets to exercise their democratic and constitutional right of freedom to protest and petition government to improve the economy or to resign altogether. Mnangagwa’s government has lost control of the economy and support of all arms of government except possible the army and the dreaded security services.
The opposition should make sure that protests are peaceful, non-violent. People are allowed to protest peacefully. Once the opposition ensures that protests are peaceful, they will be successful as more people who are initially afraid will join in. Many people are complaining and is ready to join protests.
We have come to a dangerous point where people are saying, “hapana kusiri kufa” (it’s now a desperate situation). Intelligence should have relayed this long back to the powers that be that the people of Zimbabwe no longer want Mnangagwa’s regime. The government should let people speak and the government should listen.
The Zanu PF leadership is is gearing to silence the protests by pitting party youths against the protestors. This is the only way the protests can become violent and afford the murderous regime reason to kill more people or declare state of emergency. So this is the most critical issue when organising and conducting the protests.
Opposition should not forget that they are dealing with a repressive regime. But anyone who will ferry the Zanu PF youths by buses to fight against the peaceful protestors will be liable for the deaths and destruction that may occur. Zanu PF youths must not stop those who want to carry out peaceful protests. Zanu PF can protest at different venues or on different days if it wants to. They should not fight those peacefully expressing their grievances within the confines and provision of the supreme law of the land.
Zimbabweans should not be intimidated by the Zanu PF cowards who only employ violence to silence suffering masses.
I say this because Zanu PF national youth political commissariat Godfrey Tsenengamu told members of the opposition MDC that the ruling party’s youth league is ready to meet them at the streets if they want to engage in protests.
Statements like this have been heard by the rest of the country and the world. Youths should work to promote and safeguard the future of the fellow youths and not act to promote and protect those who are actually destroying that future.
It comes as a shock, on one hand, how Zanu PF youths want to muzzle the voice of fellow Zimbabweans who would be peacefully expressing disgruntlement on how their affairs are badly run.
On the other, we expect youth leaders to understand the simple lawful provisions of the constitution with regard to peaceful protest. Mnangagwa and Zanu PF leadership must understand that they cannot keep using violence to maintain the party’s grip on power despite a badly performing economy. Zanu PF should not also keep misusing uneducated and misguided youths for its devious ends.
Traditional chiefs should also play a role in teaching these youths to desist from seeing violence as a means to achieve political ends. Youths have meted violence on political opponents under the helm of Robert Mugabe and this systematic coercion is intensifying under the dictatorship rule of Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa’s government must never again unleash soldiers to shoot and kill unarmed citizens exercising their rights on the streets. The army and its arsenals belong to the people of Zimbabwe and there never should be anytime that it be instructed or be used to oppress its owners and financiers, the people of Zimbabwe.
MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has threatened to uses Section 59 of the constitution to rally his supporters in engaging in protests that will pressure President Emmerson Mnangagwa to resign, triggering early elections under the watch of a neutral Transitional Authority.
Our traditional chiefs are involuntarily complicit to the Zanu PF destruction of the economy, social life and environment. Chiefs are witnesses to the problems facing the nation and how Zanu PF is totally and unilaterally liable. Chiefs have thoughtlessly supported Zanu PF government destructive economic policies without questioning.
Chiefs have been content with the gifts they received and with only their own bellies full; they turned their back on their suffering subjects. They kept accepting gifts until they completely became blind to the suffering of their subjects. With all due respect, this was selfish on part of our chiefs.
Chiefs should lose sleep when it comes to the welfare of their people. Christians’ God offered his own life when his people were in danger. But our chiefs took shelter when people were in danger and pretended not to see. Chiefs should be truthful and dignified and be always ready to defend their people. The chiefs should lead us in fostering integrity and wisdom.
It is now that chiefs have to come back to their senses and utter sense and not be blindly partisan, but be on the side of the truth and people, their people. Chiefs have seen government leave hospitals close, have seen people hungry and poor, they have also heard about rampant looting and corruption in government, they have also seen government shoot people down in broad daylight, and they have seen the government fail dismally but chose to remain quiet. Where do they think all this is going? Will they wait until late or total collapse before they can rebuke.
Now there is no investment, unemployment is high, no money in the banks, there are fuel shortages in the country, there is no water in every city and town, people are living well below the poverty datum line, there is no electricity because of massive load shedding, the list is endless. Yet our revered leaders remain mum, just how bad does it have to get before they start complaining. Only one chief has complained so far. Will they continue to only think and be content with their welfare and not the welfare of the nation.
Our government officials also must know when to quit. Britain has had a high turnover of prime ministers. For Zimbabwe just to have a second president, it had to be a coup. Previous British leaders did not wait for situation to turn sour or unmanageable before they could throw in the towel. They never kept telling their people to be resilient
The situation in Zimbabwe no longer need resilience, only heads should roll, particularly the one at the top.
People are allowed to protest and heads are also allowed to resign if they fail. They can’t keep trying policies that failed before over and over. They must also not give people false hope, whilst they continue to mismanage the dying economy. Resilience feeds from prospect and that we all pulling in the same direction. The government of Zimbabwe cannot tell Zimbabweans to be resilient in abject poverty, whilst government officials themselves are living in opulence.
People like the late Dumiso Dabengwa and Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni have noble ideas. They simply refused to be selfish and to enjoy corrupted benefits at the expense of other people’s suffering. Zimbabwe will be on the path to recovery if more chiefs show courage and speak out.
When God saw that Saul was disobedient to his directives, he sent Samuel to anoint a young boy called David to be the new king, whilst Saul was still alive. David was king from the day he was anointed. He fought the battles of the Israel kingdom young as he was, and he was successful. Meanwhile, the Spirit of God had left Saul, who got filled with jealousy and bitterness.
All his remaining life, Saul was chasing after David wanting to kill him, but God kept foiling his attempts. David had no intentions of killing Saul. He only fought and defended the kingdom and its people when there was need. But Saul now having been deserted by Yahweh was just groping in darkness, making one mistake after another one, still refusing to listen to God, not knowing he was no longer king.
Maybe Mnangagwa and his government could read between the lines and listen to the people’s voice, which Mnangagwa himself said is the voice of God. Mnangagwa’s government has failed to serve the interest of the people of Zimbabwe. This is the problem with leaders who steal elections; they don’t work to improve the lives of the people on whom they imposed themselves on.
When people know you don’t have a clue on how to solve their economic and other national problems, they don’t elect you, it’s simple as that. But in 2018, the Zanu PF leadership armtwisted the nation and subdued every arm of government to steal the elections.
With the Zanu PF leadershiop failing to run the country, protests have become inevitable.
Zanda Shumba is a local political analyst.