HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsNational Question: Could Zim end up like Syria?

National Question: Could Zim end up like Syria?


With the exception of the suspension of Julius Malema by the ANC of South Africa for five years for bringing the party into disrepute, there was not much of good news from Southern Africa in the week ended 11/11/11.

However, there are fears that the Zimbabwe crisis could end up in a bloody uprising like the one in Syria, where the United Nations said on Tuesday the death toll had reached 3 500.

There are a number of reasons why that prospect appears likely under the prevailing circumstances starting with the shock agreement by the three principals to hold elections as early as possible regardless of stalled electoral and constitutional reforms.

The other reasons are Robert Mugabe’s nine Singapore visits so far this year alone; Kasukuwere’s threat of violent company grab; increased State paranoia; reluctance to reform the security sector among others, coupled with Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba’s utterances.

While Mugabe’s Singapore visits have paralysed government as Cabinet has rarely met to deliberate on urgent government business due to the absence of its sole chairman, in the event of him dying in office, all hell will break loose.

One of the stalled duties of the President is to call by-elections in 18 vacant seats in the House of Assembly and Senate including Lupane East, Nkayi South and Bulilima East which have been vacant since August 2009, meaning that the 18 constituencies have no voice in Parliament.
According to Veritas, since the present Parliam

ent first met on August 26 2008, neither members of the House of Assembly nor Senators have been paid their sitting allowances and the fixing of such allowances is the responsibility of the President (absentee President!).

For some reason, Zanu PF is reluctant to face the reality that all is not well with Mugabe who reportedly arrived an hour late for the graduation ceremony at the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo on Thursday and capped the graduates in groups rather than individually.

Proposed amendments to Zimbabwe’s electoral and human rights laws are unlikely to see the light of the day after their expiry at the end of the last Parliament session in August which sat on 48 occasions from 13/07/10 to 05/09/11 in the case of the House of Assembly while the Senate sat on 33 occasions.

Increased State paranoia manifests in many ways including the police raid on an Oxfam meeting at Bronte Hotel in Harare where they briefly arrested 10 foreign nationals and several workers of the British charity ahead of possible bloody elections.

All this happened amid reports of a looming famine in most of Matabeleland South, Midlands and parts of Masvingo and Manicaland provinces.

The threat by Zanu PF Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere on Friday 11/11/11 to deal heavy-handedly with black employees working for foreign firms who refuse to be part of his controversial company grab scheme only helps to make the situation more tense.

The timing of his threats in light of the Zanu PF conference in Bulawayo next month is not accidental.
Generals loyal to Mugabe reiterated on Friday that they won’t entertain any talk of security sector reforms in Zimbabwe.

Speaking at the 28th anniversary of the Presidential Guard in Harare, Major General Martin Chedondo charged that security sector reform was a way by which Rhodesians were trying to effect illegal regime change through the inclusive government. They have also said they won’t salute anyone who did not fight for liberation.

The recent threats by controversial 3 Infantry Brigade commander Brigadier-General Nyikayaramba that he will deploy soldiers to deal with those villagers who “disrespect” the authority of local partisan chiefs are another cause for concern.

The analogy with Syria could work like this, democracy uprisings erupt in Harare and spread throughout the country. Mugabe loyalists in the Joint Operations Command would then respond with fire and casualties would mount.

That would be followed by Sadc dithering on expelling Zimbabwe in the same way the Arab League did in the case of Syria, then eventually suspending the country after maybe 3 500 people have been killed as the West watches helplessly, fearing criticism of another Libya, Iraq or Afghanistan. And so on.

With so much repressive legislation on the books making it impossible to demonstrate and express oneself freely and faced with elections based on a flawed voters’ roll, the only route left possible for effecting change looks like the equivalent of Tahir Square — or Zimbabwe’s Africa Unity Square!

Nobody wishes a bloody uprising in any country, including Zimbabwe. But that scenario looks more plausible than ever before.

Clifford Chitupa Mashiri is a political analyst based in London

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