Disjointed protests useless, hurting the innocent

Some 20 000 years ago, there lived the oldest tribe in southern Africa, referred to as the San people. The most intriguing thing about the San was their hunting methods.

Garikai Mafirakureva

They used bow and arrow, even against gigantic animals such as elephants. Their arrows did not cause instantaneous death, but they had deadly poison, which eventually caused death.

In some cases of small animals, they would patiently track and wait for a couple of hours of up to seven to 12 hours before death. For large game, such as giraffe, it could take up to three days. The most encouraging part is their patience and persistence.

Even in our present-day endeavours, we should be patient and consistent. Sporadic efforts not only keep you going around in circles, but results will be hard to come by.

It took Egyptian demonstrators two weeks and three days of non-stop online activism, civil disobedience, civil resistance demonstrations, riots and in extreme cases, self-immolation, to put to a grinding halt to Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year-old rule.

In Tunisia, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali officially resigned after 28 days of demonstrations, putting an end to his 23-year-long rule.
The underlying reasons for both revolutions were police brutality, state of emergency laws, electoral fraud, political censorship, corruption, unemployment, food price rises and low wages.

These are the same problems Zimbabweans are trying to deal with at the moment, but the organisation of protests leaves a lot to be desired.

What is so disheartening in the Zimbabwean situation is that the protests lack a line of development, or rather, continuity, to be precise. They are held sporadically that the effects are hardly felt by the intended oppressors.

The biggest undoing of these protests is that the organisers tend to dissect problems, rather than dealing with the cancerous problems holistically once and for all.

If we look at the number of protests in the country so far, the desired results could have been achieved long back.

However, the issue of handpicking problems in the country at the present moment, led to the June 14, 2016, protest organised by Tajamuka/Sesijikile, National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe and Restoration of Human Rights groups at the Rainbow Towers Hotel, with protesters demanding that Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko vacate the hotel’s presidential suite, in which he had been staying with his family since December 2014.

This was followed by another protest on July 1, 2016, organised by cross-border traders from Zimbabwe and South Africa, after the government had announced an import ban on specified goods.

The cross-border traders were calling for the removal of the ban.

The national stay-away day came after other spontaneous clashes between commuter omnibus drivers and the police two days earlier, with 95 people being arrested and several others injured.

On July 6, 2016, the national one-day “stayaway” protests, organised by #ZimShutDown2016, #Tajamuka/Sesijikile and #ThisFlag hashtags over the Internet via WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and other social messaging platforms failed to yield any dividends either.

Instead, on July 7 and 8, police arrested dozens of protesters. This must have impacted negatively on the planned July 13 and 14 national stayaways.

What is more worrying is that the protests have short-term impacts. The roadblocks are increasing by the day and the police have even acquired brand new vehicles to use at roadblocks.

The million-dollar questions are: Why one-day protests? Why give them breathing space to create another problem that would need your one-day stayaway?

As I penned this piece, my heart was wrenched and a piercing electric pain ran down my spine after news reached me that the government had banned demonstrations in and around Harare for two weeks.

What next? What now?
Another one-day demonstration and probably a two-month ban before the year comes to an end, and the circle starts all over again next year.

This is just pathetic.
The San, as I mentioned earlier on, never went back home until the animal had died because they were determined to kill it to feed their families. They endured the scorching heat, hunger and thirst, as they religiously tracked it.

In the Zimbabwean situation, the animal is just about to die on its own, after enduring so many operations.

Operation Murambatsvina, Operation Garikai/Hlani Kuhle, Operation Maguta/Inala, Operation Tasangana, Operation Chikorokoza Chapera, you name it, the list is endless.

It’s staggering from the anaesthetic administered during these several operations. The economic sutures are already rupturing.

It is obvious it won’t take more than three days before it succumbs to any pressure, but the protests organisers are letting it off the hook.

Can you imagine the former liberation fighters, coming back home for Christmas or Easter holidays or even asking for permission from former Prime Minister Ian Smith to fight his colonial regime? Do you think they would have won the war? Was this country going to be liberated at all?

Asking for a police clearance, is like asking for a formal consent from your oppressor, who had authored your suffering for so long, for permission to exercise your constitutional right.

What kind of a hunter alerts his prey that he is actually salivating to make it his next meal?

If the Egyptian or Tunisian protests were so occasional as those currently organised in Zimbabwe, would they have toppled their oppressors?

In Egypt, at least 846 people were killed and over 6 000 injured, while protesters burned down over 90 police stations, as night clashes broke out in Tahrir Square between revolutionaries and pro-Mubarak demonstrators.

A curfew was imposed, which was widely ignored as the flow of protesters into Tahrir Square continued through the night.

Tunisia, like Egypt, declared a nationwide curfew after days of protests. However, they were ignored and solidarity rallies were held in cities, including Tunis, as demonstrations spread throughout the country.

However, in Zimbabwe, each erratic demonstration, stay away and shutdown has left hundreds languishing in prisons, while others were injured, and then later dying, as result of beatings by police.

The blame lies squarely on the feet of that colony of clowns, masquerading as organisers of these badly planned and unco-ordinated protests.

Whichever lens you use to assess the current situation in the country, you surely will see that Zimbabwe has long slipped into political quagmire.

Mugabe and his dictatorial government have flushed everything, including the Constitution, down the toilet in defence of power.

So, how can someone approach the police or Judiciary that has been whipped into submission for permission to protests against his regime?

Mugabe’s minions and sycophants, known for their oddly prankish streak, were so arrogant and had the nerve to disrespect the Constitution, imposing a ban on demonstrations, and yet you kneel before them begging for permission to protest.

If organisers of these protests are not able to plan demonstrations that would force Mugabe out of office, then they should stop putting people’s lives at risk.

Demonstrations should be consistent until the desired results are achieved.

This is not a time to market yourself as one of the first people who led protests in Zimbabwe, at the expense of ordinary people trying to support you.

Instead of Mugabe lashing out at the Judiciary system or protesters, he should have been quacking in his boots, uncertain of his future, if these demonstrations were spelling impending danger to him.

But insisted, he is such a rogue to armtwist any system because there is no threat to worry him.

Do you think Mubarak or Ben Ali reacted like this during revolutions in their countries?

My last words to you all organisers of demonstrations are: “If you don’t have anything purposeful to offer in terms of protests that would bring meaningful change, just go back to the drawing board and re-strategise or else stop wasting our time.”

Garikai Mafirakureva is an independent analyst. He writes in his own capacity. Feedback on garrymafirakureva09@gmail.com. This article first appeard on Khuluma Afrika.

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1 Comment

  1. Now someone is talking sense. People just want to use us. Look at the NERA demo not even ONE political party leader was arrested but the electorate who were mobilized. We want serious people to lead our country. Currently we don’t have any qualified to face this regime.

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