“WHO can ever forget that a whole (President Robert) Mugabe and his government were shaken by a solo protester Itai Dzamara sitting in Africa Unity Square gardens vowing not to eat until Mugabe (found) time off his busy schedule and respond to his petitions!”
This is an excerpt from a past article I wrote a few weeks ago. I differ with Linda Masarira on so many fronts about the democratic project in Zimbabwe, but I must admit that I found her opinion plausible about the biggest problem that has hijacked, attacked and sucked the life and authenticity out of the democracy project.
For so many reasons, the Government of National Unity (GNU) arrangement had sins of its own. This was a time when every Jack in the trenches knew that for any chance to be in government, one had to be either in MDC-T or Zanu PF. It best suited Mugabe at that time to use a third force, no matter how small in number or stature, to frustrate Morgan Tsvangirai’s manoeuvres. It was possible only if this third force was one with scores to settle with Tsvangirai, forget the pitch of its voice, just its noise and hand was enough.
Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara on one end, Tsvangirai cutting a lone figure on the other. One plus one against one. It does make mathematical sense, right?
If history has to be traced, it is Mutambara who sang the reforms mantra during the GNU. This was politically convenient in that he had no electoral following behind him better than Tsvangirai. Mugabe could well ignore him and get away with it. In fact, he did just that.
Tsvangirai, meanwhile, had to hurry to have the people taste ice cream and eggs again in time for the 2013 elections. Mugabe and his party, in the meantime, also regrouped and found breathing space again, to live yet another day. The reforms agenda lost steam, it had no political backing, it died sooner than it rose.
On the other side, important and of interest in this, we had those who grabbed seats in the GNU through the back door, thanks to them we have a civil society to last a day’s discussion.
The tragedy of it all is that it is no longer left to accidents of biology for one to be a veteran of the struggle, anyone can invent their own struggle credentials these days. Evan Mawarire earned his without the bullet of a rifle and his family stays within American borders. Who said there has to be rifle shots for one to be a struggle veteran anyway, aren’t struggles different from circumstance to circumstance?
Then there is that pastor who chained himself to a tree in a one-man protest in Victoria Falls, the same guy who held the country to curious ransom in 2018 saying the gods had told him Mugabe (MHSRIP) would pass on in October of the same year. It is on record that the simple pastor even gave the exact date. I watched the video less than a week before the fool shamelessly backtracked and announced his availability for election as a parliamentary candidate.
The tale of the Dzamaras is also one which cannot be left out as far as exposing how corrupt and fraudulent the civil society divide has become. Even the street has word that allegations that Patson Dzamara lost his car because of his political activism is one big grand fraud; the man invented his ploy to source donor funds and inflated his struggle credentials. Nobody has come forward to clarify what happened to the other Dzamara brother and for the sake of consoling his poor family, salt will not be added to injury, but nevertheless, it still boggles the mind how Mugabe, the Central Intelligence Organisation or military bosses could have felt threatened by Dzamara and his one, two, three and four followers sitting in Africa Unity Square vowing to stay hungry until Mugabe found time between his trips to UN and Moscow to reply to Dzamara’s letter.
The sad story does not end there. In fact, the struggle veterans keep growing more and more in different sizes and shapes. Are they not doctor Peter Magombeyi’s abductors and tormentors the nicest and most reckless people walking on the planet? They even had the courtesy to buy their victim airtime so that he could text to his loved ones that he had been abducted so that they could alert the police to start the search. The doctor even came back with much of his body intact and in good shape, a little luckier than most who do not live to tell the tale.
The country is now hugely littered with so many briefcase civic society organisations whose main purpose is to make noise over just about anything; Tighter sanctions against the government, energy crisis, prices of basic commodities, hiring of Shona teachers in Matabeleland, Warriors losing to Ndombolo Boys and white farmers getting their farms back.
This is what civic society is paid to do, just to make noise about anything. There must be something more beyond them just making noise. This is their way of earning struggle credentials.
This is the currency, so they believe, for appointment into government, should another GNU be crafted, or better still, when the opposition finally takes over the reins and are short of men and women to fill in the available offices at Munhumutapa. Masarira noted this too.
Zimbabweans need to be a bit more careful in choosing their battles, it will take a bit of more digging in believing either side of the story; and it will take too, a resolute grounding in not being swayed by every wind.