guest column :Tendai Ruben Mbofana
ON August 14, 2020,Southern Africa Development Community’s organ on politics, defence and security co-operation’s virtual meeting was an eye-opener, and had one major takeaway for the people of Zimbabwe — the apparent lone and isolated stance by their government that the country was under some so-called “asymmetric warfare” attack by “dark forces”, both from foreign and local “perennial detractors”.
What was so encouraging about this “isolation” was the hope of the possibility that the region had finally woken up to the realisation that, this two-decade long cry by Zimbabwean authorities of a concerted attack by Western countries, primarily the United States of America (US), the United Kingdom (UK), and European Union (EU) — using local proxies — was nothing more than a thin veil to justify their relentless, ruthless crackdown on any genuine dissent by millions of suffering Zimbabweans, and the opposition.
However, what we have witnessed, based on the statements issued to the public, the only country to even mention the issue of some “asymmetric warfar”, was Zimbabwe itself, represented by President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa — as others present, namely Botswana’s Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi, Zambia’s Edgar Lungu, and executive secretary Stergomena Tax, never touched on the matter, but only resorting to the usual pleasantries on how the country had chaired the organ well.
As a grouping of southern African countries tasked with overseeing issues of politics, defence and security in the region, an attack on a fellow neighbour would have surely taken centre stage, and dominated the proceedings — as they sought to find solutions to this obvious threat to peace and security, in both the named country and the region.
The Zimbabwe regime, which has managed to mercilessly ride roughshod over its own people ever since coming into power at the country’s independence from Britain in 1980 — characterised by a savage genocide that massacred over 20 000 largely Ndebele-speaking civilians, the massacre of hundreds of real and perceived opposition supporters, countless reports of abductions, torture, burning of houses, beating up, sexual abuse, and questionable arrests of ordinary citizens, investigative journalists, lawyers, as well as labour and human rights activists — may have finally been exposed for its shameful lies and sadistic subjugation, which a veteran of the liberation struggle once told me, “would make the Rhodesia Special Branch green with envy”.
Of course, it would be grossly naive, if not downright disingenuous, for me to dismiss or rubbish the interference of foreign powers in our internal affairs — as geopolitical history proves the undeniable fact that countries always meddle in others’ issues, in order to safeguard, or even impose, their own interests.
Even China and Russia interfered in the country’s internal affairs during the liberation struggle, not because they were genuinely interested in our welfare, but simply as a means to gain a foothold on our resources in an “independent Zimbabwe” — which, they have clearly managed to do.
However, attributing Zimbabwean people’s legitimate outcry and outrage at the rampant corruption by the elitist opportunistic ruling clique — who have shamelessly looted billions of billions of US dollars of the country’s national resources, thereby bankrupting the entire economy, leaving millions of citizens wallowing in abject poverty and facing starvation to “foreign entities” is the most despicable excuse ever known to mankind.
Furthermore, attempting to justify the murderous suppression against those who have exposed this corruption, and those who have stood up for the rights of Zimbabweans for a dignified life — by labelling them “dark forces”, “terrorists”, and “sellouts” — clearly no longer holds traction with fellow regional neighbours, as they are waking up to the reality.
The question now is: “What will an organisation notorious for being nothing, but a leaders’ club, which has long reneged on its founding frontline States principles of fighting on the side of the oppressed masses, and not the ruling elite, do?”
Based on Sadc’s checkered history, the people of Zimbabwe would be foolish to hold their breath — as a leopard never changes its spots — but, at least, the isolated ranting by Mnangagwa showed that the truth has set in, even if the regional body will continue pretending as if it sees nothing.
Whether this will prompt the organisation to act, or not, is neither here nor there — but, should serve as encouragement to the millions of impoverished, oppressed, and starved Zimbabweans that they should never give up the struggle — as it is pure, it is good, and it is blessed by the Almighty God — for, indeed, #ZimbaweanLivesMatter.