Baba Jukwa driving change in Zimbabwe

By Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

A careful study of the situation in Zimbabwe reveals evidence of historical convergence and transitional tides that will soon usher Zimbabwe into a new democratic season.

Baba Jukwa taking notes in Nyoka and Kunyepa satire of a cabinet meeting
Baba Jukwa taking notes in Nyoka and Kunyepa satire of a cabinet meeting

The interesting dimension of this change is that it is coming from within and from unlikely sources.

The current winter of discontent within the disciplined forces, ZANU PF factionalism and the ‘Baba Jukwa’ cyber phenomenon are all clear pieces of evidence that change is being driven from within, is bottom –up, spontaneous and organic.

Civil society organizations should therefore be focusing on these internal drivers for change. In light of this, the current EU aloofness might actually be a welcome development, as it would enable civil society to focus on what matters-internal social change, a pre-requisite for a sustainable democratic transition.

Rather than see it as a negative development, the withdrawal of the international community must be viewed as strategic to the extent that it will leave the process of change at the mercy of internal forces thereby giving it local ownership and credibility.

Zimbabwe is definitely entering a strategic period of history when major transitional changes are beginning to occur bringing about potential momentous transformation. The current fear, panic, and political factionalism are an indication that some politicians are not prepared for change which is why some are reacting to it with suspicion, contempt and some with threats of violence.

However change is inevitable, no matter how long it takes to unfold. Powerful kingdoms such as the Roman and Ottoman empires came and went and there are clear signs that this is also beginning to take place in Zimbabwe. The winds of change across Africa, which brought about democratization of the region and the Arab Spring have left states like Zimbabwe as outposts of tyrannical rule.

When the pace of change outside is far greater than the pace of change within, then the end of tyranny is near since tyranny needs some sort of regional letgitimisation. This is the message SADC should be driving home to Zimbabwe in no uncertain terms.

According to Reports, the current special voting has been a logistical nightmare.The nightmare cannot simply be dismissed as a logistical issue. It is deeper than that. Reliable sources have it that the the powerful but chaotic Zanu PF faction is clearly trying to manipulate the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to block the special voting process for police officers and civil servants.

According to these sources, ZEC is now deliberately blocking them from voting, after most police officers and other civil servants around the country have refused to be coerced by their superiors to vote for certain political parties. Police officers have also insisted that they will not be used to further the interests of one party over the other and will use their democratic right despite attempts by senior officials to block this.

The Facebook character Baba Jukwa is similarly haunting ZANU PF from within. Having emerged on Facebook in January 2013, Baba Jukwa has rapidly become established as a major source of online political news in Zimbabwe. It is thought to be run by a member of the ruling ZANU-PF party, many of his posts centre on accusations of state corruption and violence.

Reportedly, the government is undertaking an intense campaign to find the poster’s identity. On May 31st the State Security Minister publicly announced his worries that ‘Zimbabwe is under cyber attack’.

Although the forthcoming elections are not likely to be decisive, the post-election period will not leave the political terrain the same anymore. Stakeholders need to remain alive to the drivers of change and reinforce them rather than get in their way.

Zimbabwe is certainly teetering at the threshold of a new season where there will be a new lingual. Rather than speak of top-down security sector reform, there will be talk about bottom up regeneration and social change- a precursor to real and sustainable political change.

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