Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Disjointed protests useless and only hurt innocent citizens

By Garikai Mafirakureva

Some 20 000 years ago, there lived the oldest tribe in the Southern Africa, referred to as the San. The most intriguing thing about the San was their hunting methods. They used bow and arrow even against the gigantic animals such as elephants. Their arrows did not cause instantaneous death, but they had deadly poison, which eventually caused the death.

Supporters of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party protest against President Mugabe in Harare on April 14, 2016 ©Jekesai Njkizana (AFP)
Supporters of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party protest against President Mugabe in Harare on April 14, 2016 ©Jekesai Njkizana (AFP)

In some cases of small animals, they would patiently track and wait for a couple of hours of up to 7 or 12 hours before death. For large game, such as Giraffe it could take as long as three days. The most encouraging part is their patience and persistence.

Even in our present day endeavors 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 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 Zimbabwe is 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 organizers seem to dissect problems rather than dealing with the cancerous problems holistically once and for all.

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

However, the problem of hand picking problems in the country at the present moment, led to the June 14 2016, protest organised by #Tajamuka/Sesjikile, National Vendors Union 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 has been staying with his family since December 2014.

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

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

On July 6 2016, the national one day “stay-away” protests, organized #ZimShutDown2016, #Tajamuka 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 impact. The roadblocks are increasing by day and the police had even acquired brand new vehicles to use at roadblocks.

The million dollar questions are; Why a one-day protest? Why give them breathing space to create another problem that would need your one day stay away?

As I penned this piece my heart was wrenched and a piercing electric pain ran down my spine when news reached me that the government has 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 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, operation Tasangana, operation Chikorokoza chapera, you name it, the list is endless.

It’s staggering from anesthetic 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 organizers 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 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 that alerts his prey that he is actually salivating to make it his next meal?

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

In Egypt at least 846 people 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 tens later dying as result of beating by police.

The blame, falls squarely on the feet of that colony of clowns, masquerading as organizers of these badly planned and uncoordinated 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 flashed everything including the constitution down the toilet in defense 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 organizers of these protests are not able to organise 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 protest 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 arm twist any system because there is no threat to worry him. Do you think Hosni Mubarak or Ben Ali reacted like this during revolutions in their countries?

My last words to you all organizers 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-strategize or else stop wasting our time.”

  • Garikai Mafirakureva is an independent analyst. He writes in his own capacity. Feedback on garrymafirakureva09@gmail.com