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Lessons to be learnt from Linda Masarira’s blunder – Semwayo

By Benjamin Semwayo

The name Linda Masarira became a household name recently when she was imprisoned for months without trial for taking part in the Tajamuka campaign, a hugely successful protest against Mugabe’s rule.

Linda Masarira
Linda Tsungirirai Masarira was sent to prison for 84 days for her public protests against the leader of Zimbabwe. (Picture by WPSU)

She was instantly hailed as a hero and catapulted into the limelight for the bravery and selfless manner in which she sought to improve the lot of everyone in Zimbabwe. She received plaudits and was touted as a future political stalwart for valiantly standing up to President Robert Mugabe’s regime.

Unfortunately in a single moment of unguarded imprudence Linda, whose activism had risen to that defining point where one ceases to be described as a fledgling activist and begins to be thought of as a seasoned, tried and tested activist and a force to be reckoned with, made the same mistake that is being played out on the Zimbabwean political scene, that of attacking fellow opposition citizens being brutalised by Mugabe and therefore effectively being divisive in the fight against oppression.

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At a recent Crisis in Zimbabwe meeting an ashen-faced Linda is said to have unleashed a spontaneous volcanic outburst, rounding on the Ndebele people and accusing them of being cowards. It is difficult to see how the Ndebeles had ruffled her feathers, but the scanty details that can be gleaned from her speech reveal that she had worked with them at the National Railways of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo.

It is there that a history of friction and run-ins along tribal Lines must have occurred, resulting in deep seated animosity and stereotyping. Linda paid dearly for making such a grave mistake because it attracted an avalanche of criticism from every quarter, fittingly, and threatened to knock her from the greasy pedestal that she had worked so hard to climb.

The people of Zimbabwe, bar the few who subscribe to Zanu PF’s warped to views, are all victims of Mugabe’s brutality and should view one another as partners and comrades in efforts to emancipate themselves from Mugabe’s lethal clutches.

Linda went off the rails when she targeted the Ndebeles with her vitriol.  She seems to have forgotten who the enemy was and she cannot be exonerated for her ill-advised actions. She should not even attempt to defend herself because that would be trying to defend the indefensible.

By making those utterances she acted in Mugabe’s favour and scored an own goal. In one master stroke she wreaked havoc that makes the CIO operatives green with envy while the rest of the Zimbabweans cringe in horror and disbelief.

At a time when the opposition is calling for unity it is counterproductive to make divisive utterances of that nature. The plundering of our country and the abuse of our people have reached fever-pitch and for that reason it is crucial that Zimbabweans expend their efforts on forging unity rather than cause divisions. Linda should do the only honourable thing expected of her in this case, which is to apologise unreservedly.

The saddest thing is that such a unwise actions  are not just confined to Linda but pervade the entire opposition Politics of Zimbabwe, with opposition politicians frequently taking aim at one another and brutally savaging one another. They have thus done egregious harm to their noble cause because rather than co-ordinate their reactions to Zanu PF as a united front they have been fragmented and have in fact put hurdles in each other’s way.

It is for this unfortunate division and bickering that the opposition has not made any headway in such crucial areas as boycotting elections or enforcing any changes to the all-important electoral laws.

If they are to realise any success they must make a pact that promotes co-operation among opposition parties and accentuates the requirement that no opposition leader should criticise another opposition leader and should in fact learn to openly and actively support sensible and praiseworthy ideas from fellow opposition politicians.

Zimbabweans should take note of divisive leaders and withdraw their support. Unity against Zanu PF is everything as far as winning elections is concerned.

Zimbabweans should remove all the impediments to the formation of a grand coalition because that is the only effective way of overthrowing a dictatorship.

Opposition party leaders should swallow pride and agree to coalesce under the most popular politician for the good of the country; doing it any other way is just putting spanners in work of forward thinking, patriotic Zimbabweans. It is no secret who the most popular opposition leader is.