By Tafi Mhaka
MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa reportedly fears for his life and is ready to negotiate with President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This after the harassment and humiliation Chamisa endured at the hands of state security agents at Oliver Mtukudzi’s memorial service in Harare and funeral service in Madziwa last month.
“My life is now in danger because the hatred has now reached another level…why should we lose life in order to have dialogue if we can have dialogue first?” asked Chamisa.
But Mnangagwa and the ruling Zanu-PF party harbour no desperate desire to negotiate with Chamisa as they have power. They have the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) disappearing MDC Alliance campaigners and killing unarmed demonstrators to maintain Zanu-PF-style law and disorder.
They have an accommodating judiciary to buttress their illiberal ways through shoddy court rulings. They have the support of both the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) to help secure questionable legitimacy and ward off international isolation. And they have Chamisa right where they want him to be: afraid to death of dying young and leaving his wife a widow.
Carrying Joshua Nkomo’s cross
Under former President Robert Mugabe, the CIO, ZRP and ZDF methodically hounded Zapu leaders in the early 1980s in a bid to create a one party state. As thousands of Zapu supporters and blameless civilians were shot and hacked to death by an ethnocentric Fifth Brigade operating under Perence Shiri’s command in the Gukurahundi massacres, Zanu-PF simultaneously embraced “talks”.
The secretive deliberations advanced Zapu and Joshua Nkomo’s devastating capitulation to Zanu-PF’s state-sponsored violence and introduced an enduring policy of ethnic marginalisation in national politics widely sold as national “unity”. It’s the same approach Zanu-PF deployed in 2008 to force Morgan Tsvangirai to “negotiate” after Zanu-PF-aligned actors had rigged the presidential election result and killed hundreds of MDC supporters.
And it’s the malicious ploy Zanu-PF has deployed in 2019 to safeguard its long-held dominance amid widespread despondency with Mnangagwa’s disastrous presidency. As such, Zanu-PF’s ferocious push to demolish MDC Alliance ground structures and instil deathly fear into everyone and everything progressive won’t stop until all visible dissent is silenced.
The Psychology of defiance and winning at all costs
Last week Chamisa released a powerful statement calling on the AU and SADC to intervene and “stand with the people”. Chamisa further called on the UN to appoint “a special UN rapporteur on Zimbabwe to ensure accountability” for atrocities committed by government security forces.
Yet both the AU and SADC have an abominable history of supporting Zanu-PF’s long-standing oppression and Mnangagwa will likely block any move to appoint a UN special rapporteur to Zimbabwe. Which is why the MDC Alliance must organise a massive resistance campaign against Mnangagwa’s brutal dictatorship. And which is why Chamisa must for once learn a valuable lesson from Mnangagwa’s long history: defiance pays.
Mnangagwa defied Ian Smith’s administration before 1980 to help fight for independence and challenged Mugabe’s “G40” machinations to become Zimbabwe’s president in November 2017, all at the risk of facing death, because every political conquest comes at a price. Likewise, in today’s homicidal political atmosphere, who can truthfully say Chamisa will enjoy sweet, happy tomorrows with his young family, or enjoy a long, fulfilling life?
Ours is not to pretend all will somehow become well by folding our arms in resignation or overthinking everything to the obstructive point of political paralysis. Ours is not to fear the mighty hand of death wielded by Mnangagwa and his henchmen.
We must stand tall and forever willing to die for our hard won democracy and individual freedoms. Together we must confront the escalating danger Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF poses to Zimbabwe with limitless intent to fulfil our democratic destiny.
As more people suffer to no end and die from government-registered bullets, we mustn’t wait on outsiders to demand political change and fight our massive battles. Chamisa’s camp must develop an unambiguous and detailed plan of action to achieve democratic change.
No doubt Chamisa will be frequently harassed and humiliated by Zanu-PF actors in public forums and on state media channels. No doubt Mnangagwa’s regime will seek the slightest excuse to charge Chamisa with treason and imprison him for life. No doubt Chamisa may or may not die along the way and become a national hero – just like Herbert Chitepo and Nikita Mangena in the 1970s. Nevertheless, is Chamisa willing to stand up to Mnangagwa and begin to fulfil his God-given destiny?
You can follow Tafi Mhaka on Twitter @tafimhaka