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Tafi Mhaka: Political chaos would be good for Zimbabwe

By Tafi Mhaka

Amid shocking revelations of corporate malfeasance – on a government minister’s orders – rocking NSSA, incredible hardships, an inflation rate exceeding 175% and the United Nations extending the international begging bowl in search of US$331.5 million to assist 2.3 million rural-based Zimbabweans on the brink of starvation, the ruling Zanu-PF party trounced the MDC Alliance in the Lupane East parliamentary by-election held on August 3.

Tafi Mhaka
Tafi Mhaka

Who would think that, during a long-running and devastating economic crisis, which it created, Zanu-PF would win a parliamentary by-election in Matabeleland North, of all places?

The disturbing truth is, although Zanu-PF is an ailing political monster, its demonstrated will and capacity to misdirect, manipulate and plunder government resources for electoral advantage, in addition to its collective inclination to intimidate, harass or kill opposition members for ‘security reasons’ – from Gukurahundi in 1982 to the January 2019 fuel protests – is right up there with Africa’s worst political disasters: Charles Taylor, Yahya Jammeh, Idi Amini and Omar Al-Bashir.

So, anybody who, like the disbelievingly insipid Tinomudaishe Chinyoka, claims Zanu-PF wins elections because of its responsiveness to fulfilling people’s basic needs is peddling repulsive delusions and dabbling in Chen Chimutengwende-esque propaganda.

Because wouldn’t the folks in Lupane love to have well-paying jobs, secure, adequate pensions, well-equipped modern schools and superb medical services to call on? In a province inundated with underdevelopment, wouldn’t the folks in Lupane love to live well, too?

Chinyoka shouldn’t confuse the ‘revolutionary party’s’ electoral thuggery with good governance, outstanding service delivery or fiscal achievement, because, as Zimbabwe’s world-leading economic and social ills prove, Zanu-PF’s blindingly obvious redundancy is no longer up for public debate.

Moving forward, the late Dumiso Dabengwa’s ZAPU has decided to form a government-in-waiting in South Africa ‘as an alternative to the incompetence currently taking place back home’, while the MDC Alliance has decided to embark on demonstrations ‘to protest against the government’s handling of the economy’.

Commendable as these vague and questionable actions might be, both organisations have previously failed to develop and execute productive resistance campaigns. Indeed, both parties have allowed a bloodstained political catastrophe like Emmerson Mnangagwa to misrule Zimbabwe undisturbed by the kind of general dissent and smothering political pressure that preceded former Sudanese strongman Bashir’s fall from power.

Sudan’s opposition has had to adopt an uncompromising, self-sacrificing approach to dismantling an unviable political dispensation. That has meant boycotting sham general and presidential elections and waging an acrimonious struggle without lucrative parliamentary privileges and salaries. That has meant braving repressive government forces and walking the walk alongside civic groups, workers and ordinary people – doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, labourers, civil servants, students and unemployed masses – to bring about change.

Sure, it’s been a tough, needlessly violent and unmistakably chaotic struggle at times, but the unrelenting public demonstrations and communal clamour for change have been instrumental in galvanising global support and diminishing the junta’s longing to crush dissent and kill protestors at will. Zimbabwe, like Sudan, would benefit from a lengthy phase of massive, people-centred political chaos.

That’s why ZAPU must prioritise the burning need to generate support for democratic change on the ground. And after making several public demands – which we have heard before – the MDC Alliance must define what the political endgame of this latest protest push is.

Is it Mnangagwa’s removal from office? Is it the formation of a transitional administration? Is it holding fresh elections, under fresh conditions? Is it the establishment of a government of national unity? Or is the MDC Alliance politicking and indulging in worthless public bravado?

An extensive resistance campaign is no longer simply an option for Zimbabwe’s main opposition party to consider as it challenges a cunning, repressive and murderous behemoth: it is the only option.

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