By Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka
The Joint Operations Command has resolved to implement an elaborate scorched earth policy to stem the very real prospects of Zimbabweans pouring into the streets to express their displeasure over the deteriorating situation in the country.
The economic crisis has been worsened by the current lockdown and the regime has resolved to try everything possible to stop angry and starving Zimbabweans from flooding the streets.
JOC, a grouping of all State Security Organs, has held over 13 meetings in the past two months to devise means and methods of stemming the prospects of public demonstrations. The current lockdown eventuated by the Covid-19 pandemic has provided a convenient cover to systematically lock down the country against the very real prospects of public demonstrations.
Insiders say the first move was to unsettle the leader of the people’s movement, Nelson Chamisa, by handing down a highly controversial judgement aimed at causing confusion in the people’s party.
Chamisa’s presumed fault was his groundswell of public support and his public statement in Mbare in February this year in which he declared that 2020 is the year of action.
Aware of the fertile ground for such action given the parlous state of the economy, a conveniently dangling judgement was handed down at the end of March so as to unsettle the popular and charismatic leader.
JOC was aware that the controversial judgement, now derisively referred to as the Covid-19 judgement, could itself become a rallying point that could drive people into the streets in support of Chamisa. It became necessary therefore that the judgement be handed down when all free movement had been proscribed in the wake of the global pandemic.
Impeccable sources inside the regime have intimated that the Covid-19 judgement was the beginning of a well-orchestrated JOC plot devised to stem public demonstrations, which demonstrations the regime is so fearful about.
Covid-19 the pandemic and Covid-19 the judgement became convenient sideshows from the loud cries of illegitimacy and the resultant economic meltdown that had become the main theme of public discourse. The pandemic and the judgement would provide a necessary diversion.
JOC noted that Chamisa and the MDC would soon rise to become the public face of the national displeasure against the clueless regime and the attendant deteriorating situation the country.
The first JOC meeting that devised the scorched earth plot against the pending action was held on 10 March 2020 when the MDC held its National Standing Committee meeting after which it issued a public statement that in line with the party’s Congress resolution, the MDC would mobilise Zimbabweans across the length and breadth of the country to peacefully and Constitutionally express themselves.
Insiders say that statement engendered trepidation in the corridors of stolen power where the power-looters were well aware that the national mood and the parlous economy provided fertile ground for action.
Nelson Chamisa and the MDC had to be decisively dealt with and the empty judgement was then handed down in the hope that this would generate an enduring diversion by causing confusion and deflecting attention from the sonorous and legitimate calls for a return to legitimacy.
However, at the second JOC meeting, it was noted that the regime had underestimated Chamisa’s popularity and the grassroots endorsement of the MDC leadership elected at the party’s 2019 Congress.
The revilement of the pliable Thoko-Zanu Khupe and the public endorsement of Nelson Chamisa by the party structures and the generality of Zimbabweans did not go unnoticed by the paranoid regime hence the decision to go on a full-scale scorched earth policy under the guise of enforcing the Covid-19 lockdown.
The illegal demolitions of vendors’ stalls in what has been dubbed Murambatsvina 2 is all part of this elaborate scorched earth policy by JOC. Given the country’s highly informalised economy, the teeming vendors and small time traders in Harare and other cities would provide a set base to mobilise people for action in the aftermath of the lockdown and the minutes clearly state that the national environment must not be conducive to petty trading, the life-blood of the majority of Zimbabweans..
JOC has decided to make it impossible for these teeming millions of small-time traders to return to their sites of survival ostensibly to protect the nation against the corona virus after the lockdown. Yet the very real fear is the pending action in which Zimbabweans are determined to express their displeasure at the deteriorating situation.
Unbeknown to JOC, the demolitions of their structures and the dislocation of people’s lives by the lockdown given the highly informalized economy will provide the impetus for the very action the regime’s securocrats have resolved to stem through this so-called Murambatsvina, which in essence is Murambavanhu because because small time trading has become the people’s site for survival.
JOC is so desperate to stop the legitimate public expression to the extent that they conveniently forgot the law. Chapter 14 of the Constitution is very clear that local authorities are responsible for local governance issues but the elected authorities in the various cities and towns have been circumvented as central government has gone for broke, brazenly demolishing people’s vending structures and fracturing livelihoods in the process.
They have even done it without court orders as required by law. The whole essence of this JOC-instigated plot is to stem the prospect of the mobilisation of public anger in the aftermath of a lockdown which has dislocated already fragile livelihoods in these desperate times.
The millions of vendors on the street pavements would provide any pending action with well mobilised crowds already in the streets and JOC has resolved that these people should rather die of hunger in their homes than legitimately express themselves from the streets, which streets were already their workplaces.
It is true that most countries are using the army to enforce the lockdown. In our situation, the Covid-19 pandemic has come as a convenient cover for this well-orchestrated JOC plot to instil the fear of Hell in the populace and to engender an aversion of public demonstrations in the aftermath of this legitimate lockdown.
In the JOC scheme of things, the optics and semiotics of soldiers all over the country beating up gathered shoppers and violently enforcing the lockdown will engender fear in the nation. The public whippings and assaults of citizens by soldiers is deliberately meant to send a chilling message: “We will be ready for you if you dare join any public demonstration after this lockdown.”
Yer it is the very same soldiers that are telling us of this elaborate plot. Unbeknown to JOC and this uncaring government, these soldiers are part of the starving citizenry.
In fact, some of the soldiers deployed in the countryside have actually been shouting to the people: “We are beating you up so as to make you angry against this regime. You guys are too meek. What will it take to make you angry? If our beatings will make you angry enough to rise against this clueless regime, then we will gladly beat you up.”
And they are right.
After all, these soldiers are suffering too and when the people flood the streets, as they certainly will, someone must not be shocked when they choose to join the people instead of shooting them. Only a small parasitic elite is benefitting in this highly cartelized economy while the rank and file in the army are suffering like everybody else.
The nation is on tenterhooks. This is a ground zero moment for Zimbabwe. The lockdown has increased poverty levels in the homes and galvanised people for decisive action.
Zimbabwe is a nation of heroes. After all, it’s these uniformed officers who have given us minute details of the 13 JOC meetings and the decision for a scorched earth policy in a vain attempt to stem the pending legitimate action.
Indeed, action is coming. The people know that they and their God are in charge of this decisive and delicate moment for our country.
Nothing—-absolutely nothing—will stand in the way of this imminent hour of decisive change.
While the regime has gone for a doomed scorched earth policy, the people remain determined. As Khupe, Mwonzora and Komichi run around trying to convince unwilling Zimbabweans to join them, we remain calm.
Even when they pen fake WhatsApp messages in our names, we remain untroubled.
President Nelson Chamisa remains calm and focused on the bigger national picture. We are resolute and determined to lead from the front in bringing positive change in the lives of the people. . All the Corona judgement has done is to sift the chaff from the wheat and to galvanise an angry nation for action.
The regime might think these patriotic soldiers are going to shoot the people. They may be shocked to find the soldiers among the people, with the blazing gun pointing in the opposite direction.
Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka is the Deputy National Spokesperson of the MDC. Tamborinyoka is a former spokesperson to the then Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, the late Morgan Richard Tsvangirai.
He is a multiple award-winning journalist and a former secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists. He won the Book Prize for Best Student when he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Political Science at the University of Zimbabwe.
You can interact with him on Facebook or on the twitter handle @luke_tambo.