By Tafi Mhaka
Life in Zimbabwe after the suppressed July 31 demonstration will never be the same. Still, beyond stressing that #ZanuPFMustGo and #ZimbabweanLivesMatter, the organised resistance to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s failed government must focus on establishing strong democratic standards before the next general and presidential elections are held.
The difficulty with merely demanding the government steps down is that Zimbabwe might end up with a second new dispensation: another despotic Zanu-PF regime masked in democratic pretensions.
Going forward, the combined resistance, undoubtedly, must have a plan in hand.
The demonstrations should be based on specific demands, actions and consequences. To help the protestors breathe life into the resistance campaign, they must, by my estimation, demand the establishment of:
1. An independent inquiry into the state of the judiciary
2. A new and independent electoral supervisory body; strengthened by a comprehensive review of all disputed electoral processes and mechanisms
3. An independent inquiry into the Command Agriculture Scheme; supported by strong legal action against corrupt elements
4. An independent inquiry into multiple farm ownership and corruption within the land reform programme
5. An independent inquiry into unsolved abductions, disappearances, torture and beatings
6. An independent inquiry into state capture, tender procedures and government corruption
7. An independent inquiry into the biased public-owned media
8. Pursuant to number 7, the public media’s daily operations should be reviewed and run by an independent trust comprising respectable men and women
9. An independent inquiry into the RBZ farm mechanisation scheme, the quasi-fiscal activities of the Treasury and independence thereof
10. An inquiry into the energy and power sectors – aided by a wholesale review of all problematic state tenders awarded in the last 5 years
11. An inquiry into the problematic roles and state(s) of the
police, army and CIO
The protestors must demand the resignations of the following office bearers:
1. ZRP Commissioner-General Godfrey Matanga – under his watch, the police has shown an incredible aversion for respecting human rights and maintaining law and order
2. ZNA Commander Lt General Edzai Chimonyo – under his command, unarmed and peaceful protestors were killed by armed soldiers
3. Finance minister Mthuli Ncube – under his guidance, the economy has tanked and state capture has flourished
4. Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema – his ministry has overseen the widespread reinforcement of a dangerous, partisan and repressive police state
5. Information and Publicity minister Monica Mutsvangwa – the farcical and harmful state of the government media is aiding violence, murder and oppression
6. Information secretary Nick Mangwana – his propensity to manufactures blatant lies is aiding extensive repression
7. Presidential spokesperson George Charamba – this civil servant has openly promoted, threatened and celebrated violence and murder against unarmed, peaceful Zimbabweans
8. President Emmerson Mnangagwa – his jaded leadership style, considerable incompetence and authoritarian actions have eroded democracy, instigated civilian deaths and destroyed Zimbabwe’s economy
Actions and consequences
Each demand must be backed by a series of peaceful and nonviolent actions and demonstrations.
Despite the usual threats of violence and intimidation, organisers, at every level, must get the people to demonstrate.
That, to be clear, is crucial to building political momentum.
One demonstration a week would be optimal for the first month, then, increasingly, two or three demonstrations a week.
The consequences of no actions or insufficient actions towards meeting the demands of protestors should be more and bigger demonstrations.
Until all of the protestor’s demands are met, the organised resistance must remain rooted on the streets.
The protestors must convince everyone – this includes any progressive actors within Zanu-PF, the SADC and AU – that a majority of Zimbabweans want and desperately need political change.
So the numbers demanding change on the city streets countrywide, not on social media, must reflect that overwhelming reality.
Don’t expect the highly conservative SADC or African Union to actively intervene in Zimbabwe’s domestic affairs if the combined push for change appears weak, unpopular and limited to social media.
What’s more, it won’t be easy going on the ground.
To muddy the political waters, the ruling Zanu-PF party will organise dubious counter demonstrations in support of Mnangagwa.
Worse still, trade unionists, civil activists and journalists will be arrested, disappeared and tortured surreptitiously.
Protestors and activists will be harassed, beaten, detained and labelled as traitors, cashivists and western stooges.
Many will be jailed unfairly.
Many might die.
But that’s the price Zimbabweans must pay to enjoy greater political freedoms and economic prosperity.
Now more than ever, it’s time for the people to demand change.
Tafi Mhaka is a Johannesburg-based writer and commentator. His debut novel, Mutserendende: The African in Us, is scheduled for release in 2020. Follow him on @tafimhaka / tafi.mhaka