By Leonardo Makuya
Yesterday two despots shared the same birthday- that is one Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa from Zimbabwe and the other being Yoweri Kaguta Museveni from Uganda.
Despite old age, these two brothers in despotism seem to share a lot in common. Both despots pride themselves as liberation war fighters which makes them feel entitled to rule despite the will of the people indicating otherwise.
Their misrule has been marked by monumental human rights abuses, violent repression of dissenting voices, weaponisation of the law, vote rigging and both have presided over breathtaking economic meltdown.
Behind these two despots are violent lethal systems that are armed with a repressive apparatus whose deadly efficiency has proved itself for almost 4 decades of their tyrannical rule.
A vicious system which continues to kill, maim, imprison and exile; one that has benefited from regional indifference to the suffering of both Zimbabweans and Ugandans and is ready to consolidate state power at any cost.
However, there has been a wave of change sweeping across these two Republics, both being fermented by young people. In Zimbabwe the torchbearer of the opposition being Nelson Chamisa and in Uganda being Robert Kyagulanyi popularly known as Bobi Wine.
Despite arguably winning the 2018 Presidential Election, there are a few lessons Nelson Chamisa can learn from Bobi Wine in order to maneuver in the increased violent political terrain in Zimbabwe.
Bobi Wine, a reggae-star turned politician is now an epitome of defiance and resistance in Uganda. Despite contesting as an independent candidate in a hostile and violent political environment Bobi Wine won a seat as a Member of Parliament in 2017.
Now he is firmly established as one of the leaders of a new generation of politicians across Africa who are challenging long-time leaders. In 2021 he will be facing Yoweri Museveni in the presidential elections.
Within a few years of joining active, dance-floor opposition politics Bobi Wine has managed to build a robust, formidable and resolute movement popularly known as #PeoplePower. He has been violently assaulted and arrested countless times including being arbitrarily charged with treason.
Yet, despite these violent setbacks he remains resolute and ever-determined to push Museveni out of power. His movement has been defiant and resilient to despot Museveni’s patronage gimmicks.
On the other side, Chamisa has chosen the path of diplomacy in responding to Mnangagwa’s despotic tendencies, insisting on a national dialogue since 2018 which despite several calls has not materialized.
What we have witnessed are unfortunate ruthless attacks on Chamisa’s loyal lieutenants so as to completely decimate the opposition. The question is: is it not time Chamisa borrows a leaf from his brother Bobi Wine and resist?
In Zimbabwe there has been unprecedented judicial activism. The Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that Chamisa was not the legitimate leader of the MDC despite the MDC- Alliance electing him as the leader at Congress in May 2019 and ratifying the decision of the National Council which appointed him as the leader at the 2018.
What followed from the Supreme Court judgment are senseless recalls from the judicially constructed MDC-T. These developments demonstrate with convincing vividness that the dice has already being casted- there is nothing to lose.
The name MDC-Alliance continues to be muddied by the proponents of the judicially constructed MDC-T outfit. If Bobi Wine could build such a formidable party (National Unity Party) after three (3) years of joining active opposition politics what is stopping Chamisa from establishing a new people’s movement and take the struggle forward instead of wasting time in unproductive predictable court battles?
Bobi Wine’s National Unity Platform now owns a first class headquarters. This is why despite the state-sponsored grabbing of the Harvest House from the MDC-Alliance, there is no justification why Chamisa’s party is ‘homeless’ after the violent seizure of Harvest House when it has millions of supporters in Zimbabwe and in the diaspora who are ready to fund their struggle.
The MDC-Alliance leadership must be decisive only. It has the ability to raise more than millions of USD and build a first-class Headquarters.
Despite Chamisa having the support of the majority of Zimbabweans he needs to understand the needs of time and respond appropriately by building a new, robust and defiant people’s movement that is rooted in resisting dictatorship……
Leonardo Makuya is a Lawyer, Human Rights and Pro-Democracy Activist, Author and Political Analyst who can be contacted for feedback at [email protected]