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Why are Zimbabweans not angry with Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF?

In the last 41 years, our so-called leaders have done plenty to deliberately suppress the spirit and substance of our fledgling democracy. They have done everything possible to avoid transparency and upend accountability.

Yet after so much has gone wrong with Zimbabwe, the men and women who have squandered our immeasurable goodwill and precious resources – our entire lifetimes to be precise – only for power and personal glory, remain unrepentant and practically unafraid of any potential legal ramifications.

A long time ago, the Zanu-PF comrades decided that the truth was expendable and generally what they say it is. For example, the truth about the Gukurahundi massacres – suppressed via the suppression of the Chihambakwe Commission of Inquiry and Dumbutshena Commission of Inquiry reports – is seemingly lost forever.

Indeed, there are no official truths about the Gukurahundi massacres.

Similarly, the truth about the people behind the illegal arrests and torture of pro-democracy advocates Mark Chavunduka, Jestina Mukoko and Tawanda Muchehiwa, remains unknown.

Likewise, the truth about the abduction and forced disappearance of Itai Dzamara remains unknown.

What’s more, who ordered the vicious attacks on the late Morgan Tsvangirai and Nelson Chamisa in 2007?

Who organised the systemic beatings and murders of MDC activists in 2009?

Who stole approximately $15 billion worth of diamonds from the Chiadzwa diamond fields?

Who really won the 2018 presidential election?

Who ordered the abductions of Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova in 2020?

Nobody knows, honestly.

We don’t know – because Zanu-PF has abrogated every human right that Zimbabweans truly deserve to enjoy.

Even our sacred right to vote for our desired leadership has been violated for decades through plain deceit and the fraudulent manipulation of standard electoral procedures.

Long before the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) came into being, Zanu-PF did everything it could to stifle the popular will through the highly compromised former Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede – a man whose despicable being betrayed an incredible distaste for democracy and opposition politics that set us back for years.

For the record, by 1990, many of us had grown tired of Zanu-PF’s baton-wielding brand of governance. We supported Edgar Tekere’s Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM). For our troubles, many of our party’s leaders and supporters were thoroughly beaten as Zanu-PF unleashed mayhem on ZUM leaders and supporters – and Mudede implemented many questionable and illiberal electoral procedures, simply to oppress a peaceful and democratic rebuttal of the ruling party’s failed policies and inadequate leadership.

This was in 1990, just 10 years after independence.

We had had enough of Zanu-PF but did nothing to express our widespread disapproval and anger with its unsatisfactory rule.

We didn’t attempt to reclaim our precious birthrights from Zanu-PF. Instead, we cowered at the threat of both open and thinly veiled threats to our wellbeing. We babysat Zanu-PF’s extensive malfeasance and helped grow an unrepentant political beast.

Indeed, we didn’t demand to know the truth about Gukurahundi massacres. We didn’t demand justice for the many victims of state-sponsored terror. We didn’t march to the president’s office to demand accountability for the torture, disappearances and deaths of our fellow Zimbabweans.

Rather, we complained about Zanu-PF in the safety of our backyards and dining rooms – and whispered in the shadows of increasing poverty, unaware that suppressing our anger would only lend the beast the strength and conviction to oppress us further.

We even claimed that Zanu chiwororo in misplaced conversations, content to pretend that we, as a people, are helpless: that we are weak and destined to be a failed people, a failed nation.

Today, we are struggling to slay the beast that we reared for so long.

Zanu-PF has not abandoned its corrupt, murderous and hopelessly incompetent rule, and ZEC has sought to perfect the dubious electoral antics that Mudede introduced a long time ago. Like in 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2018, the presiding electoral authority will undoubtedly help determine the result of the 2023 election.

Unless Zimbabweans take a stand and stop Zanu-PF functionaries from suppressing the progressive vote, the MDC Alliance will lose both the presidential and general elections – unfairly, again.

Today, social media is abuzz with contempt for ZEC and government efforts to frustrate voter registration campaigns conducted by the MDC Alliance and civil groups.

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But nobody appears to be exceedingly angry with ZEC or the Zanu-PF government.

Why are Zimbabweans not angry at Zanu-PF’s failures and bad governance?

Why are we not angered by our escalating poverty and joblessness?

Why are we not angered by the tremendous and questionable wealth accrued by Zanu-PF members and cronies?

In the face of severe repression and poverty, why is Zimbabwe such a tranquil nation?

The vote won’t be stolen in 2023 – Zanu-PF has been suppressing the progressive vote since 2018 through a plethora of underhand tactics and government policies.

So, we need to find our voices and counter Zanu-PF’s dishonesty through demonstrations – where need be through both small and massive countrywide demonstrations.

We need to vent our anger publicly and begin to help mould the Zimbabwe our elders died for.

Inevitably, any public demonstrations of displeasure with government’s failure to establish a fair and credible voter registration exercise – or electoral outcome, will elicit a fierce backlash in the form of government propaganda and violence, because the Zanu-PF comrades abhor democracy.

Still, that can’t hold us back.

We must be willing to welcome and bear the pains of a democratic struggle.

To achieve a vote that expresses the will of the people, Zimbabwe needs a lot more people like Makomborero Haruzivishe to help will our democracy forward.

As Zimbabweans, we have a tendency to overthink and over analyse our situation and become overly theoretical and less practical about our democratic struggle, our own strengths and our own responsibilities towards correcting our deplorable situation.

The 2023 presidential and general elections will not be won through clever inaction or smart negotiations with Zanu-PF.

But we might win them if we fight for what is really ours: our democracy – a principled democracy which works for all.

That means we have to use every legal and people-oriented action to secure a credible electoral environment and election.

We have made mistakes in past times and allowed Zanu-PF to ride roughshod over our rights – for fear of what may happen to us.

But how has that worked out for us?

Armed soldiers are running amok across the country, committing robberies.

Millions of skilled and educated people are jobless.

Millions are reluctant economic exiles.

Millions can’t afford to access proper healthcare.

And hundreds have died attempting to cross the Limpopo River to get to South Africa and thousands remain stranded by Beitbridge border – all desperate to earn a living in a functional economy – and the Zanu-PF leadership is simply unbothered by such an anomaly.

Hence, without democratic change, Zimbabwe’s woes will deepen.

We can’t allow Zanu-PF to shroud the 2023 election in controversy and force another Emmerson Mnangagwa win down our throats.

And we can’t sit back and merely hope for the best.

We have to fight for the Zimbabwe we want.

We owe it to the people who died before and after independence in pursuit of our democracy to confront these political bullies.

Nobody will help us – until we begin to stand up for ourselves.

Tafi Mhaka is a Johannesburg-based writer and commentator. His debut novel, Mutserendende: The African in Us, was scheduled for release in 2020. Follow him on @tafimhaka / tafi.mhaka