Zimbabwe: January Disease, Unmasking Violent Demos

17 January 2020

Across contemporary global civilisations, the relationship between the governed and their government is foundationally a direct consequence of periodic electoral processes where people decide how and who they prefer to be served by, appreciating that the whole purpose of seeking public office is to serve the people.

Although there are jurisdictions where the social contract is a bi-product of civil wars, and some unorthodox means, Zimbabwe's democracy places elections as the determinant of the occupant of State House.

The holding of free and fair periodic elections seeks to give the people, the onus to settle political questions of the day through making choices from a variety of potential leaders available, freely and fairly.

Once such questions have been settled, the expectation is that the nation must put the election season behind them for socio-economic development priorities in a peaceful way.

Indeed, the nation cannot be expected to focus on politics and politics alone from January 1 to December 31, year in and year out.

Equally, the post-electoral scenario is expected to be greeted by magnanimity of the winners to unite the nation of both losers and winners who are bona-fides too.

This should be followed by the acceptance of defeat by losing political groups, and congratulations to the triumphant majority political formation to ensure the nation and its developmental potential is not delayed.

The cancerous and poisonous feature of Zimbabwe's main opposition party is that since its formation in 1999, it has never accepted defeat.

In a clear demonstration that Nelson Chamisa, the leader of MDC-Alliance party has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing from Tsvangirai's missteps, he continues to sing the same tired and primitive hymn which has all, but lost traction.

This attempt to ride on unsubstantiated and frivolous claims has made him and his political orchestra, the usual targets of January political diseases.

This piece is a reflection of the month of January following the unforgettable events that greeted the country in the same month around this time last year.

Following systematic planning and organisation by some civil society leaders working in cahoots with plotters from Serbia, and the covert participation of some embassies led by the United States of America, a dark cloud hung over the nation by way of a violent demonstration.

The violence, which was code-named "Shutdown Zimbabwe", was championed by career activists turned "cashivists" from hostile civil society forces led by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, ZCTU, MDC-Alliance leaders, as well as elements allegedly trained in Moldovia on coordination of violent rebellion and mobilisation.

In a clear show that the violence was rehearsed rather than spontaneous, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) circulated a memo to the fact that in the event that there were any arrests, it had assembled a team of lawyers to be on stand-by to provide free legal counsel for the activists.

This was followed by a quasi-similar solidarity statement from the so-called Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights, saying it would provide free medical care for those injured.

While, the same doctors recently claimed incapacitation to report for duty, they were prepared, however, to provide free medical care for perpetrators of violence and anarchy.

Of course, there is no guessing that this was their own way of mobilising and psyching up the activists to do as much damage as they could.

The ante was upped by anonymous WhatsApp messages threatening people from going to work or continuing with their usual businesses as well as warning transport operators from ferrying people to the city centres.

All this was aimed at seizing political authority from the streets through sponsored violent street protests led by quasi-trained anarchists and remnants of the ill-fated so-called democratic resistance committees which were formed by MDC to organise violence and carry out acts of economic sabotage in the early 2000s.

Last year's January disturbances were programmed to coincide with the President's absence, having gone on a five-nation tour of Eurasia.

They were also organised soon after the Motlanthe Commission report was published and the common narrative among the conspirators was that the State was still in the process of internalising the report, and therefore, would not take a decisive stance against violence.

Most importantly, and as usual, the organisers were buoyed by fake social media claims of a rift between the President and his top lieutenants in the Presidium, something which has always been a tired headline in the collusive opposition media outlets.

They seek to paint a picture of a divided centre of power that can no longer hold, so that the unsuspecting citizen feels the Government of Zimbabwe is just a pushover.

The result of all these nefarious plots was a violent mid-January that left a trail of destruction as businesses were set on fire and looted of goods estimated to be worth millions of dollars.

Roads and infrastructure, including tollgates were vandalised while police vehicles and stations were torched by the trained elements who used petrol bombs, stones, catapults, guns, logs and explosives to ensure they achieved their objective.

Buses and private vehicles were direct targets, with most of them being smashed or burnt down along roads, while innocent citizens were beaten and force-marched to join the violence by the "cashvists" whereupon they would be used as human shields during security reaction.

The trail of destruction left in January 2019 is yet to be fully compensated, with most buildings still to be fully repaired, while some people were left with permanent injuries.

Some were killed, while others were jailed, leaving their families wallowing in poverty.

The irony of all this is that, most of the organisers were spared jail because they skipped the border and went into self-imposed exile.

Some have since returned without any scars from the violence they organised, yet some people are serving at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and other jails after they yielded to the bidding of someone who was nowhere near the skirmishes himself.

Because the planners are convenient to the donor dollars which are used to coordinate all this violence, they can easily flee through our porous borders while pawns in the scheme, the ordinary protesters, are left to face the law alone.

Some even died while the organisers and the supposed key beneficiaries among the MDC leadership were pipping through windows, only to renounce thereafter that they were not involved, yet by all intents and purposes, it was MDC-Alliance, through its allies, which organised it all.

One would have expected that Zimbabweans learnt a lesson about the suicidal approach of MDC-Alliance leaders who have always wanted to walk to State House on streets littered with dead bodies.

Championed by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, human collateral damage strategy entailed that when more people are killed in your name, it reflects some degree of political capital, because one was presumed to have passionate supporters committed to martyrdom, and as they die in the streets, a stalemate is created, one that may warrant a pretext for a third party involvement, unilaterally, or abdication of the incumbent.

Essentially, embassies that drive these ugly scenes do not want to see the same happening in their home countries and whenever such violence occurs, they use force to quell such protests.

The whole world is pretty aware of how the French government descended heavily and disproportionately on the Yellow Vests protesters during the same period where women and children were injured in the melee with not even any condemnation from the so-called international community.

French President Emmanuel Macron's head of police went on to warn the violent protesters that, "For the police, the Yellow Vest movement represents the threat of chaos. Protests used to be authorised, followed a set path. But these were protesters who came to vandalise and fight with the police."

In Zimbabwe, when law enforcement agents, in line with their constitutional duty of ensuring peace, order and tranquillity in the country decisively break these demonstrations, the same countries are quick to raise the red flag.

The US uses such incidences as a justification for the continuation of the illegal sanctions regime on the country, notwithstanding that those heinous sanctions are an albatross behind the economic and social suffering which afflicts our people on a daily basis.

Those organising the demonstrations hear no sanctions, talk no sanctions neither, because they are agents recruited to drive the regime change agenda through such violence.

The same organisers, however, are never seen in the demonstrations and, therefore, leave without scars despite that those they mobilise are always left to nurse injuries

It must be hinted in this piece that the Zimbabwean Constitution does not outlaw the freedom to demonstrate and register grievances as it were because Section 59 of the Constitution provides for that.

However, just like any other rights across democratic jurisdictions, the right to demonstrate is exercised within certain prescribed parameters following a clearly laid out procedure to ensure that in the process of enjoying their rights, demonstrators must observe the rights of others who are not participating.

However, as indicated earlier, the characteristic looting, arson, destruction of property both private and public, and the violence aimed at non-participants have become a key feature of demonstrations in Zimbabwe.

The right to demonstrate is being weaponised.

Most importantly, those demonstrations are never used to register complaints per se, but are organised by elements with a treasonous agenda of changing Government through the back-door.

At least this is not hearsay or speculation, because Chamisa himself vows year in and year out that he is mobilising to remove President Mnangagwa through demonstrations. But has it worked for him and or will it ever work?

History has shown clearly and vividly that it doesn't.

It will not work. Simple!

Those of us who are now used to the strategies of these plotters can tell the reader, that the demonstrations will only allow Chamisa to address a Press conference, thereafter appealing for more sanctions, while the civil society finds in those demonstrations, an excuse to appeal for more donor funds to Zimbabwe.

This has become the sad reality of demonstrations in Zimbabwe, where citizens' lives are barter-traded for donor funds.

Now that the MDC-Alliance and its allies in the "evil society" of NGOs is planning similar violent protests this month, the million dollar question is what is the opposition party intending to achieve given the monumental setbacks that have been brought about by these demonstrations?

The facts speak for themselves.

The planned demonstrations are aimed to coincide with the US' annual review of sanctions in Zimbabwe, and as such, the MDC-Alliance wants to engineer chaos ahead of that review to influence a renewal of those sanctions through claims of rights violations.

Secondly, the violence follows the arrival of former South African president Thabo Mbeki in late December 2019 where he pleaded for multilateral dialogue under POLAD to ensure de-escalation.

Chamisa is, therefore, trying to bulldoze his exclusive version of dialogue where he thinks he can force President Mnangagwa to talk to him through street violence.

Certainly, sober Zimbabweans must ask themselves whether they have to cause violence so that Chamisa talks to the President, yet the easiest route to do so if ever he was serious, is simply to book an appointment at his Munhumutapa Office, just like what other Zimbabweans do.

Does that need to be preceded by street violence?

The third reason for the planned demonstrations is that there are people who have never earned a living through hard work, but thrive on donor funds.

These people are found in the NGOs mafia who when their pockets run dry, they resort to demonstrations during which they abuse the funds for their own enrichment at the expense of those who would have participated.

Given all these sad and treacherous realities, it is clear that there are no genuine and people-centred demonstrations as it were in Zimbabwe, but violent protests that are systematically organised by a rapacious clique of opposition gangsters whose selfish ends are achieved through violence, and the blood of the innocent souls injured in battles with law enforcement agents.

Sober citizens must ignore these demonstrations, save lives, work for their families and themselves, appreciating that politics come and go, and politicians come and go, but Zimbabwe is the common denominator for us all and generations to come.

Surely, those who will cause animosity in the name of repeating the January 2019 violence must be prepared to meet the consequences of their actions, and Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison is not full to capacity.

Hopefully, those who participate in such violence are ready to hang out there for a couple of years or so to come.

The choice is yours.

Tafadzwa Mugwadi is a Zimpapers Senior Researcher in the Knowledge Centre, political scientist and conflict mediation scholar. He can be contacted on [email protected]

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