Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

The Protest that was never be ….

Article from AFRIC Editorial
On the eve of 15th of August, a day before the Harare demonstration, the Zimbabwe Republic Police issued a notice prohibiting the demonstrations in Harare. The prohibition notice was based on the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). This is ironic because the repeal of POSA is part of the political reforms that the demonstrations were calling for. Now it was being used to ban the demonstration, confirming precisely its draconian nature.

The conduct of the police is unreasonable, unfair and disproportionate. The police had more than two weeks to consider the MDC’s notice of the demonstration but they waited until the eleventh hour to issue a ban. An urgent application to the courts was made and the courts upheld the prohibition. How ironic, the courts had in the past struck down similar provisions of POSA as unconstitutional.

Since this court case was heard at 7 am on the morning of the demonstration, quite a handful had already flocked to the CBD for the march. Since the court had turned down the march, the demonstration was illegal and the ZRP rained on the innocent peaceful demonstrators that were calmly sitting waiting for the leaders and way forward. Questions linger in the minds of many, where was the opposition leaders where the masses were brutalized by the police?

Nevertheless, the action still remains quite embarrassing for the State. It is laws like POSA that have been cited as impediments to the restoration of normal relations with other countries. Yet they continue to be deployed so unreasonably. It seems the Mnangagwa regime is fearful that the demo is not just an opposition-fueled civil rights process but that it is also a political process which involves internally-disaffected sections within ZANU PF.  Mnangagwa is not just facing the traditional opposition but he probably sees other shadowy forces in his party that are also after the crown. And his great fear is that the demonstration might open a gusting wind that will be impossible to stop.

All other marches planned for other cities failed to see the light of the day as they were prohibited, just like the Harare one.

Not forgetting constitutional provisions, it is a right for one to demonstrate peacefully. How does the police justify that the demonstrations were going to turn violent without providing sufficient evidence? The State is seen as infringing on citizens’ rights. As much as we may not downplay shadow political motives, should we then deny citizens of their rights to express themselves? Abductions and unfounded arrests have been on the increase since July 2019.

From opposition politicians, activists and mere comedian are at the receiving of the regime. The State purports that there is a ‘Third Hand’ at play – suspecting the G 40 faction of ZANU PF which is aligned to former President Mugabe. Only the Heavens know if the State is a ‘saint’ in these mistreatment of those that speak against the government.

Do they archive the goal? Malawi is facing protest and demonstrations targeting airport and border areas. Zambia saw demonstration against corruption in July. It seems there is a wave of protest in the Southern African region. According to the government though the State Broadcaster, the ‘illegal’ demonstration in Harare’s city center on the 16th of August was a failed attempt at getting Zimbabwe on the agenda of the recently-ended SADC Summit in Tanzania which saw President Mnangagwa assume the chairmanship of the Regional Organ on Politics, Defense and Security.

From an opposition stand point, peaceful demonstrations were meant to exert pressure on the government to agree on dialogue for transitional government to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis that stretches from illegitimacy, political, socio-economic woes bedevilling the country. To many Zimbabweans, a march reminds them of the famous Saturday 18th November 2017 glorious day in Zimbabwe, where thousands marched on the streets of Harare and other cities pushing for the removal of long-serving leader, Robert Mugabe who had ruled the country for thirty-seven years.

Would it not be prudent and developmental for the opposition to provide alternative value adds to the beleaguered country than protests only? The void is leaving many at pains, what next? Political analysts are of the view that the desperation of most Zimbabweans means that future sustained protest movements are likely and continued brutal crackdowns will thus increase the risk of Zimbabwe reaching a tipping point, similar to movements in Sudan and Algeria, where sustained protest brought down entrenched regimes. Zimbabwe’s rulers are finding that two decades of economic mismanagement and brutal repression have led them into a trap from which there’s little chance of escape. If they implement the political and democratic reforms needed to win the financial support the economy needs from international donors, they’re likely to lose the next election. If they do not, their people, propelled by the extreme hardship brought about by austerity measures imposed by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, may remove them through an uprising.

As the adage say, divided we fall united we conquer, Zimbabweans not only need to sing from the same hymn but from the same stanza and find the common ground for the good of the country. Partisan politics and self-serving interest will not lead to the Promised Land. At the very basic fundamental, it’s not about President Mnangagwa or Nelson Chamisa, neither is it about ZANU PF or MDC, it’s all about Zimbabwe being able to feed and sustain its population, being able to build trust and confidence from within first and beyond. Until then, the struggle continues for poor Zimbabweans who are failing to make ends meet due to over two decades of unbearable economic conditions, unfavorable weather conditions, irrational political polarization, isolation and human rights abuse among others.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Photo Credit : google image/illustration

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