After Dzamara damp squib, what next?

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After Dzamara damp squib, what next? Itai Dzamara

SO the big day came and went, without incident. March 9 was supposed to be the biggest day yet this year in the opposition MDC-T and its civil and political activists as they converged in Harare to commemorate the first anniversary of the alleged disappearance of journalist-cum-political activist Itai Dzamara. Days before, the opposition MDC-T had been priming for this event and so were some NGOs and a particular struggling newspaper stable that was putting adverts asking about the whereabouts of Dzamara.

As the day drew closer, the dogs caught the heat.

It was promising to be a carnival of opposition politicking.

The pitch was raised further when police appeared to be reluctant to let a rally or march proceed.

Naturally, it was to be expected — even on both sides.

It took the intervention of the High Court to allow the solidarity march, not without the cajoling by the so-called human rights lawyers who are an opposition appendage.

Then March 9 came.

The march started in earnest, and no prizes for guessing who was in the midst of the marchers — the person of Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, leader of MDC-T.

He had in tow a number of officials from his party and the whole phalanx of opposition activists. They marched from Rotten Row till they got to Africa Unity Square.

Africa Unity Square is not only significant for its strategic location — in front of the Parliament Buildings. And Parliament was in session that day.

Africa Unity Square was also the venue of Itai Dzamara’s sit-ins and lone protest as he demanded the popularly elected President Mugabe to step down, which, granting his constitutional rights to express himself, bordered on insanity.

It will be recalled that, after being impressed by the popular protests especially in North Africa, Dzamara had hoped to rally people around in what he dubbed “Occupy Africa Unity Square Movement”.

It did not find any takers because nobody was interested in partaking of a strange protest calling for the resignation of a President who was less than a year into his popularly elected five-year term during which his party won more than two-thirds majority.

He had trounced his closest rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, by an almost similar margin.

Thus Dzamara cut a lone figure, for those that took notice, and at best, for those that watched closely never manage to assemble more than five people at a time.

We recall that there was always him, two other guys and a suspicious white male called Dirk Frey.

It will be recalled for those that may have chanced by Africa Unity Square during that period, that these fellows had an irritating habit of blowing whistles at lunch time as they ran around the gardens.

For any serious observers, Itai and his band represented something from curious people to mental patients.

One would have been hard pressed to view Itai Dzamara as a threat to the State warranting abduction or any serious consideration especially when he had failed to gather a handful of people behind his moribund cause.

Dzamara would at least require family or friendly advice with a view to making him stop whatever he was smoking and best be taken for a mental evaluation with a possibility of accommodation at a lunatic asylum.

It will be useful to record that the reason for Dzamara’s strange behaviour stemmed from his disappointment with the loss of his favoured MDC-T and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai during the 2013 elections.

In the run-up to the poll, he had been a keen follower of Tsvangirai and his prospects, a position he had always had being an anti-Zanu-PF activist-journalist from the Independent and the rabid The Zimbabwean where he was at some point chief writer.

Those that followed his Facebook posts would testify how he was so disillusioned with Tsvangirai and his MDC-T that he proposed the idea of “people power” which he hoped to champion through the OAUS movement.

He would later meet Tsvangirai and again he posted pictures of him and the opposition leader emerging from Tsvangirai’s office. A few days after, he addressed an MDC-T rally in Highfield.

Not long afterwards he “disappeared”.

A rallying point

No sooner had Dzamara disappeared than he became a rallying point for the opposition in a move that sounded as fishy and predictable for an opposition that sorely lacked a message and holding glue.

That banner in which MDC supporters rechristened their party as “Muchatipa Dzamara Chete” was as instructive as it was symbolic. Soon enough, dubious prayer meetings were being requested in the name of Dzamara.

Prayers themselves and the month of March itself, have become Morgan Tsvangirai’s political fodder, hoping for a replication of that March 2007 mayhem which drew him sympathy after he got himself beaten up by some overzealous policemen at Machipisa Police Station in Highfield.

He gloats about having reaped the “rewards of torture”.

Mayhem that never came

The reason why many people have actually forgotten about March 9, 2016 – the alleged disappearance anniversary – is that it was a damp squib and so for the specific reason that no violent incident took place.

The opposition and civil society lobby and Western embassies sponsored people to come and demonstrate and most probably provoke a scene with the security arms of state, mainly the police.

Disallowing the rally would have given them a casus belli.

Reacting to provocative and over the top theatrics of some sponsored drunks could equally have sparked a scene.

Morgan Tsvangirai addressed the crowd hoping to put some political fire in the bellies of congregants.

The event was largely some bastardised MDC-T rally and Tsvangirai had hoped to lead “from the front” a rebellion which never came. The stage was set for an incendiary situation.

It never came.

To their great credit, the police just watched the protestors march, shout themselves hoarse and stupid. They let them demonstrate at Parliament.

And as fate would have it, the hired, bussed-in protestors got bored and went home. Nothing happened.

The whole project collapsed like a deck of cards.

As we go forward we will hear less and less about Itai Dzamara.

His political capital, whether he is dead – most probably at the sacrificial hand of MDC and its Western backers – or alive, has been exhausted.

And don’t we all feel pity for the wife and children who have had to endure a whole year – as far as we can assume – without the father all for the lost cause of MDC-T?

Of course, we don’t much care about what publicity Itai’s publicity-hungry brother Patson has showered on himself in this imbroglio.

He may as well go to hell.

The big question is, what next for the opposition?

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