Nobleman Runyanga Correspondent
The much-hyped MDC’s August 16, 2019 demonstration in Harare fell flat on its face despite the spirited attempts by some of its impressionable and excitable youths to defy the prohibition order issued on the eve of the ill-fated event by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). The event turned out to be largely much ado about nothing but not without some insights into the MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa, his executive and the party in general.
The event foregrounded the conflicted nature of the MDC leadership. For weeks on end Chamisa and his lieutenants told anyone who cared to listen about “the mother of all demonstrations” which the party was brewing against the Government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Their main reasons: the President is illegitimate because the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) allegedly stole the poll from the MDC on his behalf and that he should be overthrown due to the prevailing economic challenges.
When the ZRP issued the prohobition order the MDC surprisingly ran to the High Court, which is an inseperable and integral part of Government which is led by President Mnangagwa, seeking the court to force the police to lift the ban.
No moment brings to the fore the futility of Chamisa’s sustained legitimacy campaign against the President than being forced to resort to the systems and structures under his Government for relief and succour. Nothing is as embarrassing for a party which is led by a person who thinks that he is the most popular politician and the best thing to happen to Zimbabwe since sliced bread, as tucking its tail between its legs and approaching the courts under a Government led by its opponent who it claims is not legitimate.
If President Mnangagwa is illegitimate, the MDC, by approaching the Constitutional Court, endorsed the President’s July 30, 2018 victory and his August 26 2018 inauguration, for no court exists in isolation from Government. They endorsed him more resoundingly than any ZANU-PF functionary could ever do because ruling party members can only do so verbally but the opposition outfit demonstrated its endorsement by showing its faith in the courts under President Mnangagwa.
Nothing has exposed Chamisa than approaching a court under President Mnangagwa. The deed brought to the fore the futility of the opposition figure’s machinations and the resultant frustration that it brings. Not even his legislators’ double-faced nature as evinced by their acceptance of diplomatic passports and other benefits such as motor vehicles can even begin to say good morning to his executive’s decision to approach the High Court over the Harare and other cities’ planned demonstrations.
Since taking over power in November 2017, President Mnangagwa has held his arms open to Chamisa for dialogue which would facilitate national unity and economic revival but the latter has snubbed him, insisting on his own dialogue and terms.
Realising that he is not getting any results and that the world is moving on, Chamisa is now desperate to talk the President into admitting him into Government via the much discredited National Transitional Authority (NTA).
In view of this, how else can one explain Chamisa’s conflicted position of justifying the protests as forcing President Mnangagwa to the negotiating table when it is the former who has been inviting him for dialogue since November 24, 2017?
The MDC also cited the prevailing economic challenges and general conditions of living to indulge its long-held desire to overthrow President Mnangagwa.
This, again, hung the conflicted nature of the opposition’s machinations and overtures on the political clothesline for the world to see. The opposition’s councillors have been in charge of most urban local authorities for almost two decades now.
Instead of experiencing excellence in service delivery, urbanites such as Harareans have watched in horror as service provision plummeted in their respective cities and towns under the watch of the incompetent and self-serving MDC councillors. Instead of improved service and generally better living conditions in urban areas, the opposition councillors have majored in parcelling out pieces of land for residential stands in pursuit of self-enrichment.
In Harare, the first MDC-dominated council took over a City of Harare which had a lot of income streams. One such initiative was the local authority’s liquor department brand, City Marketing, which the City of Harare built over five decades to 85 beer outlets.
In less than 20 years the MDC councillors who superintend over the City of Harare watched as the once-thriving municipal enterprise was run to the ground. Ahead of the Harare protests Chamisa visited some southern surbubs such as Glen View to “see how people are coping with the economic challenges”.
The irony of the MDC-dominated council’s part in the quality of life in the suburb was lost on the childishly excited Chamisa who went about mingling with the people who are living under threat of cholera and other water-borne diseases, thanks to the inept city fathers.
To sum it up: Chamisa and the MDC are just a conflicted, confused, frustrated and misplacedly angry lot.
When MDC notified the police of the intended protests, the party did so with dirty hands and insincerely. It is now a public secret that every MDC protest is characterised by violence and wanton destruction of property. The Tajamuka demonstration of August 24 2016 and the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) protests staged two days later were characterised by the looting of a Choppies supermarket, torching of two pick-up trucks belonging to the ZRP and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC). A number of shops were also vandalised and looted. Businesses incurred huge losses.
The same scenario unfolded when Chamisa sent out youths to protest against ZEC on August 1 2018 while the latter was still discharging its mandate. Many people lost property to the orgy of violence which the rowdy youths unleashed. What can one say of the January 14-16 2019 protests over fuel price increases which also witnessed MDC youths defaulting to destruction?
Given this background, no one would trust the promise of a peaceful protest from careless and exitable people such as MDC youth assembly leader Obey Sithole. No wonder the police prohibited the Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare demonstrations. The MDC was and remains very insincere when it comes to its planned mass protests. When asked by the police to provide the names of its protest marshals ahead of the events in case something went wrong, the party refused to comply despite tweets to the effect that its protesters would monitor their peers to prevent outbreaks of violence.
In other words, it approached the police with dirty hands given its past protests chequered record.
When the High Court dismissed the party’s application citing procedural deficiencies effectively upholding the police’s prohibition order, the MDC leadership which was in the city centre, such as its vice president, Tendai Biti, deliberately withheld this information from its youths who were already in the city for reasons only known to them.
This resulted in mayhem around Africa Unity Square and the junction of Sam Nujoma Street and Jason Moyo Avenue as the youths attempted to gather in defiance of the prohibition order.
By apprioaching the police the party tried to be law-abiding but resorted to its default settings by attempting to wring some political capital from the youths’ attempted protests.
Using the youth
If there is one insight that emerged from the attempted protests, it was the fact that the MDC leadership uses its youths’ excitability to fight for power on their behalf while they ensure their own safety.
As the youths were involved in running battles with the police, some of their leaders who were encamped at the Meikles Hotel were enjoying the spectacle from the hotel’s balconies and rooftop garden overlooking Africa Unity Square. Others were monitoring the situation from the safety and comfort of the MDC’s Harvest House national headquarters as the police dispersed the obstinate youths. None of them including Biti were to be seen anywhere near the youths. Food for thought for other like-minded youths.
It is abundantly clear that Chamisa is painfully coming to terms with the reality of the fact that, whatever strategy he adopts, he is only chasing his tail. Zimbabweans and the world have moved on post-July 30, 2018 and the situation on the ground does not look good for him and its reflection on his image as an opposition leader is equally grim.
Desperation is setting in especially with his former handlers, the United States of America (USA), shifting preference to one of his deputies, Biti, and his accolytes such as the party’s motormouth deputy chairperson, Job Sikhala.
Admittedly, Zimbabwe is going through a rough patch economically and Government is equally seized with fixing the economy. Progress is being registered. It is up to individuals to either note the progress or keep tethered to negativity and miss out.
Those who love their country will do their bit and contribute to the country’s progress or dwell on pessimism and use it to herd youths onto the streets for their own narrow personal political ends.
Going forward, it is up to individuals to choose the quality of their future by supporting progress or sacrificing their lives to smuggle inept and unelectable politicians into power. Youths should know that their future does not lie in protesting for opposition personalities but working hard to fend for their families. They should face forward rather than look up to clueless opposition politicians who have no idea about how to run their own lives.