Give Robert Mugabe a 'Black Eye' once and for all: Learn from the ANC!

Give Robert Mugabe a 'Black Eye' once and for all: Learn from the ANC!
Published: 10 January 2012 (1112 Views)
"I am still young and I can still punch" – Robert Mugabe (2005). Elections and their aftermath can give Zimbabweans another chance to punch Mugabe back and give him a "Black Eye".

If all goes according to Robert Mugabe's timetable, this year Zimbabweans will get a chance to make history by giving Mugabe, the only leader we have had since Independence, a black eye. Regardless of warnings from other political parties, SADC and the world, he is determined to hold elections this year. So, we need to be prepared.

From South Africa's African National Congress we can learn one or two things about the struggle against oppressive regimes like ours. Congratulations are in order for the ANC, which celebrated 100 years of existence this weekend. It took the ANC 82 years to defeat the enemy and therefore the first lesson for Zimbabweans is that the struggle is not an overnight business. It is a business in which one needs to invest all kinds of ideas, all kinds of tactics, all kinds of leadership and all kinds of discipline. Following the ANC over the years, one cannot avoid noticing that many ideas were tried ranging from the soft approaches of pre-Nelson Mandela times to more radical approaches of Umkhonto we Sizwe, whose actions led to the development of civil disobedience amongst the ordinary South Africans. So far, we have been using soft approaches.

ANC also teaches us one critical lesson – that leaders come and go. For Zimbabweans to have one big celebration party like the ANC had this past weekend, they have to realise that there is no glory in idolising individuals. There is a strong belief within the ANC that there is no one bigger than the party. Even great icons like Mandela have been cautioned before by the ANC. Thus, in 100 years, ANC has had 12 leaders compared to Zanu PF who, 50 years on are still being led by just one. The lesson must also go to the MDCs. There has been change in MDC led by Welshman Ncube but Morgan Tsvangirai is still at the helm of his MDC T. I am not suggesting that they remove him but it is wise for their cadres to guard against individuals becoming bigger than the party, even before glory comes as seen in the ANC.

What then should happen if elections are held this year?

Everyone wishes for a free and fair election and we hope these wishes will come true one day. However, Zanu PF has a history of rigging elections by using dirty tricks including violence, intimidation, media manipulation and vote rigging. Zimbabweans should be thinking both about how to prevent these and about what action they should take if all these things lead to elections being stolen by Zanu PF. In the early 60s the ANC decided it was necessary to mobilise means of making the country ungovernable. The same question should be asked by Zimbabweans – Why should Mugabe be allowed to rule freely after rigging an election? Tactics must change, as others have suggested, and civil disobedience can be another way of struggle. However it takes a huge commitment, training and the right mind-set to follow the route of civil disobedience. In the Zimbabwean context, it must then require sober leadership to realise that civil disobedience does not mean violence. There are many ways that people can learn to disengage from the bondages of oppression for which they all fall under the term "civil disobedience." We must remember that the main idea behind all this would be to make the country ungovernable, which could then lead to a proper transfer of power to a government that truly represents the people of Zimbabwe.

What are the challenges laying ahead?

The first challenge is to recognise that Zimbabwe is not South Africa. We must take into consideration that the enemy is different and times have changed – so not all of the same strategies will work. But there are similarities also. While the ANC was doing its political work in exile a United Democratic Front (UDF) was initiated by leaders in politics, civil society, underground movements and the church to take charge of the street politics. I do not see a reason why Zimbabweans cannot come up with such a framework. For the success of other strategies, this framework must be in place because it is the one that is meant to cut across the political divide to deliver amongst others, street protest and many more activities.

But for any strategy to succeed Zimbabweans must learn that it takes proper planning to make things happen. Over the years, there has been a lot of talk about how things could happen but none of them has materialised. Project Management theory suggests that for a mission to succeed at least 60 % of your time must be spent planning! When you plan, you learn to know the enemy inside out. You learn to know the enemy's last minute tactics which have always been a major stress for the opposition. Forgive me a quick personal story: I remember one by-election in Filabusi where all indications showed that MDC was going to retain their seat which had fallen vacant after the untimely death (suspected poisoning) of one of their great men, George Joe Ndlovu. However, Zanu PF beat them at the last minute. The last week before election had been a nightmare for the MDC – Zanu PF used the police to arrest the whole MDC leadership in the area and then deployed seven buses of youth militia in the constituency. The Zimbabwe National Army deployed about 200 soldiers to march every morning singing a song which translated to "we cannot be ruled by a white man" which was then in reference to the MDC. "Surprise surprise", when observers arrived to monitor the elections, the voting day was very peaceful and MDC lost by a very small margin. The damage had been done because in such a rural constituency people were afraid of the possibility of another fifth brigade and as a result they stayed at home while Zanu PF people went to vote.  We can predict more of the same for upcoming elections.

So when we plan we have to know the plans for Zanu PF and also have a proper preparations and a proper Plan B which must be enough to give Mugabe a black eye once and for all. If feared man like Gadhafi could fall, what can stop Zimbabweans from getting their freedom?

Point to note: ANC recognised Joshua Nkomo for his role in South Africa's freedom and Mugabe went awol!

- Harare Sunset

Tags: Mugabe, ANC,

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