The arrest of the Zimbabwean lawmaker, Munyaradzi Gwisai and his International Socialist Organisation ( ISO) colleagues, is a clear testimony to Zanu PF’s desperation and lack of sound policy consistency which has, resultantly, swept away its popularity, leaving it with little or no option, except to adopt dirty tactics to silence dissent.
Such methods, although meant to clip the wings of opposition political movements, are likely to be detrimental by shrinking Zanu PF’s support base. Rational voters can clearly see that this is not just a political ploy to muzzle alternative political voices, but also a virtual stampede by the party to seek relevance in a country where the masses are groaning under the yoke of political oppression.
Without acknowledging the historical imperatives that led to struggle for the independence of Zimbabwe, Zanu PF is behaving in the same way as the country’s former colonial master by thwarting efforts geared towards bringing about political change in the country.
It forgets that the majority was faithful to its political ideologies, but when the political glitter began to fade they abandoned void promises in search of better alternatives. This search for an alternative is a democratic right, not a privilege. Fooled by the so-called socialist ideology that was preached in the early 80s, the masses realised it was more mythical than realistic.
Important to note in understanding this political resolve is that, with all the military prowess the Rhodesian army had, it seemed unimaginable that the guerrilla fighters could wage a meaningful insurgency to force Ian Smith to the Lancaster House negotiating table in 1979. But it was possible because of the support of the masses who contributed immensely to effect “regime change”, which today is viewed as a dirty phrase by Zanu PF.
Ideally, if the electorate demands fresh leadership through the ballot, Zanu PF should accede, relinquish power and hand over the baton to the rightful winner. This current circus whereby politicians that lose elections still believe they are popular, must be thrown into dustbins of history. Let people choose what they want without fear. A rational leader must surely feel guilty to rule without the consent of the ruled.
Realising that it was fast-losing its grip on the political landscape, Zanu PF, like other dictatorial regimes in Africa, believes arrests of opposition groups is the best way to contain revolt. Zanu PF should realise that revolt is not only confined to violent uprisings; it can take the form of passive resistance. This was the case in 2008 when President Robert Mugabe lost the election to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The year 2008 indicated that the former ruling party was on its deathbed awaiting burial. Torturing opposition supporters only builds voter apathy, and may even cause resentment towards the party that is responsible.
If watching videos that showed uprisings in north Africa was a crime, then it means the majority of Zimbabweans committed crimes. In some public places, some people openly celebrated the downfall of the dictator, while during informal debates, toppling of dictators was hailed as progressive.
It could be Gwisai or any other person prosecuted for political dissent, Zanu PF must remember that suppression of the masses is the worst enemy for a party seeking relevance in a political environment where it has lost its glamour.
BY GUMISAI NYONI