-Only Zimbabweans can stop the playing of Russian roulette with their lives-
“History repeats itself, the first in a tragedy then in a farce,” words made famous by arguably the most cited political theorist, Karl Marx. I again thought of these when we this week are confronted with a Zimbabwe in brutal violence.
Fourteen months ago a strong military elite anchored segment of Zanu-PF led a coup on Robert G. Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s first Democratic president. An intense week of meticulous orchestration, for some even patience and minute-by-minute speculation was sealed with a resignation letter read out by the speaker of parliament. Africa’s former breadbasket had its streets filled with citizens in scripted jubilation all demanding Mugabe must go. The champagne bottles popped as Zanu-PF’s bloodless coup was celebrated worldwide.
The collective consciences of many were duped in deflection of what the real issues in Zimbabwe remains. Some of us warned then already that having Mugabe resigned or stepped down means nothing because Mugabe on two separate occasions with no pressure from anyone volunteered to step down but was denied to do so because the military led- based ZPF elites would not have him step away because he was their insurance policy. These for their own economic and political power means needed a Mugabe to continue lining their pockets and raping the country. Mugabe’s presence as president was their shield yet their meal ticket. He would be blamed by the international world and not them. This while they were living it up. When it suited them they would become the heroes of removing the British considered despot, and walk away with the credit and mileage of being the transformers. But how could they be the antidote for the problems of Zimbabwe when they engineered them as a collective and entrenched it over 40 years?
Mugabe is gone, but Zanu-PF aided by the questionable acts of a ZEC (Zimabwean Elections Commission) remains in power, meaning the agenda of a military state led by the same elites who have been with Mugabe in his almost forty years of reigning, unabatedly continues.
We saw the brutality of that military force unleashed this week against its citizenry. Many of those who were shot, filled the streets in November 2017 to back this new regime. New regime is perhaps a far-fetched notion, there is nothing new about the political leadership of Mnangagwa his cabinet, army generals and lieutenants who today execute the might of military rule against those who danced in the streets back in 2017.
What we have today is a military state parading as democratic, that could suspend internet connectivity in fear of what its people would share with the world. Anytime you find a so called democratic state having to resort to flagrantly flaunt the civil liberties of a society and citizenry you know democracy is a pipe dream if not wholly absent.
Well what triggered this week’s civil action is directly extrapolated from the fact that the State increased the basic fuel prices exponentially by 150%. You didn’t hear me correctly may I repeat a whopping 150 %, that simply means overnight fuel is costing three times more per litre, when nothing progressively has changed in economic lookout streams or levels of income registering buying power for ordinary Zimbabweans.
Not only is this a record increase but it renders fuel the most expensive in the world in this economically emaciated country. The nett effect of this unprecedented increase beyond politicking confirms an already truculent and tardy economy now de-wheeled and grinding to a complete halt, since people can’t get to work, can’t go to sell or buy. Certainly anybody in their right senses and more so educated politicians would have known what the impact would be across multi-dimensional spheres.
The political meaning of the increase confirms a State led by a party who despite its claim of having over forty years overseen the establishment of o higher than average educated Zimbabwe citizenry, dismally failed to translate that education to evidence a change in economic death.
On another score this decision has in clarion sense told the masses its elected Zanu-PF led leadership is grossly out of touch with its people and thrives in plasmas of cognitive dissonance. Its disconnect to the people affords the luxury of assumption that the very fuel hike will not erode and trust in the said political elite.
This week you heard the people say “life is worse since ARagee has left, bring back ARagee, the Crocodile is killing us.” The nation remains plagued by the greed and avarice of a political elite who for the better part of a generation engrained a culture of self-interest instead of a common nation’s interest.
What then to make of Emerson Mnangagwa’s leadership ? It is reported that in the sweltering heat of discontent marked by this period Mnangagwa was in Russia meeting with Vladimir Putin to discuss economic solutions. Nothing wrong with that, in another epoch Mugabe was in China for the same reasons, yet it produced very little.
We are not yet assessing the overall performance of Mnangagwa’s political leadership. We may here involuntarily think of the mooted reforms of broadening the tax base by introducing a state levy for all person-to-person financial transactions, in a country where most transfer money without the formal banking means. This system denied Zimbabwe to collect revenue from it. The jury is out on whether this system works for or hurts the poor more. There are those who claim the poor is hurt instead of helped since an exacted 2% levy charge in real sense when all factors are added to the equation becomes in some instances as high as a 22% charge.
Mngangagwa is not home when the first real crisis directly produced by his leadership dumped the country in this abyss of economic standstill. The response would be there is very little a politician can do when it comes to fuel pricing in safeguarding his nation. He may have taken a leaf from his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.
Certainly Mngangagwa and his seasoned batch of ministers and advisors knew that such astronomical fuel hike would naturally have accompanying catastrophic ramifications yet he and the Zanu-PF leadership determined to play Russian roulette with the people of Zimbabwe and went ahead despite this common knowledge. What arrogance? As I have coined sometime ago on arrogance, “it is the weapon of the truly poor, arrogance is a stray bullet from an unloaded gun.”
What does this mean in the bigger scheme of things ? It simply means Zimbabweans as educated as they are remains trapped in historic liberation hangover politics in which they continue to trust a party who despite its abysmal failures and its historic liberation credentials have kept a people carceral in submission to its elite leadership, starved in economic freedom and now playing with the basic rights of democratic nation.
While Zimbabweans in the last 40 years have had the power extended by a democratic ballot, its political-party-option-index remains very narrow. Meaning the choice is always between Zanu-PF and a MDC regardless to the varied formations of the latter. The choice is also scripted in that it continues to prognosticate Zanu-PF as the liberators and the MDC factions really colonial sponsored parties that attempts resuscitation of that colonial rule.
Anytime you deliberately narrow the choice on these two characteristics you bound to have a bad choice for leadership of a nation that has suffered under colonial rule and equally now suffer under a pseudo – aristocratic political liberation leadership, who over the last 40 years have economically benefited when the masses must die in an existence of squalor.
The country simply does not need these abused binaries, it needs alternate options freed from a historical reality of colonization and liberation role. Both have not served the interest of meaningful life and are poor in producing that imagined future for ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe never had better options in choice of who to trust to lead, and better options are created they don’t present themselves. They are produced in honest and open self-critique less in proverbial translucent membrane of intolerance to opposite views, a sickness many African parties suffer including the ANC south of the Limpopo River.
Zimbabweans are the only people to free themselves, firstly from the historical control of Britain but also now from an insensitive self-serving elite Zanu-PF leadership that fears not using military power against civilians to confirm their rule.
What is needed in Zimbabwe is a deepening of democracy evident in a wider party-context index. The necessity of this is not based on emotions but the undeniable reality of the nation finds itself. Alternative option is not a cliché in Zimbabwe but must be the focal point. Zimbabweans who are very well connected to their rural roots must produce an alternative to what it has known for almost forty years. Zimbabwe’s choices are not in binaries of black and white, ideology of capitalism versus socialism. Its choices are not between the old and the new. Its choices are in who and what defines the middle road meaning the aim is to ask what does the people need? That question can’t be answered by an insulated elite, but the people themselves.
Just as ordinary Zimbabweans kept Zanu-PF in power from 1980, so it cannot blame anyone for the misery of their choices. They are the only people who can revisit and augment their past choices for a questionable Zanu -PF led military state, and find their true north in what I would call “closer to the centre” political and economic solutions index.
We as outsiders may sympathize but that’s how far it goes because ultimately the power to stop the abuse is in no one’s hand but Zimbabweans. The recalibration of its political and economic future remains in the hands of ordinary Zimbabweans and this fuel hike may just be the real catalyst to take back that agency and power thus to free Zimbabwe in the second if not third coming of oppression first in colonial rule now in second generation of self-inflicted black elite rule.
Whatever tomorrow holds for Zimbabwe is intrinsically linked to the choices made today by them, choices no military power can stop once the call is clear. Choices made by ordinary South Africans who refuse to outsource the agency to an elite self-serving bunch of hypocrites.