"Zimbabwe Opposition Unite"

OPINION – It undoubtedly came as a nerve-jangling shock to the suffering Zimbabweans to learn that five politicians will be locking horns in the quest to become Zimbabwe’s next leader. For too long they have had to endure the agony of seeing their hope of emancipation from the ruling gang of rabid thugs dashed.\r\n

They have done everything that the citizens of any other country could do to rid themselves of the villains whose only argument for imposing themselves on the defenseless people is that they hold the guns, bought with the tax-payer’s own hard-earned money. London-based Ben Semwayo

Time and again the masses have defied the murderous threats of the self-serving Zanu (PF) clique, and voted for change, only to have the elections rigged. Multitudes have lost their lives in the process, but despite avalanche-after-avalanche of criticism levelled at the dishonest ruling party by the international community and human rights groups, the abuses of power by Zimbabwe’s self-imposed rulers have continued unabated.

Zanu (PF) has never won an election legitimately in Zimbabwe. In case anybody thinks they won the 1980 election, the truth is that they won it for two reasons; firstly, the war veterans threatened to go back into the bush and continue fighting if Zanu (PF) did not win the election. People were tired of the war with all its horrors and they wanted it to come to an end at all costs.

Secondly, people, especially those in the rural areas, were cowed into voting for Zanu (PF). According to the Lancaster House agreement all ex-combatants were supposed to be at the assembly points, but Zanu (PF) mostly sent the mujibas (their collaborators and informers) there in stead and left the real ex-combatants to roam free, terrorising the people, a thing they are still doing thirty years after independence, because for them it is a tried and tested method that brings results.

Among other gimmicks, the ex-combatants went about with binoculars, making the rural folk look through them to see how they enabled them to read things from afar, a thing the people had never done before, and they were amazed to see how the binoculars were able to bring things incredibly close! They were then told that on election day the ex-guerrillas would use those binoculars to see who the people were voting for. And sure enough come election day, and the ex-combatants were prancing about everywhere near polling stations with binoculars slung over their shoulders.

The poor villagers, with their hearts pounding in their chests, were duped into thinking that the threat was actually being implemented and had no choice but to vote for Zanu (PF), obviously feeling the invisible eyes of the ex-combatants glued on their hands and ballot paper. Thus came came Zanu (PF)’s famous ‘landslide victory’.

By the time of the next election Zanu (PF) faced the prospect of being discarded by the electorate that had quickly become disgruntled on account of its blatant corruption and misgovernment. The election was rigged, as were all the others that followed. The quality of life went on a downward spiral and Zimbabwe, which Africa once proudly showcased to the world as a specimen of a progressive African country, sadly sank to the ranks of the world’s most backward countries, scoring pitifully low on such vital parameters as life expectancy, food security, strength of the currency, human rights abuses, national debt and unemployment.

Many people who voted for Zanu (PF) are on record for saying that with hindsight, it was a grave mistake to have done so.

The last election was a graphic example of how shameless some people can be. For three months the election results were not announced (something that was unheard of) and mayhem reigned supreme in government.

Mugabe’s henchmen frantically concocted results while their every planned move was leaked to the press. One would have thought that they would be shamed into changing their plans, but so clueless were they about how to extricate themselves from their predicament that they brazenly implemented the bizarre plans that had been divulged in an effort to forestall their heinous actions, knowing that glaring though the scandal was, no one would stop them just because they had the guns.

Tsvangirai had won outright victory and Mugabe had conceded defeat. He claimed he wanted to retire gracefully and demanded immunity from prosecution. For what, if he has no case to answer?

That was a golden moment for the majority of Zimbabweans and many celebrated, but they had celebrated prematurely; at the behest of his Lieutenants he quickly made a u-turn and all hopes of a new free Zimbabwe were scuppered. False results were fabricated and Tsvangirai was given a win by a narrow margin which made a run off election imperative.

Two hundred MDC-T supporters lay dead at the hands of known murderers who never faced justice, protected by their ferocious masters. Prior to the run-off election Zanu (PF) activated its killing machinery and the MDC boycotted the election, which Mugabe flagrantly continued to contest as the sole candidate, with obvious results.

In the not-so-distant future Zimbabweans are going to be presented with another opportunity to decide their destiny, but the manoeuvres of the disgraced Zanu (PF) at the last elections are still too fresh in people’s minds for them to forget the bloodbath that accompanied those elections; indeed no-one would be so naïve as to fail to recognize Zanu (PF)’s trade mark at election time after having gone through numerous elections.

The party shifts into destruction mode as violence is stoked into it and the spirit of deception is conjured up in its every structure. The motive is plain: to cling to power at all costs and perpetuate the culture of self-enrichment at the expense of the ordinary man and woman, who would otherwise access their fair share of the national wealth, and to maintain a cover on the atrocities perpetrated over the last thirty years.

At such times no weapon is spared. There is one question in the minds of the majority: are we going to successfully shake off the monster this time around? The answer is plain to see – not if the opposition is divided. Fielding four opposition presidential candidates is tantamount to giving Mugabe victory on a platter. Not that he would actually garner in the winning votes – far from it – but that it would make it easy for him to manipulate the results.

For too long Zimbabweans have tried without success to free themselves from oppressive rule, and from those experiences lessons have been learnt, lessons which should be used to improve the masses’ chances of winning at the next contest. What needs to be impressed on the opposition leaders is the fact that Zanu (PF) is fully aware of its impeding demise if the game is played by the book, which is why we have heard some paranoid prattling from Mugabe’s henchmen to the effect that power will not be surrendered to any party that wins except Zanu (PF).

They have done it before and will try to do it again. There should be no mistaking the resolve behind Zanu (PF). By now everyone knows that you cannot put anything past them, or you do it at your own risk. They will stop at nothing to make sure they extend their disastrous rule. Their resolve should only be met with equally powerful resolve by every truly-patriotic Zimbabwean. Zimbabweans should also stop at nothing (legitimate) to wrestle power form people who will not give it up even when it is clear it is the only sensible thing to do.

The people who are going to play a pivotal role in dislodging an unpopular regime are the political leaders. In stead of quarrelling among themselves they should organise themselves into an efficient opposition and speak with one voice. Their followers will take a cue from them and fall into line. As a rule no genuine opposition leader should attack another opposition leader in a political climate such as the one being experienced in Zimbabwe.

In a genuine democracy opposition parties have the luxury to go it alone, but as everyone can see, that kind of approach will be futile in Zimbabwe because it is simply not tailored to deal with the kind of dictator the country is trying to rid itself of. As one politician once said, ‘What we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history’.

For decades Kenyan opposition parties failed to defeat Daniel Arap Moi – until they finally learnt to gang up against him. How long will it take Zimbabweans to learn this simple principle? The war we are waging at the moment is to establish true democracy in the first place, and to do that it is crucial for all the opposition parties to work together. That is the only thing that Zanu (PF) is terrified of. Anything short of that will result in another disappointing result and another five years for Zanu (PF) to dig in its heels.

Any opposition party that tries to stand alone should put paid to any hopes of changing the course of events in Zimbabwe. It is a foolhardy thing to do and it is self-deception of the highest order. Opposition supporters should urge their leaders to face reality, put their differences aside and find common ground from which to launch their campaign. Opposition leaders should be able to see the sense in this approach, unless of course, if they are decoys planted by Mugabe to split the opposition vote. – Changezimbabwe