Now is not the time to be fearful and acquiescent

Southern African Development Community leaders are set to meet on Thursday in Zambia to assess the Zimbabwe situation as President Robert Mugabe steps up political repression ahead of anticipated fresh elections later this year.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T ministers, MPs, officials and supporters have of late been arrested by Mugabe’s section of the inclusive government.

Mugabe has wrested control of the government and is running the show alone, exposing Tsvangirai as weak and indecisive.

The situation is worsened by Zimbabweans’ collective lack of strong community and civic organisation.

The lack of political will is part of the problem. The lethargic approach of Zimbabweans is made even more dramatic in contrast by events in North Africa and the Middle East.

The problem here lies with the society and its political culture. Zimbabweans are generally fearful and acquiescent. This is the legacy of Mugabe’s one-party-state politics and his 30-year reign of terror.

But the main problem as things stand has become Tsvangirai and his allies opposed to Mugabe. They are characterised by unique and frightening theoretical and practical weaknesses. The groups opposed to Mugabe don’t have a cohesive and coherent ideological position and hence their inability to articulate issues and mobilise the masses.

Since joining the gravy train, the main MDC-T and convenient ally MDC-N have demonstrated shocking weaknesses and failed to provide a mobilising ideology and strategy to undermine Mugabe and remove him from power through legal and constitutional means.

Part of the problem which has weakened the forces against Mugabe is their belief and thesis of maintaining the primacy of external factors over internal dynamics.

While the MDC-T and its allies, including the MDC-N, say that Mugabe and Zanu-PF are the authors of Zimbabwe’s socio-economic and political problems, they inexplicably maintain, by their very pronouncements and actions, that the solution to the problem is external.

The Global Political Agreement and Government of National Unity, which symbolically represent the triumph of African and internal diplomacy, are now gradually unravelling, reinforcing the MDC-T’s belief in external measures and solutions.

Tsvangirai was out in the SADC region last week, traversing the area from Zambia to Mozambique and then Swaziland to Botswana, in search of a solution to a local problem. Only yesterday he was expected to meet President Jacob Zuma in Durban. There is nothing wrong with Tsvangirai seeking diplomatic support from African leaders, especially those in the region, but the emphasis of external measures over internal actions is flawed and ineffective.

The only effective way to dislodge Mugabe and Zanu-PF would be through building a strong internal coalition led by democratic forces engaged in a co-ordinated struggle against Mugabe’s regime. Outsiders can help but should not determine the parameters and methods of engagement.

As such the best way to deal with Mugabe and Zanu-PF is to embark on lawful mass defiance campaigns guided by the national interest and the people’s needs. The cumulative effect of well co-ordinated and prosecuted defiance campaigns would be to strengthen the resistance movement, while consolidating and widening its gains.

These campaigns would also provide important experience on how to defy Mugabe and Zanu-PF in pursuit of genuine democratic change.

Zimbabweans cannot afford to continue wringing their fingers and calling on foreigners to liberate them from Mugabe’s tyranny. The solution has to be homebred. What keeps Mugabe going is primarily Zimbabweans’ continued obedience, collaboration and submission to his rule.

Acts of symbolic repudiation and defiance which Tsvangirai and the MDC-T showed in the past should be stepped up to undermine the Mugabe regime’s moral and political authority.

Zimbabweans must stop running away from the country, behaving like crybabies and making all sorts of excuses while avoiding tackling the dictatorship head-on to secure lawful and legitimate change.

The SADC can hold as many meetings as it likes on Zimbabwe, but without the people themselves taking a stand and tackling the Mugabe regime bravely and tenaciously nothing will change. – TimesLive