By Prince Noble Butawo
I hope this letter finds you out of custody my brother, since remand prison has become your second home. You deserve title deeds to that place.
Ok, that’s the first chuckle to lubricate what will be an honest letter. Firstly, i would like to say compliments of the new season. I understand this might be late as we are now in February, but the political season commenced a fortnight ago, so i guess i am not too late.
Now that we have acknowledged the turf, we might as well play in it.
I really want to applaud you for your courage. Believe you me, after losing a brother in politically-oriented fashion, 99% of the people i know would swear never to step into politics again. But here you are on the forefront, daring the same system your brother is perceived to have fallen victim to.
People might think they have an idea on how it is to walk in your shoes but let me be the first to say “i don’t”. I can only imagine, and even that is never synonymous with reality.
You are the one who has a missing brother, you are the one who has to explain to Itai’s kids why their father is not returning home, you are the one who has to feed them and in the middle of it all still have energy to fight the system.
I might have an idea of how it feels to be you, and clearly, can never totally comprehend what it means to be you. But of the little that I know, I will share it here.
I understand that you have played the Itai card a bit too frequent, its starting to lose its impact. While its of relevance to keep reminding people about the fire that ignited your revolutionary spirit, understand that you have been a victim of your own strengths. Because instead of building on them you want to repeat them. A winner knows when to quit.
A case in point, let’s take the #Tajamuka Demonstrations for example.
Last year was an opportune time. As the government struggled with a labor disputes among its workers, while the transport sector was upset with what they termed as abuse at the hands of law enforcement, it so happened that cross-border traders were irked by the introduction of a statutory instrument that threatened their livelihoods. There were minor skirmishes, and some tad bit of civil unrest. We all stood witness to several running battles between police, touts, and vendors.
Such a concoction of disgruntlement led to citizens staying away from work, and ‘shutting down the country’ for a day or so. We experienced the biggest protest action in well over two decades.
Instead of building on that momentum, you kept calling for more demonstrations. It was as if you thought this government was going to succumb to a bunch of unarmed civilians with placards. Slowly the demonstrations began to lose relevance and began to flop in sorry style.
Bar that, citizens developed apathy towards your methods, with the highlight being the time you were assaulted and had your car burnt, and people took it with a pinch of salt. You had lost your voice.
You are an activist, you do this for a living but understand that’s not the case for everyone else so when you continuously ask them to have a side job called demonstrations and you get paid(you might debate this but well..) while they don’t, you run the risk of people feeling like you are using them.
This is the same ordeal Pastor Evan is now facing after taking the first flight out during the peak of an uprising, a decision i personally have no problems with, but whose consequences were predictable from the get go.
Nonethless, you are an important player in our political dynamic. As a citizen, I would love to know. What are your 2017 goals? More demonstrations? And then what?
If my calculations serve me right you will be running for MP in the Highfield constituency on an MDC-T ticket in 2018(just my own calculations) and i think you have done enough to win that seat. May you now consider finding a different path for your movement? Demonstrations are so-last-year, and if you persist, you will become yesterday’s man.
Yes, you need to stay relevant but you need another plan. Last year the government under-estimated the impact the demos would bring but now they are more than prepared to handle them. People have lost faith in demonstrations as well. Be mindful that they don’t lose faith in you too.,
My brother i understand your need to change the system, and i envy your courage, but if that activism aggression is not backed with smart moves it will be suicidal to a movement that of late has been sending apologies for ill-advised comments.
Some people supported you out of compassion. They feel they owe Itai that much, but by them being actively involved in demos there is an unsaid new sense of belief that we are even.
They feel they did their part too, they inhaled teargas, got beaten, some got arrested. That plan has outlived its usefulness.
So instead of continuing with such, take your time to re-strategize and come up with a different way of pushing the same agenda. Remember when Moses got to the Red Sea and the Israelite’s wished he had never attempted to rescue them and would have preferred to stay in Egypt? The messiah can easily become the target. Even Jesus ended up the subject of abuse from those he tried to save. It is tough game being a ‘saviour’. If you play it loose, fast and raw as you are doing, the price could be sky high.
Yes, that’s what happens when you face a problem leading people who have been enslaved for too long. These demonstrations are now becoming your Red Sea and the people are starting to feel it is just better to stay in an environment they are used to. They can’t be demonstrating every fortnight as if that’s going to make the government create jobs. It will only get violent and that’s playing to your enemy’s strength.
As i conclude this brother to brother piece i would like to wish you a better year with less arrests and yes people are getting tired of that too. Patson my brother stay out of prison there is so much more you can do when you not behind bars.
You have earned your spot in Zimbabwean politics already. Take off the activism cap, put on the leadership cap. If all your have under your sleeve is demonstrations, i think you can as well revert to one-man-demos. We certainly do not have time for that no more PLAY ANOTHER CARD!
- Prince Noble is a Zimbabwean socialite. He blogs on masofapanze.wordpress.com