By Patson Dzamara
That ZANU PF is a deeply entrenched, well organised and well oiled dictatorship is incontestable. That the dictator in chief, Robert Mugabe together with his equally power intoxicated minions have presided over atrocities of epic proportions against Zimbabweans doesnt require a rocket scientist to authenticate. That that gang is forcing itself on Zimbaweans using unorthodox means without showing any signs of remorse and weariness is clear as the difference between day and night.
Without employing drastic and resolute measures to dismantle the status quo captured in this ZANU PF cult which doesn’t possess a moral compass, we shall perennially lurch from one crisis to another at best. At worst, a total collapse of the state shall come to pass.
Sadly, what evades the comprehension of most people, even some in the opposition and some who deem themselves enlightened is that ZANU PF is not an opponent to anyone. Its a DICTATORSHIP. ZANU PF does not compete with anyone. Their rules of engagement are not premised on competing fairly with anyone but bulldozing their way.
Notwithstanding the aforementioned, with clearly defined emancipation blueprints and processes, the dictatorship can, must and will be uprooted. The structured opposition and the generality of Zimbabweans must never at all assume a fatalistic position. They must use all available means to take down the dictatorship including elections despite the vagaries associated with that route in our context.
We cant just stand and watch while our country is being dragged into a bottomless pit. We have to fight by any means.
The Mugabe dictatorship is highly sophisticated and extremely cunning. In fact, what causes other people to fail to understand that its a dictatorship is its cunningness. It relies on pseudo democracy processes and representations such as manipulated elections in order to prey into the gullibility of the masses and it gets away with it, sadly.
By getting and sustaining power through a stringently manipulated electoral process the dictatorship cements its footprints. The custodians of the dictatorship run to town blowing their horn saying that they are because they represent the wish of the people when in the actual fact they dont. Even though the majority doesnt at all endorse the dictatorship, some accept its occultic antics whereas others who may not be politically conscious actually end up endorsing and ratifying that position.
Fellow Zimbabeans, it will take a lot more than one strategy or player to lead Zimbabwe out of the jaws of the dictator. I have consistently stated that the process to a better Zimbabwe is multi-dimensional and the following are some of the dimensions we need to attend to:
1. A BROAD-BASED TRANSITIONAL & TRANSFORMATIONAL BLUE PRINT
The first port of call should be coming up with a broad based transitional and transformational blue print. Structured political formations, civic societies, social movements, unions, pressure groups, religious groups and many others must be a part of the transitional and transformational blue print making process. The journey to a better Zimbabwe can’t be a haphazard undertaking and it can not be effected in silos.
It is critical to note that there are two things at stake; transition and transformation. The process of transition has everything to do with disrupting the status quo captured in the dictatorship, moving into a new dispensation. Soon after transition, a transformative process must immidiately kick in so as to restore Zimbabwe back to the path of growth and development.
Different strategies and skills are required for each phase.
2. ELECTORAL REFORMS
Zimbabwe’s electoral process is marred with blatant deficiencies and irregularities meant to give the dictatorship an upperhand. There is no way on this God’s green earth shall the dictatorship win a free and fair election.
They know it, that is why they have invested a lot in creating loopholes meant to make easy for them to manipulate the process. For instance, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commision itself is not independent. Its actually an appendage of ZANU PF. Hoping for it to uphold fairness and professionalism is day dreaming.
Right now, the opposition is pushing for electoral reforms and they have to even though i am sure the dictatorship will create other ways just to have its way. That is if it hasn’t done that yet.
Looking at the 2008 election which was undisputedly won by the opposition, there are key factors to note. The opposition had access to state media, all voters and it was allowed to campaign even in rural areas among other things. Such rights are not upheld and guaranteed at the moment.
3. MOBILISING AND EDUCATING THE MASSES TO PLUG INTO THE ELECTORAL & ACTION PROCESSES
A lot needs to be done to engage the ordinary citizen. Educated as we may be and voluminous as we are, sadly only a few among us are actually politically conscious. The broader progressive movement has to invest a lot in this regard.
The quest for a better Zimbabwe must be inculcated in the hearts of the masses. It must not be an elitist process preserved only for a few. The masses must proudly take ownership of the process.
In our context and in any context when there is a dictatorship involved, the participation of the masses should be two-pronged; participating in the electoral process and participating in the action process. Due to the fact that it always takes more than elections to remove a dictator, action in the form of mass resistance and protests should be a constant companion. The masses must be mobilised and sensetized to plug into that too.
After Mugabe together with his acolytes refused to respect the constitution and the will of the people in 2008, having been defeated resoundingly, mass protests were supposed to erupt throughout the country. The outcome of that election was manipulated to precipatate a re-run after results were witheld for over a month.
4. UNITING ALL PROGRESSIVE FORCES
As already noted, we are up against a deeply entrenched, well oiled and well organised dictatorship. It will take a lot more than one strategy or player to lead Zimbabwe out of the jaws of the dictator.
There has to be collaboration and cross-pollination among all progressive forces. The cause towards a better Zimbabwe goes beyong persons and institutions. It is by the masses, for the masses and through the masses.
In our country where everyone is everything and everyone runs an organisation or is an authority one way or the other, pulling in different directions has become the norm. That will not help us in anyway. It will only sustain the dictatorship. A broad coalition is imperative.
Despite the fact that indeed rigging takes place, we must still vote. It is our right to do so.
When it comes to rigging, what we ought to be clear about is that its systematic, technical and sequential. Its not necessarily about ballot box or outcome manipulation rigging but about the entire process. As such we ought to factor in issues to do with violence, intimidation, vote buying, artificial technicalities and registration/voting centers vis-a-vis population. Thats were the greater part of rigging takes place but we must still vote in our numbers.
In fact, there is no dictator i know of who has ever allowed a smooth transition of power after an electoral deafeat.
6. DEFENDING THE VOTE
As we head towards the crunch 2018 election, we must budget time, resources and energy to defend our vote. We have to defend our vote because the dictatorship wont give in, come what may. It will take more than elections to dismantle the dictatorship.
That gang will never reform itself out of power.
By Mugabe’s own accidental admission, Tsvangirai won the 2008 election by a huge margin of over 70%, a position confirmed by former ZANU PF bigwigs such as Mujuru and Mutasa. Even Thabo Mbeki, confirmed the same. What lacked in that case was the ability or willingness to defend the vote.
The dictatorship will always seek for ways to curcumnavigate and subvert the will of the people in order to maintain its grip on power. They are power inebrieted but we must stand ready to defend our vote. We must make it uniquivocally clear to the dictatorship that it is not allowed to continue imposing itself on us. We will defend our vote.
7. INVOKING THE TRANSITIONAL AND TRANSFORMATIONAL PROCESSES
After all is said and done, a transition into a better Zimbabwe has to take place. It must happen without fail. After it happens, a journey towards a multi-dimensional process of transformation must immideatly begin.
A new and better Zimbabwe is possible in our lifetime. We shall come face to face with it.
(Patson Dzamara is a leadership coach, author, political activist and analyst based in Zimbabwe).