The hijacking of protest movements: Chronicles of opposition politics in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean Pastor Evan Mawarire poses for a photograph after his interview with Reuters in Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 19, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-ZIMBABWE-PASTOR, originally transmitted on July 21, 2016.

By Prof Changamire

The late 90s brought about a sigh of relief and hope for the politically marginalized citizenry of Zimbabwe, a new and vibrant political party had been born out of the labour movement. The rapid rise of this movement not only caught the eye of Zimbabwe state security but also local and international donors, this funding in one way or another inspired the actions or lack thereof of the MDC.

Fast forward a few years later Prof Lovemore Madhuku, comes onto the scene and Mugabe mocks him by saying, He (Madhuku) organizes protests when he runs out of money and those that fund him quickly untie their purses when the police descend on those demonstrations

In all this the political situation in Zimbabwe continued on a downward spiral, the bickering between the two factions of the MDC had arguably cost them the election. The reasons for the split could be many but we surely can’t rule out the need to control the finances of the party, how big a role this played in the collapse of the MDC will remain a matter of speculation.

The disintegration of the MDC and consequently the face of opposition politics especially after 2013 gave raise to citizen protests, notably Itai Dzamara, Evan Mawarire and lately the brother to the missing Itai, Dr Partson Dzamara and the Tajamuka group. Whilst pressure has been mounting on the Mugabe regime to address the socio-economic ills that has bedeviled the country, it seems the pressure groups need a dose of the medicine they are prescribing for Zanu PF.

Lying, deceit and manipulation has crept into the rank and file of these pressure groups, and the autocratic and arrogant behavior of its leaders, chiefly Patson Dzamara and Linda Masarira has left many a people baffled. Activists have a proclivity to write off and condemn anyone who doesn’t see the same as them.

They lose sight of the fact that the mission is far important than the roles that individuals play, your role in the struggle is not bigger than the struggle itself. Failure to understand this cardinal truth has led to the raise of despotic governments. This article is not to downplay the grueling and suffocating conditions prevailing in Zimbabwe at the moment, but also we have a moral obligation to call a spade by name.

It is the reckless usage of words that I find troubling, Tajumuka deliberately mislead the public by throwing words like, “abducted by the police”, since when has detention by the police translate to an abduction and yes it’s a given the arrest can be illegal but it surely can never be an abduction especially when you take selfies in the police van and post on social media.

Democratic change loses its savor when those purportedly at the fore front become self-serving and engage on glory seeking excursions. What is the justification of Tajamuka going ahead with the Anti-Bond note march despite expressed and genuine reservations from their partners?

N.E.R.A is organizing a march against the same bond note that Tajamuka marched against today, what’s the point? It is the events that unfolded as told by one Ishmail Kauzani just before the march that really caught my attention and I quote, “I managed to escape into the night under a hail of gunfire, they were firing on us when we were still driving- many many shots. It was like a war zone, a barrage of bullets”  this is a perfect script for a James Bond movie, where he jumps off an exploding 10 story building, lands on his feet and  brushes off his jacket and walks like nothing happened.

A barrage of bullets and a high speed chase in Harare, and surprisingly all the bullets miss the occupants of the car but also miss the cars? These can only be blatant lies.

How on earth does a barrage of bullets miss a target as a big as a car in a high speed chase? And all the occupants of the two cars come out without any bullet wound?

This is not an apologetics article for Zanu PF, but we can’t be economic with the truth even in times of repression, Opposition parties in Zimbabwe have failed to recognize the principle of the greater flow, in the USA the Ohio is river is visibly bigger than the Mississippi at their confluence in Cairo Illinois , however the Ohio is “willing to surrender its identity” to the Mississippi, which then makes it one of the longest rivers in the USA, This game of numbers and egos has to end if opposition politics is to make an significant strides in Zimbabwe.

The citizens should stand and reclaim their struggle from these self-serving individuals and their nefarious agenda, who are out there to exploit the misery of the Zimbabwean people, in the hope of getting the Green Card or monetary incentives, should Tajumuka continue on this path they will soon find themselves faced with the blight of all narcissistic movements, that is they will collapse under the weight of their own contradictions!

#Tajamuka in this article refers to all those guys #Varikujamuka




  • Prof Changamire is a political analyst for Khuluma Afrika – a center for journalism, analysis and investigative journalism