Monday, 25 April 2016

The MDC-T marched, but what next?

After the hullabaloo that accompanied the successful protest march by the MDC-T, what’s next? That is a question that I have been asking myself two weeks after Harare’s CBD was painted red. Some say it was a significant event. The ambitious say it was historic whilst some, or to be polite, the regime saw it as a non-event, as just another day. But was all that ado about something?
We are at a juncture where anything can happen. The citizen is unsettled and the master is afraid. So when the MDC-T marched in protest, all the signs in the citizen that it is tired were more apparent than ever. We cannot simply leave it to the new constitutional dispension that we find ourselves in, where the citizen can protest freely, no, that is not. Nor will we ever understand the true reason why the march went on freely. But alas, for the first time in this millennium an opposition demonstration actually went ahead with the full backing of the police. That on its own is historic, but that successful demonstration should only be reserved for that day only because the citizen is not entirely free to demonstrate. Patson Dzamara found out at the grandest of them all; during the Independence celebration at the National Sports Stadium, just a few days after that MDC-T march.
But as much as everyone was happy about the march, it was never really about the people but rather about the resurrection of Tsvangirai. He rose from wherever he was and marched and everyone was happy but what next? What should happen next or rather, what ought to have really happen? What did they really achieve when it comes to the current political situation? From past experience, Zimbabwe’s opposition is quite slow when it comes to grabbing opportunities. To be precise, they never take the opportunity fully. Tsvangirai demonstrated in 2008 by running to Botswana and the Dutch Embassy. ZANU-PF has been bundling this country through a series of gross mismanagement and where you expect them, maybe not to take over as it is beyond them, to act as a force against the government they have consistently failed. I suppose one cannot fix another man’s house when his own is in shambles.
For one they could actually have built from that historic march. It is not only the members of the opposition who are suffering, it is everyone. The regime is tired and afraid. The reason why any sort of protest or opposition against the government is always crushed it’s because the regime scared. The people are on the edge and Mugabe and his cronies are fully aware of this. If the opposition as a whole could build up on the march and mobilise for the cause of everyone, the change they have been promising can be a reality. A peaceful protest that culminates into a civil disobedience in the streets till a final push to the state house. Well this is just me; the time to follow up is now.
The people have had enough but they are scared of going ahead on their own. Zimbabwe needs someone like South Africa’s Julius Malema, to some extent even DA’s Maimane. What these two have managed to do is to keep Zuma on his toes. Sadly Mugabe can do whatever he wishes, doze off in the process because he is untouchable. The opposition forces in Zimbabwe need follow up. When the regime gives you such an opportunity you grab it.

To some extent when Tsvangirai and his people marched, they were not prepared for the after effects of such event because they never expected the march to succeed. Met with no resistance as they are most accustomed to, it was something new. The regime had them in check because without violence they could control them. It would have been something else had the police fired their customary teargas because anything could have happen. Sadly on a day when the opportunity was presented, it amounted to nothing more than a rally to assure the world that Tsvangirai is still around. Much more like whole lot of ado about nothing.  

Monday, 23 June 2014

Leadership renewal should begin with ZANU-PF

By David Hwangwa 

When I finished college, armed with my political science degree I went back to Zimbabwe and my first point of call was ZANU-PF. I had a few youth projects that I wanted to do with them but all my efforts were shut down. I realised that it was somehow difficult to pitch an idea that requires change to a 65 year old ZANU-PF youth secretary, Absolom Skhosana. Exactly how he qualified as a youth secretary at such a retirement age left me wondering if this party is really serious about the needs of the youth. How is a “youth” of his age meant to know what is affecting the average youth on the streets. It’s not like they have no one capable in a youthful age but it’s is all about their reluctance, or inability to enforce change within their structures.
Leadership renewal ought to start with ZANU-PF because, as a party that has been in power since independence, they are the ones setting precedence to all who shall come after them, if any, considering that donkeys are not going to grow horns anytime soon. ZANU-PF presents everything wrong about leadership in Zimbabwe.
The institution called ZANU-PF, and in essence, President Robert Mugabe, is all but a mirage when it comes to good governance. This is a party whose leader authorised the annihilation of a generation of the Ndebeles in the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres and up-to this day not even a single apology has been issued.
This is a man who is cold hearted that before anything is to happen, he needs to change his heart and until that happens, him relinquishing power to someone will remain nothing but a dream.
When the MDC came into being at the turn of the millennium with the promise of change it caught ZANU by surprise that to all and sundry, it was only a matter of time before they ascended into power. A decade and a half has gone and all that promise the MDC carried is slowly slipping away. They have become their own hypocrites that at most, have lost all respect they once carried for the masses.
Tsvangirai berated Mugabe over his reluctance to relinguish power yet he himself has amended the MDC constitution to increase hold on power above the mandatory two-term period. His authoritarian rule at Harvest house has made him a carbon copy of Mugabe, if not worse because he is a man who said all the right things yet is in the process of doing all the wrong things. Of late it is like he is taking his leadership lessons from a ZANU-PF manual.
Elton Mangoma, the suspended deputy treasurer of the MDC-T was a victim of violence from overzealous youths paying their patronage to Tsvangirai after he felt insulted over Mangoma’s call for him to hand over leadership to a new generation following his dismal defeat during last year’s election.
The people of Zimbabwe expected so much from the MDC-T because they felt like Tsvangirai presented the perfect opportunity to end Mugabe’s rule, but that was far from close. It is true that there is nothing Mugabe and his cronies can do to rescue the country out of its woes.
Mugabe has done nothing but destroy this once prosperous country with his authoritarian rule. In as much as we would like to deny it, ZANU-PF is here to stay and thus for Zimbabwe to go forward, it needs, even though it’s painful to say, a working ZANU-PF. Leadership renewal has to begin there.
The current leadership within the party has been recycled, shifted and panel-beaten all over the political and economic sectors of the country and as we have seen, they have achieved nothing but the fattening of their wallets and bellies. It is not only about leadership change that ZANU-PF needs but wholesome changes across the spectre.
The party operates on ideals of violence, torture, intimidation, vote rigging and all the ills one can think of. Mugabe’s party has a bad track record of gross human rights violations that it will need this whole current leadership to pack their bags and make way for a new generation. The whole leadership needs to be cleansed else Zimbabwe is not going to move forward. Their blueprint, ZimAsset is just a policy good on paper and thus there is little hope for Zimbabwe.
Mugabe will always be part and parcel of ZANU-PF and Zimbabwe and that is undeniable. We are all aware how afraid they are of regime change. Everyone posing threat to their authority faces the harsh reality of their iron rule. When the Arab spring broke out, any attempts at replicating such in Zimbabwe were largely shut out completely with Munyaradzi Gwisai being the victim of the circumstances.
What Mugabe fails to realise that without leadership renewal he will fall the same fate that happened to the dictators up north during the Arab spring. Or what happened to Idi Amin or Mobutu. Without change it is just a matter of time before the people get fed up. The Egyptians waited long and were patient with Mubarak and when they finally said enough was enough, they deposed him. Now it is sad, almost laughable when the former leader of the Arab league attends his own trial on a stretcher. It will be humiliating if Mugabe suffers the same fate. With all the speculation with his health, Lord knows how long he will last in the deplorable conditions of Zimbabwe’s prisons. Without leadership renewal within ZANU-PF, it is only a matter of time before we see the fall of the once mighty.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Mugabe promising peaceful elections? He should read the riot act to his security generals first

By David Hwangwa

President Mugabe, whether he was bluffing or working on a new propaganda plan for his party as we approach elections, promised the world that Zimbabwe will and are capable of hosting free and fair elections. With the harmonised elections coming anytime before the 31st of July, Zimbabwe will brace itself for what will be the tightest race since the disputed 2008 election.

The scars of the bloody 2008 elections are still fresh and fears of a repeat of 2008 cannot be totally dismissed. 2008 resulted in spate of state sponsored violence and intimidation that it made the whole election process nothing but a farce. At present, apart from the new constitution that has just been passed into law, the same conditions as that of 2008 still exists in Zimbabwe because most of the security and media reforms as agreed in the Global Political Agreement the three principals signed in 2009 are still pending.

Mugabe is still adamant that Zimbabwe is capable of holding free and fair elections, the same thing he promised the nation and the world in 2008. Just like 2008, international observers are not invited too. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF will try and get observers from sympathetic SADC countries. ZANU-PF has of late pushed forward the idea that Zimbabwe does not really need observers from the West because Zimbabwe never send any observers there when there are elections happening. If Mugabe is confident that Zimbabwe is really capable of holding peaceful elections then he has nothing to hide and thus it will do no harm to have external observers when the country goes to the ballot.

Mugabe's talk of promising Zimbabweans a peaceful election is nothing but talk because talk is nothing. Mugabe needs to read the riot act to his security generals. With reforms to the security sector looking slimmer by the day considering that Mugabe has to call elections before July 31, the only alternative that can save Zimbabwe is Mugabe getting firm with his generals to stay away from the politics.

An election result that will not give Mugabe outright victory is only going to cause problems for Zimbabwe and the region as a whole. In 2008, Mugabe lost out in the first round of a hugely disputed and controversial election to perennial challenger Morgan Tsvangirai after results were withhled for weeks. Mugabe is left with little time to implement reforms before elections and in the event that he goes ahead and implement a few, it will only be for him to save face with SADC. This is because the regional body breathing down heavily on him to implement reforms that the government has been stalling for the past five years. Zimbabweans have to brace themselves for whatever ZANU-PF will bring because ZANU-PF will not allow the MDC factions to defeat them on a platter.
It is rather ill-timed and uncalled for for the president to promise the nation peaceful elections because Mugabe's gatekeepers will not allow the MDC factions to defeat the legendary leader of Zimbabwe. Already there is massive intimidation on members of the MDC-T as well as NGOs and the civic community. MDC-T members are getting arrested for telling the truth, the perfect example being the MDC-T youth chairman, Solomon Madzore, who was detained for calling Mugabe a "limping old donkey." Mugabe and his security chiefs got touched with that sentiment because it bordered on the truth because Mugabe is a "limping old donkey" has stalled progress in Zimbabwe. Madzore is only one of a few members of the former opposition party arrested for comments deemed offensive to the president.

One wonders if the security chiefs will guarantee a peaceful election for Zimbabwe when people are being arrested for things they say. This is even happening in the new era for Zimbabwe where there is a new constitution where freedom of expression is guaranteed.

A peaceful free and fair election might result in the liberation of Zimbabwe from Mugabe's rule, liberation through the ballot and the pen. The security generals are on record saying that they will never allow the country they liberated by the gun to go by the pen. Borrowing on Mugabe's famous speech in 1976, that "our votes must go together with our guns... The people's votes and the people's guns are inseperable twins." The security service chiefs have gone all the way by showing their allegience to ZANU-PF and have further vowed to never salute Tsvangirai, in the event that he wins, a clear sign that Zimbabwe's transition to democracy is doomed.

Simba Makoni, the Mavambo/Kusile Dawn leader criticised president Mugabe recently for lacking the authority to put his service chiefs in line.Makoni's call for Mugabe to fire the generals for involving themselves in political issues raised a very critical matter with regards to Mugabe's ability to control his gate-keepers. Army general Constantine Chiwenga ridiculed Tsvangirai after the MDC-T had announced that they were going to meet the security service chiefs to prepare for a post-election era. Simba Makoni raised an important consideration that Mugabe is incapable of reading the riot act to his generals because they are not meant to meddle in the politics of the country. Commissioner Chihuri, together with his collegues in the army, intelligence and the prison services are geared up for the elections and busy mobilising for conditions that will serve the best interests of ZANU-PF.
Mugabe is thus working on borrowed time because he is under pressure and SADC is no longer being lenient with him again. Gone are the days of former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, who single-handledly resuscitated Mugabe's career as he faced defeat in 2008 with his now infamous rant that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe when election results were being with-held and opposition party supporters being tortured by ZANU-PF. Mugabe knows very well that SADC will not allow a farce election and he is very much aware that he needs to implement some of the reforms still pending from the global political agreement he signed with his coalition partners five years ago.
Mugabe has to come good on his word of a free and fair election in Zimbabwe else we will see a repeat of 2008 soon. The 2013 election will be a tight contest between incumbent president Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai with Professor Welshman Ncube expected to cause an upset or two in the Matebeleland region. 
David hwangwa is a Political commentator and Human Rights Activist.

Friday, 22 February 2013

ZANU-PF’s outburst at EU sanctions lifting a fore-warning that they will not guarantee a free and fair election

On Monday the European Union lifted a travel ban on 21 individuals
that includes six ZANU-PF ministers as well as one company. The target
based sanctions, imposed on Zimbabwe by the West at the height of the
land reform in the early 2000s, were mainly placed on Mugabe’s cronies
and their businesses. Over the years, since the signing of the Global
Political Agreement in 2009, have been eased and relaxed gradually
with the western nations reviewing whether to lift the sanctions
The latest lifting of the ban is attached with certain conditions,
chiefly the holding of peaceful free and fair elections. ZANU-PF,
instead of responding to the EU with a pledge of hosting free and fair
elections attacked them with vengeance.
“The decision by the EU to remove certain individuals and companies
from their illegal sanctions list is outrageous and preposterous.
ZANU-PF will never accept any conditional removal of the illegal
sanctions,” Rugare Gumbo, the ZANU-PF spokesman responded when asked
about this latest development. ZANU-PF wants an “unconditional and
total” lifting of the elections.
EU did not however remove sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation, keeping those measures at least until the conclusion of
the upcoming elections. The keeping of the sanctions on ZMDC is a
welcome measure considering that the company is responsible for
funding ZANU-PF in all its endeavors, including state-sponsored
violence against members of the former opposition, the MDCs. The
lifting of the ban on ZMDC was requested by Belgium, where Antwerp,
the world’s biggest diamond trading centre, is based, who pushed for
it to be freed from the sanctions ban.
ZMDC was given a grace period of at least a month after the elections
to see whether it can be fully rid of the sanctions by the EU. ZANU-PF
has, since the discovery of diamonds in the eastern province of
Manicaland been dependent on the revenues from diamonds to fund their
loyalists in their political rivalry against their fierce rivals, the
MDCs. They will not be affected by the EU’s refusal to lift sanctions
on ZMDC because the diamonds from ZMDC are still in demand in Asia and
thus, they are guaranteed more revenue for their state-sponsored and
target based violence against their rivals.
Whilst ZANU-PF may have dismissed the latest developments as
“outrageous and preposterous” it leaves one wondering what it is that
ZANU-PF really wants. In 2012 they sent their chief lawyer, Attorney
General Tomana to go and challenge the EU to lift the “illegal
sanctions” they imposed on Zimbabwe. Now that there is an impartial
lifting of the sanctions, they are still reluctant to accept such
developments because they still want the EU to remove them wholly
without them playing a part also.
The EU has demanded that ZANU-PF allow a free and fair election to
take place and this latest outburst on EU shows that they are not
willing to play along with the EU by guaranteeing a just and fair
election. Zimbabwe has a record of bloody and unjust elections and
since 2001, all the elections that have taken place in Zimbabwe are
nothing but a farce that have legitimized Mugabe’s hold on power at
the expense of the people. SADC have over the years certified these
elections as free and fair because they always succumb to Mugabe’s
Why is it that ZANU-PF does not wish to reciprocate to these measures
by EU? The EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Dell’Ariccia assured ZANU-PF
that all these restrictive measures would be removed if the elections
are free and fair. Only through a peaceful free and fair will result
in “an immediate suspension of the majority of all remaining targeted
restrictive measures against individuals and entities,” Ambassador
Dell was quoted on Monday at a press briefing in Harare.  Since
independence, ZANU-PF are yet to guarantee Zimbabweans such conditions
for a free and fair election and thus all this noise is just a message
to the EU that unfortunately ZANU-PF cannot guarantee a free and fair
Such utterances are the last thing that Zimbabweans want to hear as we
are only weeks away from the constitution referendum, penciled for the
16th of March. Memories and wounds from the 2008 harmonised elections
are still fresh on the people of Zimbabwe. Everyone is aware that
ZANU-PF will not succumb to any pressure from anyone to host peaceful
elections if it means them losing their grip on Zimbabwe. They will do
everything in their means to ensure that their challengers will not
taste victory. 2008 is testimony to that.
Rugare Gumbo’s statements are not only addressed at the EU’s partial
lift on sanctions but to all their political foes in Zimbabwe as we
approach Election Day. The partial relax on the sanctions was
dismissed as nothing but plans by the West to further their economic
interests in Zimbabwe. ZANU-PF has for ages dismissed the MDC-T as a
puppet of the EU and such developments are just seen by ZANU-PF as an
attempt to appease the people to vote for the MDC-T now that there
sanctions are being relaxed, albeit gradually.
ZANU-PF fails to understand that the west will not remove sanctions
without any reforms because it is because of ZANU-PF’s autocratic rule
that brought these sanctions to Zimbabwe in the first place. The only
way in which the West will remove these sanctions is if ZANU-PF
reforms. The latest lifting of sanctions was brought about by
ZANU-PF’s part in the drafting of the constitutional draft. All the
countries that had placed Zimbabwe on sanctions were encouraged by
Zimbabwe hosting free and fair elections this year is a long short
because the conditions facing the country at present are the same
conditions we faced in 2008. The draconian laws such as POSA that give
ZANU-PF an unfair advantage over their rivals are still there. Most of
the reforms that were meant to be implemented at the signing of the
GPA are yet to be implemented and unless if their implemented before
June a repeat of 2008 is upon us. ZANU-PF have failed to guarantee
Zimbabwe a peaceful free and fair election, they are more concerned
with starting a verbal warfare with the EU than guaranteeing their own
people a just election for once.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Mthwakazi is all ado about nothing. Their plans border on treason and destabilizing Zimbabwe

“MLF (Mthwakazi Liberation Front) has nothing and will have nothing to do with Zimbabwe, let alone elections that serve no purpose. All MLF wants from Zimbabwe is Mthwakazi independence,” remarked the MLF spokesman, quoted in an interview last year. Mthwakazians, the secessionist extremists want the separation of Mthwakazi, which is the present day Matabeleland and some parts of Midlands, from Zimbabwe and full independence. They are of the belief that this full independence of Mthwakazi will be fully realized by 2018.
The Mthwakazi state existed in the area that is now Matabeleland and Midlands and was made up of various tribes and cultures that were settled in those dry plains. Led by king Mzilikazi, who had fled to those parts after fleeing the raids of the Zulu king, Shaka, during the period of mfecane in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa in the 19th century. It is from there where they established their territory which they named Mthwakazi, led from the start by Mzilikazi and later his son, king Lobengula.
Mthwakazians claim that their territory and “state” was recognized at the Berlin Conference in 1885 when the European powers demarcated Africa as they divided it amongst themselves for settling and business. They claim that the territory was also ratified by the United Nations when it came to being. Further claims to this “state” of Mthwakazi come from the pact king Lobengula had with Jameson that led to the creation of the Jameson Line which created physical boundaries separating the present day Matabeleland and Mashonaland. Mthwakazi was thus created in an already existing state of the Mutapa, a predominantly Shona dominated area of various dialects.
With colonization and later the war of liberation, both the Shona and the Ndebele, the dominant group of the Mthwakazi, fought for the common cause of liberating Zimbabwe. This is despite the fact that they both had different armies that were aligned to their tribes, ZANLA to the Shona and Zipra to the Ndebeles. They were both determined to the liberation of all the children of Zimbabwe and not merely the Mthwakazi or the Shona only. Mthwakazians claim that they were duped by Mugabe and the negotiators at the Lancaster House Conference that paved way for the independence of Zimbabwe.
Led by the MLF, a grassroots movement that seeks to liberate the people Mthwakazi from the “invading Shonas” they want their territory to be separate from Zimbabwe so that they can grow and develop their state to the benefit of its citizens. They argue that the Shona have deliberately ignored and left to rot the industrial city of Bulawayo as well as the whole of Matabeleland. This comes from the fact that the Mugabe led government wanted to rid Zimbabwe of all the people of Mthwakazi during the Gukurahundi massacres of the early 1980s. As a result of such, the people of Mthwakazi have been intimidated, exploited and largely marginalized in an area that they should be calling home.
In 2012 leaders of MLF were arrested and charged with charges of high treason after being found with subversive materials. Such materials had the effect of destabilizing Zimbabwe because they were talking of establishing a small state within Zimbabwe, a Lesotho-like state within the already existing state of Zimbabwe.
Their claims that they be granted independence from Zimbabwe are unfounded in the sense that they came to settle in what was an already existing state back in the 19th century. They further claim that they have the full support of the whole of Matabeleland and Midlands in their future plans but the truth is that people barely know who Mthwakazi is or what they stand for. People at the forefront of this whole Mthwakazi liberation are just overzealous extremists whose intentions and dreams will only bring gloom to them. Not all the Ndebele are in support of such claims because in this day and age we no longer talk of tribe but we are all Zimbabweans and determined to work for the benefit of the country as a whole not merely for the Shona or the Ndebele alone.
Such plans of giving Mthwakazi independence border on destabilization and treason. Zimbabwe belongs to everyone. They seem to be oblivious of how state-making works. One cannot just wake up and decide to create a new state within another existing state. Somaliland, the breakaway state from conflict-ridden Somalia was established four years ago but to this day they are yet to be recognized internationally. Zimbabwe is not suffering from the same fate that faced states like Sudan that led to the international community supporting the establishment of South Sudan. We are a peaceful country and these Mthwakazians will find it hard to sell their case internationally.
Mthwakazians are calling for President Robert Mugabe to grant them a referendum to allow people to vote for their independence. What they do not understand is that such a move has to be approved by parliament. It is highly unlikely that parliament will have time to deliberate on such issues considering that the country as a whole has other pressing issues that are far much important than that. Such claims for a referendum are unfounded because Zimbabwe at present can barely afford to fund its own constitution referendum and the impending elections. Mthwakazi on their own can barely afford to fund the referendum for their independence because they are broke, relying on Welshman Ncube to bail one of their leaders who was arrested last year.
In the event that they are granted the referendum, they will hardly make the numbers tally. To Mthwakazi, their move is highly tribalistic because they blame the Shona for all their misfortune. The Shona make up the majority and it is not even likely that all the Ndebele and other smaller minority tribes that were part of the Mthwakazi “state” are in on their plans. They might afford the few votes of the elderly but the y need the support of the youth. How are they going to influence the youth when they can barely fill halls in Bulawayo for their rallies? They lack funding and order.
MLF is calling for non-participation in the upcoming elections whilst another party, the Mthwakazi National Party is of the opinion that it is important for Mthwakazians to be involved in elections but will only contest in Mthwakazi areas. Already there is confusion as to who is really representing the best interests of this so called Mthwakazi state. They are divided because these groups claiming to be representing them are only concerned about publicity and being heard first. They are misrepresenting the people because they will have people pin their hopes on them when in fact they are little more than money mongers and power hungry people who want to cause chaos for the whole of Zimbabwe.
In the event, hypothetically speaking, that they are granted independence what will happen when one day Binga decides that they no longer want to be part of Mthwakazi and want their own independence. Victoria Falls does the same and Bulawayo as well, what then will become of Mthwakazi? Zimbabwe is doing well at the moment and such claims for independence by overzealous extremists is unfounded and not given room for future trouble. They will be allowed to talk because they are entitled to their opinion but Zimbabwe is for every person who is Zimbabwean. Shona, Ndebele, Tonga, Ndau, white or whatever tribe, Zimbabwe belongs to all of us equally. It does not matter where you come from, Zimbabwe belongs to all of us.

10 Years After Henry Olonga & Andy Flower’s Black Armband Protest, Zimbabwe Is Still Mourning The Death of Democracy

The world on Thursday commemorated former Zimbabwe cricket captain Andrew Flower and the first black cricketer to play for Zimbabwe, Henry Olonga’s Black armband protest against the death of democracy in Zimbabwe. On the 10th of February 2003, when Zimbabwe, co-hosting the cricket world cup with South Africa and Kenya were preparing for their match with Namibia on an overcast day at Harare Sports Club, two of their influential players, wicket-keeper Andy Flower and fast bowler Olonga took to the field wearing black armbands in a show of no confidence against Mugabe’s ZANU-PF regime.
At the time, Zimbabwe was going through a bad patch both economically and politically, a patch that would last for the entire first decade of the new millennium. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, led by weapon-totting war veterans were terrorizing white farmers, or the few that were left, invading all the white owned farms across the country. The chaotic and highly racist land-redistribution program, meant to address the injustices of the past when the British settlers took over the land belonging to the indigenous people, was highly condemned and deemed unconstitutional by the courts. The land reform triggered an economic melt-down for the once prosperous bread basket of the region. The program in itself was a gross violation of human rights and to this day, the perpetrators of that dark period are still to be brought to book.
White farmers were given ultimatums to leave their properties within days. Some did not even get the chance to pack before the ZANU-PF youths invaded their land, burning some alive, some shot in front of their children and wives whilst some who resisted were arrested and tortured in the police cells. Property rights of these farmers were violated and these invasions were only targeted against white farmers, making the whole program wholly racist. White farmers were accused of supporting the new opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and to drum up support for the black majority who owned barely a quarter of the total agricultural land in their country, Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF went on a massive farm invasion spree that brought the country to its knees.
Zimbabwe, a once stable and industrial power-house second only to South Africa in the region started falling dismally. The West condemned events that were happening in Zimbabwe. In the elections that were held in 2001 and 2002 for parliament and the presidential election respectively, there were massive irregularities and vote rigging that cost Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC victory in the elections. Political activists were arrested and killed whilst the rule of law was ignored making Zimbabwe’s elections a farce and thus triggering the death of democracy, or the lack thereof.
Speaking on BBC5 radio on Thursday, Andy Flower, the current director of the England cricket team, revealed what triggered the events of that fateful day. Back at the time, it was almost a taboo for one to go against the Robert Mugabe regime as you would most likely disappear or rot in jail. After seeing the death of the agricultural sector with former white-owned farms being reduced to nothing but a typical African savanna, Flower was prompted by a former friend who had lost his farm to take a stand. With Zimbabwe hosting the cricket world cup, all eyes were on Zimbabwe and that was more than a platform for him and Olonga to show and reveal to the world the death of democracy in Zimbabwe.
Flower spoke to Henry Olonga, who shared the new ball then with Heath Streak, as he wanted the protest to be led by two people of different races, one white and one black. That brought the balance to the protest, as it brought two men, one black and white, who shared the same views and who were also suffering from the Mugabe regime. One man who was in the thick of things with the plans for the protest was Senator David Coltart, the current minister of Education, Sports and Culture, who was then a human rights lawyer. The plans for the black armband protest were only known to the three and those in the background with the whole of the Zimbabwe cricket team unaware until the day of the match against Namibia.
It was only until moments before the match when the two issued out their statement to the media. The media statement contained, ”We believe that if we remain silent that will be taken as a sign that either we do not care or we condone what is happening in Zimbabwe. We believe that it is important to stand up for what is right. In doing so we are making a silent plea to those responsible to stop the abuse of human rights in Zimbabwe.”
Recalling on those events ten years ago, both Flower and Olonga have no regrets of their actions. What they did ten years ago was a brave and noble thing, facing and exposing the monster when everyone was scared and just looking at events in Zimbabwe from a spectator’s view. Olonga and Flower stood up for the voiceless, the oppressed and for all the people of Zimbabwe. They put everything before them considering that such an act in itself was next to committing high treason. Three weeks after the cricket world cup, Henry Olonga received death threats and relocated to England, where Andy Flower also fled to and continued with his cricketing career.
In Zimbabwe then, as it is now, democracy is still six feet under. Elections are still a farce and human rights violations are still an everyday experience. State-sponsored violence and target based violence are still the biggest cancer in Zimbabwe and something that will continue in this country unless we change and head towards democracy. So many people have died, lost their possessions and fled Zimbabwe because of what they believed in. We have come through a long way since the two led the way on that cricket ground those many years ago.
Whilst some might say that Olonga was used by the whites to get back at the ZANU-PF regime for their lost possessions, the truth is that Olonga represented all the black people in Zimbabwe that were suffering from the chaotic regime of Robert Mugabe. It is not only the whites that lost out when their farms were taken but the whole country. Zimbabwe is an agro based economy that depended on agriculture to support its economy and with the death of that sector of the economy, everyone suffered. The thousands of farm workers lost their jobs, the country lost revenues from the agricultural exports and in return the country’s economy fell.
Politically such a move isolated Zimbabwe. Western nations put Zimbabwe on sanctions and everyone was affected as Zimbabwe was reduced from the bread basket of the region to the begging bowl of the world. As we remember the Black Armband revolt of ten years ago, we acknowledge the efforts of these two who put themselves on the line for the rights of the millions of Zimbabweans. That act was more than a stroll onto the pitch of the Harare Sports Club, it was great courage and bravery considering that the man they were revolting against lived and still do, next door at the State house, a stone’s throw from Zimbabwe’s home of cricket. Was that revolt enough? Zimbabweans only hope that the elections penciled for this year will complete the dream that Henry Olonga, Andy Flower, MDC activists and other democratic activists started.

Monday, 14 January 2013

The possibility of a united opposition for Zimbabwe’s 2013 elections

By David Hwangwa

The biggest let down for Zimbabwe in the 2008 elections was the failure by the opposition parties to stage a united front against President Robert Mugabe. The factionalism that rocked the MDC family and their failure to resolve their differences then was their downfall. That split in votes cost them dearly, coupled with the failure to rope in Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn. If there is anything that can be learnt from Zimbabwe’s violent 2008 elections is that Mugabe can only be defeated by a united front.
The stats on the ground will also favour a united front by the MDC factions. The recent poll by the Freedom House organisation can only verify this.
MDC-T leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, is slowly losing ground to Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and his bed-hopping scandals have only led to his poll stats falling. It is no tale that MDC-T and Prof.

Welshman Ncube’s MDC are the biggest threat to Mugabe and it is only through their merger that we can talk of a win for them. It was welcoming news recently when the MDC-T secretary general and Finance Minister was quoted as saying that unification between the two warring factions cannot be totally written off.
An election pact between Tsvangirai and Ncube could be the catalyst to ending ZANU-PF’s dominance. Prof. Welshman Ncube has done a lot of ground work in Bulawayo and the whole of Matebeleland making his party a major player there. Whilst Tsvangirai might have dismissed Ncube’s ambitions saying that he is only concentrating in Matebeleland, the truth of the matter is that Tsvangirai is afraid that the MDC-T might lose some of their constituencies there to Prof. Ncube. Professor Welshman Ncube is no novice when it comes to politics and no-one can blame him for channeling most of his resources to Matebeleland. That is his home and that is comfort zone. If he is to take Matebeleland then he could be a major player in the next government, possibly another monster in the form of a unity-coalition government.
Going to Matebeleland, to Bulawayo you can see just how much he has done there. The MDC green flags and flyers are everywhere. He is donating bicycles and cattle and right about everything, nicely buttering the people. Whatever he is doing, whether you can call it vote-buying or any term you wish, it is working. ZANU-PF gives farm inputs based on party-cards and we are all used to that now and we cannot blame Prof. Welshman Ncube.
Tsvangirai is very much aware of what the green MDC has done and he is wary of losing ground in Matebeleland. The MDC-T is being hit from all corners. The poll figures are low, ZANU-PF is gaining ground and Welshman Ncube is hitting him hard from Matebeleland and his only chance of ever upsetting president Mugabe is through an election pact with some of the other opposition parties.
There was talk of a possible pact between MDC-T and Simba Makoni, which could be a game changer if we are to take note of the 8% Simba got in 2008 which potentially cost the MDC-T.
Yes a pact between the MDC-T and Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn is a positive move but is it enough? There is a great need to also rope in Welshman Ncube too. Whilst point men in both MDC-T and MDC in the form of Tendai Biti and Senator David Coltart have come out in support of an election pact, their superiors are throwing fists everywhere. Both Tsvangirai and Welshman are criticizing each other whenever they are given a chance. This puts further gloom on a possible pact. Welshman Ncube can do without a pact if he is only after consolidating Matebeleland and he can go to bed with whoever comes to him for a coalition but for Tsvangirai, it could be his last straw.
The MDC-T preaches democracy and change of leadership at regular intervals and if Tsvangirai loses next year then calls for a change in leadership will only get louder. He might be blinded coming in public calling Welshman a “village” politician but the truth is that Tsvangirai needs this village-man called Welshman.
If they are to kiss and make up the biggest stumbling block that could kill the chances of the election pact is on fielding candidates. Both men would like to field candidates in all the constituencies and I do not see Welshman Ncube settling for a deal where he will be forced to settle for less. He might budge in some other provinces but in his home region of Matebeleland he will tell Tsvangirai no to his face.
The biggest pact that could usher the change the MDC family has been promising the people since 2000 can only come through if these two MDC factions sit down and put their differences aside for the good of their people. Their big egos could cost them, particularly Tsvangirai because he is the one who stands to lose the most. He is the one who needs to re-affirm the people that indeed he is capable. He needs to let go his ego because his confidence ratings amongst the people and even some of his backers from abroad, is at an all-time low. He needs to surround himself with people that can take him forward because if he is to lose the next elections, then it could be game over for him after so much promise and struggle.

follow me on twitter - @mkomadavy