A Revolution That Failed in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe witnessed a fierce psychological battle at the beginning of March 2011. Inspired by their new models in the Arab world, political activists and civic society organizations tried to mobilize people for mass protests to demand change in government. But not a single demonstrator turned up on March 1 for the much-billed 1 million-man march against President Mugabe.
However, the following day Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party claimed to have clocked one and half million people for its anti-sanctions open-air campaign in Harare. The event was boycotted by major opposition parties.
Despite using today’s popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter, the activists, who are mainly based overseas and in neighbouring countries, failed to persuade Zimbabweans at home to dare assemble anywhere and tell Mugabe to quit.
Jumping on the occasion, youth militias and war veterans, loyal to the president, came on state television to use the protest flop as a boost to the fake popularity of Mugabe and his entourage.
Former student activist, Hopewell, believes that only protests generated within the country could be successful.
*“Why are those in the Diaspora leading us into being easy lions’ prey from their comfortable hideouts in the UK, USA, South Africa and other developed countries? After all, most of these guys ran away from the known brutality of the police, soldiers and the intelligence organization, especially during students, workers and civic society demonstrations,”* says Hopewell.
Failure of the planned uprisings in Zimbabwe is evident at a time when politically-motivated violence resurfaced after calls for elections this year. Fear had already gripped the country when 45 members of the International Socialist Organization were arrested and allegedly tortured in police custody for watching videos of uprisings in North Africa. Township dwellers in major cities saw many armed soldiers driving around in gun-mounted armored vehicles ahead of the planned upheavals.
So, do Zimbabweans have the guts to take their destiny in their own hands?
They gave it a try, under the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai and civic society organizations like the Lovemore Madhuku’s National Constitutional Assembly (NCA). But brutality from state security organs overwhelmed them and everyone became scared. They resort back to being armchair internet revolutionaries. Only NCA and Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) persevered, supported by only a dozen timid followers.
With the photographic evidence of the huge “voluntary and willing” crowds at the Harare anti-sanctions gathering, ZANU (PF) brag that people have spoken in their favor and still adore them. But what do the other political parties, activists and civic society organizations think of it?
Their argument is that maybe the violent dictatorial response in Libya, where Gaddafi’s use of military power to crash his countrymen made it too risky for any Zimbabwean to march on to any freedom square.
**By John Masuku**
*Executive Director of the independent Radio Voice of the People.*