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Tunisia, Egypt: mass protests work. Whither Zimbabwe? – BY BENJAMIN  T. SEMWAYO

BENJAMIN SEMWAYO - Political Correspondent

The developments in the Middle-East and North Africa, in which protests have rocked the dictatorships in those regions, have sent shock waves throughout the world in countries where dictators are still in power. It all began in Tunisia and had a domino effect as one-by-one oppressed nations decided to take their destiny into their own hands and break free from their oppressors. It now appears the next head to roll is that of Gaddafi, who has reportedly dug in his heels refusing to go, earning himself a ballooning crime record in the process. The world’s attention is focused on these regions and many people the world over are lending their support to the suffering masses.

Following Morgan Tsvangirai’s warning about the possibility of similar protests in Zimbabwe, some benighted top police officers have reportedly warned that any such attempts would be met with brute force from the police, saying such protests would not be tolerated in Zimbabwe. The protests in question are peaceful and Tsvangirai was talking about similarly non-violent protests. Such protests are legitimate and are an exercise of people’s inalienable rights. By threatening to prevent such protests Zimbabwe’s leaders are effectively admitting that they are worse dictators than the leaders of the countries that have allowed their people to exercise their rights as they please. The status quo’s fear is that the masses will heed the call and the floodgates will be opened as the multitudes take to the streets.

The international political matrix has been altered by winds of change sweeping across the globe and this makes it the right time to agitate for change. Something historic is in the offing and Zimbabwe should take advantage of the rising tide against dictators. Dictators have never been known to want to respect the results of the ballot process, though they are happy to use it fraudulently to justify the extension of their disastrous rule, and at the same time they will not allow peaceful protests. To them their right to rule is set in stone and is immune to any challenge of any description. They should not be allowed to have it both ways. They leave the masses with no option but to protest because for too long people have bottled up their emotions and suffered in silence. They can intimidate the people and ratchet up violence against them up to a point; they can try to create a forbidding atmosphere, but there comes a point when people cannot take any more, and when that point comes they simply decide that enough is enough, pluck up enough courage, and erupt in a massive backlash against the oppressors. The regime of Robert Mugabe, which boasts ‘degrees in violence’, can be out-muscled too. The anger of the people of Zimbabwe is bursting at the seams as everyone’s life has come to a standstill.

For decades support for ZanuPF has been hemorrhaging across the nation and the country has been sliding into the grip of an ever-dwindling clique of miscreants. The party from hell is currently making frenzied efforts to illegitimately stake a bigger territory by unleashing violence in the urban areas, but this approach is doomed to fail and will only succeed in plunging it deeper into the quagmire. It is clinging to its last shred of hope, that setting its hatchet men on the public will by some magical influence endear it to the public, but as anyone can see, this is pure self-deception in liquid form. There is pandemonium in the ZanuPF camp as the leaders run around

 like headless chickens, trying to resuscitate a dead party. We read press reports that they are angling for prominent opposition leaders to try to bolster their party, and have Mutambara, a man whose political existence is hanging precariously by a thread, in their sights. All that will not change a thing. The fact of the matter is that the people of Zimbabwe have had enough.


There is talk of planned mass protest in the country, and already scores of activists are said to be languishing in prisons as they have incurred the wrath of the partisan law-enforcement agents. Everyone knows what happens in those prisons: the mere thought of it is gut-wrenching. Having tried everything to free themselves, the people of Zimbabwe should take a leaf from what is happening in the Middle-East and North Africa. Mass protests

 constitute a bankable plan for dealing with dictators when everything else has failed. They should adopt what they can from other countries, and to that, add tailor-made, homespun techniques and strategies that suit their peculiar situation in Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai is right: Zimbabweans should take control of their own destiny.