The Regime Fears the Empowered Citizen More than the Voice of the Politician

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Opinion Piece By Dr. Noah Manyika. May 19, 2020.

The call for opposition political leaders to unite is always loudest when the level of our pain spikes beyond our abnormally high threshold of tolerance. The truth is that the need not just for political leaders, but for all Zimbabweans to unite against the violent and repressive system that has destroyed our nation, our lives and livelihoods for four decades has always been urgent.

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It was urgent during the brutal massacres in Matabeleland in the 80s, and Zanu(PF)s violence and repression after the 2008 election. It was urgent when Jestina Mukoko was abducted in 08, and Itai Dzamara disappeared in 2015. It was urgent when the Mashurugwis were terrorizing people in the Midlands, and when the military killed civilians in August 2018 and January of 2019, and in the most recent case, when Zanu(PF) thugs brutalized three MDC Alliance youths.

What we have in Zimbabwe are not intermittent moments of madness, but a whole governance culture of corruption, incompetence, violence and utter madness whose confrontation will require much more than just a common political platform for opposition leaders. Citizens who give political leaders exclusive responsibility to define the future they want set themselves up for manipulation, and ultimately repression even by those who initially seem to be on their side.

Zimbabweans have finally began an honest interrogation of our assumptions about who we are which must not be foreclosed by an ill-thought political settlement, but must be fueled into an unstoppable blaze that will permanently consume the evil culture, institutions and people that continues to destroy our nation, our lives and livelihoods four decades after independence.

We can’t be so afraid of transgressing our culture not to say without equivocating that until the 270+ Chiefs in our country can collectively through the Chiefs Council, and individually, summon the courage of the late Chief Rekayi Tangwena to actively condemn the brutal system destroying the lives of their subjects, they should not be our Chiefs. Their job, and that of every elder, cannot be to pacify their subjects for repression first by the colonial enterprise, and now by Zanu(PF). Instead, it must be to say what Pastor Shingi Munyeza is saying now to instill in every citizen the unshakeable belief that they deserve more, and to nurture in them the indomitable will to thrive, and the instinct to fight anything and anyone who gets in the way. Anything less must cost every leader, including our Chiefs, their honor, respect and positions.

No political settlement crafted exclusively by political players will bring Uhuru as long Zezurus, Karangas, Manyikas, Ndebeles, Whites, Blacks, Christians, fathers, mothers, pastors will not confront their own children and congregants who are members of the police, security and intelligence services who implement the repressive orders of a brutal regime while claiming to be people of faith and conscience.

This regime fears the empowered citizen more than the voice of the opposition politician. They do fear street protests, which is why they shoot, abduct and rape, but they are also terrified of the protest song and the skit that exposes them, which is why Gonyeti was abducted and why they censor. They fear Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, which is why they have an army of trolls there, and why they shut down the internet in 2019.

It is the consistent, resolute, informed voices of protest of every Zimbabwean on every platform and medium available to us that will shake the foundations of their confidence and the architecture of repression they rely on. Only then shall we begin the transition to the complete emancipation we have been denied for four decades, and which we fully deserve.

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