By Tariro Senderayi
MDC led by Nelson Chamisa had intended to lead people into demonstrations across the country starting on the 16th of August but their intentions were met with resistance from the government through Prohibition Orders issued by the police which were also supported by the courts.
Demonstrations are catered for in the country’s most celebrated Constitution especially Section 59 but there have been mixed feelings among people over their impact in bringing about the required change.
Others are of the view that Zimbabwe has had as many demonstrations but there are no tangible results on the ground to determine their success while others fear a repeat of the violence that accompanied demonstrations held in January this year.
It is a fact that Zimbabweans are currently pressed by the prevailing economic hardships obtaining in the country and definitely need to register their displeasure to the government so that some action can be taken since President Emmerson Mnangagwa says he is a listening President.
And while the law permits people to demonstrate peacefully I, however, believe demos have lost touch and will not work in Zimbabwe because of the below reasons.
- Seeking permission or notifying the police
As long as there is need to seek permission or notify the police of your intention to exercise your right to demonstrate, that right is as good as it does not exist because the police will always come up with excuses to ban the demos as they did with MDC across the country.
According to journalist and political commentator Hopewell Chin’ono, it is naive for the opposition to think that they will get a different result for protests when they fulfil the requirement of notifying the police and approaching the courts for redress, adding that “there is a valid reason why Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo did not seek permission to protest against colonialism from Ian Smith‘s courts and judges” and MDC Youth Assembly secretary-general Gift Ostallos Siziba concurred when he said “Zimbabwe has a defacto curfew whereby the constitution has been suspended because most of the rights enshrined in the Bill of rights are no longer recognised including the freedom to demonstrate.
2. Economic hardships
With the current economic situation in Zimbabwe, the country has become a jungle where everyone is hustling to make a living due to unemployment, low salaries and high cost of goods and services among other challenges.
Under such circumstance where issues of putting bread on the table become more important than anything, it will always be difficult to mobilise people from their income-generating activities to come and demonstrate in the streets where they will not get anything to take home at the end of the day.
3.Poor demo history
Demos since after independence have generally been a monumental flop in terms of impact and bringing about the desired changes so I believe you can’t be using the same formulae and expecting different results.
MDC has demonstrated or led demonstrations from as far as when the late Morgan Tsvangirai was entering politics up to the election period in 2018 but there is nothing to show for them, demos have not yielded anything as the situation has remained the same.
4. Military Coup
Once power has been exchanged via a military coup, then surely you have to wave goodbye to the decent exercise of political rights. The November 2017 coup was never the silver lining in Zimbabwe’s cloud. The people who engaged in the coup committed treason and they will not allow power to go easily as they are not sure of their protection from those intending to come in hence demos will not bring the changed that is expected by the demonstrators and organisers.
And according to Gift Ostallos Siziba “what we are suffering right now as a country especially the repression of political rights are just but the birth pains of a military dictatorship. It’s very characteristic of a military state.”