OPPOSITION big shots say their fight for a better Zimbabwe for all is being slowed down by fear, as authorities continue to crack down on people who stand accused of breaching the country’s laws.
MDC Alliance deputy national chairperson, Job “Wiwa” Sikhala, and Transform Zimbabwe
In addition, they are worried that last week’s jailing of MDC Alliance activist, Makomborero Haruzivishe, may be a precursor of worse things to come — especially for prominent opposition politicians who are currently facing various charges at the courts.
leader Jacob Ngarivhume were among those who told the Daily News at the weekend that they feared that authorities would hammer them in the coming weeks.
This comes as political analysts have warned that the country’s ever bickering opposition faces a heavy shellacking at the 2023 polls, unless it puts its act together quickly.
“What is scary is that anyone with a pending case of standing up against (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa is in danger. It’s not only me.
“There are many in the same position, including Jacob Ngarivhume, Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri, Netsai Marowa, Allan Moyo, Takudzwa Ngadziore and many other prominent citizens.
“The conviction of Haruzivishe testifies to the absolute extinction of any space for criticism directed at the Mnangagwa regime.
“The most hazardous occupation today is criticising the regime. They have turned to terrorism against citizens,” Sikhala told the Daily News.
This comes after Haruzivishe was slapped with an effective 14 months in prison for inciting public violence and resisting arrest.
The fearful Sikhala, who is facing charges of inciting public violence together with Ngarivhume, added that opposition figures and other government critics were facing difficult times ahead.
“Those with giraffe sight have been giving red alerts to everyone on the dangers posed to the advocates of a free society and of equal opportunities.
“The endgame by Mnangagwa’s regime is to make sure that all his vocal opponents are in prison, to clear the road for his free continued reign against the wishes of our people.
“The law is now the most lethal and dangerous weapon against the people of Zimbabwe,” Sikhala also said.
The Zengeza West MP was nabbed by police in August last year, having been in hiding for nearly a month, after authorities went on the hunt for some of the leaders of the foiled July 31 anti-government mass protests.
Upon his arrest, police claimed that he had been found hiding in a ceiling at a house in Tynwald North — claims which Sikhala refuted, saying he had a huge frame which made it impossible for him to hide there.
His arrest also sent tongues wagging at the time within opposition ranks, where accusations flew around furiously as to how he ended up being nabbed by authorities.
This comes as MDC Alliance leadership has been accused of calling for protests but failing to lead from the front — like what the much-loved late MDC founding father Morgan Tsvangirai used to do, including when he participated in the ‘‘Save Zimbabwe’’ march in Harare in 2007.
Then, Tsvangirai and his colleagues such as Tendai Biti, Arthur Mutambara, Grace Kwinjeh, Sekai Holland and Lovemore Madhuku were bludgeoned by heavily-armed police during brutal attacks which saw a shoe cobbler, Gift Tandare, being shot dead.
Meanwhile, Ngarivhume — who is also facing the rap at the courts for calling for protests in 2020 — has also warned that the writing is on the wall for pro-democracy activists.
“What is more frightening is that we are all in the pipeline to go to jail. While our worry is not necessarily what will befall us, we are concerned about what will happen to our country when all those who have the courage to speak truth to power are sent to jail.
“There will be no resistance and the government will plunder resources willy-nilly.
“That is why the punishment meted out on Haruzivishe is a serious cause for concern and disappointment,” Ngarivhume said.
Haruzivishe’s sentencing witnessed rowdy scenes involving MDC Alliance supporters who had thronged Harare Magistrates’ Courts in solidarity with the youthful activist — leading to clashes with police.
Five activists, including Vongai Tome and Ngoni Dzapfumba, were subsequently arrested by authorities.
All this also comes as political analysts have once again warned that the opposition risks being annihilated by Zanu PF ahead of the 2023 polls, unless they change strategy and pursue national dialogue.
In addition, the analysts also recently told the Daily News that MDC Alliance leaders needed to ditch their “student politics” and stop dithering about whether to stick with the current name or come up with a completely new outfit.
Renowned Professor of World Politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (OAS), Stephen Chan, said Nelson Chamisa needed to “reinvent both himself and his party” and pursue dialogue to enhance his chances in the country’s fast-approaching next elections.
“You cannot confront Zanu PF and at the same time confront the other MDC, complaining that you are the real MDC … a situation of circular futility arises.
“He (Chamisa) needs to rebrand his party, ensure that there is national dialogue along the issue of reforms by engaging Zanu PF without necessarily being combative.
“I hate to say this, especially as many people think I am overly critical of him but, in fact, I extend my admiration to him, for he has great courage.
“However, it seems he uses exactly the same confrontational strategy that he used as a student leader,” Chan told the Daily News.
Respected University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, weighed in saying it would be foolhardy for Chamisa to expect that Zanu PF would agree to any reforms, as some of his advisers were arguing, when he continued to dispute President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s legitimacy.
“The MDC Alliance leader should search for a viable solution through non-combative means given the nature of the ruling party.
“Confrontational battles are its area of specialisation and one does not walk into a lion’s den and expect to come out unscathed.
“There is a need for a serious paradigm shift in the opposition’s approach because they cannot afford to be blind to the reality of a vicious response to confrontation by Zanu PF,” Masunungure told the Daily News.
“If he hopes for an all-inclusive dialogue, it is only possible if he (Chamisa) discards the strategy of confrontation and uses persuasion by dropping the legitimacy demand as a sign of goodwill.
“He should put to the fore issues that affect the people — be they political, economic or social.
“That way, he stands a better chance of persuading Zanu PF to dialogue outside Polad, which is not really a good platform,” Masunungure said further. – Daily News