Mugabe's words on urbanites unwarranted

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s recent comments that Harare and Bulawayo residents should go and get what they voted for from the MDC has been received by residents with anger.

The Daily News on Sunday sought comments from social and political commentators who felt Mugabe’s rants were unfortunate and unwarranted.

Media practitioner Rashweat Mukundu says his take is that Mugabe has never forgiven Harare and Bulawayo and other centres for rejecting him.

“The residents of these towns have lived without any assistance from central government for the past 20 years or so and the absence of any meaningful economic development in the two major cities reflects on the failures of Mugabe.

“His hatred of the two cities is because they show in clear detail his failure as a leader, that is shortage of water, electricity, collapsed industry, potholes, lack of proper health facilities among many others,” says Mukundu.

He believes “Operation Murambatsvina” was an expression of that anger and “we can only hold our breath on what else he is planning as part of his hitting back. Mugabe must be advised to demonstrate leadership and why Bulawayo and Harare must vote for him rather than issue threats and ranting.”

Playwright Leonard Matsa says it would be very sad if Mugabe follows up on his words.

“The party might, as a result, lose the little ground it has gained in the two cities during the 2013 elections. We hope he gets wise advice and caution in time, especially because a place like Bulawayo needs urgent support than punishment. I mean who, and how do you, punish an already suffering people? It is very normal not to be loved by everyone.

“Even Jesus was not loved by everyone. We cross our fingers that his oath to serve and protect the people will overwhelm his election anger. I don’t think he wants to act like a party leader when he is a State president.”

Precious Shumba, Harare Residents Trust, HRT director says Mugabe’s statements were most unfortunate, unwarranted, and do not reflect the position of the Zimbabwean government.

“The HRT is at this stage not alarmed at those comments, which were said without much consideration of their impact if fully implemented.

“The residents of Harare are expecting the president of Zimbabwe, elected by the majority of the citizens in Zimbabwe, to act responsibly and refrain from making statements that might be construed as vindictive, and showing an insatiable appetite on the part of Mugabe to control every Zimbabwean.

“The fact that Zanu PF won plus two thirds of the vote should at least satisfy them that they now have full control of the levers of government. In a democracy, citizens elect who they want, and it is unfortunate that the President expressed a personal opinion without giving it full attention,” says Shumba.

He hopes Mugabe will rise above partisan considerations and act in the best interests of every Zimbabwean, including residents of Harare and Bulawayo, where Zanu PF also made significant gains as compared to their 2008 vote tallies.

“All citizens are expecting the government to give full priority attention to the issue of water and sewerage reticulation to all local authorities, deal with the high rate of unemployment, attend to the road network, street lighting, accountability in local authorities, and the involvement of citizens in the affairs of the nation without any form of discrimination, perceived or actual,” says Shumba.

He adds that while “Operation Murambatsvina” was done with the alleged objective of restoring order and sanity into urban local authorities, and end illegal activities in the communities, “the majority of urban dwellers perceived it as vindictive action, designed to scatter people who were expected to rise against worsening economic and social conditions.

For now president Mugabe will want to demonstrate that he has a better solution to the plight of urban dwellers, providing them with better services than the inclusive government.

“His failure to improve the livelihoods of the urban dwellers will significantly reduce the support base of Zanu PF in 2018, and Zanu PF does not want a repeat of 2008.”

Playwright Daves Guzha wonders whether this was not just simple politics. “These are just the ranting of an old person. Anyway the choice is his...to be a leader for the country or for Zanu PF. I think it will not be possible for Mugabe to punish the cities.”

Pan Africanist Thomas Deve says all elected leaders must now serve the nation.

“This is not the time to settle scores,” adding: “While they got votes from their supporters and are expected to show some form of gratitude, there is no better way to do it other than serving the people of Zimbabwe regardless of their political complexion.”

Political activist Tabani Moyo says it is sad and unfortunate for such comments to be made by the head of State and government.

“When you get into an election or competition you can’t be expecting to win everything. The just ended election saw the president winning 61 percent, so did he want to win 100 percent? By their nature, democratic processes are supposed to provide citizens with the right to vote for a person of their choice, when they choose, their choice should be respected and protected,” says Moyo.

He believes that such thinking does not belong 21st century of governance.

“That’s why many at times as a country we move one step forward and countless backwards. The president should lead by example that he is a father figure for both his supporters and those thinking otherwise.

“We then get worried with the widespread of the culture of entitlement, when a national leader holds such thinking, which in a cancerous way can spread across our body politic.”

When a country has been riddled with conflict for a long time like ours, Moyo says, the leaders should exercise caution on how they make certain pronouncements that in a way might be deemed as influencing structures, supporters and state to act in a manner that is not reflective of the national sentiment, tastes, diversity and cultivation.

“Reprisal does not bring about national unity, nor does it configure national progression. The general rule of nations in that the State should protect its in inhabitants from both foreign aggression and the exigencies and appetite of abusing State machinery for settling narrow personal scores against the citizens.

“Those threats will attract unnecessary attention on Zimbabwe. They are at tangent with the ethos and inspiration of the national liberation struggle. The war was wedged for a people to make free choice not to for the head of State to declare ‘war’ on the citizens. Our hope is that he will find a platform to correct this position.

“With such threats, it becomes an open statement of intent and you are never sure of the magnitude of the harm it will achieve,” adds Moyo.

Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe, CCDZ believes the comments by Mugabe are unfortunate but not surprising.

“Since 2000, the people in urban areas which are considered MDC strongholds have had their rights trampled by the Zanu PF regime for voting for the opposition. So it is not surprising that the urban electorate is again becoming targets for similar reprisals as we have experienced in the past,” said Pasirayi.

He said since 2000 urban areas have consistently voted for change and this is how they have become easy targets for Zanu PF.

“The threats by Mugabe are very real and should be taken seriously because his party, Zanu PF can do anything to retain and consolidate grip on power.

“In the past, urban voters have been targeted for violent ‘disciplining’ and labeled sellouts for voting for the MDC party. In previous elections thugs were unleashed on urban voters who were being accused of having voted for the ‘wrong’ party. In the 2008 elections, Zanu PF launched ‘Operation Makavhotera papi?/Where did you place your vote?’ which was targeted at MDC strongholds.”

 

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