'Sustain wave of citizen action'

HARARE - While Zimbabweans have been commended for collectively heeding the call to stay away from work, shut down their businesses as well as close shops, there is need to continue with this wave of protests until President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF government resign or call for an early election, political and social commentators contend.

Political commentator Mcdonald Lewanika said Mugabe and his regime while they can ignore, cannot afford to be unfazed by the huge show of popular discontent that the Wednesday “shutdown” has demonstrated.

“The regime has proved to be both authoritarian and unfeeling in the past, concerted citizen action is needed before they can be disturbed. But actions such as the successful shut down were last seen in the late 90s and then they were a precursor to fundamental changes in Zimbabwe’s body politic.

“The level of discontent expressed in the run up to and during the shut downshow that this too maybe a precursor to fundamental shifts in the states politics,” said Lewanika.

He believes the actions thus far are a great start and if sustained can lead to ruptures in the regime. “To do that the actions need to stop being waves, waves are great and can be admired but if they are few and far in between, no matter how big, they seldom change the sea levels, sustainable action of wave after wave of citizen action can lead to the much needed fundamental shifts.”

Social commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said Mugabe is miserably recluse, shaken and totally devoid of ideas. “Now that Zimbabweans have proved that they can unite, the next and last step is to march, drive to his house in thousands and demand his overdue resignation.”

A media practitioner who preferred to remain anonymous said: “The action of the government to shut down social media platforms and the heavy deployment of police is a sign of fear and concern.

“The regime is moved, unfortunately not in the direction of engagement and resolving issues but in the direction of more repression.”

Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga said Mugabe and his government cannot afford to ignore this massive demonstration of people power as all indications are that protest actions in various forms are likely to continue until positive change is achieved.

“The government cannot behave like the proverbial Ostrich that buries its head in the sand in the hope that problems will vanish - Zimbabwe’s problems will not magically disappear; they require government acknowledgement and corrective action urgently otherwise Zimbabwe is on the brink of civil unrest,” said Mavhinga.

Media practitioner Nigel Kabila Nyamutumbu said the national shutdown is a classic case of citizens’ power and collective responsibility to hold government to account and to actively demand their rights.

“Indeed, the people have spoken and the regime cannot afford to ignore the widespread protests.

“I think more than anything, citizens need to sustain these peaceful means of demonstrations until government meets the people’s demands for basic service provision as well as for democratic reforms and respect of the rule of law.

“The shutdown in itself is not enough to bring about change and going forward Zimbabweans need to do more to inculcate a culture of active citizenry,” said Nyamutumbu.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said everyone knows that we are dealing with a very stubborn and recalcitrant regime in the form of the Zanu PF regime. “President Robert Mugabe and his beleaguered regime might publicly declare that they are still fully in charge and that everything is under control but then you can be assured that, privately, they are terribly worried.

“The people of Zimbabwe have suffered enough at the hands of the corrupt Zanu PF regime. This regime is living on borrowed time. The people have decided to take upon peaceful and democratic processes to liberate themselves from the shackles of Zanu PF- induced slavery and suffering.”

Gutu added that the MDC will continue to urge Zimbabweans to remain peaceful and also to peacefully exercise their constitutional right to demonstrate. “The Zanu PF regime is not only bankrupt, broke and clueless; it is also irreversibly on its way out.’’

Political analyst Tonderai Kwidini said this action will surely rattle Mugabe and his cronies. “If it was organised by political parties such as MDC they could afford to ignore it but these are citizens speaking. If it was a referendum on his position of power he would be out of power as we speak.

“What is interesting is the amount of organisation that went into this, it’s mere testimony that people of Zimbabwe have heard enough. There was no announcement on radio or mass media like what used to happen in the past. This was mobilised through a combination of social media platforms.”

Kwidini said what is crucial is for citizens to come up with a road map of demands and continue with such actions until the government start taking them seriously. “One such action could be a call for the resignation of the president. Anything short of Mugabe’s resignation and appointment of a transitional authority of technocrats will lead to a total implosition.

“The country is on a knife edge. Even the security forces are slowly losing their appetite to prop this regime. How can they do that with an empty stomach? Just watch the body language of the police, army officers when they’re queuing for cash at the bank. It tells the whole story. Very soon they will join the people. It’s an undesirable situation but one that has been forced upon the people.”

Political commentator Elliot Pfebve said: “Contrary to what other Zanu PF ‘zealots’ want us to believe that Mugabe is deaf ..., the fact remains clear that he has realised that he is very vulnerable, a Mickey Mouse of highest proportions.

“Presiding over a bankrupt government, a society dogged with civil unrest, an empty public purse, unpaid salaries and allowances and much, can only make any leader vulnerable and concerned worse so if you are a dictator like Mugabe with blood on your hands, because he knows the people of Zimbabwe are marching towards him in a heightened level of rage never witnessed before, rendering his fate unpredictable.

“His government has lost bearings; his military support base is diminishing due to liquidity crisis biting the hand that feeds him. Actually, I am beginning to see not only a window of hope but green shoots in the vicinity. His position is absolutely untenable, watch my words,” said Pfebve.

Pfebve added that as Zimbabweans: “We must continue to shut down the entire country and force the government to leave office and give place to a transition authority that will see a free and fair election.”

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