Monday, June 13, 2005

Fear and fear (of exploitation):Why the stay away flopped

I'm sure many sympathizers of the Zimbabwean people in the blogosphere and beyond were dazed and drenched deeper into the dirges of despair when it became apparent that the much anticipated stay away was going nowhere early on Friday. I'm also going to go ahead and assume that most of you (like me) started burning with frustration and numerous questions as to why such a repressed and persecuted people would not stand up and protest the heinous crimes of a desperate and despotic regime. Some of you were enraged by the apparent long suffering attitude of the Zimbabwean public. A few extremists even went on to dismiss us as a passive, pathetic proletariat (with a few vulger explicatives to boot).

At the root of all this bitterness and frustration was confusion over why the Zimbabwean masses practically ignored the calls for action from the MDC led coalition. I too was distraught and disillusioned. Morbid thoughts of the horrors of the cleanup being the doom fate has assigned us crossed my mind. But then I heard it, the calm resolute voice of the people of Zimbabwe. Yes through conversations and multiple assurences from friends and family (turned sources), I was directed (as has been the case many times over the last few weeks) to the right perspective.

Zimbabweans are done being exploited by a greedy select at who's core vaulting ambitions lie awaiting opportunity to jump at power and prominence. With the corruption of government by ZANU-PF bigwigs and the prevailing hardships, power--political power that is-- has become the fastest escape route from the hard times into the good times. See this. Zimbabwe's papers are filled with filth like this and this which recount tales of high ranking officials in Mugabe's "development" cabinet raping a teenager and abandoning parental obligations to illicit children they fathered.

Do not despair, Zimbabweans spoke over the weekend and what they are saying clear to anyone that'll pay attention. Zimbabweans have rejected the shoddy leadership of the opposition, they want a real leader. "A real leader," you ask.

After so many years of lies and deception, the people of Zimbabwe are not going to fall for the gimmicks of cheap politics. Gone are the days when politicians could call for action from their lofty quarters at the Monomotapa offices and then sit back to watch their vassals respond. The only kind of leadership Zimbabweans are responding to is involved leadership. They are rallying behind the clarion calls of those who practise what they preach; leaders who will walk to the walk with them. [This is a part of why the farm invasions spread so quickly across the country; the leaders themselves did what they were urging people to do]

The MDC has convinced Zimbabweans that they do not have that kind of leadership. They've become so obsessed with the idea of regime change that they've neglected the voices of the very laity to which they should turn if they expect to sweep into power with by popular vote. With their unproductive globetrotting missions and incessantly empty threats, they have become a party of envy and longing. Envy and longing for what ZANU-PF has that they could have too. Months I ago I wrote;

"Somehow, after the MDC debuted as a political party, Tsvangirai's leadership began to distance itself from the realities and hardships faced by the proletariat. [regime] Change became his party's clarion call. As early as the run up to the 2002 presidential elections, MDC began to emphasize the need for regime change louder than they articulated wishes of the masses.

But these continued cries for change didn't alleviate the pinch of an economy imploding under high inflation and unemployment as well as the detrimental effects of AIDS. Those were and remain the immediate concerns of the public in Zimbabwe.As long as ordinary Zimbabweans don't hear the MDC championing their cause, for food security, employment and sustained economic growth, MDC can rest assured all the sympathies for them will come from a small minority.

And that spells doom for them unless they change the mainstay of their platform and it's not too late to do that yet."

See this too.

Nowhere do I find these charges better laid out than by the Zimbabwe Standard's sattirist Woodpecker;

"Damp squib. The so-called two-day national stayaway by the misnamed Broad Alliance was, to be extremely polite, a phenomenal failure.

Many long suffering Zimbabweans rightly ignored the call to stayaway from their dwindling sources of income simply because they are tired of being used by tired politicians and their equally tired cronies in the civil society.

So then - the question has to be asked: Why do long suffering Zimbabweans prefer to go about their miserable lives without a whimper of a protest?

Why do people whose meagre belongings overzealous police have wantonly destroyed and whose dwellings have been reduced to smithereens prefer to moan quietly rather than make much noise by going onto the streets, or joining calls for mass protest such as Thursday and Friday's stayaways? The answer, which I discovered after much soul searching, is simple.

Ordinary and hard working Zimbabweans are fed up of being used as canon fodder by politicians and civic society leaders who call for stayaways and such other forms of mass protest, and then slide away when darkness comes to the comfort of their houses (with their well manicured gardens and posh servants' quarters) while they have to sleep in the open.

Ordinary Zimbabweans are tired of being beaten up by police and soldiers at midnight, or such ungodly hours when they are alone and helpless in their tiny houses with nobody taking notice, while their so-called leaders can get the whole world to issue alerts and pour millions of dollars in their defence if they ever get harassed by the police or the CIO.

Ordinary, peace loving and hard working Zimbabweans are tired of being used by civic society leaders who take advantage of their plight to write long and harrowing reports to their international benefactors for them to react with horror and disgust, while at the same time opening their fat cheque books and transferring millions that only serve to boost the civic society leaders' huge salaries and hefty allowances.

Ordinary and peace loving Zimbabweans are tired of seeing the same leaders living in comfort while they wallow in abject poverty and are promised that, as the good book says, the meek shall inherit the earth.

They are now saying if any blood is shed in the quest for democracy and human rights, then it should be the leaders' blood. Not theirs. Period.

That is why ordinary and peace loving Zimbabweans are no longer interested in strikes or stayaways because they are badly organized and only serve the interests of fat-cat politicians and their friends in the civic society movement.

Ordinary and peace loving Zimbabweans yearn for a new leadership that is not selfish or a leadership that is not driven by the need to make as much money from the Zimbabwe crisis as possible.

That is why ordinary people would rather weep quietly and huddle in the bitter and cold nights of winter than join endless calls of stayaways and strikes. That is why Thursday and Friday's stayaway was a damp squib.

Ordinary and peace loving Zimbabweans have spoken and spoken loudly: We need new leaders, we need new heroes."

Remember when our friend spoke of fear being the reason for the failure of the protest;
"The thing is people are afraid. People don't want to stay away from work because if they do, then they'll be sacked. With all the threats from the police and government, we're well aware that we might charged with inciting disorder. So no one wants to be the first one."
What he was describing is not the paralyzing fear of the unknown that captivates us when we watch horror movies, but rather an enlightened, a wise fear of chaos such as the fear one has of a snake or a scorpion because they know how fatal contact with either can be. That kind of fear which can only come from a deep understanding of human nature is the fear the Zimbabwean people expressed last week.

The Zimbabwean people have spoken, it's time for sons and daughters of the soil to lead us out of this mediocrity.

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