Why we must not allow the current Zanu pf government’s removal of Mugabe, describe it as people driven.
The continued denial by the current Zanu pf government that Mugabe was removed from power through a military coup creates an interesting tradition of denying wrong doings by the State to gain and sustain power. The day Mugabe made his first and last appearance surrounded by men in uniform and those who were said to be negotiators, he read a speech that I will always remember. They are three reasons why l will always remember Mugabe’s last and final address to the nation and his Zanu pf supporters. In his closing remarks Mugabe used a language that l have never heard him use, l am told it was Swahili. One of the pages from Mugabe’s speech dropped off and found its way to a far away place from his table, to below one of the chairs of a military man. Mugabe never said what everyone was expecting him to say, that he was resigning. That was the most devastating as l saw one of the panellist in a South African television shedding tears. To make matters worse Mugabe made an undertaking that he would preside over the Zanu pf December congress.
The recent continued pronouncement by Mnangawa’s government that Mugabe’s resignation was a result of pressure from demonstrating citizens is misleading and cannot escape the necessary scrutiny. Imagine it this way; had Mugabe announced his resignation the day he made his last speech, excuses of people pressure would be difficult to raise. This is because people were commandeered to demonstrate two days after Mugabe made a speech that left the multitudes disappointed. In his speech Mugabe looked a bit confused and even made pronouncement that gave an impression that his speech was too long and the arrangement of the papers was confusing him. Was this true, l do not think so, Mugabe was used to long speeches, as he, had recently done so in his interface rallies that seem to have provided enough excuses for the military coup that followed. The lost page could be explaining everything. I have no doubt that had that page (please re-look at that recording if you have access), that got lost been read by Mugabe, Mnangagwa’s government could be finding it difficult to convince the regional and international community that Mugabe resigned because of people’s pressure and/or the fear to be impeached.
My main concern is that it seems a Zanu pf government will never stop lying to the nation and the world about the State’s wrong doing. What baffles me further is that they seem to be winning always because we the citizens allow them to get away with it. There are a few voices from the citizens that clearly state it that what happened was indeed a coup. I am aware that there is a small technicality to this whole thing. Many people think if you say what happened was a coup is like you are saying Mugabe should have continued to rule. The accelerated hatred of Mugabe which was further deepened by the ZNA’s new found community friendship and the confinement of ever hated traffic police to their camps, blinded the majority who refuse to see a military takeover of the state functions as a coup. When I attended what was called a people’s convention in Harare organised by civic society, it was not surprising to me see people spending a significant part of their time defining different types of coups and trying to locate the Zimbabwe coup within those definitions. One young man who sounded convinced that Mugabe resigned because of people pressure, excitedly said what happened sent a clear message to Mnangagwa as an incoming president that if he messes up, the people will do to him what they had done to Mugabe. When I was still confused about this message, one of the panellist brought a sigh of relief to me when he calmly responded by asking the excited young man to explain what the people did. The panellist went on to advise the excited crowd that they were there on the invitation of the army, had they not been wanted the were not going be there. I said to myself thank God they are those who understand things like I do. What happened in November was a military coup and there is no better way of describing it and as citizens we must describe it as such.
The dangers of not doing that can be drawn from past crisis’s this country has faced. At independence the government of Zimbabwe created a crisis by deploying a brigade with a number of other security units to fight what turned out to be 64 dissidents resulting in one of the worst genocide that the whole SADC region has ever experienced. To avoid taking responsibilities and to deny the affected communities an opportunity to benefit from the War Victims Compensation Act the government of Zimbabwe described the war against dissidents as disturbances. The media, academics, politicians and us the community joined in describing the war in Matebeleland the disturbances. Nobody was prepared to challenge the state and describe what happened as a war.
I am convinced that had we as the citizens refused to be used to inform the international community that it was not a war but disturbances, the situation could have been viewed differently. Remember with the Matebeleland case, evidence that kept coming made it unsustainable to keep defining it as disturbances and Mugabe changed and called it a moment of madness. It is again the citizens that began to run with this new definition of what happened in Matebeleland. All this gave the state an excuse to avoid responsibility for its wrong doing. At the same time giving the government an opportunity to mislead the international community about what really transpired.
Having said that I am impressed that there is a member of parliament who set a motion requesting that the Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces to come to parliament and explain what happened during the coup. If the media reports on this motion are correct there is something of great interest to me; the need for the president to explain how many people died during the coup. If they were indeed, I will love to hear not only the numbers but also the reasons and whether they are those who died in action or just in crossfire. If it was in crossfire, between who were those fires crossing? If this motion gets the attention it deserves and indeed the president attend parliament to respond to those questions it will definitely help the concerned citizens start to see what happened different and probable refuse to allow government to describe it in a way that leave the state not responsible for its wrong doing. Imagine when a similar incident happen and many people get hurt and the regional and international community say it’s a people driven process that do not warrant their attention. We will regret as citizens and definitely it will be difficult to hold the state to account without external support. Ladies and gentlemen what happened was a coup and as citizens we must collectively define it that way. Later on Mugabe’s over stay in power and his misrule was not our responsibility; it was and remains a direct responsibility of the very people who removed him through a military coup.
Dumisani Mpofu; Coordinator of the Freedom First project
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