United Kingdom based Zimbabwean lawyer Brighton Mutebuka has urged Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) to engage in peaceful protests if it dreams of delivering change in the country.
He says the ZANU PF regime has become a fully fledged dictatorship, and opposition should change strategy and confront it through peaceful protests.
Once we have gotten that out of the way, the next question is, what is the best approach that an opposition political party seeking to deliver change peacefully & constitutionally should use?
The answer is that it is an asymmetrical/ hybrid one which should be nimble/ fluid/ agile enough to quickly adapt to the regime’s shenanigans – pursuant to outflanking it.
If you are challenging a regime grounded in impunity and prone to routinely deploying violence as a coercive tool, then it cannot be a credible strategy to wholly discount peaceful mass protests outright on the grounds of the regime’s brutality.
Any credible opposition party which seeks to deliver change in an authoritarian environment has to follow the centuries old path trodden by our forbearers – that of painstakingly challenging dictatorship by relentlessly chipping away at it until a stream turns into a flood!
To counteract rampant impunity, a high cost should always be imposed on dictators following any incident which crosses the Rubicon when it comes to violating democratic norms.
The more that acts of impunity are left unchallenged, the more they are likely to be repeated or even exceeded.
The more that an opposition political party fails to devise methods of pushing back against brutality & impunity effectively, the more it loses credibility while also leaving its members exposed or at the mercy of the rampant dictatorship.
Brutal regimes don’t stop or reduce their levels of brutality because an opposition political party has refrained from engaging in political protests. They only stop when they succeed in stopping all forms of credible opposition altogether.
What brings danger is not the act of engaging in political protests, it’s the very act of challenging a brutal or repressive regime – which means the hunt is on and the need to manage or evade the regime’s predatory antics is an ever imperative.
It is not credible for an opposition political party seeking to topple a dictatorship to publicly disavow resorting to political protests as a political strategy without offering another credible alternative to rein in the offending behaviour.
Surely the idea is to keep your opponent off balance, guessing and hesitant about going on the prowl – while continuing to retain enough formidability, credibility & respect to lure them to the negotiating table when the moment comes during moments of crisis.
Once your opponent susses you out or forms the impression that you are a political weakling who is either timid or unwilling to force the issue when push comes to shove, you are toast!
To maintain credibility on the political chessboard, the idea is not just to retain the ability to mobilise your members to protest – it’s also being able to convince your opponent that you can do so & with devastating consequences.
So by publicly pronouncing their unwillingness to roll on massive public protests and failing to do so at each and every turn that Tshabangu humiliated them, @CCCZimbabwe gave him & ED further encouragement to continue the bloodletting unabated.
@CCCZimbabwe & @nelsonchamisa
are at a political crossroads. It is not possible to continue to transact the business of politics in a repressive environment without developing the capacity to exact a telling political cost on ED’s regime each time there is a raid on the political flock.
The Tshabangu phenomenon is an indication of the absence of that capacity – which absence was publicly advertised to the regime at a crucial point in the crisis, effectively disarming @CCCZimbabwe of a vital political bargaining chip in a moment of great need.
To that end, there is no credible solution to the current crisis which does not involve building the capacity to pose a credible & effective counterattacking threat on ED’s regime to discourage it from mounting another raid in the future.
Without building that capacity & resilience, any new structure or variation of the current one remains at the mercy of ED’s regime.
There has to be a fundamental shift in @nelsonchamisa & @CCCZimbabwe’s mindset. The ingredients are there. The window is narrowing. Decisive leadership is required! Something clearly has to give.
The regime is on a relentless onslaught & all current methods deployed in response have failed to stem the tide!
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