ZIMBABWE. Harare. Incessant political tussling and trampling on civil rights by the post-2017 coup Zimbabwean government is gradually driving the country towards an implosion. The crisis is likely to replicate the adverse effects of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Denialism by the ruling Zanu PF party is likely to be detrimental to the general welfare of the majority. For close to two decades now, the southern African country has been reeling from economic hemorrhage.
Escalating ideological fight
The recent attack by the acting Zanu PF party spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa on the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols, on 27 July escalated the US-Zimbabwe ideological fight. In addition, Chinamasa encouraged Zanu PF supporters to defend themselves against opposition MDC Alliance supporters in the event they demonstrate against corruption, human rights abuses, and the government’s ineptitude. The vitriol attack on the US is nothing new. However, it now signifies the ruling regime is either paranoid or unsettled, following its dismal failure to stabilise the free-falling economy, perennially in hyperinflation mode.
Considering that Zimbabwe’s economy has been on a downward spiral, coupled with the so-called new dispensation’s failure to restore investor confidence, the leadership has been forced to resort to coercion to silence dissent. And with unemployment hovering above 90 percent, the government senses an inevitable uprising, hence the use of brutal force.
Measures to silence citizens include incarceration of journalists, abduction, and the rape and torture of opposition politicians. The desperate attempt to silence alternative discourse continues unabated, but public disgruntlement is on the rise. The struggle for survival is pushing the majority of the population, relying heavily on informal trading, to defy COVID-19 regulations. For informal traders, it’s business as usual despite surging coronavirus infections.
Vendors wittingly engage in running battles with law enforcement agents in their endeavour to eke out a living. High-density suburbs in Zimbabwe are rapidly transforming into potential war zones, where the ruling party has incessantly unleashed the army and police to thwart resistance. The government’s heavy-handedness is likely to be equally matched by impoverished citizens’ resistance. Most families can no longer afford to put food on the table.
Radicalisation and resistance
Zanu PF’s constant attack of the MDC Alliance and civil society organisations for backing mass uprisings against brutality and corruption is setting the stage for youth radicalisation on both fronts.
Reactions to his sentiments on social media aptly show there is a general feeling the masses are exhausted, but they seem ready to fight back if the same brutal tactics are be used on them. Youths backing Zanu PF, a party which has all the previous years relied on violence to stamp its authority, are also expressing their desire to safeguard the ‘loot’ of their bosses.
While the Rwandan genocide erupted along ethnic lines, the Zimbabwe scenario is likely to explode along political lines. Interestingly, some of those who used to support the ruling party are also feeling the pinch of the economic demise. On top of this, there is a dejected section of former Zanu PF members who felt betrayed by Mugabe’s deposition from power after 37 years. The multifaceted dimension to this volatile situation can only be equated to a volcano that has lain dormant for a thousand years and stands ready to explode.
The ruling elite’s penchant to continue plundering national resources, is forcing the oppressors to be delusional, while the country is sliding towards restlessness. The brewing catastrophe threatens to derail the country’s ambitions to redeem its economic fortunes. Without moving swiftly to engage the opposition for a negotiated settlement, Zimbabwe risks becoming another failed African state. Ignoring this simmering time bomb is treacherous.