Calls for anti-govt protests in Harare go unheededBy Floyd Nkomo
March 1, 2011 - talkzimbabwe.com
PROTESTS organised against President Mugabe and Zanu-PF in Harare appear to have gone unheeded as the capital has remained calm and business as usual.
Armored cars, trucks of riot police and Israeli-built water cannon vehicles swept through Harare since Saturday, fanning out into townships around the city.
Authorities had indicated that they were reading for an criminal activity that would ensue and any demonstrations that were not authorised by government.
Messages, many of them anonymous, posted on Zimbabwean websites and on Facebook called for protests Tuesday but there has been no open campaigning for demonstrators to turn out on the streets.
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Some 15 percent of Zimbabweans have access to the Internet and social networking sites.
Many of them are largely based in the diaspora.
According to SW Radio, an anti-government and anti Zanu-PF website, "The protests were set to start at the Harare gardens and the public were being encouraged to keep up the action, spreading the protest countrywide, until 'President' Robert Mugabe resigns."
There was no show of demonstrators at Harare Gardens and no sign in the capital that people would heed the call.
Journalist Angus Shaw had told SW Radio Africa on Monday that "tensions are high ahead of the planned protest".
President Robert Mugabe is scheduled to address a mass rally in central Harare on Wednesday calling for an end to illegal western sanctions imposed on the country.
He will lead the signing of an anti-sanctions petition in Zimbabwe.
The petition is dubbed the National Anti-Sanctions Petition Campaign.
Britain and the US and their allies have imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe.
President Mugabe said Britain internationalised a bilateral conflict with Zimbabwe and mobilised western nations to impose the embargo.http://www.talkzimbabwe.com/calls-for-anti-govt-protests-in-harare-go-unheeded-cms-1194Zimbabwe: The chalice that should not passBy Caesar Zvayi
March 01, 2011 – herald.co.zw
WELL yesterday, March 1, was supposed to mark the start of an ominous Ides of March against President Mugabe and Zanu-PF’s rule in the form of a “Million Citizen March” through the streets of Harare to force President Mugabe out of office.
The organisers were clearly motivated by the ongoing uprisings in the Arab Maghreb and believed the protests that gripped Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and Yemen to mention just a few countries can be replicated in Harare, turning Africa Unity Square into Tahrir (Freedom) Square, so to speak.
Well it was business as usual on the streets of Harare, despite frantic agenda-setting attempts by flushed correspondents of BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera, confirming what I have always told my interlocutors that events in North Africa cannot be transposed to Zimbabwe for the simple reason that the countries, peoples and circumstances are different.
In fact, I have had my fair share of exchanges with friends, college mates, colleagues and associates on Facebook on the matter, with some even accosting me in between sets at the gym to pose this “ominous” question or warn me that “our” time was up, whatever that means.
At first I would go into overdrive, and argue before realising I was losing valuable gym time after which I would saunter to the shower with very relaxed muscles.
That was before I hit on a brilliant rejoinder that has since given me peace on my Facebook page and in the gym.
“Bring it on. Ko tinogoyerereiko nyoka negavi iyo iripo. The streets are there. Africa Unity Square is there. What is more, Harvest House is just a stone’s throw away, let’s see you lead the charge to Africa Unity Square”.
That always throws them.
They inadvertently amble away, mumbling inaudibly about partisan security forces closing democratic space, etc.
Well, we have walked this path before.
The MDC, it was still one MDC then, tried the template of the Orange Revolutions that swept through Eastern Europe after the end of the Cold War and the attempts came to naught.
The party, in conjunction with the ZCTU called for mass actions to depose the Government and discovered it did not have the critical mass when not even its supporters took to the streets.
It then changed tact and called for stay-aways, and again came unstuck when workers reported for work, with white industrialists dutifully locking out their employees in a bid to give the attempted protest actions a semblance of success.
Tsvangirai and his group ultimately called for what they called “the final push” during which they hoped to storm Zimbabwe House to carry President Mugabe out kicking and screaming, and that inevitably became a final flop when no one took to the streets, even on the stretch in front of Harvest House.
And in 2008, the time Zimbabwe was deemed to be at a tipping point, there was another attempt at a mass action organised under the banner of an ephemeral grouping called “Save Zimbabwe”. Touted as a prayer meeting, the gathering soon degenerated into a violent confrontation between protesters and the police, confrontations that claimed one life and left, and again that never went beyond the environs of Machipisa in Highfield.
There is a reason why all the attempts at street protests failed. The MDC had and still has no cause that the majority would subscribe to apart from the perennial slogan, “Mugabe must go!” If you ask why he must go you are likely to get the following responses: “he has been in power for too long”; “he has destroyed the country”; “he is old”; “we need change, etc”.
Engage them in debate on what precipitated the economic downturn of the past decade, and they soon resort to name-calling and character assassinations as they can’t proffer evidence to indict Mugabe.
Therein is the bane of the MDC and its allies. There simply is no reason for Mugabe to go apart from assuaging westerners who have clearly stated that his actions and policies pose “a continuing and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States”.
The fact of the matter is that what protesters in the Arab Maghreb are demanding is what has been implemented in Zimbabwe without streets protests.
It was the agenda of the First and Second Chimurenga Wars that ushered in majority rule on April 18 1980.
Protesters in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were and are up in arms over exclusion from their oil-driven economies.
This is not the case here where policies have been drafted and implemented to ensure that Zimbabweans own and prosper from their economy.
Talk of the land reform and resettlement programme, the indigenisation and economic empowerment policy predicated on a majority shareholding for indigenous Zimbabweans in any company with a capital threshold of US$500 000.
What President Mugabe has achieved in his 30-year tenure is what the people overthrowing governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya are demanding.
Why MDC-T and its sponsors dream that people can rebel against themselves beats me. Particularly when it’s common knowledge that the socio-economic challenges were spawned by the illegal economic sanctions called by the same people trying to organise protests against President Mugabe.
The irony is bound to be stark today when people gather near the Harare Exhibition Park for the launch of the National Anti-Sanctions Campaign that correctly identifies the cat that ate the canary.
I bet my last dollar that the Anti-Sanctions Campaign, which I understand is voluntary and whose rollout aims to collect as many signatures as possible throughout Zimbabwe, will be highly subscribed because it identifies with a common grievance.
A friend of mine likened the campaign launch to a village gathering convened by a Tsikamutanda (witch-hunter) where each villager will be invited to take a sip of the magic man’s concoction that will only affect the guilty.
The one who refuses to drink from the chalice will be exposed before all and sundry as the villain who rides the hyena at night with the all-seeing owl as a guide.
With the signing protocol having the three principals to the inclusive Government as the first signatories, I foresee an interesting morning, very interesting day. This is a chalice that must not pass.Source: herald.co.zw