So cross were Zimbabweans at elections results in 2008 and 2013 that they resorted to their tried and tested form of protest. They huddled in groups and felt sorry for themselves. They cursed Mugabe in the safety of familiar company and bemoaned their country’s future. Those living in South Africa and abroad embraced more radical forms of protest: they phoned radio talk shows and wrote strongly worded comments on websites.
Meanwhile, in Egypt, the people had overthrown their second dictator in three years. In Syria, the revolution was into its third year. In Brazil, an uprising that coincided with the FIFA Confederations Cup had shaken the popular Workers’ Party Government. In Turkey, government plans to demolish an urban green lung sparked week-long violent protests.
In several European countries, the masses had wagged a stern finger at governments that were imposing cold-hearted austerity measures. Zimbabweans, on the other hand, wanted to know what the outside world could do about their plight.
In their defence, one could argue that Zimbabweans have been failed by the leaders of their struggle, Morgan Tsvangirai in particular. When the MDC was formed in 1999 as an amalgam of of anti-Mugabe forces, the coalition settled on the trade union leader as its founding president. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions had been the main driving force behind the MDC’s formation, so it made sense that it should play the lead role in the new party.
The leaders of the new party were soon to discover that they had taken a huge gamble by putting Tsvangirai in that position. They were to learn that a fiery trade union and workers’ champion does not always a good politician make. For a start, Tsvangirai was not very bright (something you can tell by just looking at his picture, so one can not understand why they needed further proof).
The man who was meant to be leading the country towards genuine democracy was at sea during policy and strategy discussions, much to the frustration of his leadership corps. He compensated for this by way of an autocratic leadership style. When he could not sway people to his view, his word just prevailed.
Are we too passive as Zimbabweans? As there another form of protest?