Let us collectively fight for change

ZIMBABWEANS from all walks of life have to work together to make sure that future stay-aways/shutdowns are successful as these can finally bring the desired change. This kind of action needs ordinary Zimbabweans, the kombi drivers, civil servants, the informal sector and followers of Pastor Evan Mawarire and supporters of Tajamuka to work together.

Organisers should focus on coordinated and inclusive teamwork and resist the temptation to fight over the glory of victor in the battle. There is also need to acknowledge the role played by civil service unions Zimta, PTUZ, RTUZ in the protests — we do not need to downplay the influence of these groupings whose membership notably forms the bulk of the country’s workforce and outside their solidarity.

The success of protest actions will largely depend on the hard work of planning, mobilising, building consensus among various groups to achieve a common goal. The challenges with any stay-away/shutdown as a form of protest are to sustain them and build the critical mass that has resilience.

While there is a rallying call and glorification behind Mawarire, Zimbabweans should acknowledge everyone’s collective involvement and wanting to find a single hero is highly risky and potentially futile. There is no need to put such a huge struggle on the shoulders of individuals but that this campaign must be organised at local levels in townships, villages and mining communities.

We also call on Zimbabweans all over the world to organise themselves where ever they are and shut down the embassies there. As for future stay-aways/shutdowns there is need to engage the public transport industry, especially the kombi operators who without their services no one is able to commute to work. We also have to bring in the churches in these protests as they have millions of followers who listen to them.

Organisers and Zimbabweans at large have to note that in the ensuing days and weeks to come there will be several arrests of the leaders so as to slow down on mobilization of masses. We should understate the impact of the escalating threats issued by various senior government officials and statutory regulatory bodies to the effect that individuals seen to be actively participating in these demonstrations, including on social media are liable for prosecution, thereby instilling fear among protestors.

In these circumstances, the police and security agencies will always be there to instill fear in the people. The video showing police brutality against women and young Zimbabweans including children has resulted in collective condemnation but it has also brought fear among Zimbabweans.

We reiterate that any stay-away/shutdown can only be through unity of purpose, collective action and collaborative leadership. Knowledge and understanding is needed before the next action is planned so that the diversity of stakeholders can think about the action to be taken and how these messages should be put out. And Government should not abscond from the mandate to urgently deal with the socio-economic challenges and in implementing democratic reforms under the guise of the popularity of a demonstration.

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