Zimbabwe Might Come Out Of Covid 19 Pandemic a Military State
4 November 2020
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Harare CBD

By Taruberekera Masara in Pretoria | Zimbabwe will be a poorer country when the pandemic finally recedes.

It will be in be debt-distressed and consequentially will lose some of its sovereignty to its lenders. The penury will bear dissent and restlessness.

How will it ( government) respond to these challenges?

When the State sovereignty is lost the government becomes suspitable to capture. State capture in every aspect destroy democracy and majoritarianism.

After the pandemic when it (Zimbabwe) looks at itself in the mirror it will see the country it once hoped to become. In the gap between its real face and the phantom in the mirror a difficult politics may arise.

Zimbabwe’s 1980 democratic dispensation pledge was built on a simple proposition.Equality for all (gutsaruzhinji). It’s political leaders then Joshua Nkomo, Josiah Tongogara and Robert Mugabe believed in the mantra and preached it. Years later the pledge is seemingly extinct. Gutsaruzhinji is now gutsavashoma as MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa once said.

Zimbabwe has vastly changed ,from the jewel of Africa that Julius Nyerere saw. Growth slowed. Unemployment rose. It is worrying that in a democratic era significant numbers of Zimbabweans have stopped getting better off.

Zanu PF’s second republic is slowly getting us to the worst. Our democracy is under siege. Events that have taken place since it came into force is a clear testimony of an uneasy journey ahead.

What happens when the democratic era’s foundational covenant breaks?

What happens when it becomes apparent that the next generation will be worse off than the last?

The gilt on the second republic is fading. What it offered — a glittering global economy and respectability among global power. For that connection rests on the promise of an ascent into a future that grows better all the time.

It is the sort of politics that kept the presidency of Mugabe abay. Mugabe’s cronyism and elite corruption had given up entirely on the future. It consisted in the establishment of an alliance that aimed to pillage what it could from the present.

Covid 19 pandemic lockdown has again offered the platform. The gluttonous state is devouring the little the economy can offer while completely ignoring it’s citizens.

When the government fails to deliver to it’s citizens it suffocates them from rising up against it. The lockdown has seen the introduction of measures that water down democracy and press life out of the democratic systems that Zimbabwe was found on.

It’s seems we are headed for a disastrous crash at the end of the pandemic lockdown.

Our democracy depends on institutions. And these institutions are continuously being securitized. Voting alone does not point to democracy. Autocratic leaders go to votes and emerge as winners with over 90% majority.

Are our institutions safe? Do they offer lifeblood to democracy? The answers might be debatable.

Maybe Zimbabwe need to ask why deep inside pandemic lockdown Mnangagwa decided to fast track public hearings on 27 bills that are being reformed?

Why were they rushing,who was it benefitting?

Zimbabwe might need to ask the relevance of supreme Court judgement on MDC fightings ahead of all corruption cases that are piled up in the Courts.

Maybe it’s time to ask why the Gwanda solar project is not working out.

People might be interested to know why nurses and doctors are now supposed to be employed via the ministry of defense?

Why more and more military personnel are retiring and subsquently reemployed in other civilian portfolios?

The Patriotic Act why? What’s it’s significance in a comatose economy.

ED’s politics is inevitably winning the day. While we are well alive to the danger and from whence it is coming we remain somehow apathetic and subdued.

The heightened role the security forces have come to play since the onset of the pandemic. When the maintenance of public order becomes a feature of everyday life, the army and police take on a political valence they did not have before.

The idea that order is constantly under threat and that force is constantly needed to keep disorder at bay can turn very fast into a lethal political tool.

Protests from those outside the second republic and it’s allies are banned. On many occasions Mnangagwa has threatened to escalate the paramilitary policing of the country. He has proffered different reasons for doing so. But it is clear the motive is embedded, for it promises to become a resource for those who wish him ill.

But perhaps the most important weapon against the onset of a dark politics is honesty. Zimbabwe cannot and must not pretend to be the country were promised it would become in both 1980 and in the 2 weeks of November 2017.

It needs to be redescribed more modestly, as painful as that may be. Citizens ought to boldly tell the New Dispensation something awful has happened, and that life may well not get better for a time.

Zimbabwe needs to pause and take stock. It is going too fast in the wrong direction and at a snail’s pace in the right direction.

Democracy is dying. And the pandemic lockdown has offered the excuse for it’s decimation.

It is painful that while we think that democracy die under the hail of gunfire this is not the kind of death our democracy is facing.

According to Steven Levitsky in his book How Democracies Die, the primary way in which democracies have died since the end of the Cold War, over the last 30 years or so, is at the hands of elected leaders, at the hands of governments that were often freely or close to freely elected, who then use democratic institutions to weaken or destroy democracy.

And we’re very hopeful that Zimbabwe’s democratic institutions will survive this process. But if we were to fall into some kind of crisis, surely it would take that form.

“Electoral authoritarians come to power democratically. They often have democratic legitimacy as a result of being elected”,

“And there’s a kind of gradual chipping away at democratic institutions, kind of tilting of the playing field to the advantage of the incumbent, so it becomes harder and harder to dislodge the incumbent through democratic means” he wrote.

Fateful Alliances

Using the lee of Covid 19 pandemic lockdown Mnangagwa handed down a supreme Court judgement which many concluded that it was aimed to decimate the MDC Alliance and prop up his ally Thokozani Khupe.

By so doing he is panning an alliance similar to the one Mussolini did in Italy by putting on a party list by a leading liberal statesman Giovanni Giolitti, who included him on his party’s list.He gained in legitimacy.

Mnangagwa seems to be repeating the same script by smuggling Khupe to the Parliament.Reports are rife that an official position of the Leader of Opposition will be established.

The developments on the political arena so far points to the death of Zimbabwe’s democracy. It’s very likely that at the end of the pandemic lockdown this country will be a ‘new’ something.

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