Andrew Maimba, Correspondent
The MDC Alliance planned demonstrations smack of a wider agenda that goes beyond mere protests. What we are witnessing at the moment in Zimbabwe is political warfare slowly morphing into an insurgency.
This insurgency is still at the incipient stage where mobilisation of support and early acts of provocations form the key thrust of the engagement. The objective is to seek both domestic and international support, which is the reason why these demonstrations always coincide with international summits, and or conferences.
It is not off the mark to aver that the MDC Alliance, which has publicly proclaimed responsibility for the planned protests, seeks, in the fashion of a spoiler child, to draw the attention of regional leaders, who are to meet at the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre (JNICC) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on August 17-18 for the 39th Summit of Sadc Heads of State and Government, for nefarious reasons.
This stage of mobilisation is characterised by low to medium level violence. However, the opposition’s Achilles heel is its lack of ideological hinging. The absence of a coherent ideology is substituted by continued reference to a deity (god/God).
The reader may be drawn here to Chamisa’s frequent reference to his “god” and religion, as he implores that “God is in it”, thus, calling on those who care to listen to pray and fast for seven days. All this is an attempt at ideological coherence, which is glaringly absent in the outfit.
Hearts and minds battle
The inexperienced, but increasingly radical MDC is using existing socio-economic grievances to rally the masses against the Government. People are being told that their disposable incomes are worthless and that Government policy is the reason behind this. The clueless opposition party even claim that President Mnangagwa is not a legitimate leader, yet they were trounced at the ballot box on July 30, 2018, and went on to lose at the Constitutional Court, when they sought legal recourse. One then wonders what sort of legitimacy they continue to clamour for.
This is the crucial part of the entire plan. The issue of legitimacy resonates around recognition. The Government is recognised by the international community due to its ability to fulfil all obligatory initiatives on behalf of the State. Domestically, policies are being made and implemented in sync with the laws of the land.
What all this comes down to is political insurgency disguised as reform based protests against Government policy. But if one is to go deeper with the entire narrative propagated by those against the status quo, it becomes evident that there has been an avalanche of hostility towards all Government policies. This shows signs of planning.
An effort at revisionism is being parroted. New “heroes” (aligned to the opposition) are being thrown around, while sacred days like the Heroes’ Day are rendered partisan with a wish to have such days being a monthly occurrence once the MDC is “in power”. One effective way of breaking the will of the people and society is cultural re-engineering with the view to destroy their history and giving it new meaning. This is how the hearts and minds battle is won or lost.
The main platform being used to spread malicious disinformation is the social media. Statistical research indicates that 23 percent of Zimbabweans are on Twitter, around 30 percent on Facebook and around 35-40 percent on WhatsApp or thereabouts (accuracy of the statistics can be debatable, but they are within the margin of error). Social media is unregulated, hence, traditional media structures, which have been controlled by the Government for information dissemination have been rendered useless.
To achieve this objective, a dedicated deployment of social media detractors, trolls and “opinion leaders” has been intensified. The reference here is on the role of propaganda. This is where you have your Hopewell Chingonos coming in. They hide behind objectivity and the use of sophisticated framing to spread their vile agenda.
Opinion pieces denigrating the Government are written from all over the world with foreign- based Alex Magaisa leading the pack. Of late, Magaisa’s opinions are being taken to mean objectivity, but in reality, the truth is now being manufactured.
Now the catch
Hostile elements against the Government are seeking to deligitimise it. This is being done via provocative engagements aimed at isolating Zimbabwe diplomatically and structurally. The pending demonstrations ought to be viewed within the realms of a sophisticated effort at blackmail, whose sole agenda is to have the international community turning screws against the Government.
The planners of the demonstrations are well aware that the Government will resort to the use of the military. This is exactly what they want. No wonder Charlton Hwende is talking of having cameras that will be “covering their event”. The objective is not to monitor agent provocateurs, but to create them and blame them on infiltrators, while simultaneously giving their handlers “evidence of provocation” and overreaction by the State. This is common in the world of Tradecraft and is a typical “False Flag Operation”.
Political power is attained via the ballot box. Elections were held in July 2018 and President Mnangagwa was sworn in. This was all done in line with the Constitution. Any process, for it to be legitimate must be in accordance with the national structures, systems and processes, for example, via Parliament.
Thus, the current push by the MDC Alliance is not aimed at taking power in “the interim”, but directed at forcing the Government to “lose power” in the midterm. Ambassadors, Defence Attaches and Liaison Officers posted to Zimbabwe are showing serious signs of activism, particularly at the US embassy. The US Ambassador to Zimbabwe is covertly using philanthropy (aid) and talk of human rights, while enforcing sanctions placed against our country by his country and concurrently having our diplomats like Ambassador-designate to Tanzania Lieutenant-General (Rtd) Anselem Sanyatwe placed under sanctions. This is exactly how then US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford did it on the eve of the Syrian Civil war.
The foregoing analysis reveals that there are indications of foreign support against the Government disguised as legitimate diplomatic work. In the broader picture, therefore, the Government should use its collective diplomatic advantage as incoming Chair of Sadc Organ on Security to have the issue of external interference in the domestic affairs of member States of Sadc being declared a regional Security Threat. Simultaneously, the Government must not be baited into embarking in Military Centric Counter Insurgency tactics when dealing with potential rioters.