Pressure group Zimbabwe Yadzoka/Mayibuye iZimbabwe was launched in August 2016 with the objective of mobilising the rural masses to vote for democratic change in Zimbabwe.
Source: Pressure group to give Zanu PF headache – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 20, 2017
NewsDay spoke to Zimbabwe Yadzoka/Mayibuye iZimbabwe leader, Victor Chimhutu, who is based in Norway. Below are excerpts of the interview;
ND: Since the launch of Zimbabwe Yadzoka/Mayibuye iZimbabwe, what achievements have you made so far in line with your vision?
VC: Our vision has been very simple: to make sure all in the periphery of our society become actively involved and engaged in the political and developmental discourse of our country in languages they understand. Since our launch in August 2016, Zimbabwe Yadzoka/Mayibuye iZimbabwe has reached all the 10 provinces of our country and surely we are witnessing an unprecedented engagement of the rural people, something we haven’t seen probably since the Second Chimurenga.
We need to thank the people of Zimbabwe for heeding the call that gone are the days when the destiny of this beautiful country is only decided by Harare or rather by a few people in Harare. We are, therefore, extremely happy about this and as an organic movement we expect the trend to continue.
ND: The rural constituencies are generally regarded as Zanu PF strongholds and difficult to penetrate particularly during election time. In light of this challenge, what is your strategy?
VC: It is a fallacy to say rural constituencies are Zanu PF strongholds. If we say that, we are legitimising political violence, rigging, intimidation, vote buying and many inhuman crimes Zanu PF commits with each electoral cycle with impunity. We know that people in the rural areas vote for Zanu PF because of these various vices mentioned above.
Therefore, Zanu PF doesn’t have support in rural areas but it is the most feared political party. President Robert Mugabe’s greatest achievement has been in building this uncouth and ruthless political machine in the name of Zanu PF, a cancer which has decimated our beloved country. Zimbabwe Yadzoka is going in these areas listening to the people and informing them on how 2018 can be different.
ND: Currently, there is a lot of intimidation and victimisation in the rural constituencies. How do you intend to counter this?
VC: We are precisely informing people of their rights and new strategies to counter this, which we can’t divulge.
However, it must be also known that violence is undesirable and that no one can exactly claim a monopoly of it. We should also understand that perpetrators of these heinous crimes are people we know and live in our villages. This electoral cycle is going to be very different. What we expect and what we are teaching the rural folks is to properly document the incidents and alert us as quickly as possible and we will take action. There are always peaceful ways of dealing with these issues.
ND: Mobilisation of rural voters in the past elections, particularly by the opposition seems to have been low. What is your plan as Zimbabwe Yadzoka as far as mobilising rural voters for the 2018 poll is concerned?
VC: The movement Zimbabwe Yadzoka/Mayibuye iZimbabwe is based on the philosophy of ubuntu, so this movement is completely homegrown, bottom-up and subaltern. We use locally available and adapted strategies for mobilising and penetrating rural areas. For example, we use social spaces already available, such as church gatherings and funerals.
Additionally, we create our own social spaces but which local people can relate to or those which can prick nostalgia, for example, we have been using Pungwes (night vigils), which people are familiar with from the Second Chimurenga. We are also using the Nhimbe/Ilima concept, which is basically mobilisation by community building. We find these strategies to be very effective, but also very difficult to counteract. However, we will continue to innovate as we move deep into 2018.
All I can say is the people are ready this time around and Zanu PF must be very scared. It is going to be embarrassing.
ND: Past elections have been marred by a series of electoral malpractices. Do you think the situation is going to be different in 2018?
VC: When dealing with Zanu PF you have to expect levels of dishonesty and malpractice. In other words, we are preparing for the worst case scenario. Zanu PF is going to lose this election both ways either by losing it or unfairly winning it. So what we are doing is setting it up for them. They have to choose which way they want to lose, graciously that is by respecting the will of the people or in an ugly way. More than teaching people to be aware of vices such as vote-buying and the use of traditional structures by Zanu PF, we are also letting people that when they have voted, it is their democratic and constitutionally-guaranteed right to defend that vote, even if it means guarding polling stations.
Elections are not just an event, it’s a destiny and we are making sure people get this correctly. It is going to be a mountain to climb for Zanu PF to tamper with these elections.
But of course if the conditions get worse as we approach polls or don’t improve in terms of electoral reforms then people will choose not to participate and again with a sham election, the government will not be legitimate. From whichever angle, Zanu PF is very worried.
ND: You are based in the Diaspora. How successful have been the efforts of Zimbabweans based in the Diaspora in advocating for democracy and development in Zimbabwe?
VC: The Diaspora will keep on playing a very crucial role in this process. First and foremost, we are keeping on mobilising and demanding the Diaspora vote. In 2017 you are going to witness unprecedented and synchronised demonstrations in the Diaspora.
We want to make sure Zimbabwe is being watched closely by the international community and the Diaspora can help in this. With unity of purpose, 2018 is going to be a very hard election for Zanu PF, but a moment of victory for Zimbabweans.
ND: As we head towards elections, have you made efforts to mobilise Zimbabweans living in other countries to come home and register to vote?
VC: Those efforts are underway. Zimbabwe Yadzoka/Mayibuye iZimbabwe has chapters now in many regional countries such as Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Angola, among others. Teams in these countries are doing a fantastic job in making sure the majority of them will come to both register and vote.