via Deadly unrest rocks Zim – DailyNews Live 15 March 2015 by Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – Unrest and a morbid spirit of lawlessness among Zimbabweans, fed by escalating anger against President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF government, is fast spreading around the country, with the latest ruckus being last Friday’s deadly mutiny at Harare’s maximum security prison, Chikurubi.
Analysts and opposition political parties who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday said they feared that the country could soon become completely ungovernable if all relevant role players — such as the government, political parties, churches and civil society organisations — did not move quickly to mitigate the volatile situation.
They said both the political and economic environments in the country — manifesting themselves in an increasingly polarised and tense atmosphere, looming national hunger, rising unemployment and renewed fear of the State — were presenting fertile ground for a failed State in the mould of Somalia.
Political scientist, Maxwell Saungweme, said the riots at Chikurubi were a clear sign not just of bad things to come, but of the dire state of affairs already prevailing in the country.
“Things are not well, with hunger and desperation everywhere in the country. We are really reaching the boiling point now, with the latest events including the prison riots and the abduction of Itai Dzamara likely signalling the beginning of the end.
“There is anger everywhere and people can’t cope with the difficulties and tensions anymore. Anything is possible now,” Saungweme said.
Pointing to Zanu PF’s continuing factional and succession wars, as well as the country’s rising unemployment figures and plummeting social services, Saungweme said Zimbabwe was nearing its “Waterloo (a defining point in its history)”.
“You can’t fool people all the time and forever. One day something will give in,” he said.
The director of political think-tank Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), Pedzisai Ruhanya, also warned that the country was about to plunge into total chaos.
Writing on social media, Ruhanya said it was clear that Zimbabwe was hurtling towards unrest as the government was failing to protect its citizens.
“Smelling de javu in Zimbabwe. A rebellious smell/environment as a result of the worsening political economy and the criminal reaction of the State is gripping the nation, especially the failure by the ‘elected regime’ to address everyday livelihood questions,” he said.
And with the country’s opposition parties warring among themselves and ailing, Ruhanya said the time had come for pro-democracy movements to “re-group and capture the moment.”
“Various everyday forms of resistance and citizen agency are gathering moment. They require democratic drivers to have some Sarajevo incident,” he said.
In an interview with the Daily News on Sunday, Ruhanya said high levels of unemployment, which had resulted in Zimbabwe becoming a “monumental vendors’ country” was a recipe for disaster as the establishment was failing to respond to the daily needs of citizens.
“When people are hungry they will start to question the government. We have reached a point where people are starting to question the establishment,” Ruhanya said.
Political analyst Shepherd Mntungwa said while it was important that opinion makers did not become unnecessarily alarmist, the indications on the ground suggested that Zimbabwe was “on a knife-edge” with many people starting to take matters into their hands.
“Things are not looking good all round for Zimbabwe. So fouled is the body politic at the moment that emotions are hardening on both the ruling party side and that of the opposition, triggering fears that we could soon be back to the tense, violent days of 2008.
“On the part of citizens, there appears to be an increasing lack of confidence and trust in the State and its various apparatus, which is seeing more and more ordinary people taking matters into their hands, which is not good for anyone,” he said.
Apart from having to find urgent solutions to deal with an increasingly restive and poor population, Zanu PF is struggling to deal with an internal revolt by senior party officials that saw the brutal removal of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her perceived allies from office.
In the Chikurubi incident last Friday, fed-up prisoners rioted against poor prison conditions, particularly the diet — while outside on Harare’s streets, usually peaceful Zimbabweans viciously turned on a municipal police officer who had allegedly caused an accident, in clear signs of national unrest.
The rioting at the overpopulated Chikurubi Maximum Prison also came two days after angry youths clashed with the police on Tuesday, as they demanded the release of pro-democracy activists Dzamara, who was abducted from a Harare barber shop on Monday last week.
The High Court has since directed the country’s security agents to look for the 35-year-old critic of President Robert Mugabe’s 35-year-old reign.
Many analysts say the spreading turmoil and anarchy in the country also risks diverting the government’s attention from implementing much-needed economic reforms to lift Zimbabwe’s sluggish growth.
Spokesperson for the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC, Obert Gutu, said everything that was happening in the country pointed to the fact that even Zanu PF itself realised that it was on its way out of power.
“The regime is incorrigibly torn apart by viciously antagonistic and opposing factions within its ranks. The regime is collapsing.
“The Chikurubi Maximum Prison food riot of Friday, March 13, 2015 is symptomatic of a failed State.
“When you fail to adequately provide food for your prisoners it’s a clear sign that the wheels are coming off,” Gutu said.
With police being increasingly deployed on the streets to quell rising dissent and festering emotions, Gutu said without employing such brute force Mugabe and Zanu PF were finished.
“The Weevils faction has got close to zero grassroots support. It survives on the use of brute force, coercion, blackmail, subterfuge, and direct and indirect intimidation. Put simply, the Weevils faction is the fascist and totalitarian face of the regime.
“This is the end game. The next few months will re-define a new look Zimbabwe. Freedom is on the horizon. The dictatorship is seeing through its last days,” Gutu said.