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Citizens Manifesto: We are now in a struggle that only citizens Can win!
22/11/2016 00:00:00
by David Mutori
 
David Mutori is a citizen activist who is frustrated with politicians abusing their positions by duping people
 
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OPPOSITION political parties will not succeed in their pursuit of the reform agenda, however Citizens Can. A ZANU PF politician is quoted as saying ‘why should we reform ourselves out of power’. It is up to citizens to demand a level playing field for political parties to compete fairly. Zimbabwe’s quagmire will continue if citizens do not demand those reforms. As citizens, it’s up to us to clear the way for political parties to have a level playing field.

In order to clarify my views, I would like the reader to imagine a situation where you employ someone to do a specific job for you. When that employee becomes comfortable they decide to defy you (as the employer) by abandoning what you hired them to do. Instead they work for themselves (instead of for you as the employer) and force you to continue paying their wages nevertheless.

Furthermore, that obnoxious employee puts measures in place that prohibit you from replacing them with another employee. This nightmare describes the situation that is playing itself out in Zimbabwe, with the citizens as the beleaguered employer and the current government as the odious employee. Recent citizens’ protests are akin to the brutalised employer demanding their employer rights back.

Fellow Zimbabwean citizens, the battle lines are drawn. The country is now in the middle of a struggle between the Government of Zimbabwe and the Citizens of Zimbabwe. The differences between the government and its citizens are clear and the stage looks set for a struggle where the citizens demand what belongs to them – a fair deal. Citizens cannot lose in this struggle because the implications of citizens losing are dire! This opinion piece explores the confrontation between Zimbabwe’s citizens and their government and provides views on why citizens cannot afford to lose in the struggle.

Citizens choose governments and task them with delivering on election promises. Successful governments strive to deliver on those promises that they make to citizens. Elections should be about citizens expressing their views on whether the government has delivered on its promises. In Zimbabwe, the government has not only failed to deliver on its promises, it has gone further and forces citizens to accept such failure as ‘Zimbabwe’s normal’. The adage ‘ndiyo Zimbabwe yacho’ (this is Zimbabwe) comes to mind.



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Exploring some of the issues:

  • Citizens pay police salaries so that the police can protect citizens. The government uses the police to crush citizens. Citizens are rightly upset about paying the salary of employees (police) whose job has been turned into one of crushing the citizens. Citizens are right to demand their police back.
  • Citizens want ‘real’ one-man one-vote and are demanding electoral reforms to guarantee an equal vote. The government is refusing electoral reforms and is known to go even further and forcing dead citizens ‘to vote’. It is the citizens’ right to know who is registered to vote and their demands for free and fair elections are legitimate. The government’s refusal to be transparent is tantamount to them saying ‘we control who votes and therefore decide who wins’. Citizens cannot back down on this demand because doing so is a betrayal of the liberation struggle.
  • Citizens do not want their employees (the police) to harass them at all those thousands of roadblocks and have made this clear to the government. The government insist on police being at the roadblocks for ‘security’ reasons. It’s fair for citizens to ask ‘whose security’ the roadblocks are there to serve.
  • Citizens are asking the government to spend their money and resources on providing healthcare, clean water, education and social services. The government is refusing and using the citizens’ money to pay the army and police whose job is to brutalise citizens. It would be unrealistic to expect the citizens to remain silent.
  • Citizens have unequivocally informed the government that they do not want bond notes. The government is determined to force the unwanted bond notes into the citizens’ pockets. The government’s decisions are tantamount to dictating to the citizens that they will take what they are given.
  • Citizens are demanding that politicians and public servants who are blatantly corrupt get arrested and prosecuted. The government says that ‘no one gets arrested unless the President says so. The president in known to promote the most corrupt. One wonders what type of country Zimbabwe will be if citizens keep mum about this. The government feels so emboldened to a point where they feel comfortable delivering teargas and baton sticks when citizens ask for Cafenols.

For Zimbabwean citizens, the word ‘government’ is tainted. It’s synonymous with hunger, disease, beatings, torture, rape, queues, pain, corruption, bureaucracy, fear, waste the list is endless. A lot of citizens have chosen to go off-grid with their supplies of utilities to avoid contact with government altogether.

Government is known as a mafia that muscles in on any successful enterprise. Contact with government is now synonymous with punishment, it is something to avoid. Why then (I ask) should we choose (elect) pain? Why should citizens accept that having no water is a Zimbabwean thing. Why should citizens accept the inconvenience and corruption that is road blocks? Why should citizens elect leaders who put those police on the roads?

The struggle between the citizens and the government is now a reality and we are the actors in the trenches. At its heart is ‘who should listen to whom’. Is it the government that should listen to its citizens or citizens who should listen to the government? Citizens are saying ‘we are the paymasters and shareholders, our employees must listen to us’. The government is saying ‘we will use the citizens’ money to crush them until they comply.

The situation that Zimbabwe is facing is very similar to when the Rhodesian Government terrorised citizens in the 1960s and 70s; we currently have a government for the few that is brutalising the majority who are demanding their legitimate rights. If the government wins this tussle, Zimbabwe is doomed. The government will be emboldened to continue doing more of what it is doing today and worse; more police brutality, continuing stolen votes, more road blocks, more police and non-existent healthcare. Zimbabwe’s future lies in an assertive citizenry that is listened to by the government and not the other way round.

While we are all focusing on the 2018 elections, those elections will only make a difference if citizens successfully demand their rights from the government. There is an imminent risk that the 2018 elections have already been stolen. This is why citizens’ voices that have emerged recently through protest groups like #Tajamuka, #ThisFlag, which must be supported by every citizen, including the diaspora and those in government because they speak for all citizens.

Citizens must not under estimate their potential to effect change in Zimbabwe.  Citizens can achieve the Zimbabwe they want for their children and future generations. The citizen has the capability to win back Zimbabwe. Citizens must not let anyone make them believe otherwise.  Citizens we can!

David Mutori is a citizen activist who is frustrated with politicians abusing their positions by duping people. He believes that Zimbabweans underestimate their individual responsibilities and potential to determine their future. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on mutorid@gmail.com.


 
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