Monday, 3 December 2007

Mugabe's million men march



Zanu PF's million men march on November 30 was full of sound and fury but signifying nothing new. President Mugabe repeated his old mantras of anti-colonialism, bellowing against Britain and the west and reiterating his party's campaign slogan that "Zimbabwe will never be a colony again". Rather, Mugabe's speech was significant for what it sought to deny - that he has run down the country so badly and simultaneously deployed violence against the opposition so much so that millions of Zimbabweans have chosen to vote with their feet and leave the country altogether.

The idea of 'nation' that Mugabe fondly clings to rings rather hollow when one considers its diffusion with respect to the preponderance of Zimbabwe's diaspora both in southern Africa and overseas. The very concept of national sovereignty with respect to Zimbabwe has escaped the rather orthodox and dogmatic interpretation that Mugabe continues to foist on it. The Zimbabwean nation has broken the physical borders of the territory between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. Mugabe is unequal to this reality and continues to deny the existence of this new Zimbabwe. Like the late Ian Smith, he stubbornly clings to a self-righteous perspective by which he regards those that have run away from the violence and economic collapse in Zimbabwe as traitors.

The million men march, itself a product of the state's logistical and material investment (a glaring misnormer in a democratic society where the ruling party must be separate from the state), amply captures the double standards that characterise Zimbabwe's political playing field. No one is under any illusion whatsoever that the opposition could ever be allowed to carry out a similar display of popular power. As usual, the police and other government departments were at hand to offer security and logistical support to the ruling party. Parastatals were diverted from their normal business to assist in Zanu PF's rally.

Only a few months back Morgan Tsvangirai's supporters were shot at, with some killed, by the same police force for attempting to hold a perfectly legal political meeting at the same venue Mugabe has now held his own rally. The leader of the opposition was beaten senseless and the President had the temerity to promise more of the same to anyone who chose to exercise their freedom of assembly and association, even with the support of a High Court order.

Now, is it any wonder that Zimbabweans are running away from such repression and madness?