By Tafadzwa Masango
That the opposition has always wanted control of the country’s power levers through any means necessary is an open secret.
Over the years, Zimbabweans have witnessed countless attempts by the MDC and its appendages to get into Government through each and every back door they could think of.
The incessant campaigning for sanctions on the people of Zimbabwe, the incessant calls for Zimbabwe’s neighbours to close their borders to Zimbabwe and the violent protests have all been intended to ensure that Zimbabweans rise up against ZANU PF and make the country ungovernable, thus allowing foreign intervention that would give them a foothold.
In October 2000, The Telegraph published an article ‘Tsvangirai calls for violent halt to Mugabe’s rule’ with this excerpt:
“Waving banners saying ‘Mugabe must go’ and ‘We can’t wait until 2002’, a crowd of 25 000 massed in Harare’s Rufaro Stadium to celebrate the first anniversary of the founding of the MDC. Drawing roars of approval, Mr Tsvangirai said: ‘The time for mass action is now. We say to Robert Mugabe: If you don’t want to go peacefully, we will remove you violently. This country cannot afford Mugabe for one day longer’.”
The going ‘peacefully’ that Tsvangirai was talking about was the resignation of Robert Mugabe and his not accepting defeat at the polls.
This speech was the forerunner to many dirty tactics and other manoeuvres that the opposition has undertaken for close to two decades hoping to make it to the State House.
The ‘Final Push’ strategy, as envisioned by the MDC’s handlers more than two decades ago, has been in the pipeline for many years. After it failed to achieve its intended objective in the 2002 election, there was a rethink, and it became a work in progress.
Over the years, various stages of the Final Push strategy have been implemented and when you go through the WikiLeaks you can pinpoint various events undertaken by the MDC and civil society in efforts to culminate into the so-called ‘Mother of all Demonstrations’ that would bring ZANU PF to its knees.
So what really is this Final Push and what is its significance to the opposition’s regime change cause?
The Final Push is supposed to be the one massive event that would defenestrate ZANU PF out of power through illegal means. One has to recall the words of Chester Crocker to understand that the MDC’s handlers have always been cognisant of the fact that ZANU PF cannot be removed from power through the ballot.
ZANU PF has always enjoyed support from the critical demographics that determine who wins elections.
These demographics are what the opposition has failed to woo and entice away from ZANU PF each time there is an election.
The realisation that the election route would not yield the required results has been the chief driver of the Final Push strategy.
ZANU PF enjoys popular support, and chances that it would lose an election have always been slim. Also elections can be tricky in that outside of ZANU PF the ‘wrong’ candidates can win and then the whole process would have to be repeated until the desired candidates win.
The ‘Final Push’ strategy was deemed perfect because the narrative surrounding the players had been crafted to project ‘a villain and a saviour scenario’.
The saviour in that instance was Tsvangirai who, much like a Moses, would lead the people of Zimbabwe from Egypt.
Even in his speeches, Tsvangirai stuck to the script of ‘Mugabe let Zimbabwe go’.
The demonstrations were representative of the great trek through the Red Sea.
An article in the IOL of June 1 2003 titled ‘Final Push to rid Zimbabwe of Mugabe’ reads:
“Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s Government has banned weekend rallies planned by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of a week of protests billed by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as the ‘final push for freedom’…’
It is the crunch. It has been three years in the making. The final push, is what it is being called here,’ said MDC economic affairs spokesperson Eddie Cross in Bulawayo… All MDC shadow ministers and parliamentarians are expected to lead the protests countrywide from 10am tomorrow. If Zimbabweans heed the MDC call and respond in huge numbers, Mugabe’s power base will be inevitably shaken. The opposition hopes this will also put pressure on President Thabo Mbeki and other leaders to implore Mugabe to quit sooner. If the protests succeed they will spur the MDC to consider more confrontational methods to force Mugabe out, with devastating consequences for Zimbabwe’s collapsing economy.”
Another article in the Zimbabwe Independent of February 4 2005 titled ‘MDC botched ‘Final Push’ – Civic Groups’ reads:
“The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) failed to sufficiently mobilise supporters for the recent mass action, a coalition of local civic groups has said. In a report titled ‘Reflections on the Final Push: Defiance versus Repression’, Crisis in Zimbabwe says the MDC’s preparedness for an effective campaign of resistance was inadequate to match the situation…The end game of the ‘final push’ was blurred in the messaging. While repeated advertisements in the private press, flyers and posters informed Zimbabweans that some action was imminent, communication of the specific objectives of this action was less consistent.’ The report states adverts inserted by the MDC before the action featured a cartoon of an individual resembling President Robert Mugabe being chased by a crowd led by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, which was accompanied by messages about the “countdown to the final push.”
In a press statement issued by then spokesperson Obert Gutu in March 2015, the MDC claimed that: “Everyone is itching for a final push which is not gonna be very far. The regime will be overrun by the people. We are now in a countdown to the people’s victory.”
In 2016 the MDC claimed that it was planning ‘the Mother of all Demonstrations’ which never materialised.
The perennial failure by these so-called Final Push demonstrations is best articulated by an article in the New African titled ‘The Final Push that never was’:
“The MDC dubbed its kamikaze strike ‘the final push’ — a week-long nationwide street protests starting from 2 to 6 June to ‘push’ Mugabe out of power. Hoping to capitalise on the country’s economic hardships brought about by international sanctions, the MDC had thought Louis Farrakhan-style ‘Million-Man’ street marches across Zimbabwe were all that it needed to chase Mugabe out of power, Milosevic-style…The marches were timed to coincide with the G8 meeting in Evian, France, on 2 June, perhaps to give another present to the MDC’S foreign backers. The party had planned to storm State House, Mugabe’s official residence, and his offices in central Harare, among other centres of power. The Daily News, a pro-MDC newspaper, had even made arrangements to print afternoon editions to record Tsvangirai’s people-driven ascension to power. But it was never to be. Not even the party’s leaders themselves who had promised to lead their supporters in various towns and cities, turned up to march. People simply stayed at home, and in the end, there was no ‘history’ for l
the Daily News to record. It gave up the afternoon edition project.”
The MDC Alliance is also taking moves out of the ‘Final Push’ playbook.
These threats of mass protests, all night vigils and sit-ins are part of the efforts to ensure the opposition gets into power through the backdoor. Inciting violence has always been central to making Zimbabwe ungovernable.
Violent protests might have worked elsewhere but one American Ambassador learnt the hard way that Zimbabweans are a peaceful lot and will not fall for the calls for violent protests.
At one point in 2007, then US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, informed the New York Times there was a “…new spirit of resistance — some would say defiance — on the part of the people.” He was quick to put a disclaimer that he “…was not advocating or predicting a violent overthrow of the Government,” and yet documents out of the US Embassy in Harare exposed by WikiLeaks show that that is exactly what the Embassy was hoping for — an overthrow of the Government through mass protests and not through the ballot.
We are just days away from the election and there have been serious attempts to implement the final Stages of the colour revolution:
Stage 4: The opposition party, civil society and the local media, in advance, allege that the election will be rigged. NewsDay headline – ‘Chamisa rejects ‘sham’ ZEC ballot.’
Stage 5: Before the election results are announced, the opposition and ‘independent’ election monitors announce an opposition victory. NewsDay headlines – ‘I’ll announce poll results: Chamisa’, ‘Chamisa sets ZEC vigil dates.’
Stage 6: If the official results are not in the opposition’s favour, denounce the vote as fraudulent and encourage people to take the battle into the streets.
Stage 7: In the West, public opinion is mobilised by the media focusing exclusively on what the opposition and civil society say. The view of the governing party is completely shut out. Mail and Guardian – Even before the vote, Zimbabwe’s election not credible. This one is courtesy of our favourite democracy hitman.
Zimbabwe is at a point where people no longer fall for cheap rhetoric and political leaders who act like they are still heading college student bodies. Like the doomed ‘final pushes’ before it, the latest attempt by the MDC Alliance to barge their way into the State House using innocent Zimbabweans will go down in history as another pathetic non-event.