Zimbabwe on the precipice – today’s protests are a choice between deeper polarisation or cooperation to face national crisis

Today is the second anniversary of the 2018 national election won by President Mnangagwa and ZANU-PF, and the day set for the Extraordinary Congress of MDC-T. It was chosen therefore for a big street protest, purportedly against corruption.

All through July 2020, institutions and organisations have been working to defuse the potential clash between the security forces and this political movement aiming to bring down the Mnangagwa government through civil disturbance. All through July the COVID-19 pandemic has been taking a firmer grip on the country, with community transmission now accounting for 30 per cent of cases. Hunger has intensified as the economy has declined even further with lockdowns and border closures.

But apparently dialogue hasn’t worked. ZANU-PF and MDC Alliance did not join the dialogues. Instead the month ended with a war of words between the government and the US Embassy, and Minister Chinamasa’s denunciation of all protesters as “terrorists”, and the leading protest promoters were arrested.

However, the leader of the MDC Alliance, Nelson Chamisa, has partly defused the situation by stepping down from his leadership following his mother’s recent death, handing over to Welshman Ncube.

The people themselves, though, are also deciding what they will do today. They are suffering immensely, but may not take their lead from G40 Mand DC Alliance, who say that overthrowing the government is the way out for the country. They may shun this pathway and instead look for constructive cooperation. We will see.

Zimbabwe Information Centre, Australia
July 31, 2020