Zim Stay-away

ZEF Press Statement 8 July 2016

Zimbabwe’s Winter of Discontent 2016: Causes and Opportunities for Democratisation


On the 6th of July 2016, Zimbabwe witnessed an unprecedented people driven expression of discontent since independence. The people’s anger let to a complete shutdown of several cities and days previously, a partial closure of the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe. In the wake of these people protests, crimes against humanity have allegedly been committed. These include torture, abductions and general police brutality.

The Trigger Factors

Early last month, the government of Zimbabwe introduced a ban on imports of basic commodities from neighbouring countries, especially SA. This move has seriously impacted ordinary families and vendors where skilled people have been reduced to informal trade. Prices in the shops that are mainly owned by the privileged including Vice President Mphoko are beyond the reach of ordinary people.

To compound the problem, most civil servants have to date not been paid their June salaries. In order to feed families, the country’s police force relies on numerous roadblocks set up to trap motorists for bribes. Thus, public transport operators have been compelled to join the winds of protest. In addition, a dilapidated infrastructure and a terminally ill economy are acting as the catalyst to the tension.

At the heart of Zimbabwe’s problems is the question of the illegitimacy of the ruling ZANU (PF). Years of repressive rule and rigged elections could only lead to what we have seen in the past few days, and there is more to come. On this, the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum Chairperson, Adv. Gabriel Shumba had this to say:

The fundamental problem that we face in Zimbabwe is that of the illegitimacy of the ruling ZANU (PF). Zimbabwe is a country held hostage by a bunch of thieves, torturers and murderers masquerading as a modern day political party. The time has come for a people’s revolution to reclaim popular sovereignty. We implore the region and beyond to come to our assistance to remove the monstrosity that is President Robert Mugabe and ZANU (PF). We salute our brothers and sisters who are sacrificing so much to liberate Zimbabwe.

“I will keep my Zimbabwe”

Zimbabwe is the only country where the President has likened himself to Hitler and escaped international censure. It is the only country where the President allegedly wears diapers and still continues in office. Zimbabwe is a broke country where the President has a passion for globetrotting but sleeps on his feet at international functions. It is the only country where possible political successors are hounded with impunity in order to make way for a wife who obtained a PhD in record time, with no thesis to show for it. It is a unique country where with arrogance the Second Lady proclaims that her husband will rule from the grave. Lastly, Zimbabwe is a poor and drought stricken country where 15 Billion Dollars can disappear from a national revenue source and nobody gets arrested.

Persistent Human Rights Violations

Zimbabwe’s human rights violations are well documented and have never ended, save for the fact that the media, the region and the international community have stopped caring much. Media and civil society activism seems to have also waned after former President Mbeki’s great deception through the Government of National Unity and the so-called quiet diplomacy. In the wake of the protests witnessed in recent days, we venture projected scenarios that might eventuate.

Possible Scenarios

  • It is possible that the Zimbabwean government will continue with brutal suppression of the protests. If the spirit of defiance is quashed, it is likely that we will see millions trooping out of the country to neighbouring states for sanctuary from political and economic problems.
  • If by persuasion, force or voluntarily President Robert Mugabe steps down a reformist successor might take over and this could pave way to a restoration of confidence in the leadership of the country.
  • Another possible scenario is a regional and international initiative that will set up a transitional authority to pave way for credible, free and fair elections. This possibility may only work if regional civil society, labour and other political parties ratchet up enough solidarity pressure to force SADC and other bodies to act.
  • With the level of discontent in the country, a coup remains a fearsome spectre which may take place not least because the government is failing to keep morale in the security sector. The second and third scenarios seems the best for the country.

Our Requests and Demands

  • We demand that President Mugabe, who symbolizes all that is wrong in Zimbabwe today, steps down.
  • We are calling upon SADC to assist us in making sure that this exit is as graceful as possible, and that a transitional authority is set up to pave way for fresh elections.
  • The Zimbabwe Exiles’ Forum requests all civil society formations and political parties in Zimbabwe to set aside their artificial differences and intensify the protests to ensure that President Mugabe steps down to pave way for a better Zimbabwe.
  • We call upon the region, especially South Africa, to once again assist us as we attempt the journey to restore legitimacy.