Harare, Zimbabwe., August 10, 2019
The Local Solutions Council deducedthat President Mnangagwa evidently panicked last night due to the impending MDC Protest when he impulsively arranged an incoherent televised State of the Nation Address which appallingly attempted to justify his mediocre, incompetent and corrupt two-year reign.
Consequently; the MDC Alliance must take advantage of the consternation in the corridors of power, but the Local Solutions Council cautions thatthe main opposition must heed that the key success factors to make the upcoming MDC Protest a success on Friday the 16th of August 2019 rest on the shoulders of past protests in Zimbabwe.
More so, it is of vast importance that the main opposition learns from history about how protests can succeed and how they can fail.
Infact, the organisers of this latest protest will have to reflect on the limited success stories of the famous food riots of January 1998 and the July 2016 social media led protests that were a partial success.
More importantly, the main opposition needs to take an in-depth look at the strategic failure of the infamous MDC final push demos of June 2003. Furthermore, the MDC Alliance needs to analyse the tragic failure of both the August 1 protest last year and this year’s January 14 protest, where dozens of people were killed in a brutal crackdown by security forces.
And even though the primary aim of the MDC Protest is against the Government’s mishandling of the economy, incompetence and corruption, but its main objective is to nudge the ED Administration to implement irreversible and genuine reforms in Zimbabwe.
Consequently, in line with the limited success and failure of past protests in Zimbabwe, the Local Solutions Council makes a strategic proposition for the upcoming MDC Protest so that the main opposition can achieve its main objective in the short, medium and long term.
The Local Solutions Council extrapolatesthat the MDC Protest will need to adhere to Four Focal Pillars to succeed as follows:
1) Salient, Persistent and Unignorable Protest
Research has shown a consistent trend that the longer and louder a protest persists, the more likely the Government will act. Furthermore, for a protest to spur change, it has to become unignorable says Daniel Q. Gillion, a sociologist and author of The Political Power of Protest.
The need for a protest to be salient, unignorable and persistent was evidently shown in the recent Sudanese uprising where the former President Omar al-Bashir at first resisted demands for political change but the longer the protests took the more untenable his position became until he was ousted by a Military coup in April this year.
So, by the same token, the MDC Alliance needs to organise a protest that is not a one-day event but rather a protest movement which is going to be salient, unignorable and persistent with rolling protests for many months to come.
This protest movement should be organised in such a strategic manner that it will keep re-energising for people to be inspired to protest for a continuous period until President Mnangagwa agrees to implement irreversible and genuine reforms.
2) Unite Protests under One Banner
Since the Mnangagwa Administration came into power in November 2017, ED has led the Government from one crisis to another. Infact the Zimbabwe crisis has gone from bad to worse under his two-year rule.
So, in that period, organisations like ZCTU and TAJAMUKA had limited success because they called for a new protest every time ED made a bad move and that meant each individual protest was diluted & unsuccessful.
Therefore, the MDC Alliance needs to realise that multiple protests against the Zanu PF led Government by different pro-democracy movements will render the efforts ineffective.
Thus, the main opposition needs to show leadership and unite all democratic forces under one protest.
The MDC needs to collaborate with organisations like ZCTU, Tajamuka, This Flag, other opposition parties and civil society to form a coalition under one banner.
3) Strategic Action
The Local Solutions Council noted thatMDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa had a well-received message when he pleaded with the nation to pray for the country for a 7-day period.
But as Friday the 16th draws closer, it is time for the emotional message and people to channel the talk to action that is tactically effective.
Infact, it will not be enough to just shout in the streets to make political change. Protesters shouldn’t expect President Mnangagwa to relent based on their pickets alone. Instead, they may want to target their messaging and actions not only to the Office of the President but to Members of Parliament and Senators who could impeach ED or focus on the Military which could pressure ED to implement irreversible and genuine reforms.
The whole goal of a protest movement is to create a political momentum that decision-makers — the people in power — just can’t ignore. Thus, protesters could find ways to generate political or market pressure to get President Mnangagwa to agree to genuine and irreversible reforms by urging the public not to buy from businesses owned by top Zanu PF officials.
4) Non-Violent Protest
Non-violence is a winning tactic, especially with the stakes that are extremely high in Zimbabwe where the incumbent Mnangagwa Administration came into power via a Military coup and the country is currently embroiled in a multi-faceted crisis.
Moreover, nonviolent campaigns worldwide are twice as likely to succeed outright as violent insurgency says Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist who has made an analysis of all attempts to overthrow governments from 1900 to 2006. Thus, the MDC Alliance will need to ensure that this protest is non-violent so that it does not give the Military an excuse for a brutal crackdown.
The main opposition should put safeguards to ensure a peaceful protest that is salient, unignorable and persistent; and will achieve the main objective of irreversible and genuine reforms in Zimbabwe.
Consequently; even though the MDC Alliance must take advantage of the anxiety in the corridors of power, the Local Solutions Council cautions the main opposition to observe the key success factors of uniting protests under one banner, non-violence, need for a strategic plan and above all the protest must be salient, unignorable & persistent.
Lastly but not least, the main objective of the MDC protest to have irreversible and genuine reforms in Zimbabwe will not be achieved on Friday the 16th, but this very protest should mark the birth of a long season of protests until the goal is met.
In the end, as per the successful Sudanese protest model, the MDC Alliance should seriously consider rolling out protests every Friday until President Mnangagwa relents to implement genuine and irreversible reforms.
Local Solutions Council
LSC Strategic Unit Members: Chairman – D.R Nyambiya; M. Saungweme; K. Jambawo; F. Maguwu; G. Mapope; J. Makumbe; O. Kurauone; S. Manungo; L. Makusha; C. Nhliziyo; T. Tembo; T. Mushayi
The Local Solutions Council is Zimbabwe’s leading Think Tank with members that are local and abroad but are from diverse Zimbabwean communities in academia, politics, business, religion and sports. The Solutions Tower is the media arm of the Local Solutions Council.