The world’s most quoted (unfairly mostly) and oldest president resigned this week-under duress. Robert Mugabe who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years finally called it quits.
The end of Mugabe regime is also interesting because it is the first ever “bloodless coup” in a continent where people die over “democratic elections”.
The situation in Zimbabwe is a stuck contrast from what we’re witnessing here at home.
Women MPs from the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition now claim 54 people have been killed since last Friday – 17th November – and are putting the blame squarely on the Jubilee government. The government on the other hand will hear none of it and are promising to deal with those causing chaos accordingly.
That Mugabe was president long enough for a child to become a professor one would expect that Zimbabweans would go ballistic once the chance to overthrow Mugabe became apparent but no, everything was so civil it was unbelievable it’s an African country.
I dread to imagine if that was Kenya. There are those who argue Zimbabwe is where Kenya was in 2002. There are a thousand reasons why we can’t compare those two events but I digress.
The events in Zimbabwe are therefore important because a despot was convinced to leave power without any bloodshed. And since then a lot of praise has been hailed on the political leaders-both opposition and government (ZANU-PF) as well as the army that was reported to have conducted itself professionally.
One therefore wonders, where are the Kenyan leaders to stand up and be counted?
Lessons for Kenya
Firstly, neither Morgan Tsvangirai nor his party-Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) took advantage of the situation; instead, the exiled opposition leader soberly asked that a way forward be chatted including all stakeholders.
He could’ve taken advantage of the mood in the country and make a quick come-back outmaneuvering the blue-eyed vice president in exile. But no, Zimbabwe is bigger than him or his supporters. Something the opposition here can learn.
Secondly, the army or security officers did not challenge with heavy force those who took to the streets despite them singing songs that taunted the head of the country. Another thing the Kenyan Security officers could learn from.
Often, and history has proven this to be accurate; almost all the time there is looting, vandalism and chaos following a demonstration in Kenya; it’s often the police who provoke the crowd with premature throwing of teargas and random shooting in the name of dispersing crowds.
It’s the reason pro-government demonstrators always appear peaceful and mature. The police hardly provokes them. In the recent past our police service has acted more as hooligan force on hire than a service dedicated to maintaining law and order among all Kenyans.
Thirdly, when the old leader (Mugabe) spoke for the first time when the world expected him to resign but didn’t; he acknowledged why Zimbabweans were demonstrating even though he refused-initially, to accept what they wanted.
He never promised to crash them or chided institutions that disagreed with him. This is something the President and his Deputy should take to heart.
Consequently demonstrators and particularly those of NASA should watch the demonstrations in Zimbabwe a hundred times and see where they go wrong. Admittedly; the Kenyan police are a big problem but is there a way to circumvent this?
The leaders of the demonstrations should decide for the sake of this country to carry themselves in an orderly manner by recruiting members whose only job is to look out for the thugs hiding in their midst by directing the crowd accordingly-hopefully with the help of the police.
Now that the Supreme Court upheld the October 26th repeat elections; rather than making chest-thumping statements about dealing squarely with so and so, the President and his Deputy should rise to the occasion; acknowledge the challenges we face not as Jubilee or NASA supporters but Kenyans and give us a concrete way forward.
It’s truly sad that it’s becoming a norm for very young people to die every election year for having different political opinion. Kenya will outgrow everyone living today. No one is more Kenyan than others.
Both NASA and Jubilee have people who fought for the democratic space that is commonly referred to as the second liberation. Can these people stand to be counted and heal our land?