OPINION: Zanu-PF factions push for emergency rule in Zimbabwe

Elements of the ruling Zanu-PF party in Zimbabwe are pushing for President Robert Mugabe to suspend constitutional rule and declare a state of emergency in a move to deal with rising protests and internal divisions in the party.

Weeks of intermittent street protests and mass action targeting Mr Mugabe and demanding action on the economy have turned increasingly violent, with the police ignoring court orders and brutalising largely peaceful demonstrators – suggesting that constitutional rule has already ceased to exist.

However, an official state of emergency would allow the regime to unleash even more repression, including: mass arrests and detention without due process, an outright ban on any political activity (including strikes, marches or demonstrations), and, in extreme cases, would allow for the imposition of curfews and martial law.

How opposition parties and protest movements, such as the various hashtag groupings, would react to a state of emergency is open to question, but it is safe to assume that after an initial period of calm, the regime could find itself under even more pressure with demonstrations against the authorities turning increasingly violent.

A state of emergency would also be a tacit admission by the regime that it had lost control, but that may be a minor consideration.

Government apologists in state-controlled media – including one ‘columnist’ in local media identified as Presidential Spokesman George Charamba writing under a pen name – are urging Mr Mugabe to declare a state of emergency.

“The line has been crossed. From now onwards, it shall be another country. This caring world can go hang. We have a country to protect. And govern. After all, we have hit the bottom. We can’t fall,” the columnist wrote in a weekend report. It got worse: “Mugabe must ruthlessly and decisively crush protests in the same manner Syrian President Bashar Hafez al Assad moved to suppress dissent in his country,” he added, suggesting there would be no limits.

Veteran political analyst and respected academic, Ibbo Mandaza told local media that he would not be surprised if Mr Mugabe called for a state of emergency. “I wouldn’t be surprised because it’s a state under siege. But, if they do call for the state of emergency, it will only exacerbate the situation and it will also be an admission of failure by the State,” he said. 

The fact that senior Zanu-PF officials are even talking about a state of emergency informs just how much the situation is sliding out of the regime’s control, leaving it with two hard options: negotiate or increase the repression and hope force will solve the problem. The negotiations would consist of much-needed discussions over the creation of a level playing field heading toward 2018 elections and some decisive action on saving the economy.

Force, however, is not a viable option; it would harden attitudes and move the protests from peaceful to potentially violent with disastrous consequences for everyone and all sides.

Taking a page out of Mr Charamba’s playbook, Mr Mugabe should perhaps take a closer look at what the Syrian president has actually achieved, and then tell us again what a great strategy that was.

 

Gary van Staden is a Senior Political Analyst NKC African Economics.

Related Content

Coronavirus: African Union Member States reporting COVID-19 cases As of 25 May 2020, 9am EAT

Central (11,416 cases; 334 deaths; 3,051 recoveries): Burundi (42; 1; 20),Cameroon (4,400; 159; 1,822), Central African Republic (604; 1; 22), Chad (675; 60; 215), Congo (487; 16; 147), DRC (2,297; 67; 337), Equatorial Guinea (719; 7; 22), Gabon (1,934; 12; 459), Sao Tome & Principe (258; 11; 7) Eastern (12,189; 332; 3,283): Comoros (87; 1; 21), Djibouti (2,270; 10; 1,064), Eritrea (39; 0; 39), Ethiopia (582; 5; 152), Kenya (1,214; 51; 383), Madagascar (527; 2; 142), Mauritius (334; 10; 322),

Coronavirus – African Union Member States (54) reporting COVID-19 cases (108,109) deaths (3,260), and recoveries (42,937)

African Union Member States (54) reporting COVID-19 cases (108,109) deaths (3,260), and recoveries (42,937) by region: Central (11,180 cases; 330 deaths; 3,016 recoveries): Burundi (42; 1; 20), Cameroon (4,400; 159; 1,822), Central African Republic (552; 1; 18), Chad (648; 60; 204), Congo (487; 16; 147), DRC (2,140; 63; 317), Equatorial Guinea (719; 7; 22), Gabon (1,934; 12; 459), Sao Tome & Principe (258; 11; 7). Eastern (11,984; 313; 3,236): Comoros (78; 1; 18), Djibouti (2,270; 10; 1,064

Coronavirus – Zimbabwe: COVID-19 update, 23 May 2020

Download logoHighlights of the situation report No cases tested positive for COVID-19. Five (5) new recoveries were reported from Bulawayo. 1284 RDT screening tests and 142 PCR diagnostic tests were done. The cumulative number of tests done to date is 36538 (21202 RDT and 15336 PCR). To date the total number of confirmed cases remains at 56; recovered 23, active cases 29 and 4 deaths, since the onset of the outbreak on 20 March 2020. Number of Tests Done N

Coronavirus – African Union Member States (54) reporting COVID-19 cases (104,279) deaths (3,185), and recoveries (41,717)

African Union Member States (54) reporting COVID-19 cases (104,279) deaths (3,185), and recoveries (41,717) by region: Central (10,804 cases; 329 deaths; 2,936 recoveries): Burundi (42; 1; 20), Cameroon (4,400; 159; 1,822), Central African Republic (552; 1; 18), Chad (611; 59; 196), Congo (469; 16; 137), DRC (2,025; 63; 312), Equatorial Guinea (719; 7; 22), Gabon (1,728; 12; 402), Sao Tome & Principe (258; 11; 7). Eastern (11,558; 303; 3,160): Comoros (78; 1; 18), Djibouti (2,270; 10; 1,064)

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC AFRICA delivered to your inbox

More from CNBC Africa

Droppa CEO on adapting and innovating to the harsh realities of COVID-19

Covid-19 has left many businesses with the stark reality of closing down or adapting. One company that is doing the latter is Droppa. Its CEO Khathu Mufamadi joins CNBC Africa for more.

The harsh taste of COVID-19 on Famous Brands

Famous Brands, the owner of several of South Africa’s best loved restaurant chains has scrapped its dividend for the second half of its financial year to preserve its balance sheet. The owner of Steers and Tashas warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on the group. Famous Brands CEO, Darren Hele joins CNBC Africa for more.

African Bank CEO on how the bank is cushioning its customers from the effects of COVID-19

The Covid-19 lock-down has put pressure on individuals and businesses’ finances like never before. But what can be done to ease the pressure? Basani Maluleke, CEO, African Bank joins CNBC Africa for more.

How can professional athletes weather the COVID-19 crisis?

This year was supposed to be one of the biggest sports years for Kenya and East Africa, with athletes from the region set to participate in highly anticipated events like, the Magical Kenya Open, the Basketball Africa League, the African Championship of Nations and the Olympics. With all these sporting events and more being cancelled and postponed; and with gym closures and limited access to coaches leading to no place to train; where does that leave professional athletes and elite hopefuls as the world battles the Covid-19 pandemic? Sports Analyst, Sharon Allela joins CNBC Africa for more.

Trending Now

South Africa downgrades lockdown rules, sending 8 million back to work

Key Points South Africa to downgrade lockdown measures to level three on June 1. This means a full reopening...

Is SA’s mining industry too deep in the COVID-19 crisis?

The Covid-19 pandemic has far-reaching economic ramifications on the productivity and profits of many industries without the exception of the mining industry. For more than a century mining was a flourishing industry in South Africa. In 2019 it contributed close to R361 billion or 8.1 per cent to SA’s GDP and over R91 billion to fixed investment. It employed 454,861 people and paid R24.3 billion in taxes. Since early March, the mining industry’s average share price has dropped 10 per cent and individual companies have lost 30 to 50 per cent of their market value. Is mining too deep in the Covid-19 crisis? How can the mining industry pave the way to total recovery and become the sunrise industry it wants to be?...

How Richard Branson Is Trying To Save His Virgin Empire

Sir Richard Branson has cut a figure as a brash and rebellious impresario who took on big businesses with his larger-than-life personality, charm, and sheer guts. The Virgin Atlantic airline Branson started and grew from an industry underdog to a maj

Quite frankly, be candid… What African mining bosses and the minister call each other behind closed doors

For years it has been daggers drawn between government and mine owners in disputes over mining regulations that the latter fear are driving away investors from starting new mines.
- Advertisement -