Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Give me liberty or death

TOP del.icio.us

Robert Mugabe spent 11 years in jail for his role as one of several leaders fighting for independence. The playing field was distinctly uneven and brutal. Yet the nationalists persevered in their quest for freedom. Today, Morgan Tsvangirai has, on moral grounds, pulled out of a watershed election for the same country.

The first point is, while participating in any civic struggle for justice is a personal choice, its abandonment, by those you follow, days before the final hurdle represents a betrayal of those who have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of the regime one is seeking to replace. We have seen in television clip after television clip, interviews of people lying in extreme pain on their hospital beds vowing that they will still vote for the MDC regardless of what has happened to them. Who will provide them with closure now that their suffering has been rendered “meaningless” by the withdrawal by a leader who used to love “consulting” with the people before taking on any major decision?

The second point is Morgan Tsvangirai has made a moral decision because the people are being battered. I think that Morgan has been battered in to submission and he did not have the courage of his convictions to see this through. Why would he be prepared to negotiate a deal with someone he considers a monster? What deal will they come up with? How will Morgan justify sitting in a government of national unity after this? Could he not have participated in this election under protest?

So while it is understandable, the cold fact is he has handed Robert Mugabe victory on a “technicality” and that, from a legal point of view, still counts as a victory. This means his decision is not excusable. The fight for freedom has always been, at the very bottom of bottom lines, a “give me liberty or death” battle and Morgan and his advisors have failed the nation on this count. I know it is easier to say from behind a keyboard but Morgan’s role is that of a leader and mine is that of a commentator who actually pitched up for the final push on two successive days, ready to die for the country. Do not get me wrong, what has been going on is reprehensible but is the road to freedom, the world over, not littered with corpses and broken limbs?

6 comments to “Give me liberty or death”

  1. Comment by Adam:

    This is a summation of exactly my feelings towards the opposition and unfortunately this move by the MDC invalidates the sacrifices (albeit unnecessary and horrific) of those who have suffered in this sham of an election. Appreciating that options are limited for the MDC in this climate of violence and repression, I still refuse to support the admitting of defeat that the MDC seems bent on. They need to become a “revolutionary movement” (as sadly ironic as that might be) and be willing to go to the wall for freedom from tyranny.

  2. Comment by S Davies:

    Fair points!

    But from an outside view, by Sunday it looked as though people weren’t even going to make it to their longed-for vote. If they hadn’t been chased away from their ward; if they hadn’t had their ID “confiscated”; if they could still walk or be carried, or still owned a hand to mark the paper…there would be dozens of roadblocks to get through…a tiny minority of stations would be monitored, even by the virtually useless SADC monitors…about 10 local monitors had been accredited…there would be no polling agents from MDC at any but a handful of stations, and those who managed to get there would without doubt be hunted down at the earliest opportunity. After all this, the ballots were clearly going to be stuffed, ZEC personnel are now firmly in the grip of the military (even if they weren’t before) and top leaders have already said they won’t accept an electoral defeat.

    The decision has been widely applauded internationally, and expert legal opinion from Southern African Litigation Centre says that Mugabe has not necessarily been handed a victory in anyone’s eyes but his own, since the run off may “on a technicality” (and not a minor one either), be unconstitutional. According to this view Tsvangirai is the legitimate winner. There will be a final push, of that there can be no doubt – just not in this sham election run off.

  3. Comment by Geoff Hughes:

    Well said, S Davies! At least now Mugabe will be deprived of even a veneer of legality that this sham election would have been forced to deliver, regardless of whether the long suffering electorate might have even succeeded in casting their majority vote against him. Mugabe may be able to cling to power with brute force but he doesn’t seem to realise he is powerless against the laws of economics so with inflation out of control, the economy in free fall, mass emigration of the starving masses his power base is dwindling fast. Maybe God will indeed hear his challenge and finally rid the world of him as no-one else appears willing to do so!

  4. Comment by Hope:

    People voted for change before and we got more repression and more violence – the election on the 27 would do nothing more than invite wholesale slaughter just as S Davies said. What the MDC did was to say that they are not prepared to put the lives of their supporters, the majority of the population at further risk. It was a great act of love for the people not a betrayal.
    A report on Al Jezeera showed ZANU PF today handing out beatings and glossy campaign materials. The UN are fon board , South Africa has signed up to a condemnation, SADC leaders one by one are asking for a stop to the violence – Don’t you ask for blood now!

  5. Comment by Mark Stoneman:

    At first, I too was disappointed, but Tsvangirai’s action seems to have got the international community’s attention, and I’m not just talking about the West, which Mugabe doesn’t care about, but also Africa’s. To be fair, I’ve never been to Zimbabwe and I am viewing the events from the east coast of the United States.

  6. Comment by Miriam:

    I support this move by a man who has the people at heart.

    What good would it do us to go to vote when people are being misled. People have been told that when they vote the serial number of their ballot paper will be noted and they will be questioned later about their vote. Such shenanigans and nonsense.

    I admire the stance taken by Mr Tsvangirai – Its stopped the world.