I’m going to begin with a tennis analogy for this piece. I know many Zimbabweans are massive fans of tennis and as such are fully versed in the Nadal and Federer rivalry which the Spaniard is still leading. I’m hoping Zimbabweans’ natural tendency to have encyclopaedic knowledge of western popular culture will not make this tennis analogy as pointless as explaining Newton’s First Law of Motion to a Rhodesian Ridgeback. So here goes:
Ever since, Federer first played against Nadal on the hardcourts of Miami in 2004, the Swiss maestro has been having problems beating the Mallorcan. The main reason, probably the only reason, is that Nadal identified a weakness in Federer’s game and continues to exploit it. That weakness is Federer’s backhand. Nadal figured that whenever he serves to Roger’s backhand, the Swiss returns by chipping or slicing weak balls which then allows Nadal to dictate the point using his fearsome forehand, often running around the feeble returns to his banana like shots. Whenever the two greats play, the match exchanges are kind of predictable, because Nadal keeps peppering Federer’s backhand with cross court forehands laden with heavy topspin.
I see the same dynamics happening in Zimbabwean politics right now, well sort of. Here’s why. It appears to me that there is a coup brewing in Zimbabwe and the last thing Mnangagwa wants to see happening is groups of demonstrators gathering or marching in Harare CBD because that would give the coup plotters the heads up to make a move on him. This is why he is sanctioning a relentless crackdown on opposition organisers and activists. He wants them to be preoccupied with their own fight for freedom (from prison) and subsequently be reluctant to organise marches against his leadership. He knows crowds gathering in the streets calling for him to step down would provide some sort of virtue for a coup. Plus, the army would just spin their intervention and say we are following the public’s demands which would then make it tricky for the regional hegemonies (SADC and South Africa) to intervene on the side of Mnangagwa. Problem, though, is that it’s not clear what sort of ideology is held by these coup plotters whose existence has been confirmed by Mnangagwa’s wife in that infamous audio and by one or two of his backers via cryptic twitter messages. For all we know this army sorts could be worse bastards than the scarf wearer, but that would take some doing. I mean, who is more evil than Beelzebub himself, I don’t know, do you?
Anyway, my laboured point is that right now the demos seem to be Mnangagwa’s weakness, they are like Federer’s backhand. If demos happen, the scarf wearer will be vulnerable to a coup, and for our sake we hope the coup is a progressive one. Those who read my blog will know what I mean by a progressive coup. What I am saying, essentially, is that the MDC needs to keep peppering that backhand, they need to keep pushing for demos. The demos are the scarf wearer’s Achilles’ heel, they give him sleepless nights, they will make him do uncharacteristic things, they make him doubt his strengths, just like Federer when he plays against Nadal.
Meanwhile we are hearing that he wants to address his knuckle dragging supporters at this nonsense of a demo against non-existent sanctions. What’s going on with that, you may ask? Well, this is just him trying to get crowds behind him. He knows it’s impossible to coax people into a pro ED demo because his leadership has been a catastrophe. So his commissars are ostensibly dragging out the half wits into the streets on an emotional falsehood about sanctions. But anyone with a brain knows that the reason why the country’s economy is in detritus is because of corruption and cruelty, two things about which the scarf wearer is the Caiaphas.