The 'final push' that never was.

Author:Shoko, Chipo
Position:Around Africa: Zimbabwe - MDC protests against Robert Mugabe fail to deliver

In Japan, they call it kamikaze, a suicidal attack on the enemy. That is the kind of fatal strike that Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party planned to deliver on President Robert Mugabe in early June. But it didn't work.

The MDC dubbed its kamikaze strike "the final push" -- a week-long nationwide street protests starting from 2 to 6 June to "push" Mugabe out of power. Hoping to capitalise on the country's economic hardships brought about by international sanctions, the MDC had thought Louis Farrakhan-style "Million-Man" street marches across Zimbabwe were all that it needed to chase Mugabe out of power, Milosevic-style.

And Mugabe's crime? He allegedly rigged the presidential election in March last year, and is mismanaging the economy, leading to the hardships.

Tsvangirai was oozing with so much confidence of imminent ascension to power, that not even a high court order interdicting him personally, and the MDC as a whole, from going ahead with the marches, could restrain their dash for the crown.

The marches were timed to coincide with the G8 meeting in Evian, France, on 2 June, perhaps to give another present to the MDC'S foreign hackers.

The party had planned to storm State House, Mugabe's official residence, and his offices in central Harare, among other centres of power. The Daily News, a pro-MDC newspaper, had even made arrangements to print afternoon editions to record Tsvangital's people-driven ascension to power.

But it was never to be. Not even the party's leaders themselves who had promised to lead their supporters in various towns and cities, turned up to march. People simply stayed at home, and in the end, there was no "history" for The Daily News to record. It gave up the afternoon edition project.

In Harare, the capital, only small groups of MDC youths, numbering a couple of hundreds, took to the streets in the suburbs where they lived on the first day of the protests. They were quickly apprehended by the police. Nothing resembling a march took place anywhere else, not even in Harare, after the first day attempt by the youths.

The flop of the protests surprised even the security forces who had marshalled unprecedented manpower and other resources to prevent what the excited local private press and foreign media had billed Mugabe's final fall from power. This gave the police confidence to arrest Tsvangirai, on 2 June, for ignoring the high court order. But not even this "provocation" of arresting Tsivangirai could bring his...

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