Tichaona Zindoga Political Editor
Nelson Chamisa of the MDC-Alliance wants power despite the decisive loss in the popular vote. This is how he wants the tyranny of the minority.
Ugly scenes that rocked Harare on Wednesday as hooligans linked to the opposition MDC Alliance went on a rampage disturbing the peace, destroying property, setting cars on fire, blocking thoroughfares and threatening to storm the headquarters of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the National Elections Command Centre – among other illegal acts -are strongly redolent of thugs that invade the pitch in the dying embers of a popular football match in protest over a referee’s decision.
The lawlessness, which also saw hoodlums stoning buildings, looting shops, robberies and acts of arson, provoked a strong response from the country’s security arms which led to the unfortunate loss of life.
Zimbabwe had held a historic election on Monday, July 30, which was hailed for its peaceful and orderly nature by observers, marking a departure from the past where elections were shambolic and considered illegitimate.
In the afternoon of Wednesday, the world was gearing for the continued announcement of election results as they became available, an interregnum before the final announcement of the Presidential results.
From the results, it was clear that the ruling Zanu-PF party led by incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa was romping to victory ahead of the main opposition MDC-Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa.
In light of this fait accompli, the latter invoked violence that he had long promised: thugs were hired and convened at MDC headquarters along Nelson Mandela Avenue in Harare and they mounted a number of raids in the central business district as well as the ZEC offices in the Kopje area.
Apart from being pumped up by rhetoric – which the MDC-Alliance leaders such as Chamisa, Tendai Biti, Happymore Chidziva, among others, had been making in the past few months – there are reports that the youths were fed drugs and alcohol.
And when they went into town they were prowling.
They were not peaceful, unarmed and innocent civilian protestors.
They were armed with stones, iron bars and other rudimentary instruments of violence.
They were the law. They were terror.
Police failed to contain them despite being sizeable in number and armed with anti-riot gear.
The riotous crowd gained confidence and swelled.
It became callous and sought to storm buildings, including the headquarters of Zanu-PF, with the probable aim of gaining entry into the HICC to turn ZEC’s Command Centre upside down – perhaps burn down the whole Rainbow Towers Hotel – and prevent the announcement of the final results which would likely confirm Chamisa’s loss.
The whole thing left a sour taste in the mouth.
And yes, a few weeks ago, Chamisa told his followers that he would literally pour sand in the porridge.
Tyranny of the minority
It is clear that Zimbabwe’s opposition wanted to upend and delegitimise a process that it was going to lose hence the decision to embark on terror.
By the way, it is also the party that has called for sanctions and isolation of Zimbabwe, all to help it get into power.
Zimbabwe has suffered largely because of external pressures that the opposition has instigated with the West obliging (yet masking certain historical and political issues) by punishing Zimbabwe.
Ordinary people have suffered as a consequence. They are the collateral damage.
There is the tyranny of the minority in Zimbabwe and we saw it play out on Wednesday.
The decision to smear the election by the opposition is meant to prevent Zimbabwe’s re-engagement with the world which was anchored on having credible elections.
Now after the events of August 1, all the good that had happened since Zimbabwe transitioned from the 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe will likely be sullied.
It will be useful to explain the concept of the “tyranny of the minority”.
It has relation to the idea of French historian and political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859) who expressed, according to the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, “the fear and deep distrust of rule by an uneducated democratic mob”.
Tocqueville, and later John Locke and Stuart Mill, noted that democracies were vulnerable to two distinct forms of “majority tyranny”, namely political or legal tyranny that operates through the formal procedures of majoritarian rule; and the moral or social tyranny the majority exercises through custom and the power of public opinion.
“As long as the majority is still silent,” Tocqueville observed, “discussion is carried on; but as soon as its decision is irrevocably pronounced, everyone is silent”.
By contrast, and quite ironic, the “tyranny of the minority” happens when a clique or individuals hold the majority to ransom.
Michelle Goldberg commenting on US President Donald Trump in the New York Times on September 25, 2017, situated how he got power with less popular votes and how he would be dangerous (at least in her view).
She writes: “I don’t just mean the fact that Trump became president despite his decisive loss in the popular vote, though that shouldn’t be forgotten. Worse, the majority of voters who disapprove of Trump have little power to force Congress to curb him . . . Before Trump, there was enough overlap between popular will and electoral outcome to make the issue largely semantic. Now it’s existential. Certainly, we need checks on the tyranny of the majority. But what we have now is the tyranny of the minority.”
The world knows that Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC-Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa lost these elections.
Nelson Chamisa lost these elections.
However, he wants the country to burn in disorder and chaos so that he can be accommodated in some kind of power agreement, if not to foment a crisis that would lead the majoritarian party to abdicate office.
He preyed on the fact that Zimbabwe badly wanted legitimacy and an incident-free process with a clear winner.
Nelson Chamisa wanted to leverage the presence and anxiety of the international community.
Let’s borrow from Goldberg: Nelson Chamisa of Zimbabwe wants power despite the decisive loss in the popular vote.
This is how he wants the tyranny of the minority.
And he and his violent backers are like football hooligans that disrupt a beautiful derby match spoiling it for everyone, on both sides.