Although the constitution allows for people to peacefully demonstrate in favor of or against anything imposed on them, the government of Zimbabwe has virtually outlawed any form of demonstration, thereby closing any semblance of opening for their views to be heard.
People do not need permission to demonstrate but to only inform the police of their planned demonstration, time and place where they would be doing so.
In such instances, the role of the police in Zimbabwe is to provide protection and keep an eye on those bent on causing mayhem, not to authorize, permit or deny any planned demonstration.
Demonstrating appears to be the only means of self-expression left for Zimbabweans yet that too is being denied of them at a time when they have a lot to complain about and at a time when any complaint is, surprisingly, considered a violation of the law.
The alarming rise in the arrests of civil leaders, teachers, opposition parliamentarians, human rights activists and lawyers, the clergy and the rank and file of Zimbabweans, not to mention the increase in disappearances, abductions, and torture of citizens is opening a new chapter in the grotesque fight for Zimbabwe that is much worse than the war of independence.
The ruling Zanu-PF party has degenerated into a lawless cabal whose sole means of survival is to remain in control of the government at whatever cost.
In the last three weeks alone, the government has denied people to demonstrate in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare. Smaller towns are also being denied the right to demonstrate against the austere lives they are forced to live under a meaningless and dwindling currency.
Notices to demonstrate have been requested by opposition political parties, teacher organizations, medical staff, labour unions and others but all of them have been denied and outlawed, with the government stupidly flooding inner cities with soldiers and riot police, supported by rowdy street gangs who can kill for a can of Coke and a bun.
Labour unions, teacher organizations, medical personnel, opposition political parties, civil organisations and others are professional outfits with reputations to protect. Their followers are bound by their organisations’ ethics and codes.
They are professionals with integrity to uphold and would, therefore, not do certain things in pursuit of their efforts to be heard.
But the doors are completely closed to all who come in constructive efforts to improve the situation between the employer and the employed and between the rulers and the ruled.
We have a chief out on bail.
The increasing number of teachers, lawyers, labour union officials, civic and civil leaders, clergy, bus drivers and so-called “ordinary Zimbabweans” who are being arrested is a cause for alarm. It is something that should alarm the entire world, if not primarily the Sothern African Development Community which has, surprisingly, encouraged rather than admonished bad behavior by its boys within the club.
As the government of Zimbabwe was violently abusing its citizens, violating their rights, jailing them without charge and denying them their rights to complain to their own government, SADC was meeting in Tanzania and was busy bestowing on Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zimbabwean president long believed to be the architect of Mugabe’s most brutal bouts of rule, the chairmanship of the SADC Organ for Politics, Defense and Security whose mandate is “to support the achievement and maintenance of security and the rule of law in the SADC region”.
My wish of a lifetime would be to meet any number of the SADC Heads of State and ask them if they were serious in agreeing to outsource the rule of law in their countries to Mnangagwa.
It is also about this very same time that Mnangagwa’s goons sunk to the lowest depths and, in the middle of the night, kidnapped a comedienne, Samantha Kureya (popularly known as ‘Gonyeti’), tortured her, threatened to kill her mother if she did not comply and reportedly forced her to drink sewage water in exchange for her life.
They later dumped her at an isolated remote spot, thankfully, alive. We know, there are deeper scars other than on the flesh, something that almost all Zimbabweans are carrying.
If you are waiting to hear a word from political pundits, apologists, SADC, South Africa, African Union or even a single African leader who dares to show genuine disappointment at tragedies within Africa or just within their countries, join the queue; I am also waiting.
Toilet tanks have overflows from which water can flow should the tank overfill, so have kitchen sinks. Dams have overspills to protect the dam wall. Even fuel pumps have a mechanism to shut off automatically should the gas tank be filled enough.
We control the overflow to minimize the damage or loss.
My fear, and it has been growing on me for quite some time now, is that, with no safety valve, Zimbabweans will just erupt.
I fear that they, as individually oppressed people with no recourse open to them, will just show up on the streets uninvited by labour organizations, teachers unions, civil or civic society, political parties, etc.
They will show up in the streets on their own volition, leaderless but with individual, personal determination that is controlled by no one.
And that will be the death of Zimbabwe but not its end.
No country is perfect but the inhabitants and their chosen leaders always make the difference and keep the nation afloat until the so-called “good days are here again”.
Joy is sweet because it always comes after sadness and sadness is deeply painful because it replaces joy. But there are times when none of this happens.
There are those instances when half of the joyful find themselves more in tune with half of the sad.
We cannot and should not wait for such because it is risky. There is no guarantee that two people fighting a common enemy will become friends after defeating their nemesis.
It is clear that both the African Union and SADC are enemies of the people of Africa. What good are they if they cannot stop the abuse but, instead, reward each other for abusing Africans?
There is, therefore, no point in criticizing SADC and the AU, because their livelihoods seem to grow as more Africans die.
The AU and SADC are the undertakers of the very people they allow to get killed by their own members…otherwise they would stop the abuse and killings in Africa if they did not benefit from the misery.
Somalia. Sudan. South Sudan. Libya. Zimbabwe. Nigeria. DR Congo. CAR. Cameroon….
Yes, no country is perfect; it is good that Africa has two outstanding undertakers.
*Tanonoka Whande writes in his personal capacity.