ICG Report on Zimbabwe creates buzz

International Crisis Group (ICG), a global political think tank released a report on Zimbabwe that has generated a lot of attention in cyberspace over the past 48 hours. Here’s the important stuff, the recommendations ICG makes in the report,

To the Government of Zimbabwe and ZANU-PF:

1. Abandon plans to extend President Mugabe’s term beyond its expiration in March 2008 and support SADC-led negotiations to implement an exit strategy for him no later than that date.

2. Negotiate with the MDC on a constitutional framework, power-sharing agreement, detailed agenda and benchmarks for a two-year political transition, beginning in March 2008, including:

(a) adoption of a constitutional amendment in the July 2007 parliamentary session providing for nomination in March 2008, by two-thirds majority, of a non-executive president, an executive prime minister and de-linking of government and ZANU-PF party positions;

(b) a power-sharing agreement leading in early 2008 to a transitional government, including ZANU-PF and the MDC, tasked with producing a new draft constitution, repealing repressive laws, drawing up a new voters roll and demilitarising and depoliticising state institutions in accordance with agreed timelines and benchmarks, and leading to internationally supervised elections in 2010; and

(c) implementation of an emergency economic recovery plan to curb inflation, restore donor and foreign investor confidence and boost mining and agricultural production, including establishment of a Land Commission with a strong technocratic base and wide representation of Zimbabwean stakeholders to recommend policies aimed at ending the land crisis.

3. Abandon plans for a new urban displacement program and act to redress the damage done by Operation Murambatsvina by:

(a) providing shelter to its homeless victims; and

(b) implementing the recommendations of the Tibaijuka Report, including compensation for those whose property was destroyed, unhindered access for humanitarian workers and aid and creation of an environment for effective reconstruction and resettlement.

To the Movement for Democratic Change:

4. Proceed with internal efforts to establish minimum unity within the party and a common front for dealing with the government and ZANU-PF and contesting presidential and parliamentary elections, while retaining reunification as the ultimate goal.

5. Hold internal consultations between faction leaders to adopt a joint strategy aiming at:

(a) finalising negotiations with ZANU-PF over constitutional reforms, a power-sharing agreement and formation of a transitional government in March 2008; and

(b) preparing for a March 2008 presidential election if negotiations with ZANU-PF fail, and President Mugabe retains power.

To Zimbabwean and South African Civil Society Organisations:

6. Initiate legal proceedings in South African courts to attach any assets stolen from the Zimbabwean government and transferred to or invested in South Africa and to obtain the arrest and prosecution of egregious Zimbabwean human rights abusers visiting South Africa.

To SADC and South Africa:

7. Engage with the U.S. and the EU to adopt a joint strategy for resolving the crisis that includes:

(a) mediation by SADC of negotiations for an exit deal on expiration of President Mugabe’s term in 2008 and of an agreement between ZANU-PF and the MDC on a power-sharing transitional government to oversee development of a new constitution, repeal repressive laws and hold internationally supervised presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010; and

(b) understandings on the use by the U.S. and EU of incentives and disincentives to support the strategy in regard to targeted sanctions, political relations with the transitional government and resumption of assistance.

8. Engage with the Zimbabwe government to facilitate talks between ZANU-PF and the MDC leading to the above steps.

9. Convene an urgent meeting of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation to consider the regional consequences of the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe and recommend action by the Heads of State summit to deal with the situation.

To the United States and the European Union:

10. Engage with SADC countries to adopt the above-mentioned joint strategy, including understandings on timelines and benchmarks to be met by the Zimbabwean authorities in restoring and implementing a democratic process.

11. Increase pressure on President Mugabe and other ZANU-PF leaders if they do not cooperate with efforts to begin a transition and restore democracy, including by taking the following measures to close loopholes in targeted personal sanctions:

(a) apply the sanctions also to family members and business associates of those on the lists;

(b) cancel visas and residence permits of those on the lists and their family members; and

(c) add Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono to the EU list.

12. Portugal, holding the EU Presidency in the second half of 2007, should not invite President Mugabe and other members of the Zimbabwe government or ZANU-PF on the EU targeted sanctions list to the EU-AU summit unless significant reforms have already been undertaken.

13. Increase funding for training and other capacity-building assistance to democratic forces in Zimbabwe.

To the United Nations Secretary-General:

14. Assign a senior official – a new Special Envoy to Zimbabwe, the Special Adviser to the Secretary General on Africa or a high-level member of the Department of Political Affairs – responsibility for the Zimbabwe portfolio including to support the SADC-led initiative, and monitor the situation for the Secretary General.

To the United Nations Security Council:

15. Begin discussions aimed at placing the situation in Zimbabwe on the agenda as a threat to international peace and security.

To the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or in the alternative the Human Rights Council:

16. Initiate a follow-up investigation on the Tibaijuka Report, including plans for a new urban displacement campaign, arrests of informal miners and political repression, and recommend actions to the member states, the Security Council and the Secretariat.

To the Commonwealth Secretariat:

17. Encourage Commonwealth member countries in Southern Africa to help mediate a political settlement for a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe, setting benchmarks for a return of the country to the organisation.

18. Establish a group of Eminent Persons to engage with Zimbabwe, using the good offices of its regional members to facilitate access.

19. Work through Commonwealth civil society organizations to build up civil society capacity in Zimbabwe.

I can’t say the report, recommendations, or all the attention it is getting have me jumping out of my seat. Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to dismiss the report either, there’s clearly been a diligent effort by the group to document the status quo in Zimbabwe today.
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Pray Zimbabwe press release

On April 18, 2007, friends of Zimbabwe will gather together around the world in prayer for the country of Zimbabwe and its people as a part of the International Day of Prayer for Zimbabwe (IDOPZ).

Thousands in Zimbabwe die each week from AIDS. Food is scarce. Medication is in short supply. The inflation rate is the highest in the world at nearly 1600 percent. Medical workers are on strike. 80 percent of the population is unemployed. Humanitarian aid organizations are restricted from getting life-saving supplies to the people.

A team of pastors, students, professors, journalists, both native Zimbabweans and others, have joined together to coordinate the Day of Prayer. Using the Internet as a powerful networking tool, the IDOPZ website has shared stories and pictures with interested individuals worldwide, and students have connected through Facebook.

Contact Aaron (aaron@PrayZimbabwe.org), IDOPZ Media Relations Coordinator, for interview requestsand additional contact information.

ITV stealth report: fedup in Zimbabwe.

Cross Posted on Global Voices

Global Voices has posted a harrowing video documenting the brutal beatings suffered by worker’s union demonstrators recently. Read the post and watch the video here.

Debate surrounding a new law, the Domestic Violence Bill, became the context for a much criticized misogynistic outburst in Zimbabwe’s parliament last week. Timothy Mubhawu, a controversial member of Zimbabwe’s parliament attracted the ire of women worldwide when he, purpoting “to represent God”, expressed his views on the proposed bill,

“I stand here representing God Almighty. Women are not equal to men. It is a dangerous Bill and let it be known in Zimbabwe that the right, privilege and status of men is gone. I stand here alone and say this bill should not be passed in this House. It is a diabolic Bill. Our powers are being usurped in daylight in this House.”

This outburst, wouldn’t nearly be as appalling had it been uttered by any other legislator save for Mubhawo. Zimbabwean women were on the streets the day after Mubhawo’s infamous statement. Mubhawo is the chief suspect in the brutal assault of Trudy Stevenson, a white female parliamentarian.
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  • Despite the fact that we have a one sided parliament in Zimbabwe (ZANU-PF controls both houses of the legislature), some Zimbabweans are fiercely debating the implications a proposed Domestic Violence Bill. The bill, which was first proposed two years ago, was finally gazetted for parliamentary reading in July. As it has gone through the legislative process, the proposed bill has engendered emotional debate among Zimbabwe’s laity. Traditional Zimbabwean culture is very conservative and pretends to be paternalistic. I use the word “pretends” because I am of the opinion that in families that truly uphold authentic traditional Zimbabwe cultural values, women are indisputably deeply revered. Zimbabwean oral traditions give women a sacred place as the chief matriac of any lineage. If you think I’m pulling this out of my behind, here are a few examples that I believe elucidate my convictions that true Zimbabwean culture places a premium on the role women play. According to Shona oral tradition, the most heinious offense a child can commit is assaulting their mother. The whole concept in the Shona language of “kutanda botso” or high filial treason, is built around protecting the mother figure. There is no such measure advocating for the protection of paternal figures yet this idea is reinforced among children over and over again as they grow up. The sense of unquestioning respect that our cultures heaps upon a mother is so high, I can clearly remember feeling guilty of this filial high treason for mere anger at my own mother. What’s worse is the consequences of “kutanda botso” are assured psychiatric rages as payment from the ancestors, it can be very scary growing up a Zimbabwean child. Second, in my culture’s highly valued marriage process, mothers are intenionally accorded exclusive homage; apart from the dowry or bride price, Zimbabwean culture mandate the delivery of a special cow to the brides mother known as “mombe yeumai” or the motherhood cow. The idea behind this hallowed piece of tradition is to honor the bride’s mother for bringing her into this world. Again, no such specific attention is given and lauded up the father of the bride despite that the partriachs dominate proceedings during a traditional marriage. Beyond the marriage ceremony itself, the relationship between the mother in law and her son in law remains one of the most strictly upheld aspects of our culture to this day. Mothers in law are to be venerated with a degree of respect that I can only think of as matching that which subject were expected to laud upon their African kings in antiquity. A son in law must not make eye contact with their mother in law, they should (if they abide by strict Shona culture) appear before their mother in law dressed casually or in jeans, and must not talk to her out turn. I blame the chauvinistic neo-classicals for crusading against the sanctity of women. That’s a post for a different day. Back to the DV bill. Without a doubt, its most controversial moment came on Monday when MDC MP Timothy Mubawo uttered the infamous “I represent God” in defence of male dominance,
    “I stand here representing God Almighty. Women are not equal to men. It is a dangerous Bill and let it be known in Zimbabwe that the right, privilege and status of men is gone. I stand here alone and say this bill should not be passed in this House. It is a diabolic Bill. Our powers are being usurped in daylight in this House.”
    Yes folks, that came out of the mouth of a legislator who has been under suspicion for the most violent outburst of rage against Trudy Stevenson a female MP! Zimbabwean women came out on the streets yesterday to protest the misogynistic comments of Mubawo. As the controversy has raged, it has emerged that Mubawo’s misdirected comments may have been evoked by a purpoted attack the bill reportedly mounts against marriage. According to Zimbabwe Journalists,
    But a closer look at the Bill by zimbabwejournalists.com revealed the MP, although apparently out of order in making the sexist comment about women, the Bill, which has been hailed as a saviour for women who suffer domestic violence on a daily basis, is far from what many ordinary women expected. A perusal of the Hansard, the daily record of the House of Parliament, reveals the Bill was supported by almost every legislator on the clauses that deal with domestic violence, which according to Oppah Muchinguri, the Gender Minister, is responsible for 60 percent of all murders in Zimbabwe. Trouble started when the legislators discovered embedded within the Bill were clauses that they think undermine the sanctity of marriage by giving too much powers to mistresses who can take wives to court if approached about their adulterous affairs. If the mistress claims harassment and the court concurs, the wife can be jailed for up to 10 years. Under existing law, a woman with a Chapter 37 marriage certificate could take her husband’s girlfriend to court but under the Bill, it is an offence for the woman to approach the mistress.
    But there’s even more,
    Apparently the Bill also protects the former mistresses from losing the property acquired through their adulterous affairs. Male MPs who spoke off the record for fear of making sexist remarks said the Bill has “completely shifted from dealing with domestic violence to protecting the interests of a few women leaders”. They promised to speak on record in the House after “re-grouping” with the chiefs and others to put their case against certain clauses in the Bill together. Another Zanu PF MP, who also did not want to be named said: “Right now we are going to Bulawayo to discuss the budget but I feel this is an important issue. Look at the House, we have 22 female legislators and only four are married – not that it’s an offence to be single. The four are outnumbered. They know the Bill threatens the institution of marriage. Oppah Muchinguri, the Women’s Coalition and others should be applauded for their work on trying to nip domestic violence in the bud but then they have not fully explained to the generality of the women in the country what they really intend to do with the law – protect themselves, their own selfish interests.”
    As the debate continues, one can only pay homage to our mothers, grandmothers, and sisters hoping that they will someday see the honor and respect our ancestors endowed them with. [tags]Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Legislation, Domestic Violence, Women’s Rights, Human Rights[/tags] (1)

MDC turns seven

The MDC will on Sunday, 8 October 2006, hold its seventh anniversary celebrations at the ceremonial home of people power at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare.

The occasion will attract thousands of MDC supporters both in and outside Harare, provincial leaders from across the 12 provinces as well as national executive and standing committee members. President Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to give the keynote address at the carnival ceremony which will be interspaced with music and drama from various groups.

The MDC was formed in Harare on 11 September 1999 and on Sunday, the party takes stock of its challenges and achievements in the past seven years. On Sunday, we will celebrate seven difficult years under an unrepentant dictatorship. On Sunday, we will celebrate the resilience of the people of Zimbabwe in the face of visible signs of collapse which include a high inflation rate that continues to skyrocket, a collapsed health and education system, a life expectancy of 34 years, massive corruption in all sectors of the economy and an acute shortage of foreign currency for critical imports such as power, fuel and medicines.

The MDC bears visible scars after only seven years in existence. We remember and salute the thousands of our supporters who perished at the hands of Zanu PF such as Learnmore Jongwe, Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya, to mention but a few; we remember the thousands whose houses were burnt and destroyed by this government and the millions who have fled their motherland to seek refuge elsewhere and to work in dehumanising and degrading conditions. We remember the pain and tears of our supporters over the past seven years as Zanu PF went on the rampage across the country and unleashed unprecedented violence on those suspected of sympathising with the MDC.

Ours has been a tough struggle against a dictatorship determined to remain in perpetual combat with the ordinary people of Zimbabwe. The MDC has shown its resilience under one of the most vicious dictatorships and the fact that we are still existing bears testimony to the determination of the people of Zimbabwe to save their country. Our cause is just and we continue to survive the detours, impediments and set-backs authored by the dictatorship.

On Sunday, we will take advantage of the occasion of the party’s seventh anniversary to reflect on our challenges and achievements over the years. The MDC is ready to roll out its programmes. There is no doubt that the people shall soon express themselves in a big way against tyranny. We remain committed to to peaceful resolution of the national crisis. We have already tabled our roadmap as our humble submission towards a peaceful resolution of the national crisis that continues to get worse everyday. In any contest with the people, dictators have always come second best. Zimbabwe deserves better. Let’s build a new and better Zimbabwe.

Nelson Chamisa, MP
Secretary for Information and Publicity

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Eddie Cross: The responsibility to protect

For almost all of the 20th Century, a basic dictum of international diplomacy was “non interference in the internal affairs of other States”. Even today, Mugabe angrily denounces all attempts to even discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe at international gatherings as “interference in our internal affairs.” At the SADC summit last month he stormed out of that gathering and flew home 24 hours early when leaders insisted that the Zimbabwe situation be discussed in a closed session.

Today in Darfur the international community faces a fresh challenge – the Sudanese government is flatly refusing to allow more effective UN surveillance of the situation in Darfur and is continuing to try to subjugate the people of Darfur by means of armed force using both State resources and informal armed forces. The international media is still allowed into the Sudan and so we can see for ourselves the effects of this situation on the ordinary men and women of the western region of Sudan. We can see the refugee camps, the fresh graves; hear the stories of those whose lives and rights are being abused by a dictatorial Islamic regime.

In recent times the issue of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States has come under scrutiny. People are questioning the dictate and saying that where a government is threatening the fundamental human and
political rights of its people, the international community has the responsibility to act in solidarity with the poor and defenseless. So today we are seeing really tough talk at the UN about Darfur and we are also seeing more and more prominent people from all walks of life saying that the international community has the responsibility to interfere.

In southern Africa we have been there as well – both the Rhodesian and South African governments used the dictate to argue that outsiders had no right to interfere. But eventually, the gravity of the crisis and the threat to the
stability of the region persuaded those with power to take action. In both cases the international community appointed a “point man” to take responsibility for coordinating and directing the resolution of the crisis. In both cases they were successful. Henry Kissenger was the point man on Rhodesia and Margaret Thatcher the point “man” for South Africa.

What happened after their intervention was critical, but it was their (often unsung) actions that actually broke the logjam and made all else possible. If you had told me that South Africa would go through the process that led
to the 1994 elections without serious violence and upheaval – I would have said you were nuts. But it happened and the key element was a carefully planned and executed political action backed by the threat of the use of
power. Such threats are only credible when they are real and can be backed up by action if needed.

Today it is 30 years since Henry Kissenger flew into South Africa and held talks with a team of Ministers led by Ian Smith at Union Buildings in Pretoria. He came with a plan agreed by key African leaders and the backing
of the global community at the time. He arrived when Rhodesia was in the throes of an armed struggle with the armies of Zanla and Zipra who were demanding one-man one vote (democracy). 150 000 men were under arms and the
ordinary population of the country was being brutalized by all sides. The economy was in dire straights and there was no end in sight for the conflict. There were fears the conflict might spread into South Africa itself. Smith was totally in charge and even the South Africans were wary of taking him on politically.

Kissenger persuaded the South Africans that there was no future for Rhodesia under Smith. That backing the Smith government was not only a waste of South African resources but was having a negative impact on the survival and prosperity of South Africa itself. He was well prepared and the US had used its considerable intelligence capacity to ensure that he could argue this case with some force and conviction.

Kissenger sympathized with Smith – recognised his courage and determination and even his love of the country he led. But he also understood that he was never going to win and that if the final defeat came any way other than
through negotiation, it would be a disaster. He presented his plan to the Rhodesian team and after they had debated it amongst themselves for a while, they rejected it. At that point the President of South Africa came in and
said to the Rhodesian delegation that if they walked out of that room without an agreement, he would cut off their essential supplies and all future support would cease. Smith went on to call it the “Great Betrayal” but in fact what those two foreign leaders did that day was to rescue the country from itself and open the way to a new beginning.

The Rhodesians flew home and Smith went on television 30 years ago on the 23rd September 1976 to say they had agreed to a transition to real democracy. It took 3 more years but when Zimbabwe was born on the 18th April
1980, Henry Kissenger was, in a very real sense, its father.

Today the international media are banned from Zimbabwe and unless someone has the courage and the equipment to film something clandestinely – the world cannot see what is happening here. That does not excuse leaders. They
should not require pictures to make decisions on situations like Darfur and Zimbabwe. Unfortunately very often that is the case – but it should not be so. They know what is happening – they have other resources, reports,
intelligence and their diplomats.

The crisis in Darfur is serious, but it does not compare to the situation in Zimbabwe where a criminal class is in power, is terrified of its past and is fighting to stay in control at any cost. The consequences are there for all
to see – GDP down by half, exports by two thirds, life expectancy by half in a decade, elections a sham, the media totally controlled and all forms of opposition ruthlessly put down by armed force and violence. We are a threat
to regional stability and prosperity; our economic and political refugees are drowning the social and economic systems of our neighbors. Our leadership is unrepentant – even of genocide and the mass destruction of homes and livelihoods. They are guilty of the theft of national assets and income on a scale that has not been seen in recent years in the rest of the world.

Like Burma and North Korea they have built up a military State that is able and willing to maintain itself on what remains and can continue to do so indefinitely. The only recourse of its beleaguered and embattled population is flight or a form of national “house arrest”.

The Zimbabwe situation is one that is wide open to international intervention. The failure by African leaders, the South African leadership in particular, demands that the international community itself takes a fresh look at what is going on and what can be done to get things back on track. Unlike Darfur, Iraq, Burma and North Korea – Zimbabwe is vulnerable to international action. It is a small country with limited resources – none of them really strategic, it is land locked and its neighbors hold the key to the survival of the regime.

This is a problem that can be fixed. For the sake of its people, the international community has an obligation to interfere. It does not require military intervention of any sort, just coordinated and concerted action by the leaders of democracies in Africa and abroad.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 2nd October 2006

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Cross Posted at Global Voices

Years after the first commercial farms were invaded by marauding war veterans and supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF, a new wave of farm invasions has hit the country merely weeks before planting for the upcoming agricultural season is supposed to begin. The Bearded Man has picked up on the story;

So what else is new in Zimbabwe – Mugabe continues to bully the population, the government continues to chase white commercial farmers off their land, while the Zimbabwean economy is in a permanent nosedive with the local currency not faring very well against all other currencies

The government has passed a new law extending them greater liberty regarding how much leverage they can put on commercial farmers who own land the government wants to annex. What is surprising about these new invasions is that the government has announced the end of farm invasions several time over the past year. In fact, there has even speculation that the government was offering land back to farmers who’d lost it during the redistribution excercise. So much for that.

After it’s members where deported upon arrival at the Harare airport, AFL-CIO blog is shining the spotlight on the Zimbabwe government. First, documentation of police brutality,

“Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Lovemore Matombo and First Vice President Lucia Matibenga were among trade unionists badly injured during the government’s Sept. 13 attack on a peaceful demonstration by the nation’s unionists. AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer William Lucy, who traveled to Zimbabwe says “the police just went crazy” in their attack in the capital Harare.

Lucy described his experience today during a meeting with union members at the AFL-CIO building in Washington, D.C., where he showed a 12-minute video of the Sept. 13 assault given to him on their trip. (Note: The date of the attack is incorrect on the video. The attack occurred Sept. 13.)

Watch the video here.
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With Mugabe’s approval, police quash another demo

In what has been widely condemned as the state’s approval of police cruelty, Mugabe berated Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) leaders for crying foul after police brutalized them for their attempted demonstrations last week. Speaking at an official event during a stopover on his way back from Cuba and New York, Mugabed raged at the demonsrators accusing them of putting on a charade for western media to document,

The President said the ZCTU leaders — who were beaten up by police for holding an illegal gathering in Harare — got the treatment they deserved for ignoring warnings to disperse.

“We cannot have a situation where people decide to sit in places not allowed and when the police remove them, they say no. We can’t have that, that is a revolt to the system. Vamwe vaakuchema kuti takarohwa, ehe unodashurwa. When the police say move, move. If you don’t move, you invite the police to use force,” the President said.

And as if they had planned it ahead, the police did it again.

27 people on Monday were left with bruises after police in Harare crushed a protest march by the pressure group National Constitutional Assembly (NCA). Demonstrations, which took part in several cities last Wednesday, had failed to take place in Harare due to heavy police presence.

Dr Lovemore Madhuku, chairperson of the NCA, said the impromptu strike action which was attended by around 300 people was to make the people of Harare go back to the streets and regain their confidence as the police blocked the protests last week. He said; “The objective is to raise awareness and putting pressure on the government.”

Police are said to have started beating the protesters who were not resisting but merely sat on the road. There were no arrests. Madhuku believes it was a well calculated plot by the authorities not to arrest anyone so as to create the impression that there were very few people in the streets. He also said perhaps it was coinciding with the return of Robert Mugabe who was returning home from the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

All this does is instill tremendous amounts of fear in an already fearful lay population in Zimbabwe. One of the things Mugabe’s propaganda has done extremely well is overmagnifying the consequences of opposing them whilst underplaying or downright ignoring the progress made by activists for a better Zimbabwe. Ultimately, as ordinary Zimbabweans engage in the cost-benefit analysis of whether it’s worth the risk of going out on the streets, there are huge disincentives for the people to be involved in street protest. We cannot forget the plain reality here; at just 7 years of age, the MDC has attained heights scaled by no other opposition party in Zimbabwe. And despite Mugabe’s constant belittling, the NCA and ZCTU are still out there for the people. Don’t forget the other civic activists braving assured police torture on a daily basis either.

As for the Bull Conner like government, their time is fast approaching. They too, like their infamous predecessor will realize that just the most violent beatings, the most inhumane punishment, and the most demeaning things they can do and say will not take away from the people of Zimbabwe that which the government didn’t give; our God-given right to freedom and dignity. Pretty soon, the people will have nothing left to fear anymore. In Why we can’t wait, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. describes Mugabe’s impending reality,

When for decades you have been able to make a man compromise his manhood by threatening him with a cruel and unjust punishment, and when suddenly he turns upon you an says: “Punish me. I do accept it so that the world will know that I am right and you are wrong,” you hardly konw what to do. You feel defeated and secretly ashamed. You know that this man is as good a man as you are; that from the some mysterious source he has found te courage and the conviction to meet meet physical force with soul force.” p.16

It’s only a matter of time….

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Elevating the struggle

Barely a week after their counterparts from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions were arrested and tortured for demonstrating against the government, Lovemore Madhuku’s National Constituitonal Assembly (NCA) have promised they’ll be out on the streets today. From Zimonline,

Zimbabwe’s National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) civic alliance will today stage street protests in Harare and other major cities against alleged police torture of trade union leaders last week, ZimOnline has learnt.

“We are not happy with the way the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leadership was brutally attacked (by the police),” said Madhuku. “There is anger out there but I cannot confirm when exactly the demonstrations will take place,” he added.

NCA insiders said alliance leaders were not letting out the exact time protests will kick off in order to surprise the police, who are expected to again mount a similarly massive security operation as last week when they thwarted ZCTU-led worker protests.

But they said more than 300 NCA activists were expected to march across Harare while almost similar numbers of protestors were expected in the cities of Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo and Kadoma.

In our repressive situation, I have no information yet of how the demonstration is going thus far. That’s not what is most important to me though. Here’s what I find interesting; that the NCA will purpotedly be on the streets in protest of what they know the police did to the ZCTU, and more importantly they’re going to be on the street despite their knowledge of what they know will happen. That, is called defiance and marks a new horizon in the Zimbabwean struggle for the restoration of our democracy.

I am not waxing nostalgic over nothing here. I know that every time we’ve had a protest in Zimbabwe, the government has always come out threatening, with actions to back up their words too. So there is a sense in which every protest that has gone on in Zimbabwe has been defiant. What I’m talking about here is something different though. Right after the ZCTU protest was crushed last week, the MDC came out and said that their march is still on. Now NCA is doing the same. What is more is that ZCTU went into last weeks protest knowing their march had been banned by government! See the trend, it is called defiance, but it’s to detriment of the leaders who are doing so. That is something refreshingly new.

I have long criticised for the opposition movement in Zimbabwe for excercising restrained opposition. I’ve called them out for engaging the diabolic forces that are dominating Zimbabwe only as far as it was at no personal peril. Now it seems our leaders are maturing in their leadership of the people. We the people follow their lead, we’ll only engage in the struggle only as much as they do. If they show restraint, we have to do likewise. And if they don’t, it allows us to sell out to the cause of our democracy. That’s why I mantain that the struggle has elevated to a new level. We’ve long been waiting for the leaders to do this.

So despite its success or failure, today’s NCA protest together with that of the ZCTU from last week and that which is to come from the MDC will go down in my book as the markers of new heights in the fight for Zimbabwe. Enough! Zvakwana! Sokwanele!

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