We have done nothing wrong

Remnants of Zimbabwe’s repressive regime have singled out human rights activists and civil society organizations for attack, harassment, intimidation or vilification.

Dewa Mavhinga
Dewa Mavhinga

With the increased hype about early elections in 2012, unjustified, politically-motivated arrests and detentions of activists across the country have intensified. The motive is obvious: to strike fear into the hearts of vocal activists in order to silence them as the last act of shutting down democratic space. But we have done nothing wrong – we have no fear and we shall not be silenced.

A shadowy weekly paper with close links to Zanu (PF), The Patriot, has, over the past few weeks, been devoting its pages to verbal abuse of courageous and outspoken rights activists – vilifying them and using hate speech against them. These activists, including myself, have been variously labelled European Union Spies, agents of the west or regime change agents. It appears our crime is that we are non-profit organizations that receive funding from various sources, including western philanthropic organizations.


It is unfortunate that these un-informed regime activists do not know that the same western organizations and countries fund a significant portion of government work in Zimbabwe – including the celebrated constitutional reform process. We are transparent about our work and we are proud to be calling for human rights respect and peace in our country in our lifetime when many choose to be indifferent to the suffering of the masses and the massive corruption, loot and plunder that goes on daily in our beloved country.

The problem is not the demonization and vilification we are subjected to by The Patriot and state-owned, but Zanu (PF)-aligned papers like the Herald and the Sunday Mail, it is that such hate speech against us acts as a form of justification for more dangerous attacks by state agents of zealous party supporters. Should anything happen to any of the activists unfairly subjected to hate speech in these extremely partisan papers, then the editors and writers of the hate speech must know in no uncertain terms that the blood of innocent activists will be on their hands.

Determined to fight

As 2011 draws to a close and we look to 2012, we do so with great determination and courage to fight on until a full measure of democracy and sustainable socio-economic development is achieved in Zimbabwe. No amount of baseless, shameful attacks on us will silence us. I urge those that have thus far been silent and indifferent to now speak out in defence of justice and peace. It is time for all peace-loving Zimbabweans to reject violence and intimidation and say ‘enough is enough.’ The only way to stop bullies is to stand up to them, not to submit to them.

I challenge those who claim to be patriots to defend Zimbabwe from the kleptocrats who are milking our country dry; from the enemies of peace who are preying on innocent people; from sycophants eager to revive the old regime for personal gain; and from merchants of violence who needlessly spread fear, confusion and panic. The time has come for each Zimbabwean citizen to take a firm stand for justice; to stand aside and watch is to aid the regime and to be complicit in the continuing injustice.

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