Unsung heroine vows to keep hope alive

A Chimanimani political activist, Birgit Kidd, remains the unsung heroine of the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe. The pensioner has endured much suffering and lost her family business in pursuit of her dream.

Unsung heroine Birgit Kidd: “We should all have hope.”
Unsung heroine Birgit Kidd: “We should all have hope.”

Kidd has been beaten, abused, arrested and harassed on numerous occasions for supporting the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. But she is committed to assisting people across the political divide.

Trouble for Birgit and her husband Shane started during the run-up to 2002 presidential elections when the family provided refuge at their shops to scores of MDC supporters fleeing political violence in Wengezi, Rusitu and Cashel valley.

With assistance from Amnesty International and Zimrights, they fed many of them.

“Our decision to accommodate victims of political violence at our business premises did not go down well with Zanu (PF) leadership and war veterans. What also angered them is that the former MP for the area, Roy Bennett, used one of our backyard buildings as his office. Since then we have been classified as enemies and we have suffered a lot,” said Birgit in an exclusive interview with The Zimbabwean.

Their worst ordeal was in 2004 following Bennett’s altercation with Minister of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa, in Parliament.

“Following this the local Zanu (PF) leadership, led by Jane Knight and Dadirai Mature, mobilised farm workers from all nearby timber estates and farms to demonstrate at my house,” she said.

While some were harassing Birgit at her house, others took over the shop and burnt property such as deep fridges and shelves. After ransacking the house, the group marched her to the shop and beat her. She received 16 stitches in her head at Chipinge Hospital.

She sais the police failed to rescue her. After a lengthy court battle, the occupiers were ordered to vacate the premises in 2004. But last year the building was defaced a few days after the annual Chimanimani arts festival.

A few days after the incident, Chimanimani Rural District Council Chief executive officer, Nehemiah Deure, allegedly ordered the closure of the offices located about 50 metres from the festival venue.

Deure has denied writing the letter, prompting speculation that it originated from Zanu (PF).

Senior politicians in the province are said to be eyeing the Kidd’s sawmill under the controversial indigenisation programme. Birgit refuses to be cowed by the political persecution. “I will continue to assist the oppressed in this country and I know sooner rather later things are going to be ok. We should all have hope,” she said.

Post published in: News
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