Can ED tell Zimbabweans where to find this elusive ‘independence’ we are supposed to be enjoying and ‘jealously guarding’!

I honestly feel like screaming and banging my head against the wall, each time I hear those in the country's ruling elitist privileged clique make noise about some 'independence' that we, the people of Zimbabwe, are supposed to treasure, protect, and be enjoying.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Every time we are reminded of how this ‘freedom’ was sacrificed for – with our valiant sons and daughters of the soil placing their own lives on the line, as they faced off with the colonial Rhodesia regime, in a bruising, grueling and gruesome liberation armed struggle – I cannot help feeling like crying at why these intrepid men and women were prepared to die for a fallacy that was never to be.

Why did all those thousands of innocent Zimbabweans pay the ultimate sacrifice – most of whom losing their lives, either in the midst of fierce battles with ‘enemy forces’, or were brutally butchered in cold blood, at the hands of both sides of the conflict, for ostensibly ‘selling out’ or ‘harboring terrorists’ (accusations that were seldom proven, but largely based on false reports motivated by personal hatred, vindictiveness or pure jealous, and even power ambitions)?

Yet, in all this, the caboodle who were later to hijack the people’s struggle – through the systematic elimination, by means of the sheer murder of genuine revolutionaries, thereafter, taking over the country’s leadership at ‘independence’ – were primarily hiding and living relatively comfortably in neighboring countries.

Where is this ‘uhuru’ that was supposedly birthed from this horrendous bloodshed, that was attained on 18 April 1980?

As I was reading this morning’s news headlines, the now usual storyline screamed out to me – political detainees continually being dragged before the courts in ‘independent’ Zimbabwe – some for nearly two years without ever a trial getting underway, yet the state adamantly refusing to strike them off remand, and dropping the obviously senseless charges, that are undeniably politically motivated.

What are we to say about renowned award-winning writer Tsitsi Dangarembga – whom, yesterday, the magistrate Court refused to dismiss charges against her, for holding a placard denouncing rampant corruption in the country – whose trail has been in limbo since her arrest in July 2020?

Then there are those who are eventually granted bail, after weeks or months of languishing in remand prison (or, even thrown into maximum security prison) as both the prosecution and courts repeatedly denied them this constitutional right – in stark disregard of the principle of an accused person being considered innocent until proven guilty.

This can be said for Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union (ARTUZ) president, Obert Masaraure, who was only released on ZW$50,000 bail yesterday, after spending 27 days incarcerated at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, for posting a tweet considered inciting public violence, which questioned police impartiality in enforcing the law in Zimbabwe.

Similarly, opposition CCC deputy chair, Job Sikhala, has been repeatedly denied bail – having been arrested nearly 60 times over the past two decades, for his activism – yet, not once has he ever been convicted of any crime.

In the same news headlines, all this on the same day – the country’s law enforcement was at pains and struggling to explain why the opposition CCC was being repeatedly denied their right to hold rallies and other peaceful gatherings – yet, the ruling ZANU PF could freely conduct huge assemblies, and even loudly or rowdily march and demonstrate around the country.

As I was going through these news stories, I found myself asking, “So, what is the difference between what we are witnessing today in ‘independent’ Zimbabwe, and what our heroes and heroines fought against in colonial Rhodesia”?

Surely, where is that ‘freedom and liberty’, when those who dare to speak out, and stand up – openly raising their utter disdain and disgust at the wanton and pervasive looting of our national resources for the benefit of the ruling class (as well as their friends and families), whilst millions of ordinary Zimbabweans sink deeper into the dark abyss of economic hardships – are continually arrested on spurious charges, that hardly result in any convictions?

Is this not merely political persecution – whereby, opponents and voices of dissent are victimized and vilified, based on tramped up charges – whilst at the same time, being denied their right to bail or removal from remand, with trials either never getting off the ground, or dragging on for years without anything of substance ever being brought before the courts by the state?

Even the Rhodesians were better, because they actually charged nationalists on real violations of the country’s laws, leading to convictions and prison sentences – as much as these were maliciously oppressive and unjust towards the majority.

Nonetheless, in ‘independent’ Zimbabwe, the arrests are predominantly premised on no detectable and discernable breaking of any known legal statutes – but, based on pure malice and contempt of voices that expose and resist the undeniable systemic and institutionalized economic marginalization, alienation and disenfranchisement the people of Zimbabwe, by those in power.

Again, I ask – where is that ‘freedom’ that we are endlessly reminded about – that appears mischievously elusive, since the vast majority of Zimbabweans are never able to find it…more like the legendary Nyami-Nyami, sasquatch (Big Foot), Abominable Snowman, or Loch Ness monster?

What is it that we are expected to ‘jealously guard and protect’ – when we have never seen or experienced this ‘independence’ and its alleged ‘gains’?

Or, is the tragic reality that, this supposed ‘Uhuru’ is only being enjoyed by the few in the ruling elite – who have literally plundered and pillaged the country dry, enriching themselves to vulgar levels, at the expense of the suffering and impoverished millions

Which explains why they are the ones ‘protecting’ this ‘independence’, through brazen barbarity, and the brutal repression of any who may dare speak out, and stand up!

The ruling elitist privileged clique can ‘jealously guard’ their ill-gotten wealth – by savagely stifling any dissent – but, quite frankly, the rest of us find nothing to protect, as we have absolutely nothing to call our own.

  • Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email: [email protected]

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