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The struggle for democracy

The struggle for democracy

By Lameck Shilongo.

The struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe has brought untold suffering of the ordinary Zimbabwean whilst the ruling elites of the ZANU PF political party pamper themselves with ill-gotten wealth. The ordinary person is hungry, naked, homeless, landless, displaced and abused in many forms. With the formation of a new political outfit, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999, Zimbabweans thought democracy was near but alas, the struggle continues.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) became very popular among citizens following dissatisfaction with the growing unemployment rate, poor salaries and working conditions, rampant corruption and unequal distribution of wealth among other abuses. The popularity was however not taken lightly by the ZANU PF party which had successfully maintained a one party state since independence.

Sensing the popularity of the movement, the ruling regime decided to employ dirty politics to maintain its hold of political power and keep the citizens suppressed. These included rape, torture, abductions, killings, destruction houses and invasion of private property among other tactics.

In 2000 elections, the ZANU PF regime embarked on an unsanctioned land redistribution exercise which they named Hondo Yeminda. This was an exercise where land was grabbed from white owners and parceled out to the ZANU PF supporters in a desperate move to buy votes. It is key to note that this move was discriminatory and a gross violation of property rights.

The Hondo Yeminda was led by War Veterans and ZANU PF youths. It was bloody exercise a lot of white Zimbabweans were beaten, tortured and some even died. Most of them had to flee the country and seek refuge elsewhere as the heartless campaign continued.

The attacks did not only target whites, even blacks who were working for the whites and found on the farms during raids were regarded as enemies and faced the same fate as their employers. Darlington Vikaveka is one of the blacks severely tortured for sympathizing with his employer. Darlington worked at Oxford Farm.

Other victims were those merchants who would travel to the farms to buy produce for resale. Obert Mahaso recounts the ordeal he went through when he witnessed one Farmer being tortured together with his family at a Farm in Harare along Mazowe Road. Although he managed to escape from the scene, he became a wanted man.

The Police who could have saved the people from political violence were themselves dining with the devil. Mavukidzo Kopakopa of Nyamakoto narrated to The Forum how he was assaulted in the presence of Policemen who spelt out clearly that they would not help MDC supporters. In a related case, Maxwell Bidi was abducted and tortured by ZANU PF youths and war veterans, Police arrived at the scene but were told to return the following day. Instead of rescuing the victim, the Police followed instructions given by the war veterans.

In some cases, the Police became the center of information for tracing “escapees”. An example is Obert Mahaso’s case mentioned earlier. After escaping from the farm, Obert decided to report the matter to the nearest Police station hoping that they would go and rescue the farmer under attack. To his surprise, the Police did nothing more than to take down all his details and dismiss him. Days later, the Police in the company of some men he had seen at the farm were hunting for him. Luckily he had already been tipped to run. He had to move away from home to survive.

There are families who left their homes because they had witnessed brutality on the farms and the Regime was hunting them. Some stayed for days in mountains and their homes were burnt down, their relatives were beaten and tortured so they could reveal their whereabouts. Most sneaked out of the country by whatever means they could just to make sure they were safe. Some have never set their foot on Zimbabwe since then, they are broken.

The 2000 violence was not preserved for males only, women were persecuted alike. Linda Moyo was assaulted by ZANU PF youths who accused her for giving birth to MDC supporters. She was told to come out of her house naked or they would burn the house. The youths took her identity card just to make sure she would not be able to vote Deaths were recorded.

With the 2000 and 2002 elections gone, ZANU PF securing victory by whatever means, the country never found its peace again. The land grab remains unsolved despite international condemnation. The state machinery was oiled and launched against its citizens. More terror was unleashed during the 2008 elections.

The opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the elections and was denied the victory by the elections board. A rerun was declared as it was announced that there was no winner of the elections. Zanu PF mobilized all resources including the police, war veterans, soldiers, para-military youths and state spies to torture opposition supporters. More deaths were recorded, more families were displaced, and more houses were burnt. Mugabe was declared the winner of the elections after the opposition leader withdrew citing gross human rights violations.

The situation was made better by an inclusive government set up proposed by SADC. The period saw the ushering of a new constitution and a better economy. The happiness was however short-lived as the elections period drew near. The same old tactics were used to win elections by the regime.

After the elections, the economy responded negatively. Prices continued to rise unchecked. Companies were were lost. Several monetary policies were announced robbing citizens their savings. Mugabe became very unpopular but the police was used indiscriminately to suppress all voices.

In November 2017, new hope was found for Zimbabweans at home and abroad, Mugabe was removed from power and replaced by Emmerson Munangagwa. The recycled government pronounced itself as a new dispensation, a Second Republic. Most of the people who had run away from the rule of Mugabe thought they would get home and rebuild their broken lives.

Just a few months later, persecutions started and the mighty of the army was unleashed proving most Zimbabweans to be wrong on their views of the recycled government. Abductions continue and unwarranted arrests have become the order of the day. Old enemies are being hunted and those who had skipped borders to nearby countries feel very uncomfortable as they continue to be hunted.

Zimbabweans all over the world are now left clueless as to what the future holds. Their dreams for a better Zimbabwe where the rule of law is observed are fading. Their cry for Human Rights falls on deaf eyes. For those abroad their hope of returning home are non-existing for their surely know what’s awaiting them.


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A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.