Candid Comment: 10 years on, Chiminya/Mabika murderers free

TEN years ago, at a remote rural centre called Murambinda growth point in Buhera in Manicaland, MDC activists Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika were brutally slain in broad daylight.

It was a barbaric act of Zanu PF violence which is still the talk of the villagers who witnessed this sordid act of state-sponsored terror.
It was no ordinary act of callous murder. The two were literally set on fire by a known state security agent, Joseph Mwale and a Zanu PF activist, Tom Kainos Kitsiyatota Zimunya.
Mwale remains an employee of the state while Zimunya continues his exploits of terror in rural Buhera.
A survivor, Sanderson Makombe, was with Chiminya and Mabika in the same vehicle when it was petrol-bombed by the two murderers. He still recalls how the two balls of fire, hardly identifiable as Chiminya and Mabika, tried to run for dear life.
Makombe tried to hold them as they tried to escape. He still remembers how burning human flesh peeled off his hands as he tried to hold the two balls of fire that were now running in anguish, crying out for help from shocked bystanders.
To date, Makombe, who is now in exile, is a vegetarian.
Chiminya died on the same day, April 15 2000 while Mabika died the following day at Murambinda Hospital.
Chiminya and Mabika were president Morgan Tsvangirai’s campaign agents in the 2000 Parliamentary plebiscite which was greatly marred by Zanu PF violence.
High Court judge Justice James Devittie, who nullified Zanu PF’s “victory” in Buhera North and called for the prosecution of Mwale and Zimunya, described the murder of the two activists as “a wicked act”.
Exactly 10 years later, the two are still walking scot-free, with one of them still in the employ of the state.
I was then a reporter with The Daily News, and still remember that the MDC petition on the violence in Buhera North took several weeks to be fully heard in court. Makombe, who was the key witness in this dastardly murder, constantly broke down, prompting the presiding judge, dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief, to periodically postpone the case.
Elsewhere in the country, from Gokwe to Nyanga, hundreds of MDC activists were brutally murdered as Zanu PF sought to violently quell the rising, conquering spirit of people power.
We saw the resurrection of this ghost of violence in June 2008, where many more heroes such as Tonderai Ndira, Thabitha Marume and Better Chokururama were callously murdered for believing in hope and change.
Chiminya and Mabika were like every patriotic Zimbabwean whose simple demand is change and democracy in the country of their birth.
Many died during the liberation struggle for a new Zimbabwe with black majority rule; indeed a new society which engenders basic freedoms and respect for people’s rights.
Genuine heroes like Herbert Chitepo, Jason Ziyapapa Moyo, Sheba Tavarwisa and Look-out Masuku did not die so that a new black regime would perfect what Ian Douglas Smith and his white racist cohorts had begun way back in the 1960s. The gallant sons and daughters of this country perished in search of hope, equality, peace and democracy.
We in the MDC believe in the sanctity of human life.
We remember the barbaric killings of Chiminya and Mabika, and indeed the callous murders of many others across the country, as the immortalisation of our unarmed struggle against oppression.
Ours has been a story of body blow after body bow; the sad story of losing comrades in this our unarmed and peaceful struggle against one of Africa’s most entrenched tyrannies.
Attorney-General Johannes Tomana remains an outstanding issue because the people of Zimbabwe still await justice to visit those who have chosen to murder, maim and displace God’s people. We demand justice to visit all perpetrators of violence so that we create proper conditions for national healing and reconciliation. 
That as a party we have survived this far is testimony to the simple fact that violence cannot stand in the way of history. The graves of all victims of Gukurahundi will remain an indelible imprint on President Robert Mugabe’s murderous legacy.
The fundamental lesson of March 29 2008 is that hope is greater than blood; that the people’s collective spirit will always triumph over violence and repression.
The collective spirit of all victims of violence, including one-year old Nyasha Mashoko who was burnt to death with her mother on June 8 2008, will simply not rest until all perpetrators of violence are brought to book.

Luke Tamborinyoka is the Director of Information and Publicity in the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. He can be contacted at mhofu@yahoo.co.uk.

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