The primitive drama of state brutality and impunity continues in Zimbabwe as the violence-inclined Zanu PF regime employs ruthless methods to contain popular discontent over mismanagement of the economy and human rights abuses.
Candid Comment,Zivisai Chagaka
Having fallen victim to a savage physical attack from the military for no reason at all, I felt compelled to add my voice on the sad state of affairs in a “free” Zimbabwe 36 years after attaining independence. Though the issue of state-sponsored terror is not new to Zimbabweans, the events of November 17 are yet another reminder of the repressive government that the Zanu PF regime has always been. I was left with a bloodshot eye and cuts and bruises all over the body in an unprovoked attack. My vision is now blurred. On the said day, a whole battalion of soldiers, brandishing AK47s and improvised baton sticks of all size and manner, descended on Budiriro and other high-density suburbs under the cover of darkness and viciously assaulted civilians at night spots for “rejecting bond notes”. And someone was telling me that in Zengeza civilians were brutalised for accepting the bond notes apparently before the promissory currency had been released on the market. Many were left badly wounded.
However, while this sad incident might have left me traumatised and needing medical attention, this has unfortunately been the state of the country since the Gukurahundi massacres of the early 1980s. More than 20 000 civilians were killed in that genocide. The Zanu PF government has also used violence and intimidation during election times to sway the popular vote in its favour. People have been killed and maimed as a result. As recently as 2008, the opposition MDC-T said 200 of its members were murdered during the presidential election run-off and hundreds more injured and displaced from their homes as the state apparatus unleashed violence on dissent. Only earlier this year, even war veterans were teargassed and sprayed with water cannons from the City Sports Centre where they had gathered reportedly intending to march to Zanu PF headquarters.
Now coming to the bond notes issue, it is unheard of in a civilised world (which Zimbabwe is purportedly part of) that a government can unleash the army on civilians in bars for supposedly opposing official policy. Besides being illegal, it defies simple logic why the authorities think people in bars have anything to do with whatever is going wrong with the economy. Even if the people were to demonstrate, it is their constitutional right to voice their concern with regard to policies that may affect their livelihoods. But alas, the use of coercive tactics and terror has been the hallmark of Zanu PF rule. The corrupt go scot-free with their loot and nothing is done to bring them to book. While efficient on brutality, the Zanu PF government is clueless on how to tackle the economic rot, which it created in the first place through toxic policies and corruption.
The basic tenets of democracy — freedom of expression, movement, association, human dignity and the right to life and the rule of law — are trampled on with impunity under a government that is not only at war with itself through a vicious internal power struggle, but also with its people.