In both the court of public opinion and the court of law, it has become increasingly clear that President Robert Mugabe has lost touch with the masses. The Zanu PF ruling elite has become as callous as Ian Smith’s discredited colonial regime in many respects.
Candid Comment Owen Gagare
There is plenty of evidence to back up this assertion. The recent forced eviction of 200 villagers from Manzou Farm in Mazowe at the behest of the First Family is the latest episode in a long-running spectacle of authoritarian leadership. Despite High Court judge Justice Felistas Chatukuta’s March 24 ruling ordering the police to “immediately” stop demolishing houses and evicting the families from the farm, the law enforcement agents — who are mandated with ensuring that the law is upheld in letter and spirit — have continued brutalising villagers to pave way for First Lady Grace Mugabe’s wildlife conservancy.
Gun-toting police officers have been destroying homes, rounding up villagers, including women and children, forcing them into trucks before dumping them along Mvurwi Road.
Among the affected villagers are elderly persons who survived the horrific excesses of Smith’s murderous regime, only to be brutalised by a black government in independent Zimbabwe. The ongoing injustices in Mazowe are invoking the tragic memories of bygone days. For the powerless citizens of Zimbabwe, the past is never dead; it is not even past. It is difficult to wrap one’s mind around what is happening out there in Mazowe. What makes it more damning is that the villagers are being subjected to barbarity by a black President and his wife—the very people who are supposed to defend their rights.
The fact that the First Family is evicting the villagers in violation of a court order, confirms that the ruling elite has no empathy for the weak and poor. They pay lip service to the rule of law, while tearing the constitution to shreds. Ironically, Mugabe took an oath committing to “uphold, defend, obey and respect” the constitution as the supreme law of the nation and ensure that the constitution and all other laws are observed, as stated in Section 90.
It is also ironic that the evictions are occurring on the eve of the country’s 37th Independence anniversary.
As Mugabe lights the “Independence flame” on Tuesday next week, victims of his family’s greed and endless land grabs will be in distress, seeking refuge in mountains and hills. They will be wondering why the First Family, which has been linked to about 15 farms, is driving them further into poverty.
For the helpless villagers, Independence Day will not be a day to celebrate the country’s freedom. It will be a day to reflect and ask hard questions as to why the liberation struggle was fought in the first place and why yesterday’s liberators have morphed into brutal dictators. Indeed, Zimbabweans will be asking whether the likes of Joshua Nkomo, Josiah Tongongara, Herbert Chitepo, Jason Moyo and Lookout Masuku sacrificed their lives so that the elite can ride roughshod over the masses.
Perhaps it’s not yet Uhuru after all!