7 February 2017
HARARE – The denying of bail to Evan Mawarire – founder and campaign
leader of the #ThisFlag movement – following his arrest last Wednesday at
the Harare International Airport after making a surprise return to
Zimbabwe from the United States shows just how determined President Robert
Mugabe’s government is in crushing dissent.
Mawarire’s incarceration comes hard on the heels of fellow cleric Phillip
Mugadza’s caging after he prophesied Mugabe’s death, which he claimed
would happen later this year.
This is not the first time the Zanu PF government has descended heavily on
its critics. As the country hurtles towards the 2018 elections, the
situation on the ground is quickly turning to resemble the run-up to the
June 2008 presidential run-off from which Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew, citing the murder of over 200 of
Zanu PF is not prepared to let go the levers of power despite clear
evidence of its policies’ failure, confining the country’s 36-year-old
history to poverty and underdevelopment.
Zimbabweans are merely voicing their concern over the continuing
deterioration of the country’s economic and political fortunes, which have
driven citizens to the fringes of economic activity.
The majority of Zimbabwe’s citizens continue to live in dire poverty,
enduring shortages of electricity and potable water, driving on pot-holed
roads and operating with an unreliable public transport. An education
system that is falling apart as well as an ever-deteriorating healthcare
system have also compounded the situation.
Zimbabwe remains a country of two tales with the minority elite – mostly
politicians and the politically-connected – living in affluence while the
poor majority have to contend with less than a dollar a day. However,
Mugabe does not brook dissent when such disparities are raised.
Human rights activist and Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko,
was abducted in December 2008. Journalist-turned-activist Itai Dzamara’s
whereabouts remain unknown since his broad daylight abduction in March
2015 after staging a series of anti-Mugabe protests under the banner of
his Occupy Africa Unity Square campaign.
His brother Patson and his colleagues – sworn anti-Mugabe activists – were
bludgeoned and left for dead in November last year while returning from
Mufakose, Harare. Tajamuka/Sesjikile campaign spokesperson Promise
Mkwananzi, as well as National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe leader Stern
Zvorwadza, among many others, have been routinely arrested for staging
While the citizenry has displayed signs of climaxing resistance against
continued oppression and marginalisation, the intransigent authorities
seem to have put in place a well-choreographed build-up to a violent
election campaign for 2018.