Dear Africa and the world.
HARARE—May I draw your attention to the deteriorating Zimbabwean situation as I humbly seek, on my own behalf and on behalf of fellow citizens, your timely support and solidarity to avert a disaster that stands just right before us in Zimbabwe.
I am a young man from Zimbabwe who is on a collective mission with fellow Zimbabweans to confront and eradicate rampant and institutionalized corruption and looting – demanding accountability and transparency from the authorities for the collective good of all Zimbabweans.
I raise my voice to you all as an ordinary Zimbabwean citizen doing so from a hide-out as I am running away from persecution, harassment and victimisation by my own government which I personally campaigned and voted for in the 2018 harmonised elections as a former national youth leader and member of the ruling ZANU PF party who was expelled from that party on the 4th of March 2020 for allegedly “rocking” the boat by naming and shaming corrupt individuals linked to the ruling ZANU PF party and government leader President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa and his First Family.
I am just a small man whose equally small voice seeks to air out what the majority are facing back here in Zimbabwe.
I am a young man whose only aspiration was and is to speak on my own behalf and on behalf of my fellow citizens who are being systematically silenced, disinherited, haunted, brutalised, victimised, tortured, abducted, tormented, harassed and persecuted by our own government and leadership which is supposed to protect us.
In speaking out and raising my voice and that of others here in Zimbabwe, I am heavily worried, not of the imminent danger and harm that will come my way but of the fact that I may never succeed in making you understand our situation here in Zimbabwe. I, like many others here, are sceptical and had almost given up to fate and accepted our situation as the norm and order of the day. However, we have decided to raise our cries to you not because we are cowards but because we are a peace loving people faced with and experiencing disproportionate levels of threats to our lives and survival as a people.
For some of you this crisis is not new and in the interest of time I will not seek to lecture you on the history of our crisis as I believe the majority of you already know.
What has prompted me and continues to push me and many others to raise our voices is a serious deterioration of our situation here in Zimbabwe in the hope that our legitimate cries will be heard.
To start with, the President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa made a national address the day before yesterday which all of you can access on the internet in which address he made reference to perceived terrorists, bad apples and dark forces that he says must be dealt with and flushed out.
Listening to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s speech on Tuesday 4th of August 2020, which was broadcast live on national television and all state controlled media houses, to many people here in Zimbabwe it brings memories of his March 5 1983 speech at a rally in Victoria Falls which was reported in the Chronicle at the time, where he is reported as the then Minister of National Security to have likened dissidents to cockroaches and bugs which bandit menace his government had to bring a deadly pesticide the ‘DDT’ in the form a North Korea-trained militia to get rid of.
His Tuesday address sends shivers in ordinary Zimbabweans who know what followed another 1983 speech which was reported again by the Chronicle Newspaper where he is reported to have said that “Blessed are they who will follow the path of the government laws, for their days on Earth will be increased. But woe unto those who will choose the path of collaboration with dissidents for we will certainly shorten their stay on Earth.”
What followed was a military operation known as Gukurahundi which in our local language means, “The early rain that washes away chaff”. The military operation took place and it was extraordinarily brutal where an estimated +/- 20 000 civilians were killed in the country’s Midlands and Matabeleland regions during the first years of our independence.
In the Tuesday presser, the President alleged that his administration is facing attacks from what he alleges to be divisive politics of the opposition elements, from economic aggressors, currency manipulators, a few rogue Zimbabweans, promoters of hate and disharmony, bad apples, dark forces and terrorist opposition groupings and proponents of instability and disunity.
In return the President promised to stop the attack and the bleeding as he also promised to overcome threats of destabilisation and to flush out bad apples.
The President knows how best he is going to do that but looking at history and what is happening as you read this, we are worried of what is going to happen to us here in Zimbabwe as we anticipate escalated attacks on us for daring to raise out voices in challenging corruption and looting which he has condoned and sanctioned.
Those of us who have been calling for an end to institutionalised corruption and looting have been labelled as evil. In the full view of the whole world he reiterated unapologetically that he is going deal with those he alleges to have attempted to weaken his systems.
We as the anti corruption activists and some opposition members are now being viewed as threats to people’s lives for raising our voices against corruption and looting for in his view we have tempered with economic growth and prosperity when the opposite is true. Our President has vowed to defend as he also proclaimed that enough is enough and that he would work harder and defend any form of attack.
We in Zimbabwe and those who know our President definitely know what this means especially when it is coming from this man whom some of us thought had reformed and deserve to be given a chance to lead as we voted for him in 2018.
What worries us more is that these threats come at the backdrop of a leaked secret document which reveals of a planned operation which is meant to smartly exterminate dissenting voices of activists, opposition leaders and those who the authorities think are a threat to their continued hold to power including the 2017 kingmakers.
Social media in here Zimbabwe is awash with the details of that leaked operation which is known as Operation Poison the Snakes which according to the document is supposed to be a secret operation to exterminate perceived opponents through systematic arrests which would be followed by poisoning in prison and this according to the leaked document is supposed to happen during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic so that the blame for the death of the arrested activists will be on the ravaging virus.
The coded list of targets on the leaked document include some codes of initials of names of some of us and our colleagues who are Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume. We are worried that our colleagues have already been arrested and are in remand prison where they are currently being denied bail.
Fortunately or unfortunately my name’s initials have a code on the same list of targets under the planned secret operation. It so happens that I am also part of the 14 activists who are on the police wanted list, which list also include Makomborero Haruziviishe, Godfrey Kurauone, Ostallos Siziba, Job Sikhala, Promise Mkwananzi, Denford Ngadziore, Allan Moyo, Obey Sithole, Obert Masaraure, Jimu Kunaka, Peter Mutasa, Robson Chere and Stephen Chuma.
Even before the President’s speech on Tuesday, there was already widespread terrorisation, victimisation, harassment, persecution, abduction, kidnapping, brutalization, torture and silencing of dissenting voices in Zimbabwe especially against anti-corruption activists, lawyers, journalists and opposition members at the hands of elements in the police, army and state security.
Our homes were pounced on during night raids prior to the peaceful anti-corruption and anti looting protests which were supposed to take place on the 31st of July 2020.
Our families as anti-corruption activists, journalists and some opposition leaders were kidnapped, harassed, brutalised and tortured by gun totting security agents. We have since fled our homes and have not been able to be with our families for nearly 3 weeks now and we have no idea on how we are going to manage this.
In Zimbabwe, medical and health professionals and other labour leaders who are demanding better working conditions have been harassed and arrested for voicing their concerns. Without proper PPEs for frontline health workers during this Covid-19 pandemic, our starved health professionals are being forced to work and ignore their safety while some are being fired from work for voicing out their legitimate concerns. For raising concerns over the dilapidated health facilities and a call for the provision of basic health equipment and drugs, our health professionals are being tormented left, right and centre.
Our public hospitals in Zimbabwe have become death traps. Pregnant women and newly born babies are dying in our hospitals as the hospitals have become slaughter houses while a dubious company linked to the President’s son had been given a US$60 million tender which they were forced to cancel after massive public outcry and immense pressure. Citizens raised voices over the over-pricing of Covid-19 medical consumables which prices were charged 5 times higher than the normal price.
Here in Zimbabwe we have open abuse of state security apparatus especially the police, army and spy agents against citizens in a manner that is not only unconstitutional but inhumane and barbaric in protecting the corrupt.
We are being hunted down in broad daylight and have been forced to run away from our homes and families as marauding bloody-thirsty state security agents are all over the place searching for us.
For speaking against rampant and institutionalised corruption, we have been labelled terrorists and declared enemies of the state.
For demanding transparency and accountability we are being labelled agents and proponents of anarchy and coup conspirators.
In response to our calls for peaceful anti-corruption and anti-looting protests which we had planned for the 31st of July 2020, the Government of Zimbabwe recently responded by;
1) arresting Hopewell Chin’ono, an investigative journalist, who has been exposing Covid-19 corruption scandals linked to the President’s Family;
2) arresting Jacob Ngarivhume, leader of an opposition political party Transform Zimbabwe, who was the chief convener of the peaceful anti-corruption protests;
3) dramatically raising Covid-19 figures in order to use that as a cover for suspending human rights and proceeded to declare the major cities as hotspots for the pandemic as they feared the same to be the trouble spots in the protests.
4) raiding homes of unsuspecting activists and proceeded to either abduct, kidnap, torture and arrest more than 60 people including students, anti-corruption activists and opposition figures on flimsy charges across Zimbabwe who include Fadzai Mahere, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Judy Barnes, Panashe Sivindai, Methembe Msipa, Rodrick Majoni, Tawanda Muchehiwa, Confidence Sithole, Nigel Ndlovu, Nyasha Lydia Muzaba, Ropafadzo Makunike, Victor Bhogo, Mellania Makara, Machirairwa Mugidho, Loveridge Chinzvende, Tinashe Murapatsa, Nyasha Musendu, Tinotenda Muswe, Josee Lots, Simon and Jessica Drury, Mzingayi Matthew Thaka and many others.
5) imposing nationwide curfews from 6pm to 6am which have resulted in some cases citizens being harassed by some over-zealous security officials;
6) mounting roadblocks all over Zimbabwe where at some of the roadblocks citizens were being senselessly harassed and some women being sexually assaulted;
7) embarking on overnight and broad daylight illegal manhunts on activists and opposition members and harassing members of families of activists and opposition members;
8) openly mobilising and unleashing party youth militia on citizens as senior ZANUPF party leaders came out on national broadcasters inciting violence on perceived opponents;
9) publicising and promoting hate speech against citizens on the state controlled national broadcasters.
All this is happening to us in an independent Zimbabwe because we have stood up as citizens to demand an end to corruption and looting, to demand transparency and accountability, and demand that the government addresses concerns of impoverished government workers and general citizens, that the government addresses galloping inflation and a thriving black market in whose activities they have a hand. We are being harassed for asking why with all the mineral resources that we have in Zimbabwe that include diamonds, gold, platinum, lithium, chrome, coal, nickel and gas we remain poor and always begging as a country.
Our government in Zimbabwe is using the Covid-19 cover to justify and sanitize its crackdown on us pretending to be doing so to protect lives when in actual fact they don’t care about us. This is the sad reality about our situation here in Zimbabwe as the authorities have been stealing and diverting Covid-19 funds and donations to an extent of reselling donations to the Government.
Faced with a situation where citizens were already being harassed and victimised before the planned protests and with a whole police force, state security agents and a whole army having been unleashed and deployed all over the country, armed to the teeth to thwart the intended peaceful anti-corruption protests we had no option but to advise the peace-loving Zimbabweans not to come out to protest against the state-sanctioned thievery and looting. Every street and shopping centre was invaded and occupied by the deployed security officers, some of them wantonly harassing and brutalising civilians for no apparent reason.
I reiterate today that our current condition in Zimbabwe is not “natural” phenomena but largely a product of unjust economic practices by organised blood sucking economic vampires, cannibalistic cartels linked to the corrupt, selfish and heartless authorities.
As some of you may know, Zimbabweans are generally a hardworking, resilient, peaceful, accommodative and patient people but our government is cornering us and doing its best to squeeze life out of us in protection of looters.
We are not a threat to anyone except maybe to thieves and looters who are equally determined to crush us using arms of war against us defenceless and unarmed citizens who at most would be holding a placard.
We cry out for help, support and solidarity from all the progressive people of Africa and the world. We have no idea how you will help us but we definitely need help, support and solidarity before we all become a statistic here. The threat and danger is real.
We are no terrorists as they would want to portray us as they seek to sanitise and justify a crackdown on us. We don’t even have the smallest of weapons not even one that can even kill a small rat. In our hands we have no stones, catapults nor even knobkerries to harm anyone let alone guns but we are being labelled as terrorists. The only weapon which we have, which our government so much fears, is our unity as a people and our undying voices which you have also amplified.
Please continue to stand with us. In a normal situation we would have stayed calm and wanted not to appear as alarmists but the determination of the government to crush us is frightening. The President’s speech on Tuesday on national television confirms our fears and the existence of danger though he wanted at some point of his address to sugar-coat his threats to us when his main objective in that address was to set the tone and agenda for our extermination.
Please continue to do more for us as you raise your voices for our sake and we will forever appreciate that. We promise not to back down nor compromise in our fight against corruption and looting which is killing us and also killing the future of our children and their children. We can’t afford to abandon this just fight for doing so would be a betrayal to the current and future generations of Zimbabwe. We will remain firm though our lives are in danger as we remain targets of the ongoing persecutions.
We thank you all for taking various initiatives to support us in making the world know of our situation in Zimbabwe. Please stand with us. We need your support. We need your solidarity.
Indeed Zimbabwean Lives Matter.
God bless you all.