Last night, when I was leaving my mother’s house, and going to my place, I encountered a metre or so long snake, waiting near my door, and in a panicked way, I picked up a huge stone and crushed it.
I know that I risk a huge backlash, due to this confession, as it may not sit well with some animal rights activists – but, what I did was a normal reaction for most of us when encountered with a snake, especially one that long (although not the protected python), just in front of one’s own door.
Nonetheless, as I carried away its lifeless body, I started interrogating myself – probably, as a result of an undying gnawing guilt – whether it was even a verminous snake, and why our first reaction, as a people (at the sight of a snake) has always been to kill it.
The answer came to me swiftly – it was due to fear. We grew up being “snake-illiterate”, such that we are petrified just at the thought of those sinister-looking reptiles, such that, the mere sight of them, immediately ignites an involuntary reaction to attack them – despite most of them probably being relatively harmless to human beings, and would rather slither away quietly and peacefully.
As I pondered on this, another revelation came upon me of just how those who are terrified by a particular thing, or people, are always prone to act in a vicious manner towards whatever it was that gave them sleepless nights.
It became clear that, those people we regarded as brutal oppressors, were in fact, cowardly frightened individuals, whose first reaction to any perceived danger – just like with the snake, real or imagined – was to attack.
This then brought me to our own Zimbabwe, whereby most opposition political officials/members/supporters, human rights defenders, and even anti-corruption and social justice journalists and activists, know all too well the immediate brutal reaction of the ruling establishment at any sign of dissent.
This told me one thing – just in the same manner I reacted to the snake – those in power in Zimbabwe react this way, mainly because they are filled with an indescribable fear of the masses, such that they lash out at the slightest detection of criticism, opposition, exposure of their nefarious activities, or possible peaceful demonstrations.
In fact, it is now abundantly clear that, as much as ordinary Zimbabweans have always been accused (rightly so) of being irredeemable cowards – as they fail to even stand up for themselves in the face of concerted oppression and impoverishment by the country’s ruling class – however, those in power are the ones who are actually more in fear of the people.
Which explains why they would amend a sacrosanct document as a country’s supreme law (Constitutional Amendment No. 2) solely to extent the tenure of one top judge – in a move that paints a most disturbing picture of a leader who believes that his fate lies, not in the hands of the majority of the electorate, nor the law (should there be a challenge to elections results), but in the hands of one particular judicial officer.
This is an opportunistic ruling elite, which not only does not even have the confidence of winning a free, fair, and credible election, but also does not trust any other judge to deliver a favourable ruling, should there be a legal challenge to any disputed “win” – a point that casts an even darker shadow on the 2018 presidential results, and the Constitutional Court verdict thereof (headed by the same judicial official).
The same could also apply to the incessant persecution by prosecution of voices of dissent and opposition, as they have always accused the country’s judiciary of being captured by the state and ruling establishment – again, led by the same “highly favoured” judge…whom a fellow judge has similarly fingered in exhibiting dictatorial tendencies in their supposedly “independent” rulings.
Furthermore, the same is exhibited by the ruthless deployment of security forces at the slightest suggestions of a demonstration by citizens or the opposition – that witnessed the cold-blooded fatal shooting of scores of people (reportedly, bystanders, who had gunshot wounds in their backs, showing that their were actually fleeing, and not attacking) on 1 August 2018 (soon after the disputed elections “resolved” by the “favoured judge”) and, January 2019.
Indeed, Zimbabwe’s ruling establishment is merciless and brutal – much as I was to the snake – but, that should prove to the citizenry that, such action is purely inspired by an immense fear griping the perpetrator.
Armed with such knowledge, the people of Zimbabwe now need to be emboldened to fearlessly stand up for themselves, by taking advantage of the numerous rights provided for in our country’s supreme law, and sticking by them – without harboring any other ulterior and illegal objectives – so that our voices are finally heard, respected, and implemented.
This has to be done with the urgency our long-running suffering deserves, as the recent actions by the regime in amending the Constitution for their own power-greedy ambitions, set a very dangerous and worrying precedence – which, could result in even more changes, most particularly removing all these rights we have today, but have not been fully utilizing.
Zimbabwe’s ruling elite is more afraid of us, and the brutality and oppression are an expected reaction – however, just as the snake I encountered last night…had it reared its head, hissed loudly, and bravely stood its ground, probably, I would have turned away, and let it be.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263733399640, or email: email@example.com