Crushing dissent: Democracy premised on diversity, tolerance

THE continued inhuman and degrading torture of protesters by suspected State security apparatchiks casts a colossal shadow on the integrity, commitment to rule of law and the general democracy of the Republic of Zimbabwe at a time when the world’s eyes are fixed on the Southern African nation over the implementation of key reforms.

Source: Crushing dissent: Democracy premised on diversity, tolerance – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 29, 2016

It would appear no one in government took heed of the urgent and overwhelming need to improve the country’s despicable human rights record in light of last month’s ratification of the international debt by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Zimbabwe’s human rights record just got worse in a manner that makes the country unsellable to the international community comprising multi-lateral lenders.

Organisers of a demonstration against bond notes were the subjects of callous battering when soldiers allegedly ran amok in the high-density suburbs of Glen Norah and Budiriro indiscriminately beating up revellers for “rejecting bond notes”.

The previous week, it was human rights defenders Patson Dzamara and Ishmael Kauzani, among many others, who were the victims of severe assault.

These happenings have left a huge dent on Zimbabwe’s ability to reform or democratise as a nation guided by a Constitution.

The damaging reports, as expected, reached foreign nations faster than lightning and it was all over in the foreign media.

Foreign newsrooms began with the words: “Zimbabwe’s atrocious human rights record went a gear up this week when . . . ”

However, it is not so much material what these reports say as the State’s attitude to the perturbing events.

That people can be maimed with such severity for voicing their concerns demonstrates the height of impenitence characterising our national leadership.

It is shocking when a country wantonly disregards national principles embodied in its own supreme law for people have a right to protest.

This saps away all the confidence of international institutions such as the IMF; it will perpetually be held that Zimbabwe has failed to democratise.

The very Constitution, upon which proper governance of this nation is premised, becomes a worthless document in view of what took place last week.

The right to protest is expressly guaranteed and protected by the Constitution.

It further befuddles the mind that we hear of some militia offering to help in the suppression of dissenting voices.

This, on its own, indicates the height of lawlessness gripping the country.

It may as well be said that the country has become a banana republic, as no one else is mandated with enforcing the law, except the rightful enforcers, who are the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).

In any case, even the ZRP cannot go on a senseless rampage assaulting protesters as we continue to witness.

It is time that government and Zanu PF, in particular, respected and accepted diversity, which is the very essence of democracy.

Differences in opinion do not make your brother an enemy. Zimbabweans wield the right to differ from the government and are allowed to protest.

Instead of exerting assiduous effort on things like mending the broken economy, righting the awful human rights record and delivering on election promises, the government chooses to maim its own.

Honestly, the efforts strenuously invested in the crushing of dissent would have the country at the apex should the efforts had been expended in patching-up the economy.

Crushing of dissent, in the last months, has proven to be so methodical and well co-ordinated.

There is an air of “care” and cohesion in quelling protests than there is in attending to the economic quandary.

Why people should be savagely beaten like animals defies logic. What crime is it to hold a different opinion and to exercise a constitutionally guaranteed right to demonstrate?

Zimbabweans are well within their rights to demand good governance and comment over things that affect their daily bread.

There are no jobs and now cash shortages have become the order of the day. Why should these things not be pointed out in a supposed democracy?

The economy cannot wriggle its way out of a 16-year-old paralysis and people have a right to speak out.

There is an all-pervading thinking that anyone who points out to the economic malady in this country and failed governance is not patriotic and, therefore, an enemy of the State.

This line of thinking represents one of the most facile ways of political thinking.

Patriotism is not the same as myopia. Patriotism means loving one’s country to the end that one is willing to even die in defence of its proper governance.

No political party has a monopoly over what constitutes patriotism. It is a right bestowed upon the citizenry to demand the good governance of its country.

True democracy is one that can be traced back to the people. It is literally rule of the people by the people.

That the people spoke through the Constitution sanctifies the Constitution.

It is time the government learnt adherence to the respect of human rights and the upholding of true democracy premised on tolerance of divergent views.


  • comment-avatar

    Why all the complaints now? This has been an apartheid state since 1980.