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In Gutu an entire village was razed to the ground by a Zanu-PF mob, while in Chitungwiza Zanu-PF youths have run amok, wrecking untold havoc. At the same time four Woza members have been arrested, while Douglas Mwonzora and twenty-three villagers, all MDC-T supporters, are languishing in prison on unfounded accusations. – BENJAMIN SEMWAYO

The question that immediately comes to mind is: what have all these unfortunate souls done to deserve such dehumanising treatment? To people who are not familiar with the Zimbabwean Government’s way of doing things this may come as a joke, but the truth of the matter is that their only crime is to pick a political party of their choice, and that party happens not to be Zanu-PF. In Zimbabwe the unwritten law is that it is not permissible to align yourself with a party that is not Zanu-PF, and for that unpardonable transgression you have to pay by having your house burnt down, by being thrown into jail and tortured indefinitely with no charge, or even by being ‘liquidated’.

Mugabe and his Zanu-PF supporters live in cloud cuckoo land, believing that Zanu-PF will rule Zimbabwe forever. Dictatorships are tumbling everywhere in the world, but Mugabe firmly believes that his dictatorship is made of sterner stuff and will weather any storm; his mentors such as Gaddafi may fall by the wayside, but he will soldier on because his dictatorship is of a different genre, one that was built to defy all odds. Little does he know that the day of reckoning is coming.

These harrowing stories that we read every day are only the tip of an iceberg. In every nook and cranny there is an outcry about abuses at the hands of Zanu-PF. The malevolent party goes to great lengths to keep a hush over its misdemeanours, which is why foreign journalists are rigorously vetted and those suspected of objective reporting are jettisoned. Good reports are those who cover up for Zanu-PF. For that reason numerous cases of human rights violations go unreported as people are afraid of reporting abuses.

What we as Zimbabweans need to realise is that we are our own liberators. All the countries that have so far succeeded in shaking the dictators off their backs have done it from their own initiatives. We should heed the call for mass action and change our lives for the better. Those in the armed forces should take a leaf from their counterparts in Egypt and Libya. Many soldiers and policemen in these countries were quick to defect and join the uprisings in their countries, thus giving the revolution a boost. Government ministers and diplomats publicly joined the revolution and denounced their leaders, but that was because the scales were clearly tipped in favour of the protesters. It should be no different in Zimbabwe. In fact press reports have suggested that some cabinet ministers and members of the armed forces indicated beforehand that they plan to defect.

Every country finds itself in its own special situation. By it’s very nature, Zimbabwe will find it difficult to sustain its protests, which is why a helping hand from the international community will come in handy. Zimbabwe does not have dense population concentrations, which makes it easy for the government to quell protests. Besides, the sheer brutality of the armed forces makes protests a daunting prospect for most people. Already we read that the protest planned for the beginning of February has been a flop as the security forces made an easy job of dispersing the would-be protesters. The international community will play a critical role if it urges the government to exercise restraint in dealing with the protesters, and at the same time expose abuse cases. Unlike Libyan protesters who declined external assistance in dealing with their dictator, Zimbabweans will welcome any king of assistance with open arms, and will be pleased to hear that all possible options will be on the table.

Zimbabweans should not be discouraged by the failed attempt to protest. They should regroup, go back to the drawing board, and plan better protests. They should not give up where their lives are concerned. It may take ages, but eventually Zanu-PF will be brought to its knees, and that day is not far off.

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