THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign

  • A tyranny in tatters
    The Times (UK)
    March 13, 2007

    View Save Zimbabwe Campaign index of images and articles

    Even public prayer is now a political offence in Zimbabwe. A rally called by church, opposition and civic groups to pray for an end to Zimbabwe’s deepening political and economic crisis was thwarted by police riot squads, who shot and beat those taking part. Dozens of opposition figures were arrested, including Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic Change. Many were beaten and allegedly tortured in police custody; Mr Tsvangirai is reported to be in "bad shape" after passing out three times. Far from being ashamed of such police brutality, the Mugabe Government appears keen to publicise the torture: the beaten men were put on parade at the police station to intimidate Mr Mugabe’s courageous opponents.

    They have not been intimidated, however. "Our just, legitimate and peaceful struggle will not cease," a member of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign said. They must be prepared for repression, however. The worse things grow, the more the elderly dictator fears that the tipping point is approaching when even his closest party cronies and the apparatus of repression will turn against him. His tactic, common to all tyrants who fear a loss of control, is to redouble repression and step up arbitrary intimidation in order to cower those struggling simply to survive. The crackdown on the MDC and other open opposition groups is aimed just as much at wavering police recruits, angry civil servants, pampered "veterans" who can no longer be insulated from the country’s economic collapse and even stalwarts of Zanu (PF), whose support he still needs to maintain himself in power.

    Delusion, however, now appears to be the leit-motiv of Mr Mugabe’s rule. As the country burns under an inflation rate of 1,700 per cent — the highest in the world — and 80 per cent unemployment, the 83-year-old leader fiddles with constitutional niceties, looking at ways to prolong his term until 2010 and expressing his humble willingness to serve again "if asked". Zimba-bweans unable to find work or feed their families must wonder why he bothers with this charade. No one is under any illusion that Mr Mugabe is anything other than a vindictive tyrant, determined to remain in power for life. For him, a voluntary surrender of power is unthinkable.

    The weekend attacks on the Opposition have been condemned by Britain as "violent and unwarranted". Washington has echoed this, citing "brutal and unwarranted" actions against people exercising democratic rights. But, as usual, there has been embarrassed silence from Zimbabwe’s neighbours. And as Ghana’s President Kufuor begins a state visit to London to celebrate 50 years of independence, the African Union, whose presidency Ghana holds this year, has said nothing about the terrible record of Zimbabwe, also a former British colony, since independence.

    Mr Mugabe relishes criticism in the West to bolster his claims that British colonialism is to blame for his country’s ills, but condemnation by fellow Africans, especially by South Africa, may dent his puffed-up amour-propre. Zimbabwe is no longer a member of the Commonwealth. But as the other 53 members celebrate Commonwealth Day, they should not ignore its suffering. The Save Zimbabwe Campaign needs help, before it, and the country, are suffocated by a monstrous tyranny.

    Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.