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One year on after the violent anti-sanctions petitions signing
George Hukuimwe
March 23, 2012

Mutare, a quiet city woke up busy one Saturday, the 19th of March 2011. Streets were buzzing with people of all walks of life. As usual, people had come for their mid month shopping. Shops, banks and all businesses were open. Money was changing hands in different transactions and people were happily enjoying themselves. Some were chatting jocundly on cellphones as some sat on street pavements to enjoy life in the beautiful sunshine city. Ranks alive, kombis hooting and rank marshals yelling on top of their voices for customers.

Some vehicles with wedding balloons bellowed across the streets and people happily waved back in celebration with the newlyweds. Such is the happy nature and ubuntu of us Zimbos. We enjoy our lives no matter things are hard. In the middle of a crisis, we have hope for the future, hope for tomorrow, hope for our children, hope for our communities and hope for our country. We are born hopeful. We are the masters and architects of hope. Though we walk on empty stomachs, unemployed, jobless, homeless, penniless, hope carries us to see tomorrow.

In the hustle and bustle of life on such a beautiful day that the Lord had made for his peaceful people, suddenly, in the twinkle of an eye, like weather, all things changed. There was commotion everywhere, confusion, pandemonium and gnashing of teeth. The chaos was followed with looting of vendors- wares which included cigarettes, juice cards and even ice creams and plastic drinks by the peace breakers. It was the beginning of a violent attack! From where on such a beautiful day?

Screeching sound of cars taking off with high speeds increasingly filled the streets. People ran, dashed, dived, and bolted into all directions. Pregnant mothers, children, toddlers, disabled, the blind and loving partners strolling in the streets were not spared. It was like a nuclear bomb had been dropped in Hiroshima. Shops, banks and businesses immediately closed and customers were hurriedly pushed outside.

The cause of the commotion, ZANU PF-s ruthless, drugged, nipper drunk, violent militia, youths and bogus war veterans were driving and coercing people to assemble at Meikles Park (centre of Mutare city) to sign the anti-sanctions petition. Whose petition? What petition? What sanctions?

Where was the draconian POSA and AIPPA to restrain these marauding people? Where was the brutal police force to enforce law and order? Where were the black boots to boot these lawless people? Where were the water cannons with irritating water? Where were the police dogs and horses? Where were the AK 47 riffles? Where was the live ammunition to silence the ring leaders? Where were the handcuffs and leg irons to cuff these people? Where were the police buttons to strike the heads of these people? Where were the dark glasses? Where were the men in suits? Where were the political activists- masquerading as the national army? Where was the red barrette?

Were these people ever followed and dragged naked, in the chilly midnight out of their homes because they had caused public disorder? Were they ever kidnapped, tortured and forced to disappear for subversive literature? Were they charged with trying to remove a constitutionally constituted government? Were they denied access to bail, food, legal representation and put in solitary confinements? Was there any law or the law was suspended briefly until the petition had been signed?

Such was the situation in Mutare on that day. It reminds us of where we have come, where we are and where we are going. It reminds us what happened at a rally in Nyamaropa where Hon Mwonzora and others were arrested for holding a peaceful constituency development meeting. It flashes in our mind what happened in Chimanimani, Chitungwiza and other areas where rallies were violently disturbed by these senseless youths.

Do we forget what happened in Harare on one quiet day when the same people in the name of Chipangano and Hupfumi kuVadiki ran amok and empowered themselves with peoples- wares in the full glare of the police? Do we forget what happened in 2010 as innocent people were killed, maimed and jailed for having spoken their minds at COPAC meetings? Do we forget what happened to gallant sons and daughters who were brutalised, mutilated and killed for defending their democratic rights in violent June 2008 sham election? Do we forget our mothers, sisters and school girls who were gang raped in bases resulting in fatherless kids we are keeping?

Do we ever forget the violent hondo yeminda skirmishes and the empowerment drive where productive industries became owl bases? Do we have amnesia on what happened to poor Zimbos in 2005 when Operation Murambavanhu coded Murambatsvina was brutally implemented? Do we turn our backs on the violent 2002 election where democracy champions like Chiminya and many others were set alight with petrol because they wanted change? Do we snub why Gukuravanhu coded Gukurahundi left permanent scars on our society? Do we turn our minds off on why Joshua Nkomo (who was later declared a nation hero at his death) wore a dress, duke, lip ice, stiletto-shoe; leather hand bag just to be like a cross-border woman to evade the regime-s arrest?

Lest we forget, these are the same dividers dividing us today. History has proved beyond any doubt that violence has never been perpetrated by the oppressed. Let us be mindful that the devil can read verses from the bible and intends to go to heaven but he knows he will never be in heaven. Violent people are never peace makers but they lead the organ of National Healing and Reconciliation in their offices. What healing when we were short sleeved and brutalised? What reconciliation when ruthless people made Ndira-s children and many others orphans? What reconciliation without justice and restitution?

The promise of independence has not been fulfilled in the past three decades the cabal was in power. Today, Zimbabwe has become poorer; there is starvation, disease, non-provision of essential services than what we got at independence from the former white regime. There is ever increasing repression and many have been brutally murdered. Through corruption, nepotism, mismanagement and downright stealing of the wealth of the masses, they have made us see the face of misery. The current regime has greatly impoverished our once rich country that we are now nothing but beggars living below the poverty datum line. As we thirsty to change the illicit regime in an election, we are labelled agents and puppets of the west as they forget that they too are puppets of the east. We are struck, harassed, assaulted, intimidated, and arbitrarily jailed in bloody elections as we challenge these despots. Why?

The best thing to be done is to go back to the definition of "rule of law". Rule of law does not mean ruling above the law. Rule of law does not mean clinging to power through corruption and deceit. Rule of law does not mean silencing and brutalising of the dissent. Rule of law does not mean inducing terror, coercing and slaughtering innocents. Rule of law means everyone is equal before the law.

I agree with US Ambassador to Uganda (1973) H.E. Thomas Patrick Melady, in his communiqué to the USA government; he described the carnibalist Idi Amin-s regime as, 'racist, erratic and unpredictable, brutal, inept, bellicose, irrational, ridiculous and militaristic.-

It is time to be brave my people. It is time to look ahead to our promising future. It is time to reshape our destiny and proclaim our golden victory. It is time to reclaim what is ours that was lost. Now is the time to open our mouths and speak out loudest. It is time to boldly face our common known dangers. It is time to be strong and remain focused in this cold winter of our democratic hardships. This is the time to say NO to violence by changing our ways of thinking. Let us be positive.

Let us brave once more as we wade in the election currents, and endure what heavy storms that may come. We will win. We will reclaim our diamonds, we will reclaim our farms, we will reclaim our education, we will reclaim our jobs, we will reclaim our businesses, we will reclaim our resources, and we will reclaim our liberty, dignity and values. If we are united, factories will once again open, the economy will bloom, the country will prosper and milk and honey will once more flow in our promised great nation of Zimbabwe. If we don-t venture, we gain nothing. We must take the greatest risk of life to fight for our democratic rights and space; little risks yield nothing. It is true that what you wish is what you get. It is better to die in the sustained efforts defending our rights and democracy than to die from fear of not even venturing. Together, let-s be united and finish off what we started.

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