Zimbabwean regime brutal repression of dissent creating more liberation heroes

As the nation mourns the sad passing away, yesterday 15 January 2020, of one of the pioneer founding nationalist leaders of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle against colonial rule and oppression, Morton Paul Malianga, I could not help making parallels between this gallant hero’s impressive history – most particularly, his perilous struggle journey, and the painful persecution he suffered at the hands of the racist Ian Douglas Smith’s Rhodesia regime – with the inhuman and degrading repression today’s human rights defenders are enduring under a ‘free and independent’ Zimbabwe.

As I read through Malianga’s eulogy – which, was filled with acts of unquestioned patriotism and devotion towards the emancipation of the people of this great nation, yet in the face of unthinkable horrendous persecution, at the behest of the Rhodesian establishment, especially the constant arrests, and the subsequent ten years he served in prison – my thoughts immediately went straight to how exactly the same brazenly cold-hearted repression was being unleashed on such modern day liberation icons as Hopewell Chin’ono, Job Sikhala, Fadzayi Mahere, and so many others, who have been repeatedly arrested, merely for speaking out against state injustices, and corruption in the corridors of power.

The more I went through Malianga’s tribulations in his valiant walk to freedom, the history of other liberation struggle stalwarts flooded into my mind – and, the similarities between their stories, and what we are witnessing today in Zimbabwe, sent shivers down my spine.

I remembered how the late heroine, Sally Mugabe, was arrested and jailed for ostensibly insulting the queen of England, Elizabeth II – for her country’s role, as the colonial power, in the ruthless oppression of the people of this country.

At the same time, I tried to come up with a possible number of those arrested for insulting the president of a ‘free and independent’ Zimbabwe – however, I failed to reach a figure, as the numbers were staggering, and record-breaking.

What more, the laws being used in present day Zimbabwe to persecute and prosecute all those perceived to have either insulted the president, or published false information – as is presently the case with Chin’ono, Sikhala, and Mahere – have long been struck off, and declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court.

Nevertheless, even when those expressing their genuine dissatisfaction and anger towards the Zimbabwe regime’s rabid mismanagement, wanton corruption, and gross human rights violations are charged under existing laws, that does not justify the repression of the people – as, even under Rhodesia, those Sons and Daughters of the Soil, who were placed under restriction, arrested, detained, or jailed, were prosecuted for violating the laws of the country…yet, that could never justify, or sanitize, this barbaric repression of people, who were merely fighting for their rights, dignity, and equality in their own motherland.

Even the liberation struggle itself, was a violation of the law. That is why, other nationalist icons like Edson Zvobgo, would be so livid in their condemnation of what he termed, ‘socio-legal’ society – whereby, repressive and unjust laws were used to further oppress, marginalize, and disenfranchise the citizenry – which, is exactly what is being seen in an apparently ‘free and independent’ Zimbabwe.

When a country relies on unconstitutional laws to silence, intimidate, arrest, and imprison those who express their just demands for an end to high-level corruption, ruinous economic policies, unfair labour practices, and the general decay of civil rights – more so, whilst exercising these rights in accordance to constitutionally enshrined provisions, such as peaceful demonstrations, freedom of expression and freedom of the media, freedom of assembly and association (even in line with COVID-19 regulations) – then, what difference is there with what people like Malianga, were subjected to under the Rhodesia regime?

In fact, could we not go further and say that, the Rhodesian scenario was slightly better, as racist authorities faithfully enforced existing oppressive laws to the letter – whilst, on the other hand, our own ‘free and independent’ Zimbabwe government, goes as far as violating the constitution, and using laws that have been declared non-existent by the highest court in the land.

In other words, the people of Zimbabwe can justifiably say that, the country has gone beyond being a mere ‘socio-legal’ establishment – as, was the case with the Rhodesians – but, rather had morphed into a completely ‘lawless’ society.

As the nation mourns the great pioneer founding nationalist hero, Morton Paul Malianga – and, read his brave history, especially the torment and suffering he was subjected to, by the Rhodesia regime, in his noble quest for Uhuru for the people of Zimbabwe – let us always remember that, such persecution and gallantry is what made him a hero of heroes, and as such, we need to draw parallels with what today’s human rights defenders are going through under what was supposed to be a ‘free and independent’ Zimbabwe.

It is clear that, we are witnessing history being written, and repeated, right in front of our eyes – as, most of us, who had not been born yet, or were still too young, in the time of Malianga, and other brave Sons and Daughters of the Soil, in the 1960s and 70s, who endured immeasurable cruelty and heinous repression, in their fight for a just society – can witness the same events unfolding, today, as a new generation of heroes and heroines is created, by the Zimbabwe regime, as it seeks to replicate what occured under Rhodesia…but, only this time around, going ten steps further in the wickedness, thereby creating more heroes than what Smith ever managed.

A few years from now, when a genuinely free and independent Zimbabwe has been born – whereby, each and every citizen can share equitably in the vast national cake, their rights, dignity, and wellbeing respected with sacrosanctity, and with a government that is truly ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ – the next generation will also read the gallant stories of today’s Son and Daughters of the Soil, who soldiered on in the perilous struggle against a corrupt, ruinous, and brutal Zimbabwe opportunistic ruling elite, which responded with cold-hearted ruthlessness, but who never gave up, until a new Zimbabwe for all was born.


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