Despite suffering savage beatings, ongoing harassment by authorities and being locked up for fighting for change in the country over the past few weeks, protesting democracy activists say they are ready to die for the cause and will not rest until President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF either shapes up or ships out.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News yesterday, mobilisation committee member for pressure group Tajamuka/Sesijikile, Happymore Chidziva, said even though the government was ratcheting up its “persecution” of dissenting voices, they had vowed “to die on our feet” until Zanu PF heard the cries of long-suffering Zimbabweans.
“We are very committed to the struggle and even prepared to die. We are not intimidated by these arrests and we know these arrests are meant to instil fear in us. But no amount of thuggery or fear will deter us,” he said.
Chidziva’s came after police arrested and put in the slammer Tajamuka/Sesijikile spokesperson, Promise Mkwananzi, on Friday — on allegations of causing public violence on June 16 this year.
Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo has also warned Zimbabweans that the government will deal ruthlessly with all acts of resistance and mass action in the country.
In addition, panicking authorities have also since indicated that they are even prepared to set the military on the people, as well as hunt and clamp down on activists operating on social media, who are agitating for change.
During last week’s riots in Harare and the subsequent stunningly successful nationwide stay-away, hundreds of activists were either arrested, mauled by police dogs or left for dead by government agents, as the clamour for a better Zimbabwe reached a crescendo.
“Our collective resolve and determination has shaken the rogue regime, leaving it in a state of shock and panic.
“The brutal response by the regime to our cause on the #Shutdown is a depiction of the level of fear within the once mighty Zanu PF. The regime has never been so afraid and overwhelmed by fear like what we witnessed last week,” Chidziva said.
The MDC youth leader added that all “patriotic Zimbabweans should remain resolute as the Zanu PF regime is now on a knife edge and teetering on the brink of collapse”.
“To all arrested patriots, it is only such collective resolve and determination that will bring the Zimbabwe which we have yearned for for years. This is the only remedy available to us for the regime to respect and listen to the calls by citizens.
Instead of trying to silence the masses through brutality and arrests, the regime should be establishing mechanisms to confront the difficulties and poverty facing our people.
“I want to express solidarity with Zimbabweans across the country who have fallen victim to the cowardly and arbitrary State arrests. This is the highest form of State persecution and has to be condemned at all levels.
“Among many patriots who have fallen victim to state persecution, I am very disturbed by the arrest of Mkwanazi and the denial of his justice in the courts at the weekend,” Chidziva said.
On Wednesday, Zimbabweans staged a mega countrywide general strike which shook Zanu PF to its core, with a seemingly staggered Mugabe saying dejectedly on Friday that the “demonstrators do not understand”.
From Harare to Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo, Kwekwe, Beitbridge, Bindura, Chipinge and other smaller towns, all the major urban areas resembled haunted ghost towns as Zimbabweans heeded the social media-driven call to shutdown the country for the day.
Even the normally bustling Mbare marketplace in the capital had an eerie feel to it.
Many businesses, including banks and large retail shops — particularly in high density suburbs — also closed their doors for the day, with very few commuter omnibuses on the roads to ferry travellers.
In the meantime, Pastor Evan Mawarire, who leads the #ThisFlag movement, has urged Zimbabweans to send another resounding message to authorities this coming Wednesday and Thursday.
“In the face of intimidation, abductions and arrests, we are determined to be builders of a better Zimbabwe than the one we have #ThisFlag,” he wrote on his twitter account as Zimbabweans brace for another shutdown this week.
“Citizens there is no going back on #ShutDownZimbabwe2016, on Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 July. This government cannot threaten us and think it’s ok, #ThisFlag,” Mawarire added.
Meanwhile, Mugabe and his senior Zanu PF colleagues have blamed a so-called ‘‘third force’’ for the growing unrest in the country, further angering many Zimbabweans who feel insulted by the claims.
Another political activist, Patson Dzamara, also told the Daily News yesterday that Mugabe and Zanu PF should prepare for their exit from power, that the ongoing incidences of police brutality were giving people more energy to fight the regime.
“Whatever the security agents are trying to do people are now ready. The ongoing harassment by police is fuelling people to fight for a better Zimbabwe. The police’s actions are giving Zimbabweans more energy to demand their freedom,” he said.