The Zimbabwean government, backed into a desperate corner by a growing groundswell of protests, lashed out violently last week brutally crushing a “prayer meeting” planned by a coalition of civic organisations inlcuding the opposition. The fateful prayer meeting, slated for the Zimbabwe Grounds last week in the historically significant Highfields suburb in Harare had been planned by the Save Zimbabwe coalition failed to even take off. In a country with repressive media laws, it was the bloggers and online news outlets that clued the world into what went on in Zimbabwe.
The media in Zimbabwe is owned and operated by the Mugabe regime. So Sunday’s aftermath, aka how the events are being portrayed, is in the hands of the State. Zimbabweans, since last night, are being force fed a diet of MDC thuggery, non-attendance and opposition violence.
This makes me wonder when the pro-democracy movement will get its act together in terms of creating its own robust media and information response unit. The majority of Zimbabweans don’t get satellite tv so Zimbabwe’s prominence on the BBC last night is neither here nor there for those who want to get the real story.
This man, Gift Tandare, was killed by Zimbabwe's police during skirmishes before the rally. On top of that, mourners were shot at his funeral a few days later. Now there are reports that Gift's family has been forced to exhume his body as the police took it away from them. In her ode to Gift posted on Black Looks, Isabella Matambanadzo observes:
He was on his way to a prayer meeting. He was committed to joining other Christians in collective worship for some respite from the political and economic problems facing his country. His crime: being an activist for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC. Rest in Peace Gift Tandare. Zorora Murugare.
For the first time since the formation of the MDC seven years ago, Morgan Tsvangirai, the party's founding leader was the victim of brutal attempt on his life. Quoting an eyewitness account of Tsvangirai's beating, Zimpundit described the beating thus;
A crack Commando unit based at the army’s Cranborne Barracks in Harare was responsible for the brutal torture of Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders on Sunday, according to a police officer who witnessed the assault.
The police officer, who is based at Machipisa Police Station in Highfield suburb, said Tsvangirai and the other opposition leaders were tortured for close to two hours by drugged soldiers disguised as police officers.
In an interview with ZimOnline on Tuesday, the police officer who cannot be named for security reasons, said: “I have been in the police force for three years, and I have been involved in the assault of suspects.
“But what I saw on Sunday was not assault. It was attempted murder, especially on Tsvangirai, Madhuku and Kwinjeh (Grace, the MDC deputy secretary for international affairs)”
Tsvangirai fainted three times during the murderous assault.
Nearly a week later, a frail Tsvangirai was discharged from hospital and is recuperating at home. Another first was seen in the aftermath of the arrest and torture of the MDC leadership; leaders of the splintered party's two factions were seen for the first time since the party's split in 2005 showing overtures of opposing the Mugabe regime as a united front,
It appeared most of the opposition supporters wished the solidarity and the unity of their leaders in court yesterday could be transferred outside the courtroom and the prison walls. They appeared to say the two would do the nation a lot of good if they could forge a formidable unit outside the courtroom by making sure there is one united MDC.
Twice, Tsvangirai failed to sit up. Twice, Mutambara, who appeared not to have been seriously assaulted, helped him, patting his shoulder for encouragement.
More than twice, the two exchanged whispers and ended up smiling and shaking hands.
If only it could be more than a courtroom gesture, the smiles from onlookers in the courtroom seemed to suggest.
In the ancillary discussion that has developed in the blogosphere Mugabe has not only been villified for his inhumane treatment of his subjects, legitimate questions about Mugabe's place in history and legitimacy of post colonial Africa have been posed in posts like this one by Chippla,
Zimbabwe could rightly be viewed as a textbook case of all that could possibly go wrong when a freedom fighter mutates into a despot. While this Wikipedia article states that the Zimbabwean economy shrunk by 4.7% in 2006, a newsclip on Al Jazeera English television indicates that the Zimbabwean economy could expect to shrink by roughly 7.7% this year. Amidst the turmoil of political and economic uncertainty, Robert Mugabe sits tight in Harare clearing himself of any blame for what is currently going on.
Mugabe, it seems, couldn't give a damn about Zimbabweans. He is only interested in power. A onetime hero, it appears, will in all likelihood be confined to the pages of history befitting of tyrants and malevolent dictators. Yet the ultimate tragedy is this: why does Mugabe, in falling from grace to despondency, take the entire Zimbabwean nation down with him. Why?