During the month of July, the government of Zimbabwe revealed more and more itsunwillingness to unite the country, as the levels of intolerance and selective and partisanapplication of the law continued unabated.
The highlight of the month was a video that went viral of one Abton Mashayanyika, an apostolic church bishop, who told Zanu PF supporters at a rally in Mberengwa that Advocate Nelson Chamisa and his family must be killed.
He said this as he explained the meaning of the‘down with so and so’ slogan. He said whenever this slogan was used against anyone it meant that that person had to die. He the chanted ‘down with Chamisa’ as someone in the crowd chipped in ‘and his children’.
Just when one expected the law to take its course by arresting Mashayanyika, nothing has happened.
It was only after renowned human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa wrote a letter demanding that the law enforcement agents investigate the bishop that the police responded by saying they had launched investigations into the matter.
To this day (at time of print, Mashayanyika, who is a well-known individual, is yet to be arrested despite the overwhelming evidence.
One just imagines what would have happened if such a slogan and its explanations was chanted by a member of the main opposition the CCC.
This is happening at a time when opposition leaders and activists and human and workers rights defenders are being persecuted and detained, simply because they speak out against government and the ruling party’s excesses.
President of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), Obert Masaraure has been in remand prison for more than a month on a charge of obstruction of justice. It is the state case that he committed the crime when he twitted about the situation of one of his colleagues who had been arrested.
This after Masaraure had been granted bail on another case in which he is accused of murder. Ironically this is a case from 2016 when a colleague of his fell to his death after which an inquest into the death pronounced there was no foul play.
Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislators Job Sikhala, Godfrey Sithole and 11 other activists have remained incarcerated, charged with inciting violence and obstructing the course of the law since early June when there were violent skirmishes in Nyatsime following the disappearance and the callous murder of Moreblessing Ali, a well-known CCC activist in Nyatsime.
In other disturbing reports the Director of Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) Farai Maguwu received death threats from Zanu PF Chegutu West Legislator Dexter Nduna on Twitter following the publication of a report titled ‘Zimbabwe’s Disappearing. Gold; Case of Mazowe and Penhalonga.’
In the report the CNRG details illicit financial flows zooming in on leakages of some 3 tonnes of gold valued at USD157million a month or USD1.9billion per year.
Speaking to ZPP about the threats ‘I was taken aback and surprised that someone would make death threats like that on twitter. When it comes to issues of natural resources, we will not be intimidated’, said Maguwu.
Opposition Zimbabwe Transformative Party (ZTP) leader Parere Kunyenzura was arrested during a prayer walk activity.
All this is happening as Zanu PF has accelerated its crackdown on opposition supporters in rural areas and targeting CSO leaders nationwide.
A few examples include, but are not limited to the following.
In Bikita South, one Masakadze, a Ward 2 councillor and a teacher at Zindove Primary School forced people to attend Zanu PF meetings in the area and said that if people did not vote for Zanu PF the party was going to unleash violence.
In Tsholotsho South, it was reported Zanu PF Vice President Kembo Mohadi met village heads and told them that in addition to voting for Zanu PF in the 2023 elections, they were supposed to use their influence to close the operating space for opposition parties when the campaigns officially start.
“You are supposed to work to ensure that no one in the opposition gets a chance to campaign in this area,” he said.
On 23 July, at Rukau Business Centre Ward 16 in Mutoko East, Zanu PF supporters attacked CCC activists who had gathered for their planning meeting for the memorial service of their late CCC colleague.
A mob of Zanu PF activists came from nowhere and started beating up people who were attending a CCC meeting leaving three injured and hospitalised at All Souls Mission Hospital. No arrests were made despite the cases being reported to the police and the names of the attackers being known.
A Chivhu councillor, Tafadzwa Mukandi, declared that: “If we see that you have gone against the ideologies of the party, we will definitely come for you. This party is the very party that enhanced the land reform programme from which you have benefitted.
When we then see that you are working against the gains of the liberation struggle, we will not tolerate that and we will definitely come for you … Some people died for this country, yet you want us to tolerate sell-outs.