Violence in Zimbabwe

Harare, Zimbabwe

The situation in Zimbabwe has become very oppressive - not universally, but in isolated areas - an indication perhaps of the opposition re-engaging in the high density areas for the impending presidential (and possibly parliamentary) elections next year.

This time round though, it would appear that some of the opposition activists have decided to use violence themselves. Although understandable, it is worrying to consider the consequences of their actions which have not been particularly disciplined or well thought out. The police and army here are bad at the best of times - now with the "justification" of avenging their own injured we could expect to see even more aggravated assault.
The situation in Zimbabwe has become very oppressive - not universally, but in isolated areas - an indication perhaps of the opposition re-engaging in the high density areas for the impending presidential (and possibly parliamentary) elections next year.

This time round though, it would appear that some of the opposition activists have decided to use violence themselves. Although understandable, it is worrying to consider the consequences of their actions which have not been particularly disciplined or well thought out. The police and army here are bad at the best of times - now with the "justification" of avenging their own injured we could expect to see even more aggravated assault.

The recent injuries to activists are reminiscent of the extreme violence we experienced around the 2000 elections. It would seem that the Mugabe regime feels it has nothing to lose as far as the international media is concerned. International governments continue to fund humanitarian needs regardless of how badly the government performs - especially considering how often the crisis is self-inflicted. The zim police and army and media have the local population either in fear, in prison or in the dark - so the local front is pretty much under control from their perspective. These guys are now extremely experienced at getting away with murder, intimidation and electoral fraud.

Many people compare Zimbabwe with Rwanda, Sudan etc and categorise us as a bad example of African Europa glossary">governance

, but not the worst. The number of people killed as a result of political violence ranks very low in these kinds of comparisons. The tragedy here is that our losses are mounting in ways that are not seen as "newsworthy" ie not bloody and graphic enough. Escalating death rates from preventable diseases like HIV, malaria, cholera etc are a direct result of bad governance and skewed priorities. Somehow we have to be able to pin this abrogation of responsibility squarely on the Mugabe government's chest. Education has taken a terrible knock - undoing much of the gains of the 80s and 90s. Teachers were directly targeted because they were seen as agents for opposition-led change.

How do our friends and colleagues work to expose all of this? That's a really hard question. In the end South Africa will be key to change in Zimbabwe.

My fear is that diplomats are looking for the most expeditious solution to the Zimbabwe crisis. Any patched together settlement between the big parties or any sign of a partially reformed zanu-pf or another big man to tidy things up. The opposition and some activist "What is civil society?", initial working definition adopted by the Centre for Civil Society at the London School of Economics">civil society organisations

here are increasingly allergic to criticism. If you're not for them then you're against them. The solution here is not necessarily the MDC sadly. I wish it were that simple. To help us work through these issues we need to open up the democratic space. Until the space exists there will be little opportunity to ask leaders tough questions and get a realistic measure of them.

A call for the repeal of the suffocating laws that prohibit freedom of movement and assembly - Public Order and Security Act (POSA); GenderIT.org and APC Internet Rights Charter">freedom of expression

- Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Broadcasting Services Act etc is a priority.

The dismantling of the National Youth Training programme that breeds a nasty strain of young thug is also important.

A transfer of funding from the Defence budget to the Health & Education budgets is essential.

If you have any way of helping bring attention to these issues, that's very useful. The blogosphere is a powerful medium. Most important is to help keep the faith alive that a healthy, multi-cultural, tolerant Zimbabwe is possible. Many of our challenges are your challenges - we're just further down the slippery slope than you are.

Kubatana.net
Kubatana.net blog

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