Monday, 30 June 2008
CISA SPECIAL FEATURE: Comrade Bob is a Despot from Hell!
By Purity Kiogora
On Friday, Zimbabwe went ahead with a sham presidential run-off election in which President Robert Mugabe, now a global outcast, was the only candidate. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was forced out of the race by a carefully choreographed orgy of state terror.A group of Zimbabweans visiting Kenya recently recounted to CISA the wanton state violence unleashed by the Mugabe regime on opposition leaders, human rights activists, journalists and supporters of Tsvangirai.Silas Gwese of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) contested the March 29 parliamentary election and lost. Since then, he has witnessed political violence against his family and in his constituency.“I lost the parliamentary election to my surprise. Since then ZANU-PF militia have been hunting for me. They came to my house looking for me but luckily my family and I were out. I had been warned that they wanted me dead or alive and so I left before they came.”The state hoodlums petrol-bombed the politician’s house and he lost all personal belongings. “Up to now I am on the run. Four of my councilors’ houses were also burnt down as well. Some councilors are in hiding and others were forced to ‘repent’ and join ZANU-PF.”Members of Gwese’s family were not spared either. “I rescued my father, who is 78 years old, together with my cousins who had been beaten and left for dead because I support the opposition.”Ahead of the run-off, Mugabe deployed militiamen and the army in the rural areas to intimidate people to vote for him. As a result, over 30,000 people were displaced, said Gordom Moyo, director of Bulawayo Agenda. “The whole idea is for Mugabe to win the run off. He is not prepared to hand over power to anyone who is not ZANU-PF. He is not ready to let the people of Zimbabwe vote their own choice.”Moyo pointed out that Mugabe had launched war against his own people, an bservation shared by Takura Zhangazha, national director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) in Zimbabwe. “There is extreme political violence in the country in pursuit of reversal of the people’s verdict.”The regime is rabidly against independent media, having crippled all media outlets except the state-owned ones. Zhangazha said seven journalists who were deemed to be sympathetic towards the opposition or civil society groups were suspended from the state broadcaster.MISA officials have witnessed the suffering of many innocent people around the country. “We have visited tortured people in hospitals and seen their trauma, but we have also witnessed their determination to vote against the government,” Zhangazha said.As part of the plot to disenfranchise the people, the government stopped the opposition from campaigning and civil societies from assemblies. International media cannot access Zimbabwe.Maureen Kademaunga of Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) was arrested for organizing a meeting. She was denied food and access to a lawyer during her incarceration. Kademaunga was later released without charge.“This is what they do all the time they arrest people without charge. They distract your meetings and make sure you do not go on with your business. They also question journalists and civil society groups as they arrive at the international airport all the time because they are worried that the situation on the ground will be reported to the world.”Freelance journalist Frank Chikowore has been arrested on several occasions in connection with his work despite being accredited by the government. In the latest episode, Chikowore was held for 17 days.“For the first seven days I was not given access to food and water. Thereafter I was confined to remand prison with hardcore criminals. I was accused of rigging elections in favor of the opposition leader Morgan Tsvingirai.”Why does Mugabe want to rule over Zimbabweans against their will? Does he think he owns them?