Big Brother gone mad
Tinashe Lukas Chimedza
It is a chillingly detailed report, with colorful pictures, and is full of minute details from all over the country. Big Brother has been furiously at work mounting constant surveillance of citizens.
The report is deliberately titled “opposition forces” and attempts to build an arbitrary case that the “Broad Alliance” civil society and political formations are engaged in illegal activities. The introduction easily betrays the objective of the report which is to prove the theory of an all powerful ‘western-funded and unconstitutional force’ being funded to ‘topple a legitimate government’.
The report reveals a nervous state security apparatus which has been wielded to deny people their rights. The report is deliberately crafted in an attempt to de-legitimize the pro-democracy movement in Zimbabwe as a “western creation” which is a threat to the national interest and must therefore be thwarted by all and any means necessary.
The report goes to lofty heights to make a casual link between the pro-democracy movement and the violence that has occurred in Zimbabwe, especially the bombings and what the report calls ‘criminal activities’. The pictures of western diplomats at the Rotten Row Courts are generously and colorfully used to support the theory that these diplomats are engaged in unconstitutional trickery to undermine the government.
The report goes on to disproportionate lengths to argue that the presence of western diplomats at the courts show that these diplomats are actively engaged in some clandestine activity to support and aid the unconstitutional removal of a legitimate government. The report boldly concludes that: “It remains a fact that the MDC inclined Save Zimbabwe Campaign also known as the Broad Alliance is a puppet grouping of Western powers who have since stepped up their efforts to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.”
In an attempt to prove its theories, which it fails, the report betrays a government that has become paranoid. Such a government searches for enemies in very corner, some are even created.
The judiciary is not spared either. The report concludes that “whilst arrests are made, there appears to be no support from the judiciary who continue to either release accused persons on either free or make them pay very small bail, allowing them to go out and continue with their illegal activities.”
This is unsettling. An executive branch of government, the police in this case, which attacks the judiciary, is a terrifying executive. It is an executive which threatens the separation of powers and the checks and balances that are supposed to exist within a constitutional government. The report intends to pile pressure on the judiciary.
First there must be a presumption of innocence and secondly the prosecution, especially in criminal cases like the ones raised in this report, has to prove its case “beyond reasonable doubt”. If the prosecution fails to meet that standard, the courts have no other basis and cannot create any other basis upon which to convict the accused. The courts are obliged to set the accused free. These are simple but robust standards that protect individual fundamental rights and freedoms declared in Chapter III of the Zimbabwean constitution.
Furthermore, the courts of law are structurally and principally organised in such ways that where the prosecution is not happy with the decision of a lower court, they can appeal to higher courts. Often, in cases where the accused people are let free, the prosecution does not appeal because the prosecution is perfectly aware that such appeals will not be entertained by the higher courts. The appeals will be dismissed as frivolous. It will be a monumental sham were the courts of law to hurriedly hear cases, ignore these simple standards, convict the accused and sentence them. The courts will become “Kangaroo courts”. It will be a most despicable affront to the common law ever carried out by a government occurring in the watch of the chief legal officer of the country, the Attorney-General.
Frankly, Big Brother has gone insane. The report reveals a massive effort by the security apparatus to mount continuous surveillance on citizens engaged in perfectly legal and constitutional exercise of their rights and liberties. The report reveals what cars they were driving, the color, the plate numbers of the cars and what time they arrived and left at each of the places that were being monitored. This is intelligence gathering gone haywire.
The state is now so intrusive, almost omnipotent that one wonders whether to sleep at all at night. The government security apparatus records with amazing detail what was going on around the country, an hour-by-hour and day-by-day account. It will not be fanciful to conclude that with this security apparatus, with this amazing capacity, nothing could have been known about the bombings prior to their happening.
The report is weakened by what it does not reveal. The report does not reveal how, with such a capacity, the government can fail to track and apprehend, for prosecution, suspects that petrol bombed MDC activists like Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya. The report does not reveal why the people, who cowardly brutalised Hon Nelson Chamisa, while on national duty, have not been tracked down. The report displays the pictures of police officers who were badly burnt but does not show pictures of the charred remains of Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya as they were left to burn to death with the police only hundred meters away.
What about Mathew Pfebve, who was battered to death at Nyakatondo Village in Mukumbura? What about Takundwa Chipunza killed after being tortured in Chenjerai Hunzvi’s surgery? What about the Lameck Chemvura beaten, laced and thrown out of a moving train? What of Batanai Hadzizi murdered in cold blood at the University of Zimbabwe? The state seems to have a short, selective and deliberately forgetful memory, we do not.
The report does not reveal how it is possible that the people who bombed the Daily News offices, its Printing Press and the offices of Radio Voice of the People have never been brought before the courts? The report does not reveal why the people who brutalised Morgan Tsvangirai, Lovemore Madhuku, Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai Holland have not been at least charged.
The report does not tell us that the so called ‘opposition forces’ obtained High Court Orders to have their rallies which were shamefully disregarded by the police. The report does reveal that people have been indiscriminately arrested, that some have been adducted and not seen for days, that some have had their limbs and skulls badly brutalized while in police custody and no one has been charged and or prosecuted. At the end of the report names of accused people are paraded for the offences they allegedly committed.
Nothing in the report is said of arrested people being denied medical attention only to secure it through High Court orders, of lawyers denied access to their clients. Some like Harrison Nkomo, of Mtetwa and Associates were assaulted inside Harare Central Police Station for seeking, rightfully and legally, access to their clients.
The report also reveals that the police has been arresting people for distributing flyers to meetings and charged them. Since when has it become a criminal activity to advertise a meeting? The report claims that Morgan Tsvangirai ‘was assaulted while not in police custody’ and as for the hapless Lovemore Madhuku, the report claims the police used minimum force to arrest him, which just happened to result in a few broken limbs. This report is a callous attempt to portray the victims as the perpetrators.
There is something that encouraged me in that report. The report clearly details like never before the demands that Zimbabweans are making and how thousands of people have been attending meetings called by the churches and various civil society and political formations in Zimbabwe. One poster, the report details, boldly sated: “We demand jobs”, with 80% unemployment rate this will only be logical demand.
Another poster demanded “Pay the Police”. Yet another one stated that ‘We demand a New Constitution’, the one we have is a mutilated Lancaster relic and such as this will be perfectly a logical demand.
But hands up to the WOZA activists, they had one poster that said ‘Choose Love Over Hate, from WOZA with Love’. The report reveals that thousands have been attending meetings across the country addressed by pro-democracy movement leaders about the state of the economy, the break down in the rule of law, the need for a democratic constitution and a free and fair election.
The report brings out into the national, regional and international arena, through official means and communication, the demands that Zimbabwean citizens have been making. Here, in official government reports are the legitimate demands that ordinary people have been making. This report excellently documents what Zimbabweans have been demanding: a new constitution, better life, jobs, a better education system, and the repealing of repressive legislation like POSA and AIPPA.
This reports outlines in a fashion never before seen the demands of a people held captive by a repressive government and the level of disaffection and social protest against that repression. The report is classic in its value of spreading what we Zimbabweans have been struggling for, a new and democratic constitution, a better life, the protection of our liberties and rights and a better managed economy.
It is perfectly natural and expected that the state be concerned with violence and the breakdown of the rule of law. It is a constitutional obligation that has to be fulfilled. The constitution and the statutes demand that this be done for the sake of our rights, liberties and prosperity. Far from this the government must ask itself why thousands of its citizens, especially the young, are now seduced to what the report details as the ‘regime change’ agenda. Considering what the report reveals it might be a perfectly natural thing to demand.
Tinashe Lukas Chimedza can be contacted on e-mail: Tinashe.firstname.lastname@example.org
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