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Archive for March, 2011

Perpetual Fear: Impunity and Cycles of Violence in Zimbabwe

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Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 by Elizabeth Nyamuda

The power-sharing government in Zimbabwe has been expected to put an end to human rights violations, restore rule of law and cease politically motivated violence in the country. However, two years have since passed since its formation and human rights violations remain a grave problem in Zimbabwe. In February this year, police raided and arrested a gathering of social and human rights activists who were discussing the political events in Egypt. Some were allegedly beaten and tortured and were charged with treason. This incident is a true reflection of the violations of human rights in Zimbabwe.

Human Rights Watch published a 40-page report, “Perpetual Fear: Impunity and Cycles of Violence in Zimbabwe.” This reports indicates that violence and human rights violations are being fueled by the unity government’s failure to investigate and prosecute cases. Most of these cases of abductions, killings and torture are crimes that occurred in the 2008 elections and little or no accountability has been done.

The Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration, which was set up after the formation of the unity government, does not seem to be achieving its mandate.

“The mandate of the Organ is to lay the foundations for a society characterised by mutual respect, tolerance, and development where individuals enjoy the freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution. The mission of the Organ is “to heal the wounds caused by generations of injustice, intolerance, exclusion and impunity so as to reconcile Zimbabweans to become One Nation focused on social, political, cultural, and economic development in order to improve the quality of life for all.” On 5 January 2011, a ten member team of artists performing a drama called “Rituals” based on national healing were arrested at Nhedziwa Business Centre in Cashel Valley and detained for two nights before being released. They were being charged with “criminal nuisance” under the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform) Act. According to filed papers, the group allegedly “intentionally and unlawfully made noise or disturbance and beating drums in a public place performing drama reminiscent of political disturbances of June 2008 elections. The drama incited the affected members of the public to revive their differences”.

Human Rights Watch, in their report, calls on the unity government to take all necessary measures to end impunity by setting up an independent commission of inquiry with credible civil society panel members to investigate serious past human rights violations, including those committed during the 2008 election period. And to discipline or prosecute those responsible, regardless of their position or rank.

There’s no doubt that it’s time for real justice to be delivered in Zimbabwe.

But, where is this Real Change?

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Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 by Bev Clark

First it was near Glamis, then it was Zimbabwe Grounds, and then it was Budiriro 1 Shopping Centre. The MDC purports to be the party of Real Change. The only changes they’re making is the venues of their rallies. A friend of mine got a text message from the MDC in reply to her enquiry about whether last Sunday’s rally was actually going to happen . . . “no . . . i don’t think so”. Doesn’t fill you with much confidence does it?

Standing up for the arts in Zimbabwe

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Monday, March 28th, 2011 by Bev Clark

I’m feeling really proud of people in the art and culture community who have come out so publicly in support of Rooftop Promotions during their trials and tribulations with the Zimbabwe government who have been so set on silencing the arts.

Here are some of the solidarity messages that Rooftop got – together we can do more.

“We celebrate this judgment with Rooftop Promotions, the Rituals Cast and the artists in Zimbabwe in general and believe this will only help and enhance the development and promotion of arts and culture in Zimbabwe. Congratulations! Makorokoto! Amhlope! and look forward to the artists producing more creative work for the upliftment and betterment of Zimbabwe” – Elvas Mari – Director:- National Arts Council of Zimbabwe

“May this give you encouragement in your other projects that may help to move our country forward. Glory to God for Zimbabwe’s courts!” – Ray Mawerera – Words and Images

“Well, congratulations and makorokoto to you and the Rituals team – as well as your lawyers, of course! As you say, the actors’ acquittal on charges of causing a public nuisance was a predictable outcome – what other conclusion could the magistrate have come to? But the case illustrates the overzealous nature of those applying the rule of law in Zimbabwe and highlights the undemocratic and dangerous habit that has become normal practice in this country of depriving innocent citizens of their liberty even on the most flimsy accusations. In most democracies depriving citizens of their freedom – let alone their right to free expression – is an extreme step taken as a last resort to ensure the successful administration of justice.” – Andy Moyse -Project Coordinator , Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)

“Congratulations. This is our Zimbabwe, and that is what it does also”!  – Tsitsi Dangarembga – Novelist and Film maker

“I can only say Makorokoto Justice has been done.” – Marie – Luise Tebbe

“Makorokoto daves and all involved, gives a little hope for the judicial system.” – Alice Hamilton

“Congratulations – a victory for one is a victory for all. Enjoy! (and then move on to the next struggle with renewed energy and the knowledge that you are in the right!)” – Margaret Ling

“Congratulations. I said it was a waste of time and tax payers’ resources. Well done my brother. Pass my regards to the Rituals team! A victory for Rituals team is a victory for Africa!” – Karegwa Muchiri – All Africa Dance Festival – Kenya

“Good news indeed!” – Ms Tafadzwa R Muropa, Co-ordinator- Gender Alternatives Trust (GAT)

“Congratulations on the outcome of the courtcase!” – Laura Mackenzie Stuart, Scotland

“Makorokoto. The just always prevail. The truth remains just.” – Nicholas Moyo – Deputy Director:- National Arts Council of Zimbabwe

“Thanks to God that wisdom has prevailed over confusion! May there be more such outcomes. I am hoping that as painful as this experience was, the resulting good will be immeasurable – for your team members, for the police and other authorities who were involved, for Zimbabwe’s justice system, for the arts, and for our National Healing and Reconciliation process.” – Reverend Shirley DeWolf – Africa University

“This is the moment we have been all waiting for, the verdict is out! The Court has delivered justice in favour of freedom of artistic expression. the benchmark has been set. hence forth, we can not settle for less as far as demanding and defending the right to free creative expression.” – Josh Nyapimbi Country Rep Arterial Network

“Congratulation on acquittal of all artists Thank you for taking a brave stance in using theatre voice as a powerful communicating tool in the rural areas especially. The whole case shows there is a lot of paranoia involved from the security forces. And does their paranoia mean they fear loosing the whole battle?” – Zuzana

“Congrats, despite the whole fiasco being a complete nuisance in itself. Aluta continua!”. – Chirikure Chirikure – Poet

“Hilarious irony, comic incompetence. If only it were not about people’s lives, we could laugh at it!” – Anonymous

“I watched Rituals and I think it is a brilliant piece of work. The cast is amazing too. It is a shame if it is viewed with such suspicion. We know what happened in the past and, if national healing is to work well among our people, we need such productions so that we may debate these things with the intention of not, and never going back there. We are talking of neighbours and relatives who need to reconcile, who need to heal the wounds etc. “Nxa singazenzeli akula ozasenzela” – Albert Nyathi – Poet

“Rooftops have given everything to keep Zimbabwean theatre at the top. Is this the only way the Zimbabwean authorities know to pay them back? Soyinka said, I don’t care about the colour of the foot pressing my neck.–I just want to remove it.” – Stanley Makuwe – Playwright

“To the cast, “do not be alarmed!! It could be worse. You were arrested by a department (ZRP) of the home affairs ministry after getting a performance licence from another department (censorship) of the same home affairs ministry. Can you imagine what could have happened if it was a different ministry altogether!!!” – Walter Muparutsa

“Please convey my commendations to the ‘Rituals’ team for triumphing in refusing to be co-erced into paying fines against their wills and consciences- if more people do that then justice can have a chance to prevail. And congratulations also to their lawyers for a job well done! Best wishes for as Zimbabwe can only move towards freedom of speech and conscience. It is neither possible nor permissible to go backwards!”  – Jessie Majome MP, Deputy Minister – Women Affairs, Gender & Community Development

“I applaud the team for their efforts in liberating art and media in Zimbabwe. As far as I have seen, every nation that once suffered some form of oppression was blessed with artists gifted in various arenas, who would use their tools to fight to emancipate the suffering. What you capture will be part of a future syllabus in History. I know your pain and suffering having once walked that bitter path too and I encourage you to let that which burns alive in you live on!”  – Christina Chemhuru

Smoke and Mirrors

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Monday, March 28th, 2011 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

Much has been made in the media over the weekend of the so-called unofficial coup dethroning Our Dear Leader and postulating that in fact it is the security forces who are really in charge of the country. In an exclusive interview with the daily News, the Prime Minister is quoted as saying:

In our bilateral meetings, I have discussed the issue of violence and implored Mugabe to deal with elements in the security organs. His response has always been that we don’t condone violence.  If he doesn’t follow up, it’s either he is in charge or not in charge. That leaves me with a question: Is he part of a conspiracy to undermine the government or his people are defying his instructions?”

It would be very convenient for both parties if Mugabe weren’t in charged wouldn’t it? They would both be exonerated for their failures in upholding their promises to the people of Zimbabwe, to stop the violence and resolve the current political stalemate.

Late to her own funeral

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Monday, March 28th, 2011 by Amanda Atwood

Elizabeth Taylor’s (RIP) funeral ceremony last week started 15 minutes behind time; she said she wanted to be late to her own funeral. Read more

Zimbabwe’s doctors of untruths

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Monday, March 28th, 2011 by Thandi Mpofu

The big-headed doctors have us in a spin;
Etching venom into the soul with each manic application of their instruments.
It’s for our own good, the medicated airwaves they prescribe.
We’re told it’ll help us see better if we don’t question what we see.
Just take it all in, swallow it all up.
But doctors of untruths – your opium makes me sick!

There have been too many injections, both intoxicating and toxic;
Administered under the guise of reforming the land.
We’ve been fed countless conspiracy pills, doses illegally sanctioned.
And we have taken up your calls to vote for and to sign against.
Like fools, we’ve believed in our rights and diesel pouring out of rocks.
But doctors of untruths – real skeletons will be exhumed!

My dog urinates on my car tyres, claiming it as his own.
So too do they mark  title on us.
Their tall tales imprinted on our sight, jingles ringing in our ears, wounds tattooed in our hearts.
They even have their grip on our nuts and we’ve accepted without resistance.
Is there any dispute?  We must be their people.
But doctors of untruths – no one owns fate, you cannot rig destiny!