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How many more?

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So the worst fears have been confirmed. CHRA and MDC activist and community organiser Tonderai Ndira, who was abducted from his home last week, has been found dead. Reportedly they had cut off his lips and cut out his tongue.

As Comrade Fatso put it:

Dead. A cold body in a mortuary. That’s how they found Tonde today. Abducted last week, he was tortured and beaten to death. An inspiring, young township freedom fighter whose words were in my ears last week, his breathing body in my eyes. Today the breath has been beaten out of him because he dared to believe that his people could be free. And dreams here are criminal things these days.

Tonderai Ndira was an example of everything that this military junta is trying to weed out and destroy. An energetic township organizer for the MDC, Tonde was inspiring to watch as he would lead us through his tree-lined Mabvuku suburb showing us his community’s problems and how they were determined to solve them. He was a true community activist, greeted by all who walked by and more popular than the local MP.

Once me and other comrades joined him for one of the most creative actions I’ve been in here. Mabvuku has had endless water shortages due to a corrupt City Council so letters supposedly from the Council were sent out to residents calling on them to come to the local Mabvuku council offices to discuss their plight. Soon there was a gathering at the offices of hundreds of Mabvuku residents, from water-bucket-on-head grandmothers to dread-locked scud-in-hand youths. The council representatives were overwhelmed and denied ever sending the letters. Angry residents told the officials and police where they wanted to stick their empty water buckets. Tonde, as usual, was in the forefront. The young and the old were united in their disdain for the answer-less officials. The riot police were called in. Santana trucks began hungrily chasing us and other township youths as we all evaporated into the sprawled out veins of dusty Mabvuku. But the point was made. No justice for us. No respect for you. And that is the message that Tonde’s activism has left written in the soil of his much-loved Mabvuku.

A few weeks ago Tendai Biti told the BBC: “If Mugabe thinks he’s going to get a default presidency, that will be over our dead bodies.”

Well, Biti, Mugabe has been the default president for the past two months. And it is over our dead bodies. 43 and counting. After the March election, the MDC said it was reluctant to organise popular actions in protest because they didn’t want to see people killed by the regime.

But the regime is killing people. And the run off isn’t for another five weeks. How many more of our friends, comrades, brothers, sisters, parents and children will we lose between now and then. And what is the MDC’s plan to ensure that this time, in this election, they take power? Because without concrete steps that see them convert an election victory to a term in office, what have Tonde, Tapiwa, Better and all the others died for?

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