Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

We are an unarmed people under siege

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When are the great majority of Zimbabwean people going to take some responsibility for what they are allowing to happen to them and get off their backsides and do something about it for themselves? I am fed up of the whinging and lack of action coming out of Zimbabwe. Other countries in the same position have fought their oppressors. Yes, it has cost lives and caused hardship but they have eventually overthrown the oppressive regime controlling them. Zimbabweans are not even prepared to organise “a day on the streets” or any other civil unrest in case they get hurt or arrested. This is not the way to change things. For goodness sake get out there and fight for your basic freedoms whatever it may cost you in the short-term. Mugabe relies on your inaction to retain his power and day after day, week after week, month after month you let him get away with it. Why? Only a few brave souls raise their heads above the parapet and so are easily picked off. Get behind Jestina and here ilk, follow them, and give them support. Protest as never before when people are abducted, when a two year old is incarcerated, when people are tortured. Do something about it; Let Mugabe know it is not acceptable. For God’s sake, and your own, do something to get Mugabe’s attention and indeed that of the whole world. Stand up and fight like people who want their freedom. Don’t rely on others. – Ken, UK

The above is a comment on an article by David Coltart.

I thought the author was right and he was also wrong – if it is at all possible to be right and wrong at the same time. What I do know deep in my heart is that some things are easier said than done. And if you’ve never had to survive under a dictatorship, you just don’t know what the hell you are talking about. Because you just can’t fathom that the non existence of democracy entails a lot of things including that you cant just up and make a noise faced with bullets and a real disregard for human life. You also have no idea that dictators are practically untouchable, at least by the ordinary citizen. Here in Zimbabwe they move in kilometer long motorcades and their functionaries are armed to the teeth and ready to kill anything that moves within a short distance from the dictator.

Zimbabweans got off their backsides and actually did something, which was to vote. Mugabe disrespected the will of the people and is intent on staying in power until “only God removes him”. Activists have peacefully taken to the streets and the police have descended like tons of bricks. Understandably, people now fear for their lives.

Do something to get his attention? You bet the guy knows he’s the most unwanted person right now. He is also aware of the fact that hunger and cholera are wiping out whole communities of this nation. If someone can be aware of all that and still remain indifferent, what more do you think ordinary citizens can do? This indifference is our biggest challenge.

I also wish to relay the fact that Zimbabwe is going through what OCHA describes as a “complex emergency.” According to OCHA, a complex emergency is a “humanitarian crisis in a country, region or society where there is total or considerable breakdown of authority resulting from internal or external conflict and which requires an international response”. I think this means in essence that when a state has collapsed and its citizens’ livelihoods are gravely threatened it becomes the obligation of the regional and international community to intervene. Hopefully the world has learned a few lessons from Rwanda, Darfur and Uganda’s Idi Amin.

We are an unarmed people under siege.

7 comments to “We are an unarmed people under siege”

  1. Comment by Denford:

    This is the biggest load of rubbish I have ever read. Totally nonsensical. I agree with the comment on David’s website that Zimbabweans must get off their backsides and do something.

    Jenni Williams does it everyday. She and her brilliant WOZA organisation are the only ones doing anything worth talking about.

    You say Zimbabweans “did something” which was to vote. And now, you say, it is the responsibility of regional and the international community to “do something”.

    Look, the international community can not talk Mugabe out of power. They will have to fight him and remove him by force because he will not go any other way.

    Guess what, for the international community to do that it will have to put it’s own citizens, be they British and South African or American, in harm’s way. Some will die. yes, DIE. ANd it is not even their country.

    Why should Americans, the British or even a single South African die for the people of Zimbabwe who are not prepared to die themselves for their freedom? Why? Why? Why should a single American life be lost to free a people who think their own lives are too precious to be put in harm’s way? Why?

    You don’t have to go near Mugabe to oust him. Believe me, if the people of this country were serious and came out in their numbers, say even just three hundred thousand people, and they massed in the city centre and ran amok demanding their freedom, Mugabe would not last a day.

    If he does fire into that crowd, yes some of us will die, but that is price EVERY SINGLE NATION ON EARTH that sought to be free has paid. EVERY SINGLE NATION.

    Where would America be today if George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, provincial people who were not armed had decided that their lives were too precious to be put in the way of the guns of that era’s superpower, Britain?

    Where would the Russians be today if they had fled the White House parliament and left Boris Yeltsin alone to face the tanks of the Communist Party. Did they not stand face to face with soldiers who were armed to the teeth? Did they not stand in front of tanks that had been sent to crush them? Where are they today? They overthrew the Communist party and they have democracy now.

    Same applies all over Eastern Europe, where people like Lech Walensa led unarmed people in confronting brutal and armed dictators.

    So, yes, wallow in your self-pity, continue “hoping” that there is country out there that thinks it’s citizens should die in order to liberate Zimbabweans whose own lives are too precious and whose blood is to holy to be spilled in pursuit of democracy.

    The truth of the matter, madam, is that, until the day Zimbabwean decide that they are willing to die for their freedom comes, until they make that mental and physical leap, ZANU PF (not just Mugabe) will continue to brutalise and intimidate and rule not only you but also your children, your grandchildren and their great-great-grandchildren.

    If you are not willing to put your life on the line for your belief and you believe like Betrand Russell once said that, “I will never die for my beliefs because I may be wrong”, then you most certainly do not deserve the pity or assistance of the world.

  2. Comment by Oliver Chettle:

    You have omitted the context that the original comment was an exasperated response to an attack on the west by a (presumably) anti Mugabe Zimbabwean.

  3. Comment by Oliver Chettle:

    Since independence Africa has been flooded with Western goodwill and cash. You blame us for the effects of the Cold War on Africa, but you should blame the Soviet Union and Red China, who were the ones exporting authoritarian ideologies, NOT the West. The West was engaged in a battle for survival, which it won, while Africa floundered due to its own inadequacies. The last few decades show that no-one can develop Africa except the Africans. All the aid and goodwill has been wasted. It would have been better for Africa and for us in the West if we had just forgotten about you after independence. You have to sort out your own problems. Africa’s real problems are inside African heads, and Western nannying can only make things worse. Trying to help Africa just provides it with excuses not to take responsibility for itself.

  4. Comment by Natasha:

    It is worrying when supposedly refined individuals resort to diatribes, insults and offensive platitudes when they have divergent views. I find it is simpler to just air your opinion without necessarily resorting to insults. With each sentence you begin to sound like the airheads whose rhetoric we are already tired of.
    Nevertheless, I wish to convey that nowhere in this blog is it said that a particular people of a particular country ought to take up arms literally and come to the defense of ‘special’ Zimbabweans. This is simply a calling upon for individuals who gave themselves the mandate to protect global human rights, individuals, like SADC and AU, who are actually in a position to effect real change but are just dithering for one reason or the other. While for you loss of a ‘few lives’ is nothing major, for some of us every single life matters that’s why people shouldn’t needlessly get killed when we can still explore other options to get us out of this mess. Strangely enough, despite your very opinionated view that Zimbabweans should be ‘willing to die’ I am yet to see you, Denford, on the frontline like Woza and everyone else you mention.

    FYI, the fact that the AU had, until fairly recently in September 2005, the mandate to intervene in member-states where “grave circumstances” are taking place is recognition of the fact that it is indeed possible for a nation to be powerless against its government and for the latter to hold the former at ransom. The AU Constitutive Act defines “grave circumstances” as “war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.”

    Currently, the ICC is deliberating on indicting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of genocide and war crimes against humanity. That is the kind of intervention I am talking about.

  5. Comment by Leonard:

    Coltart and Denford makes bold suggestions that, in my experience, are made from behind the latest HP laptops. Where I come from we call them the laptop soldiers or online warriors. They insult everyone’s feebleness and never cite a personal experience as an example. In the majority of cases these online soldiers usually have their from somewhere outside Zimbabwe or when they are in Zimbabwe, they are camouflaged by pseudo names.

    For me these are the true heroes. I can bet you that now that these two warriors dying to get off their backsides have finally found each other, and I am assuing they are Zimbabweans, the change they so passionately speak of is round the corner.

    Thank God for the Denford and Coltart union. Zimbabwe will never be the same ever ever again!

    Ayo mashasha!

  6. Comment by Bev Clark:

    Coltart didn’t actually make that comment. It was a comment from a guy in the UK about something Coltart had written. All a bit confusing perhaps.

    Although I don’t agree with everything Denford suggests, quite clearly Zimbabweans need to be resisting this dictatorship in varied and creative ways. You can’t vote out a dictator, you have to push him out. And that’s dangerous.

    So Zimbabweans who sit back waiting for change to miraculously appear run the risk of dying from dictator induced calamities like cholera.

  7. Comment by Leonard:

    Bev, Bev, Bev! Some important background here. See you’re talking about a people who have stuffed for a very long time with Western education and strong appreciation for democracy. That the ballot is the only acceptable, civilised and democratic route of bringing in a people’s govt, today. If anything, and risking sounding like some we know, the West are the guilty ones here for exporting and imposing on us their democracy without a supporting plan B. Like what should we do in the event that the incumbent office bearers loses elections and refuse to vacate. And the army so happen to share this position! What does the democracy manual say on this scenario so that I can direct my people to that page for referance.

    To say my people have been sitting on their backsides while they burn is to insult the memories of some of ours sons and daughters we buried fighting for a free Zimbabwe over the years. It can only be said by someone far removed from the people’s struggle. Someone who has only come face to face with the regime’s ruthlessnes in the TIMES. The number of our activists the regime has imprisoned is physical testimonies to the efficacy of our sustained non-violent resistance to the regime.

    My people are definetely not weak. They have just been fighting an unfair war with an adversary heavily militarized with a bloody CV of violence. An adversary that has even outwitted the so-called powerful West in quiet a good number of battles. I was in the streets when Zimbabweans took to the streets during the 90s bread riots in the face of tankers while the world enjoyed the good CNN footage of these episodes. This is a people who lived a good part of their lives in the middle of war fighting Ian Smith, Gukurahundi… Come now Bev, my people’s militant threshold might not be as impressive as your comparisons, but we have done something.

    We continue to fight but just that we will not be dictated on our strategies by our adversary. See, they wanted us in the streets so they can have a feast, we took them into the ballot box and stripped them of legitimacy. The era of vhala ngebuchu is long gone. Its the era of thinking warfare. We thought of the ballot. We cant say it has failed us.We are suffering yes, but our adversaries are not sleeping a single day because of our vote. Its the best we can do for now. The best anyone in our situation can do.

    The vote will forever be our weapon. We have tasted its sweet rewards, we will not be pushed otherwise. Judging by the Tswane events, the ballot has indeed proved mighter than the tankers.

    We chose the transluscent ink to violence. And we make no apologies to that.