So what am I hearing here in Harare?
In several conversations I’ve had with high density dwellers they have stated that there is a heavy police presence, not only in Highfields but many other high density areas as well. An illegal curfew has been put in place which sees bars closing as early as 6pm. People walking in groups of 4 or more are particularly at risk of harassment and intimidation. Pedestrians are randomly being accused of being the “ones that stoned the police” at the rally on Sunday.
Peter, a waiter in a cafe in Harare, told me that he didn’t know that the rally was taking place, nor did his football team mates so they were turned away by police when they arrived for a game at Zimbabwe Grounds, the heartland of the rally that was disrupted. Peter was indignant and said that the ban of public meetings was ridiculous and that both Zanu PF and the MDC should be free to meet as they please.
I’ve been seeing Zimbabwe like a cake lately. Morgan Tsvangirai, Raymond Majongwe, Mike Davies, Grace Kwinjeh (etc) are the candles burning big and bright. The icing is made up of a small section of civic and political activists. While the actual cake itself comprises the Zimbabwean people. And until we, the Zimbabwean people, come to the party and support civic and political leaders working for change, then not much will happen. The cake has got to cook. It’s got to get warm, and bake and maybe even burn, but it can’t stay like it has – unmovable.
Because if it does, no matter how many Highfield rallies we have, and no matter how iconic Tsvangirai becomes, the struggle for freedom in Zimbabwe will remain lop-sided.
I’m feeling sorry for Tsvangirai. Because he’s been assaulted, together with many other comrades, but also because I wonder whether he’ll succeed with his most important challenge? Which is to persuade Zimbabweans to join him / in the flesh / in person and on the streets and present a unified rejection of the Mugabe regime. For the last 4 years it’s been a case of “you go first” (Tsvangirai to the people) or “you go first” (the people to Tsvangirai). This needs to change.
The fact that Tsvangirai and his comrades displayed immense courage on Sunday is undisputed. What is also undisputed is the fact that Zimbabweans must consider how, when and where we will fight for our rights.