Towards the end of Prez. Mugabe’s reign of terror over Zimbabwe, which lasted for some twenty of the thirty-odd years he held power in that once-fruitful country, a lone voice made itself known. It belonged to Pastor Mawarire. He posted a four-odd minute YouTube video online, and the adverb ‘viral’ must have been generated specifically to report how widely the original was watched. A copy of this video is presented below. If you watch it, you might see a man who is despondent, a man who is hurt, a man who was promised so much, and yet; over the years of the tyrannical lash of Mugabe’s ZANU PF heavies: has received so very very little. You might see a man who is still determined to raise his head, and his voice, in the hope that someone hears his cries, and might take action to relieve the burdens placed on that silent population of his once vibrant country. What you will not see is a call for violent revolution; what you will not hear is a call for bloodshed; what you will not hear is a call for violence against his Government.
But his Government, under the iron hand of Mugabe and his close cronies, attempted to crush that voice, but fortunately the Zimbabwe Justice system hasn’t been brought under the heel just yet, and High Court Judge Priscilla Chigumba stated that the Pastor was acquitted on both the main charge of attempting to overthrow the Government, and the alternative charge of ‘incitement to commit public violence’. He travelled out to places such as Oslo, where he was feted and congratulated, but in Zimbabwe, he was a marked man.
Fast forwards to the alleged ‘Gentle Coup/Overthrow’, where Mugabe was finally ditched and cast aside. There was a short-lived euphoria, before it was confirmed that Mugabe had in fact resigned, and the former First Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was to be the new President. In other words: in a typical Black African approach to power politics, the old dictator was cast aside, and his crony, who had stood firmly by his side; who had organised a massacre of twenty-odd thousand opponents of Mugabe’s ZANU PF party: who had lived high off the hog while Zimbabweans literally starved, was confirmed as the new President. But the promises flowed out of President Mnangagwa’s mouth stated that the time of dictatorship was over: that there would be new elections, that the Opposition would not be targeted: that all would be fine, in this: the best of all possible worlds!
So the elections were held, and the Opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was targeted, the ZanuPF thugs ran riot, and the election was, as everyone suspected it would be, rigged so blatantly that the neutral observers were aghast at the efficiency with which the ‘ghost votes’ were cast, and so swiftly accepted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec). Protests began, but the Zim. Army was on the streets, allegedly to ‘keep the peace’ and seven died, with dozens injured.
Enter the forgotten voice of Pastor Marawire: although not forgotten by the thugs of Zanu PF and the President. He spoke out against the Government’s actions doubling the price of fuels such as petrol, and as a result, he was arrested by armed policemen, and hustled away from his home. But the Government showed that they too could learn lessons, as all of Zimbabwe’s Internet was closed down virtually overnight, and the Pastor’s voice was silenced.
We may see and hear that Pastor’s voice again, we might even see a new video, with his Flag wrapped around his shoulders: but I believe that the resonant hope, so vibrant in that original video, will be muted, will be sieved through the efficient apparatus which is ZanuPF’s thuggery, and will sound as coming through a cracked bell, with a jarring note and a certain sadness!