Yesterday I received a text message, and saw a missed call from one of my friends who is back home in Bulawayo, in Zimbabwe. I had no idea how to respond to his message. My heart is broken for all that is happening back home, and being far from there does not make it any easy. In a very weird, while it is helpful that I am not in Bulawayo, and can use my platform to speak for those whose voice is throttled because of the internet shutdown, a part of my heart really wishes I could be there with my family, friends and countrymen.
Zimbabweans who are not in the country will relate with how chilling it is to go to bed not knowing if your family is safe. You will relate with me how unenjoyable having a filling meal knowing fully well that your family does not have access to any shop to buy groceries, and eat. You will relate with how awful the feeling is when you try to work and all day you cannot get rid of the thoughts of back home.
Soon after I responded to my friend, he sent me a voice note. It was not very long. But he basically lamented how he feels, and everybody else feels like they are in prison in their own country. The tales of what has been going on with the internet shut down are chilling. The images and videos that have come out have been a real wake up call to the kind of government that is running the country.
In Christianity, there is a belief that when one hears the gospel, they respond in two ways. Firstly, they repent of their sin, and secondly they put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Those two things are always in tandem. One cannot simply repent, and not trust Jesus, or, one cannot trust Jesus and continue to live how they previously did.
See, the current ruling elite in Zimbabwe, has had its hands bloody since the country gained independence almost 40 years ago. The genocide in Matebeleland in the 80s, the abductions and killings of the late 90s and early 2000s, the abductions and killings of the mid 2010s, the recent August 1st 2018 killings in Harare and many other state-sponsored instances of violence have NEVER been repented of, in a purely political sense. In other words, they have never taken responsibility and apologized and like in Christian faith, it is a joke to think that they can suddenly begin to act any differently.
When the former president was ousted, an opportunity arose for the country to take a turn and self-correct, and set a new trajectory. But alas master, we expected too much. Right before the July 30th elections I argued that for the sole reasons that ZANU PF was unrepentant of its long list of heinous acts, they would not have my vote.
See, the problem in Zimbabwe is that of a hen that eats its own eggs. See the problem in Zimbabwe is of a child who is begging for water from their parents and they are grabbed by the neck and sewage water is aggressively poured down into their mouth. The current problem in Zimbabwe is that the problem in Zimbabwe has never been solved. The problem which under Mugabe was that the government worked like a police state, and under Mnangagwa we have taken it a notch higher and it is now a military state, flat out.
Now, against all the international and somewhat regional outcry, the government continues to block the internet for its own citizens as they brutalize and harass them. In fact, when they opened it for a while, social media sites were still blocked so people were accessing it through VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) which set the locations of their devices to other countries and allows for them to access the internet. But apparently at midnight it was switched off again, following a government order to mobile network operators.
The government of Emmerson Mnangagwa is tyrannical, and the whole world can see. We are surely back to where we were with Mugabe, only that we are a step further away from the essence of democracy.
One @kdamuller on Twitter shared his story (Grammar edited to suite blog writing style):
"Guys let me tell you about my night of terror at the the hands of the hands of the Zimbabwe National Terrorists. Yesterday around midnight l heard someone crying. l thought it was a funeral or something .Then my dogs started barking and l decided to check it out. What l heard next shook me to my core. Someone was being beaten three houses from mine. l quickly locked the gate and remained as still as l could. As l tried to figure out what was going on the soldiers moved on to the house next to mine.
They started kicking the gate as it was locked, frustrated they jumped over the durawall and as soon as they did that.l was startled as someone jumped over the durawall into my yard. My heart skipped a beat and l don't know how l managed not to s*** myself at that very moment.
It turned out to be my neighbor escaping for dear life. They [soldiers] were after all males in my neighborhood. l quickly woke my father and brother, and we fled into the night barely dressed. We took shelter someplace that l am not at liberty to say as its rumored that they promised to return.
I decided to share my story with the world. l don't know if l will survive again tonight there is nowhere safe to go no transport and the car doesn't have fuel. WE ARE UNDER SIEGE IN RUWA. l'm one of the lucky few most have sustained untold injuries and damage to property."
Another Zimbabwean on Twitter who uses the handle @xMaryke said:
"So my 27year old cousin died today after being shot at home by soldiers, the people that are supposed to protect us...he’s left behind a wife and child. I’m speechless." #ZimbabweIGiveUp
My people are crying for help. Lord, would you help us in this time of great distress?