AN explosive media conference on journalism, political tolerance and phobias at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) has come to an abrupt end after some high-profile delegates viciously tore into the ruling Zanu PF’s authoritarian rule and human rights violations, spooking the jittery authorities who swiftly banned the gathering.
The kneejerk action provides the latest evidence of a clueless government that not only rules by fear but has also lost the battle for the hearts and minds.
After losing ground in the quest for better ideas, Zanu PF is targeting critical voices, including suppressing academics and academic freedom at universities, opposition parties and civil society ahead of elections in August.
Unable to bear the stinging criticism from critical thinkers who took no prisoners, the Mnangagwa regime resorted to the oppressor’s classical toolbox, unceremoniously banning the conference.
We have always argued that Zanu PF is incapable of reform. Its fascist intolerance, repression and brutality — the party’s DNA — were on full display at the UZ, which is teeming with state security agents. The world is watching.
Interestingly, while President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime is shamefully banning an academic conference at the UZ, he is posturing like a latter-day statesman in the United Kingdom ahead of the coronation of King Charles III.
The UK minister for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell — writing in reply to British legislators unhappy over Mnangagwa’s invitation to the coronation — fell short of expressing utter regret over the decision to invite the Zimbabwean strongman. Mitchell said the UK government is concerned over the human rights and corruption situation in Zimbabwe.
The signs are ominous in Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe ahead of the August general elections.
The judiciary, particularly the criminal justice system, has been weaponised.
The Mnangagwa regime, as if mimicking the worst excesses of Rhodesia’s racist settler government, is creating political prisoners at a frightening pace.
Job Sikhala, Jacob Ngarivhume, Fadzayi Mahere, Joana Mamombe. The list is growing. And Mnangagwa calls himself a liberator?
The attitude of the ruling elites towards critical voices is problematic.
Nobody should be surprised that Reporters Without Borders, in a 2023 report, has found that Zimbabwe has the least Press freedom of any country in southern Africa. Under Zanu PF rule, the nation has regressed to the Stone Age.
What a tragedy! This is supposed to be one of the most enlightened societies in Africa.
The guilty are afraid. They have inflicted so much terror on innocent people, they now fear their own shadows.
Lest it be forgotten, we prosecuted an arduous armed liberation struggle to defeat racist white settler rule. That war was not meant to merely supplant one set of oppressors with another; its objectives were the attainment of genuine liberty, democracy and self-determination.
But today Zimbabwe is held to ransom by corrupt, cruel and self-serving overlords who have hijacked the people’s project for self-aggrandisement.
What a crying shame!