A YEAR after Misheck Chiminya (40) cheated death at a Citizens’ Coalition for Change rally in Kwekwe’s Mbizo suburb ahead of the 26 March 2022 by-elections, the injuries he sustained have changed his life forever.
Chiminya escaped the bloody attack with a broken arm among the 17 casualties that were left for dead by suspected Zanu PF youths who were armed with iron bars and stones, who stormed the rally and indiscriminately beat up opposition party members.
He was immediately rushed to Topomasi Hospital in Kwekwe where he was admitted for three days while receiving medical attention. It took him a few weeks to realise that the injuries he sustained could have cost him his arm.
“We (Chiminya and two other friends who were attacked together with him) left the venue in a car and were rushed into town. That is when I managed to get some medical attention. I was also hospitalised and went for some X-rays. I stayed in hospital I’m sure for three days. But the first X-ray couldn’t pick what was wrong with my arm, so I stayed there thinking that it was just some minor muscle thing. Then after a few weeks I felt there was no change happening, so I went for another X-ray, which revealed that my left shoulder had tripped, that is why I couldn’t use it,” said Chiminya.
Violence is synonymous with politics in Zimbabwe, as Chiminya’s sad experience shows. More recently, in Murewa, 13 elderly citizens were beaten up by suspected Zanu PF youths ahead of the 2023 general elections.
A year on, Chiminya lives with screws that were drilled into his shoulder in a bid to restore his broken arm. His life will never be the same again.
“Just a few days before the injury, I had planted close to 6 000 plants of cabbage which me and my friend had partnered to do. Those plants could not survive because the guy failed to water them and the money saved for the project ended up buying medication. Since then, I never managed to set my foot there since my left arm no longer permits me to strain it. So for me this injury ended my horticultural dream,” said Chiminya.
Although he has physically recovered, the healing came at a cost of over US$3 000.
“I went to Harare, some other person managed to hook me up and I had my operation at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and they managed to put the bone back and put the screws in my arm. I do not remember the exact cost, but it was around US$3 000 for the operation and the medication. I have really lost count, it was an ongoing process,” said Chiminya. He carried these expenses on his own.
“I did not want to bother anyone because politics is something people take on a personal level so when you are hurt now and asking people for help and assistance for treatment, I honestly did not want to do that. I just thought that maybe help was going to come,” he added.
Chiminya also says that the experience has heightened his awareness of injustice, but in many instances he snaps emotionally during political discussions, particularly when he comes across a human rights violation.
“I have developed anger issues, but I have been getting therapy here and there. Whenever I feel there is an injustice, I snap that I sometimes shock myself and ask myself whether my reaction was necessary,” he said.
His experience has not dented his resolve to continue on the path of opposition politics, despite hordes of opposition activists deserting to the ruling party. He says he will keep at it in opposition politics until tolerance of different political affiliations is achieved.
“I am back in the trenches. I never left anyway because the reasons why I joined politics have not yet been fulfilled, so I do not see any reason for me to quit now. I guess these are some of the scars of Zimbabwean politics, which is unfortunate. We have an intolerant system in operation as a country that divergent views are not supposed to be reality; if someone opposes you, you think they should be hurt or killed or all sorts of things. So I guess this is what we have to live with, which is very unfortunate. We are back in the field until we have a Zimbabwe that accomodates everyone. We are here as the opposition, as the constitution permits opposition,” said Chiminya.