Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: Indeed, sanctions must go

By Luke Tamborinyoka

I believe without equivocation that these sanctions must go.

Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye with Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka
Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye with Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka

When a government sanctions its own medical doctors from demanding a living wage and responds to the legitimate demands from the medical fraternity by abducting the doctors’ leader, then those sanctions must go.

When a government proscribes and slaps sanction on the people for exercising their right to demonstrate peacefully in line with the dictates of the Constitution, then those sanctions must go.

Last month, Justice Joseph Mafusire ruled that the public media did not abide by the Constitution in the run-up to last year’s election. He ruled that that the public media were overtly biased towards Zanu PF.It is trite to mention that President Nelson Chamisa has rarely appeared on the country’s sole broadcaster.

He is under sanctions from appearing on a purportedly public broadcaster.

It is those sanctions that must go.

The MDC is a legitimate political movement that controls the majority of the local authorities in the country and is represented in Parliament. It has a leader who won last year’s Presidential election in the contest of the people while the other leader won in the courts.

Yet again, as they did in 2008, the selectorate stood in the way of the electorate’s aspirations and foisted a leader on the people.

Last month, ahead of demonstrations to which notice had been given, the police laid a siege on Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House, closed all roads and stopped anyone from entering the MDC headquarters. They slapped the MDC staff with illegal sanctions from entering their legitimate place of work for no apparent reason.

It is those sanctions that must go.

Jestina Mukoko is a renowned former broadcaster and now a human rights defender who runs the Zimbabwe Peace Project. In December 2008, she was abducted, tortured and held incommunicado for several weeks.

It was the Zanu PF government that had abducted her, in line with its unstinting behaviour to harass and abduct every dissenting voice in the country. Jestina later won her case in court when the government was ordered to compensate her. 

The government had brutalized, tortured and abducted her, sanctioning her from exercising her basic rights and freedoms for several weeks.

Jestina was abducted by some unidentified armed men from her home in Norton on 3 December 2008, and her whereabouts together with two ZPP employees Broderick Takawira and Pascal Gonzo, who were also abducted later in December 2008, remained unknown until December 24, 2008, when they first appeared before the Harare Magistrates Court, after weeks of being held incommunicado and being tortured.

It is those government-imposed sanctions that must go.

In 2007, I was among a group of MDC activists that was brutally tortured and assaulted. We spent several months in prison on trumped-up charges of banditry and terrorism in a much-publicized case that later collapsed like a deck of cards in court.

The trauma has refused to go away and today, I cannot stand the sound of slamming doors. The sound is synonymous with the banging of doors that characterized the entry of Robert Mugabe’s merchants of death into a dark room in which we were brutally tortured and terrorized for several days.

I was to lose some of my close friends after they were abducted from their homes and murdered far away from their homes and families following our release from prison in June 2007.

I have a pending a lawsuit against the State for the permanent physical and psychological injuries that I will carry with me to the grave.

The culture of impunity has survived beyond Robert Mugabe. We have a government that callously sanctions and brutalizes people for holding independent views and opinions.

It is those sanctions that must go.

Today, the whereabouts of Dr Peter Magombeyi, the acting president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association remain unknown. He was abducted by State security agents in a bid to proscribe and slap illegal sanctions on the legitimate rights of our doctors from expressing their displeasure on their inadequate salaries as well as their dismal working conditions.

The sanctions against our doctors must go.

SADC recently resolved to set aside October 25 2019 as the day when the region will be making a statement against what they purport to be illegal external sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe. Yet there is a nexus between the sanctions imposed by other countries and the sanctions that the regime in Harare has slapped on its own citizens.

Charity begins at home . Once we deal with the internal sanctions that we have placed on each other, the external ones will simply wither away.

On 25 October 2019, I and many others, with emblazoned banners and placards, will be marching against the internally imposed sanctions that have invited the external sanctions.

We must first deal with those issues that we control. We must be genuine about the so-called reform agenda. Sadly, all we have heard is the rhetoric of reform. We have not seen the substance.

The needless fixation with external players before we deal with our own government must stop. As Nigerian playwright Chinua Achebe would say, there is a vast difference between remote and immediate causes. The immediate local causes of the external sanctions must be dealt with and the remote factors will sort themselves out.

Zimbabweans must deal with their own issues before talking about London or Washington. As Achebe would say, training our eyes on the US sanctions is akin to focusing on remote causes while losing sight of the local factors.

The government must expeditiously and genuinely deal with the reform agenda. Focusing on London and Washington before we deal with the mischief in Harare will not work. There are always remote and immediate factors and urging Washington to lift her sanctions before allowing basic freedoms to flourish in Harare is akin to arresting the blacksmith every time a man hacks his fellow to death with an axe!

On 25 October 2019, I will be marching against sanctions.

These Zanu PF-imposed sanctions must go!

Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka is the Deputy National Spokesperson of the MDC. He is a multiple award-winning journalist and an ardent political scientist. You can interact with him on Facebook or on the twitter handle @luke_tambo.