By Sindile Ncube
Last week President Emmerson Mnangagwa conducted a press conference in which he essentially threatened the MDC Alliance and anyone who stands up against his government’s systematic corruption and human rights abuses.
Many political observers believe he plans to carry out another brutal crackdown on anyone who dares to speak up against his misrule of Zimbabwe.
There is even talk that he wants to make it a serious criminal offence to expose government corruption or saying anything that questions his authority.
All this is aimed at crushing any dissent in the country, whether it’s a demo or social media campaign against human rights abuses or a tweet bemoaning the government’s terrible running of the country, Mnangagwa is confirming that he is just like Saddam Hussein.
Those of us in the diaspora are in a position to organise a demo and within minutes actually carry it out without fear of police brutality or abductions at the hands of Zanu agents. These are freedoms millions of our people in Zimbabwe can only dream of. Let’s not waste these liberties.
People like Hopewell Chin’ono and many others are in prison for exercising these freedoms. If every single day everyone in the diaspora did something to raise awareness of the suffering in Zimbabwe to their fellow residents and to the authorities in the country they live in, governments around the world will treat the situation with urgency.
We have seen the wonderful things that the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter has done in a short space of time. We need to keep pushing. Below are a number of ways the diaspora can put political pressure on Zanu PF.
Contact your local parliamentarians
In addition to social media campaigns, let’s also use more formal channels of democracy in the countries that we live in. Let’s send emails and letters directly to our local MPs, Congress people and councillors so that they formally table the Zimbabwean issue in parliament or congress.
In our correspondence with these authorities we need to provide clear and strong evidence about the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. In our emails, let’s attach video links of the police brutality being carried out by ZRP, testimonies by people who have been abducted, tortured and sexually assaulted by Zanu agents. Don’t forget to show them Mnangagwa’s threatening speeches as well so that they can see for themselves that this man is actually worse than Mugabe.
The issue of e-petitions
While e-petitions seem to be a quick and easy way of endorsing a campaign, they are limited in that they need to meet a very high threshold. For example, in the UK, an e-petition needs at least 100 000 signatures for it to be debated in parliament.
That is a lot of signatures, and that is made even more difficult by the fact that there would be a number of petitions basically highlighting the same issue, which makes it even harder to reach the required threshold.
Yes, e-petitions are quick and easy, but signing them is not a guarantee that they will be debated in parliament because the threshold is so high. Perhaps, there is need for a single e-petition on Zimbabwe every six months which is then advertised thoroughly just like the #Zimbabweanlivesmatter.
In many people’s eyes, street demos remain the bog standard approach to activism. Obviously, in the current climate where the fight against Coronavirus requires people to observe social distancing, it’s going to be tricky. But so long as people are operating within the country guidelines, they should carry on picketing and holding demos across the country.
You could hold a demo by yourself, with friends or family, holding placards. We have seen inspirational images of this online and it is wonderful to see. We need to let the ordinary people of the UK, Canada, USA, South Africa etc see us on the street raising awareness about this cruel Zanu government.
To sum up, we really need to keep the foot on the pedal; we should not relent when it comes to raising awareness about the suffering in Zimbabwe. It is the least we can do for our people who are being choked by Zanu.