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Arrest of Joanah Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri: A strategic insight of the Zanu PF offensive

By Sibusisiwe Dlamini

If there is anything Zimbabweans ought to know and acknowledge, it is the tragic fact that Zanu PF is strategic. The baseless, illegal arrests of Cecilia, Netsai and Joanah are strategic for Zanu PF. One should not see them as isolated events perceived from an emotional or moral subjectivity.

Opposition MDC Alliance youth leaders Joanah Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri will spend another night in police custody as their bail application failed to start because of delays by prosecutors.
Opposition MDC Alliance youth leaders Joanah Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri

These arrests, which have become a normal recurring theme are a means to an end for Zanu PF objectives, paramount among them, ultimate consolidation of power and insistence on a one-party state.

This article, will sufficiently demonstrate the Zanu PF strategy, and its implications on the political environment of Zimbabwe, which increasingly is polarized. The ignominious system has found it difficult to curtail the young vibrant human rights activists from espousing the agenda of liberalization from the current militarized, corrupt government failing dismally and lackadaisically to implement and uphold their manifestos.

Police had Joanah Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri in custody for allegedly using abusive and obscene language to police officers in Harare on the 1st of February 2021.

According to the brief background of these momentum draining arrests, with regards to keeping the government on its toes in light of service delivery, accountability and transparency, they started on 2 March 2019. Mamombe was the first victim. Her charges were treason, for alleged attempts to overthrow a self-imposed and appointed constitutionally elected government.

To separate the signal from the noise, reasonably, no single woman can unseat a government. From a strategic point of view, her arrest was a curtailing of a potential chain reaction, which otherwise would not have, as claimed by the illegal regime, unseat the government, but forced it to be accountable, and deliver whatever demands the populace were seeking.

It is from this first arrest that we see the first pattern of Zanu PF’s strategy. That of preserving status quo while curtailing any chain reactions threatening the same status qou.

Fast forward to 13 May, 2020, Mamombe together with Chimbiri and and Marova were abducted by the State. The agents were masked, forcibly took them from a Harare protest against the government’s failure to provide for the poor during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two days later, the women were found, badly injured and traumatized, by the side of the road sixty miles from Harare.

Joanah Mamombe is one of the three youth leaders who were admitted after allegedly being abducted and beaten up by police and eventually dumped along the roadside (Picture by JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP)
Joanah Mamombe is one of the three youth leaders who were admitted after allegedly being abducted and beaten up by police and eventually dumped along the roadside (Picture by JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP)

They reported having been tortured and repeatedly sexually assaulted. They were later released after local and international outcry and pressure, where they were then arrested while seeking medical attention and subsequently detained for what the State said was a lie and grand scheme of self-abduction. One then wonders, would anyone arrange to rape their selves for political clout?

This was the start of the State sustained persecution against the trio, and where lawfare proved its undeniable, unprecedented utility. From this a pattern emerges of Zanu PF’s strategy. However, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Zanu PF, in its overzealousness exposes its flanks. That is the undeniable fact that it has, despite repeated calls for more decentralization of power and separation of power, the party has captured the judiciary.

The capture of the judiciary is of indispensable utility. Otherwise, the arrests of any threats to the Zanu PF status qou would go down the drain. The judiciary then becomes an indispensable tool in its strategy to ensure voices such as those of Mamombe and her brave friends are silenced effectively.

The capture of the Judiciary is pivotal in Zanu PF’s quest of stamping out healthy dissent otherwise functional in a health democratic society. The mechanics of a judiciary capture, loyal, complacent, sympathetic to Zanu PF’s status quo are simple. Simply, individual judges are hijacked from their mandate, which is almost sacred, that of dispensing, equally before the law, justice.

An antithesis to Zanu PF handed down judgements and rulings which proliferate the judiciary. This is why, separation of powers is fundamental to democracy. Among the burdensome responsibilities the judiciary had, it serves as a vanguard against unchecked concentration of power. Hence, a compromised, dependent judiciary is vital for fruition of Zanu PF plans tied at realizing an untempered balance of its power.

Back to the baseless charges and their links to Zanu PF well laid evil plan. The arrest are as a result of a backlash that the trio demonstrated not anything to do with abuse of police and use of obscene words. For the record, the police themselves use obscene words in their training and drills as a sense of immature camredarrie.

In addition, to hitting babies on their mother’s backs, the elderly caught in a crossfire between citizens seeking to express their displeasure and concerns and the overzealous, police, the latter is the most abusive segment of the society.

This crucially points to why the charges are baseless, and subtly indicates an ulterior motive by Zanu Pf hence the exposure of the pattern recognition and exposure of Zanu PF strategy. The underlying motive is a reprisal of the flash demonstrations which focuses the spotlight on Zanu PF, the same spotlight which it shuns like leprosy.

The arrests then serve as an unconscious warning to citizens to neither temper or threaten the status qou, which is Zanu PF’s coveted power or to never shine the spotlight on its murky, oblique activities by demonstrating, frightening away so called imagined foreign direct investments, hence the excuse clothed arrests, which otherwise would serve their purpose very well, by discouraging further dissent.

In addition, the captured judiciary, in an overdrive to please its captors will, as demonstrated by its past record, especially after the so-called new dispensation or rather new wine in old skin, has proactively ensured that the detained are exposed to the riskiest conditions ever, especially to the pandemic, and other State shenanigans. Apparently, this works in a number of following ways.

MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere
MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere

Using Mahere, another perceived problem of the State, the captured judiciary was instrumental in her contracting of the Covid-19 virus, with the objective of her demise to it, fortunately the Zanu PF’s strategy failed in that regards, and any patriotic Zimbabwean continues to hope it will not succeed when it is applied on these genuine, unfaltering daughters of the soil.

In addition, the State, through the captured judiciary sanctioned illegal detentions, has access to the detainees, and might harm or god forbid, kill them. It then would be easy to pin the tragic untimely deaths on the pandemic.

Hence, especially now international pressure is at this point and these trying times more than ever needed. All this is demonstrative of Zanu Pf’s strategy, executed at the expense of these women in particular and other voices and actions of dissent by other individuals in general.

To further expand on the strategy of Zanu PF, which mainly is embodied in manifestations of deterrence, preemptive offensives by Zanu PF, there is also a well calculated bid to realize two fundamental goals of Zanu PF. These goals would significantly insulate Zanu PF against imagined threats to its status qou, while also blowing the spotlight from it.

These two strategies are to break psychologically, the trio. In human psychology, the breaking point is a moment of stress in which a person breaks down or a situation becomes critical. The intensity of environmental stress, in this regard the political prosecution by the State is employed as necessary to bring this psychological breakdown.

One needs not to be reminded that, after the abduction of the trio, due to trauma and other negative environmental variables espoused and encouraged by the State against them, they suffered mentally and had to seek medical attention in that regards, on more than one occasion getting arrested during the course of their treatments.

The other of the two strategies is an attempt to gain an edge over the opposition and dissent by catalyzing the environment to get a state of Abreaction. Abreaction is a psychoanalytical term for reliving an experience to purge it of its emotional excesses. It is a type of catharsis. Sometimes it is a method of becoming conscious of repressed traumatic events.

Hence, in Zanu PF’s strategy, the arrests, which have become the norm serves this function, and are a synthesis of both deterrence and preemption. In this regard, dissent in those who practiced it before, it is curtailed while in those potentially to engage in it, it is made a horrible experience, hence in this regard, Zanu PF insulates itself and blows the spotlight away from itself, as it would threaten its illegitimate interests.

This is why, this article is confident that the arrests are only a cog or phase in Zanu PF’s strategy and one ought to strive to see the trees from the forest which is possible through pattern recognition among other means of analyzing Zanu PF’s offensives.

The trio joined the likes of Hopewell Chin’ono who previously was detained after contemptuous comments he made on social media confronting the governance system and the elite ruling party agenda. One of the saddest lessons of history is the majority are no longer interested in finding out the truth, thus people who continue to seek for transparency and accountability from public office bearers and those who confront injustice acts will always be found at the mercy of the state arm.

Surprisingly , as democratic as Zimbabwe is , the voice of the voiceless are heavily criminalized by the state whilst those who steal from the state coffers, breach tax rules and smuggle resources out of the nation to maximize their personal fortune are immediately given bail and there cases vapor from the courts with time as they are shoved under the carpet such as Henrietta Rushwaya who was caught with several Kilograms of purified gold at the Robert Mugabe Airport.

Her immediate appointment in another public institution summarizes how politics is at the epicenter of justice and legal system in Zimbabwe were the poor get poorer and the rich get richer at the expense of public sweat and hard work.

To conclude the insight, Zanu PF has illegitimate interests, vital among them, the status qou, which is fortressed by increasingly consolidation of power and brazen attempts to completely kill a culture of accountability and transparency, which demonstrations and dissent might trigger and encourage into a one huge chain reaction, whose implications, among its many would be popular uprising, a nightmare for Zanu PF.

Hence, in response, and in an attempt to insulate itself against these nightmares to its survival and continued cancerous existence of Zanu Pf, it has developed the above strategies and the means of execution of said strategies.