Zimbabwe: what else can we say?

Jestina Mukoko

Nigel Mutamagau, a two year old, abducted with his parents and now in jail, has been beaten and has not received medical attention. Jestina Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, was abducted, is now in jail, and reports suggest that, along with torture, she may be suffering poisoning.

Welcome to Zimbabwe, where the rule of law means once you’ve been abducted and disappeared for a while, you’re meant to be grateful if you show up in jail and then in court. Where’s the gratitude, where’s that thank you note to the government, to ZANU-PF? Last week, in “Fighting for Jestina Mukoko,” an interview with Elinor Sisulu and Barbara Nyangairi of the ZPP, Mukoko was described as a role model because she would speak publically in a place where none do, a zone of collective social self abandonment, Zimbabwe: “”The day before she was abducted she spoke about women and police violence, in an address to the women’s coalition in Mount Pleasant.” When her lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, finally saw Mukoko, she reported: “We saw Jestina. Of course someone who has been tortured cannot look good. She was seen by a doctor who is working in cahoots with her torturers, they [usually] want to make sure [the effects of] her torture [are] not too visible.” That was last Sunday.

Jestina Mukoko is still in jail; Beatrice Mtetwa still represents her and still speaks out. Mukoko was kidnapped on December 3, was disappeared for three weeks and then `magically’ appeared in court on December 24. Mtetwa filed motions to know who her abductors were, to dismiss any information obtained under `duress’, aka torture, and to be allowed to go to hospital for treatment. Friday, January 2, all motions were denied: “`The law has absolutely broken down in Zimbabwe,’ Mtetwa told journalists outside the court. `If a High Court can refuse to investigate an admitted kidnapping, refuses a patient a right to medical treatment — to a place she can get treatment — what else can we say?’”

What else can we say?

At the very least, we can speak, shout, sing their names: Nigel Mutamagau, Jestina Mukoko, Barbara Nyangairi, Beatrice Mtetwa, Elinor Sisulu. We can try to find the names of others who have been abducted but for the moment remain disappeared, and we can invoke the names of those `whose bodies have been identified.’ Let these names engulf and erase the names of the murderers who run Zimbabwe, the names of the murderers of adjacent countries who support the murderers who run Zimbabwe, the names of the murderers of distant countries who have supported the murderers who run Zimbabwe.

(Photo Creidt: Frontline Defenders)

About Dan Moshenberg

Dan Moshenberg is an organizer educator who has worked with various social movements in the United States and South Africa. Find him on Twitter at @danwibg.