In Zimbabwe, the revolution will be …

Trevor Ncube is a Zimbabwean. On Friday, February 18, 2011, Trevor Ncube, owner of The Mail & Guardian, and publisher of the Zimbabwean The Standard, The Zimbabwe Independent and NewsDay, published a piece he’d written, entitled “We are our own liberators.” In this piece, Ncube reflected on the lessons of Egypt and Tunisia, and who knows where else by now, for Zimbabwe, for Zimbabweans. He noted, “I have written before about the need for a “Third Way” in Zimbabwe’s politics. Egypt and Tunisia tell us that perhaps the people constitute that Third Way in resolving our political impasse. Only a new beginning will suffice…. Tunisia and Egypt have restored our collective faith in the power of the people.”

That was Friday.

Munyaradzi Gwisai is a Zimbabwean. Gwisai has been a member of the Zimbabwe National Parliament, is a lead member of the Zimbabwe branch of the International Socialist Organisation, and is the director of the Labour Law Centre, in Harare. Gwisai is also a law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

On Saturday, the Zimbabwe branch of the International Socialist Organisation apparently held a meeting at the Labour Law Centre. Individuals and organizations were invited to a discussion. On the agenda was something like “What lessons can be learnt by the working class in Zimbabwe and Africa?” Gwisai and 50 some others were arrested for “plotting an Egypt”, or, more formally, “subverting the government.”

Fifty or so people were arrested, and for what? They were arrested for “normal academic debate,” or for the crime of discussing politics, or perhaps, as the government representative said, for having “attempted to inspire and motivate people to demonstrate.” Included among those arrested were passersby and others in the building who had nothing to do with the meeting.

Roselyn Hanzi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) reports that eight of the activists claim to have been tortured, beaten, starved. They have been allowed little contact with their attorneys. Shantha Bloemen, Munyaradzi Gwisai’s wife and a prominent figure in her own right, reports that the arrestees are being interviewed individually. Those determined to be `ringleaders’ are then beaten. It is reported that Gwisai is now unable to walk on his own.

Tafadzwa Choto was among the fifty or so arrested. Choto is a prominent ISO figure, a national coordinator in Zimbabwe. In 2001, at a May Day Rally in Harare, Choto was savagely beaten by “Mugabe’s thugs”. What is the distance between Mubarak’s thugs and Mugabe’s thugs? Ask Tafadzwa Choto.

According to Choto, two events served to politicize her. The first occurred in 1993: “A woman at the University of Zimbabwe was stripped of her skirt. It was said to be a miniskirt and was publicly ripped off her. I was disgusted.” The second was in 1995: “In Harare, in the city center, … three civilians were shot by the police, while the police were chasing after some thieves who had stolen a manual typewriter. Three civilians were shot dead and for what?”

Women were attacked, and for what? Civilians were shot dead, and for what? Fifty were arrested, and for what? Among them many were beaten, tortured, starved, and for what? For daring to inspire and motivate people to demonstrate? For daring to inspire and motivate people to become the people? In Zimbabwe, the revolutions of far off lands are being discussed and will be debated, and someday, hopefully someday soon, the reckoning of the `for what’ will begin. The `for what’ haunts Zimbabwe.


(Video Credit: Union Solidarity International /