By Tendai Ruben Mbofana
As the furore surrounding the heinous and barbaric cold-hearted killing of unarmed African American George Floyd by a white United States (US) police officer Derek Chauvin, on 25 May 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, spreads globally – amidst a resurgence of racial tensions over what many perceive as the never-ending persistence of institutionalized racism in that country – some of us in Zimbabwe, can not help being thoroughly perplexed and dumbfounded by the sudden ‘anti-police brutality fervor’ that has engulfed our country, especially from people otherwise not known for giving a hoot over the sanctity of human life – if anything, are more than happy seeing any opponents of the ruling establishment being shot dead on the streets…more in the same fashion as Floyd, if not worse.
This is not an exaggeration.
Every since the most tragic gruesome murder of Floyd, and the subsequent uproar – both in the US, and globally – a significant section of Zimbabwean society has not been left out, as such a brazen event could surely not have failed to ignite varied emotions in any normal human being, especially having watched the videos of how the killing unfolded, and taking into consideration historical contexts.
It was certainly painful, revolting, and even angering.
Nonetheless, some sections of that Zimbabwean society sought to play into this very deplorable incident, by trying to abuse this as a cover, and even justification, for their own – or, at least, the Zimbabwe regime’s – historically appalling, brutal, and savage human rights record, particularly its ruthless crackdown on anti-government activists and supporters, which typically involve the unleashing of security forces, intelligence personnel, and ruling party hooligans, in acts ranging from the heartless lethal gunning down of unarmed protestors in August 2018 and January 2019, and suspected enforced disappearances of labour and political activists (leading to those who are ‘fortunate enough’ to be found alive, having been sexually abused, tortured, and severely beaten up) – the most notable, being the abduction of journalist cum activist Itai Dzamara in 2015, and is yet to be found – to the wholesale genocidal massacre of over 20,000 innocent villagers in the 1980s, and the hacking to death of hundreds of opposition supporters in 2008.
For the Zimbabwe regime, and its apologists, to then attempt to ride on the wave of this justifiable US, and global, outcry, rage, and condemnation of the apparently racist killing of Floyd by the police, is not only disingenuous and distasteful, but also reckless and downright cruel – further adding insult to the memory of George Floyd, and the genuine cause of all the right-meaning aggrieved.
As much as it is an open secret that the US is far from being the ‘Holier than thou’ nation than it wants to portray itself on the international arena – with the nauseating tendency to lecture one and all about human rights and democracy, something that I personally never believed it had any moral high ground to undertake – however, the Zimbabwe regime, and its band of sycophants, would be better served of they kept completely quiet, as their own unsavoury track-record is akin to a serial murderer calling a pick pocket a ‘criminal’.
I found it totally shameful and pathetic reading on social media, and watching on the local news, those insincere and ill-intended messages – bordering on dark-hearted gloating – of condemnation targeting the US administration over the killing.
In fact, the messages were so much in bad taste, as there was an obvious undertone that they were not from a place of honest grief for the death of Floyd, and wrath at the callous taking away of innocent life – but, were clearly inspired by a malicious joy at their arch-nemesis finally being caught with ‘his’ pants down, and a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to shame ‘him’.
We all know how the US government has been continually on Zimbabwe’s case, over its dismal and abominable human rights record, habitual electoral fraud, and rabid corruption, especially since 2002 – with the resultant imposition of targeted sanctions on 142 top officials, and associated entities – which, obviously, did not go down very well with the regime, subsequently creating a deep hatred of the US administration in the hearts of those in power.
The recent barbarous and savage shooting dead of dozens of unarmed protestors in the capital Harare, on 1 August 2018, and mid-January 2019, coupled with the over fifty reported cases of abductions of labour and political activists, and the vicious crackdown on opposition party activities, has not made the already sour relationship any better.
To make matters worse, in all these cases, not even one of those involved has ever been apprehended, let alone prosecuted. In fact, ever since the 1980s genocidal massacres of over 20,000 innocent men, women, and children (including unborn babies, gouged from their mothers’ wombs by the military using gun bayonets), no one has ever been held accountable.
If anything, the Zimbabwe regime has been at the forefront of denying any wrong-doing whatsoever – instead, choosing to either place the blame on someone else, or even sadistically ridiculing the victims, and accusing them of orchestrating their own misfortunes.
A case that immediately comes to mind, is the alleged abduction of three female members of the opposition party about three weeks ago, who claim to have been arrested after participating in an unlawful demonstration – imposed due to the ongoing lockdown induced by the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak – yet, were taken from police custody by unknown individuals, and kept for two nights, being forced to sing throughout the ordeal, whist being sexually abused, and tortured.
During all this time, the police apparently were clueless as to their whereabouts, despite having earlier acknowledged having arrested them.
Yet, when the three ladies were finally ‘discovered’ some kilometers north of the capital, and having explained their cruel adversities – instead of compassion and empathy, the Zimbabwe regime, with its mouthpieces and usual apologists, displayed scant regard for them, but rather fell over each other in pouring scorn on their allegations – even a then government deputy minister going as far as insinuating that the women were sex workers who had been beaten up by their lovers after demanding to be paid in United States Dollars (USDs) for their services.
Other very senior officials, instead of merely promising to professionally and competently investigate these allegations, went further to suggest that this abduction could have been stage-managed or faked – in spite of the clearly severely bruised and battered ladies, who were in hospital receiving treatment, and undergoing medical examinations.
Why could the authorities not even wait for the medical reports, or for the investigations they had promised to be carried out, before issuing such outrageous and pitiless statements?
Of course, that is not to be unexpected, from a regime notorious for its insensitive, viciousness, and wickedness.
Even the brief history highlighted above should say something about that.
What more, why would any sane person believe that any credible investigations would be conducted – considering that, not one (and, I literally mean ‘not one’) person accused of such gross violations of citizens’ rights has ever been held accountable?
So, why now?
Notwithstanding all this, these are the same people who would have the audacity to join in the legitimate cause of those angrily protesting the killing of, and justice for, George Floyd!
What utter shamelessness! What brazen cruelty!
If anything, for all their wrongs and injustices, the US, at least, immediately arrested, and are charging the responsible Derek Chauvin for manslaughter. A crime he is accused of committing only two weeks ago, as I write this article.
That is far much more than anyone can say about the Zimbabwe authorities, who still have not even prosecuted those responsible for the atrocities of the 1980s – but, would rather whitewash the whole incident, through meaningless gestures, that border on obscenities…40 years later!
For the rest of the Zimbabwe population, who have always unequivocally and unwaveringly stood for human rights and social justice – irregardless of who the perpetrators are – we earnestly empathize, and speak up against any injustice, with the family of George Floyd, and the peace-loving and justice-loving people of the US and throughout the globe.
In similar vein, we strongly and unapologetically rebuke and castigate the shameful, and unforgivable vindictive shamefaced attempts by Zimbabwean authorities, and their apologists – who have been the authors of unprecedented cowardly and iniquitous institutionalized human rights abuses against the innocent people of Zimbabwe, ever since the country attained its independence from Britain in 1980 – to pervert, abuse, and bastardize the just cry, anger, and clamoring of the people of the United States of America.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a Zimbabwean social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.