Hopewell Gumbo, a Harare-based social and economic activist says his more than a month stint as a guest of the state at Harare Central
police station, Harare Central Prison and Harare Remand Prison left him in no doubt that Zanu PF will use whatever means available to
retain political power.
“Zimbabweans must be ready to stomach however painful the fact that Zanu PF regime is not in any way giving up the fight to govern this
country. It will not go to sleep and will use all its machinery to remain in control of the state apparatus of oppression and remain in
power,” said Gumbo as he narrated his ordeal at the hands of state security agents in a civic society briefing paper released Wednesday.
Gumbo who possesses a fiery character that first manifested itself from his days as a student leader at the National University of
Science and Technology (NUST) where he studied engineering said his ordeal gave him a glimpse inside Zanu PF thinking.
“I have had a personal experience of the state of play with the Zanu PF machinery in the last month where I learnt what the rogue regime
wants, what it is afraid of, its capacity to remain in the control of Zimbabwe and its rich resources,” Gumbo said.
In his recollections of the fateful day Gumbo said the meeting had been organised as a commemoration of the death of a fellow AIDS
activist and to discuss the dramatic political events in Egypt and Tunisia.
Gumbo said it took the police five days to prefer a charge against them with papers flying between the Attorney General’s office and the
police. In between they were treated to falanga (beatings under the feet) and everywhere on their bodies by unidentified men.
Gumbo suffered a broken nose as a result of the beating. But it was the treason charges that were finally laid before them on
their initial court appearance that shocked him most. “Until today I have struggled to convince myself that there was any semblance of treason in the acts, speeches and singing that
characterized the meeting on the 19th of February 2011,” said Gumbo.
In addition he said they endured severe beatings that “there was no chance to refuse to speak as we could clearly see that we were dealing
with a rogue crew, ready to kill, as their confessions sounded. These men made it known to us that they were not police officers and that we
were going to face more beatings at the hands of the police and soldiers.”
The starry-eyed Gumbo, a father of one and expecting his second child said at some point he never thought he will be able to see his family
again while he was in the dungeons of the security agents. During the time Gumbo and his colleagues who include former MDC MP and
founding member Munyaradzi Gwisai learnt to live in leg-irons and handcuffs and the “foren” call which requires prisoners to seat in a
carefully choreographed manner for the regular head count.
More so they were forced to cram themselves into small rooms where they would spend hours without much time for exercises. Gumbo said they got much solidarity from fellow inmates who felt they
were suffering for a just cause. He said Zimbabweans need to organise themselves towards a united front to fight for liberty in the country. Gumbo and his fellow treason trialists will be back in court on April 21.