Voices of Zimbabwe

2011-09-21 00:00

AT the time of Zimbabwe’s independence in March 1980, the country’s newly elected leader, President ­Robert Mugabe, surprised many by adapting an unexpectedly conciliatory approach, presenting himself as a model of fairness, and calling for ­stability, moderation and national unity.

It did not take long, however, for cracks to start appearing in the façade, or for Mugabe to reveal his true intentions — the establishment of a one-party system. Determined to consolidate his grip on power and perpetuate Zanu-PF rule, he used all the resources of government to attack his opponents, while ruling through a vast system of patronage.

It was to prove a highly costly strategy as the economy, corroded by corruption and mismanagement, went into free fall.

As the country plunged deeper into crisis, and with opposition to ­Mugabe’s authoritarian rule beginning to mount, the government increasingly resorted to the coercive tactics developed during the liberation struggle. Harassment, torture, rape, intimidation and murder ­became the order of the day.

Desperate to escape the violence and lawlessness, millions fled the country, many seeking refuge in neighbouring South Africa. It has been estimated that up to a third of the population has left Zimbabwe.

Don’t Listen to What I’m About to Say is the latest publication from Voice of Witness, a book series that seeks to illuminate human-rights ­issues around the world by recording the stories of those who have suffered persecution because of their political or religious views.

In their attempt to get to the root of Zimbabwe’s ongoing and ethnically fuelled violence, the book’s two editors and their team spoke to over 50 people from a wide range of backgrounds, both inside the country, and from Zimbabwe’s ever-growing ­diaspora.

Most of those interviewed were victims of the political violence of the nineties and 2000s, culminating in the bloody aftermath of the 2008 elections, as the government, backed by the army as well as militia groups, ­targeted those members of the ­population who were perceived as not supporting Zanu-PF.

Poignant and heartbreaking, their stories open up an, at times, horrific vista into a frightening world of party tyranny and paranoia, and lays bare the huge gulf between the official myth which continues to sustain a highly unsaintly, corrupt and brutal elite, and the terrible realities experienced by most ordinary Zimbabweans.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.