The cause of civil unrest in the world has usually proven to be the failure by governments to listen to the concerns of its citizenry, or pretending that any outcry against repressive action is a cry for “regime change”.
The situation in the country, the screams from the general members of the public, civic society, and political organisations in the manner the Zimbabwean authorities under President Emmerson Mnangagwa are running the country point to a dissatisfied populace with a government that claims to be listening yet it ignores the screams as if nothing is happening.
The issue of State capture by those in the echelons of power has been the talk of the day mostly those in the opposition, human rights defenders, international bodies, Western governments and their allies. The government of Zimbabwe is to blame for these violations, sadly appears to be averse to change.
In our Wednesday edition, we published a story of 18 civic society organisations, some of them in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) having partitioned Mnangagwa over what they termed “judicial capture” and pervasion of justice in the country. They said the Judiciary was weaponising the law against government critics, and cited the “persecution” of several opposition politicians and pro-democracy activists as examples.
They registered profound deep concerns against a growing trend of judicial persecution and the abuse of the legal system (lawfare) by Zimbabwean authorities to close the civic space and target human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists.
The petitions were copied to Chief Justice Luke Malaba, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Acting Prosecutor-General Nelson Mutsonziwa, cited Zengeza West legislator Job Sikhala (CCC) as a victim of such practice under their nose.
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Sikhala has been in pre-trial detention since June last year charged with incitement to violence at the funeral of slain opposition activist Moreblessing Ali and he has been denied bail 10 times to date. Another example of misapplication of the law given was Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume who was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for inciting public violence.
In another development that shows that the authorities do not listen and do not care about what the citizens say, is the recent passing of the Patriot Bill by the Zanu PF dominated National Assembly.
The Bill, which seeks to punish anyone who talks ill about Zimbabwe or engages foreign institutions against Zimbabwe has overwhelmingly been condemned by Zimbabweans both locally and internationally.
But shows that the governing party take people’s voices as a mere noise, the Zanu PF-dominated Senate on Wednesday passed the Bill which means it now awaits presidential assent.
The abuse of parliamentary majority by Zanu PF when the outside world is against such is detrimental legislation does not auger well for governments engagement are re-engagement policy . The two scenarios where the citizens are concerned over weaponisation of the law and the Judiciary and imposition of draconian laws on citizens are a recipe for disaster and the government must be warned that such defiance to people complaints have proven to be a spark for civil unrest in other countries.
It's high time the government listened to each and every individual who raises concern regardless of political affiliation and stop using the law to stifle them. Those in power must remember that power dynamics change and someone may use the same approach to fix them when they lose power which is equally unfair. Government must maintain peace by doing what is right.