GLOBAL capitals have erupted into angry protests over Israel’s continued relentless and ruthless bombardment of Palestine’s Gaza Strip where millions have been displaced and thousands killed.
Among those being killed in Israel’s war on Gaza are many innocent women and children which has prompted our neighbour, South Africa, to drag Israel to the International Criminal Court accusing the Middle East superpower of “genocidal” tendencies in its onslaught on Palestinians in Gaza, while demanding that Israel should stop the war.
In Israel itself, shocked by the level of carnage in Gaza, hundreds of that country’s nationals have taken to the streets demanding the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the United States, Britain and many other global capitals thousands of horrified people have also invaded the streets in solidarity with the Palestinians, demanding a stop to the Israeli onslaught on Gaza. The protesters in, for instance in the US and Britain, are particularly angry that their governments are fully in support of Israel.
Now, that is true democracy at work on a global scale.
Unfortunately, for us in Zimbabwe we have to watch all these events from the sidelines yet we have since before independence in 1980 supported the Palestinians, fight against Israel’s bullying and occupation of its territory in contravention of a United Nations decree.
It is quite sad that as Zimbabweans we are not allowed to even utter a whimper to protest what is happening in Gaza where a recent very touching news clip showed a Palestinian toddler who died in an air raid. She died while tightly clutching a piece of bread she was probably eating when she and other family members were killed during an Israeli air bombardment.
As far back as October last year, when the Gaza war began, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) sought permission from the police to deliver a petition to the United Nations office in Harare to protest the war.
The police flatly rejected Artuz’s request saying: “Your notification letter falls short of the requirements as outlined in the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (Mopa) [Chapter 11:23]. Therefore, your intended solidarity march and petition have not been sanctioned.”
More other protests for various reasons have been outlawed using Mopa, an Act which is now being used to trample on Zimbabweans’ right to peacefully protest against anything, including the killing of innocent Palestinians.
Those who have dared to protest physically and otherwise have met the full wrath of the law and have been dragged to court with some even jailed.
This is a very bitter pill we are being made to swallow and some of us are finding it difficult to understand why our government has decided to travel down this road by putting a lid on people’s emotions.
Ironically, our government seems to have learnt nothing from the November 2017 protests when thousands of people poured onto the streets of Harare demanding the ouster of the former late President Robert Mugabe who had for years firmly put down his foot on their right to protest or even criticise him.
Lest we are charged with inciting violence, we will gently put down the pen here and watch the pressure cooker boil.