By Jacob NgarivhumeI was arrested on 20th July 2020 in Harare after I specifically called for peaceful anti-corruption protests.
The completely unimaginative Mnangagwa dictatorship resorted to its usual allegations, calling our protests a Western-inspired conspiracy. Using their tired and well-worn tactics, my colleagues and I were labelled as puppets of the West who, by protesting, were selling out the country to the whites.
Such ludicrous accusations do not fool Zimbabweans. They know that the cancerous corruption of the ruling party elite is responsible for our daily struggle to put food on the table.
When I was arrested on trumped up charges of inciting violence, I was imprisoned for 45 days before being brought before the courts.
Nearly two years have since passed, but they have refused to bring me to trial because it suits the regime and its captured courts to hold me in judicial ‘perjury’. Since 2020, I have been summoned to the courts every two weeks. I am made to report to the police weekly. And I had to surrender my passport.
Death threats that came intermittently, now come regularly. Virtually every second day I receive a threat on my phone.
When the state changed both the magistrate and prosecutors responsible for my case, I received a message that seemed to celebrate the fact that I was now in the hands of the state’s longest knives who will soon convict me and send me back to Chikurubi.
One such text threatened me with unspeakable actions, which the CIO are planning against me and my close family.
The regime’s most deliberately debilitatingly act, however, has been to deny me a livelihood, putting unbearable strains on my family, especially my children’s education.
As I manage a research institute that operates regionally and internationally, it is essential that I am able to travel. But since the state took possession of my passport two years ago as a condition of bail, I have been unable to work.
Last month my research company was commissioned for a US$100 000 education research programme in Southern Africa. I was required to travel to Zambia to conduct an inception training workshop for the team responsible to implementing the project.
Given that I have always attended court and reported faithfully to the police, my legal team approached the High Court seeking the temporary release of my passport so that I could travel to Zambia for just one week to carry out the training.
But rather than a sympathetic hearing over a spurious case that has been pending trial for two years, the state prosecutor opposed our application, and the High Court dismissed it, agreeing that I was a flight risk because my trial is still pending.
\This is unconscionable. But should we be surprised? While at the High Court I overheard the prosecutor conversing with fellow state lawyers that she had instructions to oppose our application and that it would be declined.
The ‘instruction’, according to her, was final and the High Court justice would be obliged to rule against us; of that she was certain.
Twenty-four hours later our application fell through. While I have been waiting for the opportunity to face my accusers and prove my innocence, the state has given excuse after excuse to delay my trial.
While I chose not to flee like a coward and remain steadfast in the face of provocations, the courts have allowed themselves to be shamelessly suborned to the will of their predatory political masters.
In democracies, independent courts and their judicial officers not only uphold the law, but the very justice demanded of society.
They stand as the last bulwark of the citizen against the tyranny of corrupt and repressive regimes.
But in our country, the courts have become contemptible accomplices to the oppression that bedevils us all.
The magistrate overseeing my case in the lower court is apparently ready to convict me. I have been informed that I am, as a matter of certainty, going back to Chikurubi.
Two other prosecutors have said that the ‘instruction’ for conviction has been given, and that it is only a matter of time – of their choosing – before I return to prison.
Inevitably I feel deeply troubled and trapped.But this only makes our liberation all the more urgent! We must never give in to tyranny! We must, by all means, take the fight to the villainous Zanu-PF and against all those state institutions and functionaries – especially the security services, ZEC and the courts – that serve the dictatorship.
We must make an uncompromising stand for democracy and justice, and wipe the board clean of our corrupt oppressors.