Ngarivhume Shares Details On His Call For Protests On 31 July 2020 And Arrest
30 March 2024
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By Jacob Ngarivhume| Part 1: The call for 31 July 2020 anti corruption demonstrations.

We sat down as a team in April of 2020 to discuss issues bedeviling our country. It was a small non-partisan team that met at my offices then in Hatfield. We agreed at the meeting that we needed to put a new perspective into our struggle for democracy and justice in Zimbabwe, which was to push for an issue based fighting.

There was consensus that we needed to identify issues that cut across citizens and unite us as a nation irrespective of political affiliation, religion, or age group. One such issue that immediately popped up in the small meeting was the corruption scourge. Corruption is endemic in our country, especially in the public sector.

Despite the mineral resources endowment of our country, corruption has stalled growth and robbed all citizens of their future. That’s when we decided to launch a campaign against corruption. I was to take leadership and control of this campaign.

I soon called for nationwide anti corruption demonstrations set for 31 July 2020. I moved around meeting various stakeholders seeking buy-in. The response was overwhelming.

We had meetings with opposition political party leaders, war veterans, and even Zanu Pf affiliated organisations who welcomed the idea. War veteran teams organized for me to meet with traditional leaders, and I did. Civil society responded, and soon prominent civil society leaders mobilised the business community, and I was meeting them.

The buy-in became massive. Our idea was to make this initiative non-partisan and ensure the buy-in of everyone.

One of the key engagements was the media. I had a meeting with Hopewell Chin’ono for the first time, and he welcomed the initiative and promised to publicise the demonstration as a journalist. Soon, he was driving the campaign on his social media platforms.

I had a meeting with prominent opposition leaders, and my brother and compatriot Job Sikhala responded and came on board. Hopewell and Job were to become my partners in a long legal battle to follow.

Momentum grew, and the call for the demonstrations became national, and the regime had no choice but to crack down. I will narrate the crackdown in the next part.

Part 2: The state crackdown of the anti corruption demonstrations…

Following the national buy-in of the 31 July demonstrations, the government got into panic mode.

I began receiving solidarity calls from senior police officers and very senior army officials. Their message to me was simple, thank you for pushing this agenda, and corruption is our common enermy as a nation. We stand with you on this call. I managed to meet a couple of senior army captains dispatched by their generals. They expressed their solidarity and wish that we were successful on the 31st of July.

The state crackdown intensified. They accused us of being sponsored by the West to call for anti corruption demonstrations in the country. They targeted the US embassy in particular. At that stage, I had not even met a single embassy official.

Only later did I have meetings with the Kenyan, Malawian, Rwandese, and South African ambassadors. They all expressed a view that a fight against corruption is noble in any African country and wished us good luck and success.

Senior police officers called me and expressed their solidarity with the demonstration. They however encouraged me to notify Harare Central police about the demonstration as required by the then section of POSA. We notified the police but no response came.

I was called to a JOC meeting at Harare Central Police and I dispatched my team to meet them. They informed us that with the momentum the demonstration was attracting, they feared that violence would break out. So they wanted us to suspend the demonstration.

I called for a press conference and vowed that the demonstration will go ahead with or without police clearance. In any case, my argument was that the law did not require police to ‘clear’ the demonstration but rather they are only ‘notified’.

After the press conference, I stated receiving death threats from CIOs and other state actors I did not know. They started following me. I could not sleep home anymore. For the next three weeks, I was sleeping in different places with my wife in most cases.

One day, I got a call from someone who identified themselves as a senior army official from SAS. He alleged that if we continued with the planning of the demonstration, I may be killed. I told him that I was so determined that at this stage, death does not matter to me.

The police called me several times asking me to cancel the demonstration and I told them that we were going to court to seek an order to allow the demonstration to go ahead.

The Zanu Pf hired thuggery machinery got into action. They threatened to burn down my house. Soon several vehicles were parked outside my house 24/7. We moved the children away, out of town, to live with relatives. Our neighbours were also scared to be out of their homes from 7PM.

My house was under siege and the environment was tense. I maintained my ground.

I then got a call from the US embassy for the first time asking about the details of the demonstration. They were just hearing about the false and malicious accusations that they were sponsoring a demonstration which they were not even aware of. I spoke to the political division official from the embassy for thirty minutes on the phone. That was the only contact I ever had with the US embassy prior to my arrest and subsequent detention.

My phone was now jammed with unknown people threatening to kill me. I dug in. I was so determined to lead the demonstration on the 31st of July.

The most threatening call came on the 18th of July 2020 via an SA registered number. The caller calmly told me that he is coming out of a JOC meeting which was discussing the anti corruption demonstrations. And from the deliberations of the meeting, I am most likely to be killed in the next 48 hrs, and if I am lucky I was going to be arrested instead. The guy was so calm and cool that he got to my mind. I was scared big time for the first time since April when I announced the demonstrations.

I told myself, these guys may kill me after all. Exactly 48 hrs later, I was violently arrested at my local church. Armed police officers arrested me, brandishing AK47s.

I will narrate the arrest in the next episode….

Part 3 My violent arrest on 20 July 2020

I kept in touch with my colleagues Job Sikhala and Hopewell Chin’ono. We were checking on each other regularly. We sensed that the state was up to no good and anything could happen. Job was very useful on giving us the latest intelligence.

On the night of 19 July I slept at my brother’s place just out of town. I could not sleep that night, I had nightmares. The words of the caller that I will definitely be killed in the next 48 hrs but if I am luck I will be arrested were haunting me. I was now living on high adrenaline all these days.

When I got home on the 20th of July morning I took a bath then decided to go to my local AFM church for my morning devotion. It’s a walking distance so I walked with my security detail who was also my bothers son.

As we approached the church I got a call from Job, he had a high voice and he was panicky. He asked me where I was and I told him I was going to church and he told me that I will be arrested by the police soon for they are on their way to my house. I simply proceeded to the church for prayer.

Before long two vehicles pulled in front of me. Nearly twelve men carrying AK47s jumped out of a Toyota Quantum. Only two of them had torn police uniforms, the rest were plain clothes.

One of them asked for my name and I identified myself as Jacob Ngarivhume, he flushed am ID I could not read and he identified himself as a detective inspector from Harare Central Police law and order. He informed me that I was under arrest for inciting public violence. He immediately took my phone and then handcuffed me.

People around the church saw the violence and force used to arrest me and they ran inside their homes. I was not sure at this stage if these people were police for sure. I was convinced that this was an abduction and they they were going to kill me. I asked if I could call my wife and tell her that I was arrested and my lawyer too. They flatly refused. Instead they said they were taking meet to Harare Central Police. They then said they can let my security detail go and he could tell my wife. He refused, instead opting to go with me and see if they w were really taking me to a police station. They then also took his phone and he got into the car I was bundled into.

The drive was long and winding. I did not know if they were taking me to Harare Central Police for sure. I was telling myself this is my end, they will take me to Goromonzi and kill me. I imagined the worst..

I thought of the last moments of my friend Tonderai Ndira, how he shouted these people will kill me Kani please help. I made my last imaginations. I thought of the price paid by the likes of Cde Chitepo, Tongogara, Ziaphapha Moyo, Takawira and others and I told myself I may as well die today. I imagined getting into paradise meeting Christ and comforted myself with the thought of having to meet and talk to Moses and ask him questions I have always wanted to ask the great man.

I told myself maybe I will ask Chitepo if this is the country that he really fought for, and Joshua Nkomo ukuti why did he leave our country and heritage in this state.

After ages of driving around town we turned into Harare Central prison. That was my first relief for the day. I at least knew that at Harare Central I will be trackable. They soon released my security detail and I knew soon he would tell my family and lawyers.

I was placed in a dirty room with no floor. They iron legged me too. I was there for a few moments before getting my second major relief for the day.

I heard leg irons going keche keche coming to our room. A tall figure emerged in both hand and leg irons. It was Hopewell Chin’ono. We greeted and I felt safe at last that I am now with a colleague and chances of disappearing were narrowing.

Soon I was able to call my lawyer Moses Nkomo and inform him that I was arrested.

I will next introduce the legal battle that ensued, exposing serious judicial capture.