OPPOSITION MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has challenged Zimbabweans to move out of their cocoons and protect their rights in the wake of what he termed increased State-sponsored human rights violations in the country.
In a virtual address to his supporters last night where he accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of presiding over gross human rights abuses, Chamisa also pleaded with the international community to stand with the people of Zimbabwe “in their hour of need” as they were now under siege from the Zanu PF regime.
He started his address by quoting from Nobel Peace Prize winner and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who once said: “If you are neutral in the time of injustices, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Said Chamisa: “I come to you in circumstances of unprecedented national crisis. Zimbabwe has been turned into a banana republic, a pariah State and the epicentre of evil and outpost of terrorism against innocent civilians.
“It has become so apparent that if we are all going to wait for others to do it, it will never be done.”
He said Mnangagwa must stop labelling citizens as terrorists and bad apples to justify the clampdown by State security agents.
Several people have been arrested while others are in hiding following a government crackdown that began in the run-up to the foiled July 31 protests.
“This business of branding, labelling and condemning citizens as bad apples and terrorists to be flushed out is unacceptable. It is the leader who sets the pace for unity, peace and harmony, heal not kill, treat and not injure, love and not hate, encourage and not victimise,” Chamisa said.
He said Mnangagwa must not be vindictive, but apologise when he makes mistakes, insisting that there was need for Zimbabweans to have their voices heard and that protesting was their right.
“A leader apologises when they make mistakes, forgives and not revenge, love and not hate. Only bad leaders point fingers, blame anyone but themselves, seek to explain problems not to solve them. Bad leaders opt to bury their heads in the sand,” Chamisa said.
He said he was heartened that the church had spoken out as the “moral campus” of the country adding it was now time for Zimbabweans to act and speak against the social ills choking their lives.
The opposition leader bemoaned the abuse of State institutions by government to silence opposing voices.
“Only when Zimbabwe goes through leadership renewal shall we witness a completely new crop of leaders who are accountable. I call upon you not to allow fear mongers, terrorists, to stop you from opening up and demanding accountability. Enough is enough, Zimbabwean lives matter and we can’t breathe,” he said.
“Protest is a God-given right, a fundamental right. Stand up, speak out and fight for your rights. Your voices matter. Let’s not allow threats to force us into silence.”
“Everyone can’t be wrong except the government, it can’t be possible. It is government against the world. Journalists are wrong, lawyers are wrong, doctors are wrong, nurses are wrong, opposition is wrong, churches are wrong, bishops are wrong, prophets are wrong, (South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius) Malema is wrong, AU is wrong, UN is wrong, (Mmusi) Maimane is wrong, (Ugandan opposition leader) Bobi Wine is wrong, Europe is wrong, the region is wrong and only government is correct. It can’t be so,” Chamisa said adding it was now clear that government had become incapacitated to deal with the national crisis.
Meanwhile, the MDC Alliance has demanded an independent investigation into the death of its Hurungwe councillor Lovender Chiwaya, describing claims by the police that he could have died of alcohol abuse as disrespectful to the deceased’s family.
Chiwaya was on Friday found dead a short distance from his home after going into hiding last month as State security agents clamped down on opposition activists.
He was among several MDC Alliance activists police were looking for in connection with the foiled July 31 protests.
His death has triggered an outcry from the MDC Alliance, civic groups and the European Union, amid calls for a thorough investigation into the case.
His death has triggered speculation that he could have been murdered by security forces.
Police at the weekend said preliminary investigations indicated that Chiwaya succumbed to alcohol abuse.
But MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere yesterday said a post-mortem and COVID-19 tests to ascertain Chiwaya’s death have not been concluded and the claim by the police was disrespectful to the deceased’s family.
“It is unfortunate, unprofessional and disrespectful to the family,” she said.
“We demand a thorough, independent investigation into the circumstances of his death and for the perpetrators of this heinous act to be brought to account.”
Added Mahere: “This is the fourth extra-judicial killing since the 30th of March 2020. We demand justice for Lovender Chiwaya.”