Daily accounts from Zimbabwe for the last few
weeks have been increasingly alarming. From news sources, teleconferences
and the Zimbabwean diaspora in the U.S. we hear of violence directed
at opposition members who threaten President Mugabe and the
current leadership of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).
The details are horrific, not just in the 86 or so people that
have been killed thus far connected to the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) but the thousands who have been beaten severely,
some almost to death. Even more are in jail, or arrested and
detained on a daily basis. The intimidation is directed at those
who are active in the political process as a clear message to
stop and let the status quo prevail.
sure none of what I'm saying here comes as news to any of you
who follow the news from Zimbabwe closely. What has
happened yesterday however, with the leader of MDC stepping
out of the run-off election process underway may bring on new
developments in the country that will turn things for the worst.
a democratic space such as this (with all its shortcomings)
has been closed for the millions of Zimbabweans who had eagerly
been awaiting for a change in regime, the frustration and anger
may be manifested in street violence - as was the case in Kenya.
It is possible (in fact many analysts predict) that there will
be no such violent eruptions. If violence from the people were
to take place, we would have seen the escalation in retaliation
by Zimbabwean populations by now. I hope their optimism is the
reality that is yet to unfold.
I continue to engage in analysis and reflection with collogues
and read the latest news, I feel a sense of discontent as we
sit here, unable to do anything to contribute in some meaningful
way to bring about positive change to the hundreds of civilians
in Zimbabwe who are suffering, not only from the violence perpetuated
against them by ZANU-PF, but also from the pain of hunger and
displacement from t heir homes as they flee into neighboring
what can we do, those of us in the US?
If SADC has been unable and ineffective, what can we out here
do? If the words expressed yesterday by the head of SADC, Zambia's
President, or the President of Mozambique and other African
leaders have not been able to turn the tide of violence and
repression, what can we do? There are those who say that small
as it may be, we need to at least issue a statement from our
organizations that make clear our opposition to the current
state of repressive regime and our solidarity with the peace
loving people of Zimbabwe. That
would make many of us, as individuals and members or organizations
feel good, ease our conscious and enable us to state equivocally
that we were made the right choice in a historic moment. But
really, do these statements make a difference to the people
who continue to be beaten, imprisoned and harassed because of
their political views and actions? Sadly, no. Much as I like
to say it does, appreciated as it may be by our partners on
the ground, it makes little difference in the life of even a
is one way that I find helps. Contributions
to the Zimbabwe Solidarity Fund.
Fund was organized by civil society organizations in the US who are directly linked to civil society groups
on the ground - not political opposition groups as such, but
organizations that are involved in increasing participation
of the grassroots in the democratic process through elections.
contributions are from individuals in the US who send in what
they can, even as small as $5 and $10 are encouraged - to ensure
that those who are imprisoned are provided legal assistance
to secure their release, to ensure that while they are detained,
they are treated fairly, that they are fed and receive immediate
medical attention from the beatings they've endured. That is
what the funds will be used for.
I write this, I'm sitting in my office surrounded by images
of posters from people's protests from Soweto
which just celebrated its 22nd anniversary. The South African
protests were captured by the images of children killed and
running, crying. They
were the beginning of the downfall of the apartheid period that
was long overdue. I reflect on the images and wonder if this
too is a moment similar to Soweto in 1976 that we should recognize?
hope it will not take another decade or more for the Mugabe
regime to end, the people in Zimbabwe
are exhausted. Their every move to bring about peaceful change
in their government has been frustrated with the cunning political
manipulations of President Mugabe. But enough is enough and
justice must prevail. While we await the "end" to
come, in whatever form it will take, those of us who are powerless
and frustrated can do at least one thing, make a contribution
to the Zimbabwe Solidarity Fund as a measure of support and
standing with the people in the time of their need.
Guest Collumnist, Nunu Kidane is
an activist from Eritrea, East Africa. She is currently the
Network Coordinator with Priority
Africa Network (PAN), a coalition of 26 (Oakland, CA) Bay
Area organizations that promote Africa through education and
advocacy. She has a B.A. from UC Berkeley and has worked for
over fifteen years in program and policy development in Eastern
and Southern Africa. She has written and spoken on topics such
as HIV/AIDS, debt cancellation, migration, resource extraction
and human rights in Africa and is an advocate on racial justice
globally. She is a member of the Coordinating Committee of Jubilee
USA Network, a Board Member of Casa Segura, and a member of
The League of the Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research
Action (TIGRA), Advisor for Women of Africa (WAFRICA) and a
member of the Africa Committee with the American Friends Service
Committee (AFSC). Click
to contact Ms. Kidane.