Opinion / Columnist
Zimbabwe peddles a world-class Constitution that guarantees
31 Dec 2021 at 16:49hrs | Views
The truth however, is this is just for show and is rarely enforced. How then can we use the beautiful Constitution to fight for our liberties?
The first step is to set up a pirate radio stations. If the despot shuts it down, sue in court. No judge can rule against the country's rights enshrined in a Constitution - the law of the land.
Sue the Zimbabwe government in The African Court of Justice and Human Rights; Zimbabwe ratified in 1986. The charter recognizes many fundamental and widely recognized civil and political rights, including the right to freedom from discrimination (Articles 2 and 18), equality (Article 3), the right to due process concerning arrest and detention (Article 6), the right to a fair trial Articles 7 and 25), freedom of religion (Article 8), freedom of expression (Article 9), freedom of association (Article 10), freedom of assembly (Article 11), freedom of movement (Article 12), freedom of political participation (Article 13), and the right to property (Article 14). It was not written by Western imperialists.
Celebrate October 21 - Africa's Human Rights Day. It is a day when all journalists, professors, and writers should seek to publicize Africa's charter. Print it in the newspapers. Article 9 guarantees freedom of expression. It is also a day when African lawyers should file briefs of human rights violations at the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights in Banjul, Gambia.
Adopt another African country ruled by a dictator like Equatorial Guinea. Target the dictator - Nguema - and write commentary. In all your critiques, always include an "African solution" to the problem you are discussing. Have the piece published in both Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea.
Since you are Zimbabwean with no family in Equatorial Guinea there is little the Nguema Mbasogo regime can do to you. Further, never mention ED by name, but every Zimbabwean who read your article can see that the ED regime is also committing exactly the same atrocities and iniquities. Find a friend Equatorial Guinea, write commentaries on your countries and swap them, using your name on his and his on yours. Pen names can also be used for similar effects.
In addition to fighting a dictator on the streets, consider the courts, the airwaves, and the economic sphere. Zimbabwe constitution guarantees the right to private property, so why should the state seize a private business? Diaspora groups can take action against dictators and their henchmen in foreign countries.
US courts now allow foreign victims of atrocities to sue the perpetrators under the Torture Victim Protection Act and Alien Tort Claims Act. Zimbabwe white farmers won a 3.5 billion lawsuit and Zimbabwe government is paying.
Use ridicule, which can be accomplished through proverbs, poetry, and folk songs, for example "He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured" (Ethiopia). This targets despots who seek to hide corruption, human rights violations, starvation, and political repression by imposing censorship and restrictions on freedom of expression and the media.
As I mentioned before, free media is pertinent for fighting dictatorship and therefore the establishment of one should be priority number one. Various forms of media can be used to transmit the message of freedom, but let us not forget that a despotic regime can always block or shut down a critical media outlet and that the remaining ones are often state controlled. Radio stations can be set up at a secret underground location.
What is required is fast thinking; how to avoid jamming, best way to discredit the regime (brutal killings, human rights violations, etc.), how to keep supporters engaged, how to handle messages detailing electoral or opposition strategy.
Since the regime operates a militia, the Green Bombers, opposition should set up their own militias—"Black Cobras," for example. If the regime abducts an opposition leader, the opposition must be prepared to retaliate.
Let us think like a despot—tactically. A despot sets out a goal, identifies an obstacle, and sets out to destroy it. He may infiltrate the opposition parties, planting moles in them, and seek to destroy them from within. We can adopt exactly the same strategy. Track down and squash the moles. Consider a despotic regime to be like a table. One does not climb on to the top of the table to battle the despot there. A smart strategy is to identify the legs of the table (regime) and sever them methodically, one at a time, thus isolating the regime, both externally and internally.
Externally we can warn those who knowingly dish out loans to criminal, illegal despotic governments that they must be prepared to take the risk of loss, default, and repudiation. They are at liberty to throw away their money, but they should not expect us to pay back. Loans to illegitimate governments constitute illegitimate debt that is not repayable under international law—China be warned.
Let us focus on de-politicizing and instilling professionalism in the security forces, the civil service, the judiciary, the media, electoral commission, and the central bank. This is a sure way of wresting control out of a dictator's hands.
Each of these institutions has a professional code of conduct: the military code, the civil service code, the bar code, the academic code, etc. For example, the military code bars soldiers from intervening in politics on pain of court-martial. Enforce it. Ask and write about the military's function in society. It is to defend the territorial integrity of the country and to protect the people. If the military won't reform itself, disband it or call for a referendum on the military.
The role of the judiciary is to serve justice and uphold the rule of law. The bar code must be revised; no judge or justice of the peace shall swear into office any military coup leader. A judge who violates this injunction should be decertified; same as University professors who serve under military brutes in government should be disqualified from teaching at places of higher learning.
Most important, all these institutions must practice professional solidarity. If one editor or judge is grabbed, all must go to his aid. When military dictator Pervez Musharraf sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and dissolved the Supreme Court in November 2007, the entire judiciary, bar association presidents across the country, and all leading lawyers and human rights activists rose to the defense of the embattled judges, resulting in a revolution that ousted Musharraf.
Inter-professional solidarity needs to be practiced as well: if a monk or a student is grabbed, professors, editor, and judges must rise to his or her defense.
Then there are the intellectual prostitutes and collaborators, many of whom are highly educated and hold PhDs. A multitude of them have sold off their conscience, their integrity, and their principles to serve the dictates of barbarous regimes. As prostitutes, they have partaken of the plunder, misrule, and repression of their people. They need to be identified, warned, and punished.
Source - Sam Wezhira
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