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Where are our own documentaries chronicling oppression in Zimbabwe?

22 Sep 2023 at 16:12hrs | Views
At times, Zimbabweans can be irritating, at best - or downright infuriating, at worst.

Here we are, having recently come out of an undeniably flawed sham of an election - where the ruling elite had absolutely no shame whatsoever using every dirty trick in the book to 'win'.

Yet, all we do is merely cry foul whilst going about our business as if all is well.

This time around, I am not even going to waste my time and energy encouraging Zimbabweans - whose rights are being violated left, right, and center - to stand up for themselves.

I have come to accept that it is probably within our nature to be oppressed and do zero about it.

Is that not why, even when peaceful demonstrations are called for in the diaspora - where such rights are jealously defended, respected and held in very high regard - only a handful of Zimbabweans bother to even turn up.

So, I have since realized that I am the big fool for expecting any change in attitude by the ordinary citizenry - who have remained mum and docile, as they are trampled upon by those in power.

As I teach my son history (something I do regularly) it has now dawned on me that, even when our country was being colonized, the majority of the indigenous folk merely looked on and offered little or no resistance at all.

If anything, our own Shona people actually worked in cahoots with the colonial powers - including joining their military in the Anglo-Ndebele War of 1893.

Does this not remind us of ordinary Zimbabweans who, today, actually stand with, and even defend, the ruling elite that is busy oppressing and brutalizing us?

In fact, it was only a few years later (in 1896) that the local population tried some form of uprising - which was immediately crushed by the better equipped and trained colonial forces.

It then took another 68 years for any meaningful revolution to take place - leading to the liberation struggle between 1964 and 1979.

This was not after all manner of racially segregatory and oppressive laws had been enacted and enforced - with colonial powers riding roughshod over us.

Yet, we accepted it in the same fashion as we are taking the repression and barbarity we are being subjected to by our post-independence regime.

As such, I have made a very painful decision to let sleeping dogs lie - lest I die from stress and depression.

Zimbabweans will always be Zimbabweans!

What I still do not wrap my head around, though, is why we are not even prepared to tell the world what is really going on in Zimbabwe.

Why are we not showing the international community the brazen egregious violations of our rights?

Where are our own documentaries chronicling how elections were stolen, right from under our noses, by the ZANU PF regime?

Frankly, I was amazed at how quickly the ruling establishment in Zimbabwe managed to cobble together a documentary aimed at tarnishing the image of Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema.

In this hastily-produced program, entitled 'The Grand Regional Scheme' - Hichilema was painted as nothing more than a 'puppet of the West, deployed to eradicate the southern African region of all former liberation movements that are now in power'.

This was in response to the Zambian leader - as chair of the SADC Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation - assigning Nevers Mumba as head of the regional body's Election Observer Mission (EOM).

As nearly everyone now knows, this was one of the several teams - including the AU, COMESA, Commonwealth, and EU - which issued damning reports on Zimbabwe's harmonized elections held on 23rd and 24th August 2023.

The documentary was part of a panicked reaction - since the last people the regime in Zimbabwe expected to stand up for the truth were their own brethren in the region.

This is because SADC had traditionally turned a blind eye to all the obvious electoral irregularities, vote rigging, and violent crackdown on opponents - which have characterized Zimbabwean elections over the course of two decades  

Nonetheless, they (SADC) decided to expose these nefarious acts this time around, thereby making them known to the world.

President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa's administration went all out in launching a spirited scathing attack on the SEOM - curiously singling out only Mumba and Hichilema.

This was in a desperate effort to create the distorted impression that the adverse findings were the work of only one man, with the cooperation of the Zambian leader.

Of course, as made abundantly clear by the SADC Secretariat in Botswana, the report was a result of all the members of the observer mission - who were from Angola, Botswana, ESwatini, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Furthermore, the findings had been adopted after consultations with Member States of the SADC Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, supported by advice from the SADC Election Advisory Council (SEAC)  - and with the support of the SADC Secretariat.

Those facts, nonetheless, did not deter the Zimbabwe government and the ruling ZANU PF party from going on an all-out misinformation and disinformation campaign against only two individuals - Mumba and Hichilema.

Based on statements of protest and disgruntlement emanating from Zambia, it is clear that the documentary did not sit well with the leadership.

However, my greatest concern is: why are we silent as the main victims of this 'Grand Electoral Theft'?

Why are we not telling our own story?

In our deafening silence, we have actually allowed ZANU PF to divert attention from the real issue by creating a new narrative and focus.

As established by the impact of this documentary, it is simply not enough for us to merely write articles or make noise on social media.

Being a seasoned media practitioner myself, I appreciate the power of documentaries in effectively telling one's story whilst reaching a wider audience.

That is why Al Jazeera's 'Gold Mafia' undercover investigative documentary - on gold smuggling and money laundering in Zimbabwe by the ruling elite - sent shock waves across the corridors of power.

It had a profound effect that could never be matched by news reports, articles, or X (Twitter) posts, or even YouTube videos.

This is the arena we should also be focusing on as the oppressed people of Zimbabwe.

By now, we need to have produced our own narrative of what transpired before, during, and after the elections.

In actual fact, we should be telling stories of our unimaginable suffering and poverty, at the hand of those in power, on a regular basis.

Anyway, do we not already have videos of FAZ (Forever Associates of Zimbabwe) so-called 'exit survey tables' stationed near polling stations - where voters were forced to give their names and reveal for whom they were to vote?

Do we not have videos of ZANU PF candidates threatening villagers to the effect that the ruling establishment had ways and means of figuring out who voted for whom?

Do we not have pictures of opposition members and candidates being brutally beaten up by suspected ruling party thugs - as well as that of Tinashe Chitsunge, who was murdered in Harare as he and others attended an opposition CCC rally?

Do we not have first-hand testimonies of all those savagely brutalized and abducted - both in the lead up the elections and over the past few years?

Do we not have records of the numerous opposition CCC campaign rallies that were denied permission by law enforcement on the most bizarre and preposterous pretexts?

I am pretty sure there is much more information out there than we care to imagine - which will come out once word goes round that such a documentary is in the making.

If we can not stand up for ourselves, then at least let us tell our stories for the world to know.

Let us never lose cognizant of one cruel fact: the fight for justice is intertwined with the battle for the minds and hearts of the people around us.

If we desire the assistance of our regional and global brothers and sisters, we have to ensure that our stories are out there for all to see and hear.

At the moment, tragically, we merely sit by - as helpless spectators to our own lives - whilst our oppressors dictate the international narrative.

We should not act surprised when a significant share of regional leaders buy into this huge yarn that this entire electoral mess is simply a result of 'puppets of the West seeking to oust former liberation movements'.

In the end, a divided SADC and broader international community would be a massive loss for the ever-suffering people of Zimbabwe.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:, or visit website:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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