Zimbabwe’s struggle to breathe – how it looks from where I am

Caged bird in Zimbabwe

Caged bird – Zimbabwe, Africa

Zimbabwe is in real trouble – in a frantic struggle for breath.

The police and military are on the streets trying to force the people back inside – to keep them away from the demonstration against corruption that has been called for tomorrow. Evidence of whippings and intimidation already circle social media.

Such abuse is not new, but in the past it used to be targeted at individual sections of Zimbabwean society, so as to split any resistance limb from limb. However, this tactic of division has now been swopped for a more blanket-fisted approach, and the battle for breath grows deeper.

Many, many lives that matter have been lost, and yet still there is no surrender as Zimbabweans try to shift the corrosive knee of corruption from their neck.

Today, a new dimension – a pandemic – has added urgency to this fight for air, and there are signs that a younger generation has come forward to help.

Over the past few months the thieving scams of some of the well-connected have been exposed by brave journalists, and the consequences of such theft brought into bleak focus as COVID-19 advances. Under-funded institutions, threadbare services, a starving workforce, and a hocus-pocus currency can provide little shelter to the citizens who have to rely increasingly on international aid for survival.

It is humiliating, and an agony to watch, to look in through the country’s factured windows, and to glimpse the indignities and despair suffered by those trapped on the inside. Every day lives are ground to misery – voices silenced with beatings and brutality, and leaders harassed, tortured, abducted, killed – and over it all there hangs the silence of propaganda and fear.

Tomorrow, 31 July 2020, surrounded by pandemic and collapse, Zimbabweans will try to stand again, to add their voices to their own gasps for air.

The hope has to be that this new surge of spirit, this peaceful demonstration planned well in advance, will secure the dignity craved. Who knows?

The only certainty is that Zimbabweans do not give up. They know the calibre of the heart that lies smothered.

May their future be better than their present, and may their children be proud of them.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2020


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