Another objective of this blog which I failed to mention in its inaugural post is that it be a tool for my own continuing education with regard to the Zimbabwe situation. As such, this enterprise is very much, and will continue to be, a work in progress. Input and suggestions are welcome. Finally, part of the work that needs to be done and that will be done on this blog is to acknowledge, and link to, the important work, analysis and organizing being done already by a wide range of bloggers focusing exclusively or occasionally on Zimbabwe, journalists, and other civil society actors activists and members of the democratic opposition in Zimbabwe.
I said in the previous post that it is clear that Zimbabwe in 2006 falls more squarely into the "fear society" than the "free society" category. In just the past month, there has been ample evidence that the GOZ fails the "Town Square Test" miserably. First, approximately 30 members of WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise) were arrested in Harare on September 11th ahead of a planned sit-in at "Town House". The sit-in had been intended to demonstrate Harare residents’ anger at the shocking service delivery experienced in the capital. Then, there was the brutal repression on September 13th of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union's (ZCTU) attempt to organize a march to demonstrate--not for anything as radical as a change in the GOZ--but to demand an increase in the nation’s minimum wage and universal access to antiviral drugs to combat HIV/AIDS. ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo and First Vice President Lucia Matibenga were among trade unionists arrested and badly injured. ZCTU General Secretary Wellington Chibebe, winner of the U.S.A. labor union AFL-CIO’s 2003 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award was also arrested. Several days after the protests, the GOZ decided to bar entry into the country of a group of American Black Trade Unionists who had sought to meet with the injured Zimbabwean trade unionists. It is interesting to note that the GOZ official press attempted to smear the American group, describing them as a "right wing" union. The Congress of Black Trade Unionists' credentials in standing up for workers rights in the U.S. as well as in Zimbabwe, including its frequent criticism of the George Bush government are well established. Via its own blog, the AFL-CIO condemned the GOZ's arrest and brutalization of the ZCTU leaders and its refusal to allow entry into the country of representatives of the AFL-CIO member organization CBTU. On September 27th, the civic group National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), organized a march and were, again, met with a brutal police response. Finally, several leaders of Zimbabwe National Students' Union (ZINASU) were arrested on October 11th following a peaceful march of around 800 of them to demand demanding the improvement of conditions at the country's universities.