Munyaradzi Gwisai, Antonater Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Edson Chakuma, Hopewell Gumbo, 32, and Welcome Zimuto, 25 have been convicted for watching Arab Spring videos in Zimbabwe. As dramatic as this verdict is, there is a deafening silence from other activists including officials in the inclusive government, the Movement for Democratic Change, civic groups in Zimbabwe and other Human Rights Activists. Even though elections are a long way off in Zimbabwe there is a need to address issues of great injustice like this and because of the marked increase in violence in the recent past. As Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
They were initially charged with treason and then the charges were dropped to inciting public violence. However the groups of six were convicted this week and will be sentenced soon. The prosecutor was quoted calling for the death penalty which would have been the punishment had they been convicted on treason charges. As it stands the prosecution wants the maximum sentence of 10 years while the defense is advocating for a fine instead.
It seems befitting that if the government in Zimbabwe thinks watching videos of the Arab Spring constitutes treason then the citizens of Zimbabwe might as well give them a run for their money. They currently employ Chinese tactics of censoring the Internet so the only other way to get the word out would be to use cellphones. Maybe if thousands of people showed up at the courthouse to protest this massive injustice there would really have something to use against them.
If citizens in Zimbabwe can be convicted for watching videos, what purpose has the inclusive government served for the masses? This is one of those moments when the Prime Minister and the entire Movement for Democratic Change government must take a stand. The must take a stand not just because of these six activists but to say enough is enough on behalf of the nation. But for Activist Paul Chizuze still missing since early February, thousands of MDC activists displaced by violent ZANU-PF Youth, church members assaulted for not supporting Mugabe’s cronies and the many thousands of activists who have suffered at the hands of the opposition. Just as there was an Arab Spring in the Middle East, this must be the year for Zimbabweans. Mugabe must go! Mugabe must go! Mugabe must go!