Mr. President, questioning you doesn’t make us ‘rogue elements’!

BY Tendai Ruben Mbofana

At times, I can not help wondering if those who love reminding us that they ‘fought for this country’ fully comprehend what they actually ‘fought for’.

A day never seems to pass by without President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa preaching about having ‘brought democracy to Zimbabwe’.

During the 123rd Ordinary Session of ZANU PF’s Central Committee in Harare, the president was at it again.

Does he actually understand what that word even means?

In fact, he had the temerity to accuse all those who sought to stand up against his kleptomaniac oppressive regime as ‘rogue elements’ bent on causing dissent in the country.

So, those merely desiring to exercise their inalienable right to peacefully demonstrate are ‘rogue elements’?

Let us also not forget that this is not just an inalienable right but one protected and guaranteed in Zimbabwe’s own Constitution under section 59.

Why, then, would a whole head of state threaten this very right?

Is he seriously telling us that he lacks even the basic understanding of the country’s supreme law and human rights?

Yet, this is supposed to be a trained, qualified lawyer!

What is even more worrying is that the Mnangagwa regime has now adopted a disturbing habit of always automatically branding any potential demonstrations against their misrule and corruption, which have caused the abject poverty of millions of ordinary Zimbabweans, as ‘incitement to violence’.

How does one’s right to demonstrate automatically be construed as an intention to participate in violence and unrest?

Who, in the recent past, has ever called for violent protests against the regime?

Have all those aggrieved with Mnangagwa and his administration not always made a point of urging for ‘peaceful demonstrations’.

Personally, quite frankly, I have never come across any opposition leader or rights activist who has urged Zimbabweans to engage in violence.

So, from where are all these accusations by Mnangagwa emanating?

Even opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume, who, in April 2023, was jailed for three years for ostensibly ‘inciting violence’, had never done such a thing.

That is why he was subsequently acquitted by the High Court after appeal – as the judges established that the lower court had erred by convicting him without even prima facie evidence.

By then, he had already spent eight months in prison.

This is how low Zimbabwe has sunk!

Just because there were two violent protests a whole five years ago can never justify the government violating the country’s supreme law.

This is a sacrosanct document that should never be taken lightly and disregarded willy-nilly, particularly by those who took an oath to ‘uphold, obey, and defend the Constitution of Zimbabwe’.

A head of state who genuinely seeks to ‘uphold, obey, and defend the Constitution of Zimbabwe’ should actually fiercely defend the right for citizens to demonstrate, even against his own government.

The only thing he must demand is that these demonstrations be conducted peacefully in accordance with the supreme law.

He needs to actually be at the forefront of ensuring that all citizens are educated about this right and what is, in turn, expected of them.

Those disgruntled with the government have to be taught their responsibilities in the process of exercising their right to demonstrate. 

The police and other state security organs similarly need to be trained on how to protect both the demonstrators and other citizens who may not want to participate in the mass action.

That is the best way of ensuring that the horrendous scenes of August 2008 and January 2009 are never repeated in Zimbabwe.

That is what is expected of a leader who truly understands democracy and human rights – which he always claims to have ‘fought for’.

Nonetheless, any president whose only reaction to a call for peaceful demonstrations – especially against his own government – is that this is the work of ‘rogue elements’, clearly lacks a comprehension of democracy.

He may have ‘fought for democracy’ but without even understanding what it is exactly he was ‘fighting for’.

It would appear Mnangagwa believes democracy in Zimbabwe is all about everyone praising him and singing his glory.

In Mnangagwa’s mind, the fact that he ‘fought for this country’s democracy’ entitles him to be the only one to govern this country – virtually unchallenged and unquestioned.

In so doing, anyone else who dares challenge him has effectively gone ‘rogue’!

Mr. President, that is, in fact, what is called dictatorship.

As a matter of fact, is that why he sounded so spooked as he addressed his party top brass, when he warned former liberation movements in the region to be wary of a supposed ‘onslaught’ against them?

So, anyone who opposes these former liberation movements is an enemy and a Western-sponsored puppet – bent on ‘reversing the gains of independence’?

Wow, if that is his understanding of democracy then this country is in real danger.

What ‘gains of independence’ are there to defend, in the first place?

If citizens were genuinely ‘enjoying the gains or fruits of independence’ why would he have sleepless nights over the likelihood of them revolting against his regime?

Besides, wanting a sitting government out of power, through constitutional means, is an essential component of democracy.

Yet, as far as Mnangagwa is concerned, this is a bad thing.

What, then, is this ‘democracy’ which he supposedly ‘fought for’?

It appears Mnangagwa’s interpretation of democracy is disturbingly warped and twisted!

If you treat Zimbabweans with the dignity they deserve, Mr. President, you wouldn’t be so terrified of citizens deciding to exercise their democratic right to peacefully demonstrate.

If you treated your own citizens with the utmost respect, why would we even want to protest against you?

Therefore, before issuing threats against ordinary Zimbabweans, who are merely crying out against your injustices, please first look yourself in the mirror.

Ask yourself if how you are governing Zimbabwe is what ‘you fought for’.

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

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