On February 19th the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) Zimbabwean chapter, arranged a meeting calling on workers and students to support the struggle in solidarity with Egyptian and Tunisian workers. On the 24th February Wikileaks
Central released an article which begins:" Munyaradzi Gwisai, the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) general coordinator, and 45 others were charged in Zimbabwe today with treason, which carries the death penalty, or subverting a constitutionally elected government, for which the maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment"
In this meeting they watched video footage from the north African and Middle Eastern protests and allegedly offered the following commentary on the situation in Zimbabwe:"in Zimbabwe, there was a long authoritarian leadership , general hunger, poverty, unemployment and capitalist practices where wealth was enjoyed by a few individuals while the general populace of Zimbabwe was suffering."
And this is controversial because......? Here is a quote from Sherry Wolfs Blog:
"Mugabe's "free-market" policies and corruption have led to hyperinflation in excess of 100,000 percent (yes, that's not a typo) and exacerbated the poverty of a nation already laid waste by colonialism and HIV/AIDS. Out of a population of 12.5 million, 1.6 million are living with HIV/AIDS, and because unemployment is a shocking 94 percent of the population, women and girls are forced to trade sex for food"
This is controversial because there is an election looming and Mugabe is increasing his censorship efforts with new press laws that deny further any freedoms of speech. It was a brutal campaign of torture and intimidation by his police thugs that helped him cling on to power in 2008. Even though there are little signs of the uprising spreading south, the prospect of being the next long term autocrat to topple is clearly making him twitchy. This is reflected in a statement from the Congress of South African Trade Unions: "The Egyptian and Tunisian experience have inspired many workers and poor people all over the world to stand up and demand an end to dictatorship, corruption and injustice of whatever kind."
Mugabe's censorship efforts have led to a spate of beatings and arrests and the ISO are no longer able to circulate their paper. To this end they have released this plea:
"We also ask socialists in other countries to forward the updates we email out, and to publicise them, so that workers internationally can get the real story of what is happening in Zimbabwe"
is still active and here are some insights from a very good article: "What Zimbabwe is going through is a manifestation of an entire global economy in recession. There is no way out of this crisis using capitalist means. The state can revive the economy a bit by pumping out money, but then inflation will rise even further. There is only one way out of this crisis, not only in Zimbabwe but world-wide, and that is dismantling the whole system of capitalism"
"We are saying "No to dictatorship" - meaning ZANU-PF - and "no to neo-liberalism" - meaning MDC"
The good news is 40 of the prisoners were released without charge Human Rights Watch
issued the following statement: "The Zimbabwe authorities should immediately free the activists and drop these outrageous charges," "Arresting people for watching a video on the historic events in the Middle East is a transparent pretext to block peaceful criticism of the government."
However 6 remained. Reports of the torture they have endured is alarming and I can not yet find confirmation of this, but according to reports Tafadzwa Antonater Choto (36) (pictured above right) was told by guards " Today we will beat you until your period comes". There are reports that Tafadzwa has already suffered beatings from Mugabe's Police thugs as she walks with a limp after being clubbed along with others during a women’s rights meeting.
One imagines that Munyaradzi (pictured top left) is the jewel in the crown for Mugabe. He has spent years as a defender of workers’ rights. He is a law lecturer was a member of parliament and as stated above is a coordinator for the ISO. He is a prominent voice that Mugabe will want quieting.
Solidarity efforts from human right's and socialist organisations have led to funding to meet bail at a cost of $2000 (USD) each.VOA
Zimbabwe news reports that Justice Kudya ruled there was no evidence the suspects would skip bail or interfere with investigations and witnesses. and with regard opposition to bail “From the averments of the State, I find that its case is, so far, not a strong one,” .
I have contacted Ann Tomoko Rosen who is coordinating online solidarity efforts and she informs that although the bail hearing was successful this offers no indication that the 6 may evade the death penalty or lengthy incarceration. So what can we do
From Socialist Worker
An international day of action to demand their release will be held on Monday, March 21, when they are scheduled for a court hearing.
Our message is simple and urgent: We demand that the government of Zimbabwe drop all charges and release them immediately.
Plans are underway for demonstrations in a number of countries. We urge concerned people everywhere to join us in organizing meetings and demonstrations in solidarity with the prisoners. Please translate and distribute this appeal as widely as possible. Let us know know what you are doing at the contact addresses below.
Website with petition: http://www.freethemnow.com/index.html
Join the facebook group:http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_178601402184959
To endorse the March 21 actions, please send a message to both of these addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contribute to the legal defense of the activists, as well as support for their families.Donate to the "Free the Zimbabwe 45" fund
Send an urgent e-mail to Zimbabwean officials calling for the immediate release of the remaining six activists:
Include these e-mail addresses in the "To" line: email@example.com
Forward your message separately to these supporters of democracy, so they have a record of who has appealed to the regime:firstname.lastname@example.org