On the 1st of May activists from Africa Contact expressed solidarity with women in Zimbabwe – and the activists worked to get other people to join forces with them in their virtual petition, to stop political violence against women, thereby sending a strong signal that backing and support is there for them, in their fight for a more democratic and just society – also as far away as in Denmark.
For women in Zimbabwe being subjected to politically motivated violence is regrettably a fright they have to live with when being politically active in any way or even when it’s not the woman herself but her husband or other male relatives who are involved with the political opposition or civil society organizations. This of course represses the scope for both personal and democratic freedom as well as it is threatening the development of institutions and processes encouraging democratic participation.
Political violence is by no means a new phenomenon in Zimbabwe. In the new book; When a State Turns Against its Citizens: Institutionalized Violence and Political Culture, Lloyd Sachikonye, associated Professor at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Zimbabwe, explicates how Zimbabwean politics of today and the continual violence that emanates from it have origins in the Liberation War (1964-1979), in the inter-party conflicts that arose at this time and in the actions of the Rhodesian armed forces during the war. Seen in this light Zimbabwean politics have become entrenched in a tradition and practice of violence.
Lloyd Sachikonye’s focus in the book though is on the period since 2000. In this last decade political violence has increased in Zimbabwe and democratic space has withered as the state has become progressively more authoritarian and suppressive regarding the political opposition and civil society. In 2008 violence erupted during election period and again this year, by assumptions of an upcoming election, violence has escalated once more.
As the perpetrators of violence enjoy impunity, this makes the fight against political violence even harder and necessitates an even stronger voice to advocate for the victims as well as for democratic progress.
Zimbabweans are struggling for democracy, for freedom and for their rights and especially the women are systematically targeted with violent actions as beatings and rapes. We should all join in giving our support and encouragement to keep up the fight against the practice and culture of political violence.
Read more on Lloyd Sachikonye’s book at: http://jacana.book.co.za/blog/2011/03/23/new-release-when-a-state-turns-against-its-citizens-by-lloyd-sachikonye/