Community Development Politics

Job Sikhala prepared to pay any price in defence of democracy

Job Sikhala. Photo: NewZimbabwe.com
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Job Sikhala

For nearly two years, from the 14th of June 2022 to January 30, 2024, I was a subject of repression and kept in prison, being denied bail. I took the challenge in the stride, taking it as we go. When you are under attack, I learned not to panic but to repel everything thrown at you and use it to sustain myself against all adversities. I am hardened ladies and gentlemen. There is nothing that would be thrown at me that will either shake or frighten me. In reflection, when I came out, I issued the following Thanksgiving statement.

“For nearly two years, I suffered in my oppressor’s dungeon. You prayed for me to be released from the jaws of my tormentors. You clamored loudly for my release as you knew that I was innocent. You stood with my family. I am crying as I type this statement. Your love strengthened me throughout. I deeply understand the pain and agony we shared together during the period of my unmitigated oppression but let me reassure all of you that;

I am prepared to pay any price for the love of my country, I am prepared to pay any price for the love of Zimbabwe.

I am prepared to pay any price in defense of democracy, freedom, and the happiness of our people.

To all Zimbabweans in the country and the diaspora, I thank you.

Let me thank all progressive organizations in politics, the media, civic society, student bodies, professionals, and members of parliament both domestically and internationally for ceaselessly condemning the tyrannical persecutions perpetrated upon me by my enemies.

Let me also thank members of the Diplomatic Corps from world democracies and Africa whose solidarity was priceless.

I also want to thank the World Governments who remained alert to what was transpiring on my persecution.

To the Free Job Sikhala Solidarity Movement, you were the missing link in Zimbabwe’s political equation. To my lawyers, words alone are insufficient to express my gratitude. To Mai Sikhala and family, thank you very much for your love. With all my love, may the Almighty God bless all of you.

If I omitted or overlooked to thank others who devoted their time, energy, and emotions to my freedom, my sincere apologies. I sincerely thank you. The new democratic culture that we will ever strive to achieve, even if it means with our own blood, does not absolve me from criticism of omissions which I could have done. This is the cornerstone of the democratic struggle we have been engaging in, and which we desire to build in Zimbabwe.

It is sad that for the past two years when I was in prison, things have turned for the worse. I still found people in abject poverty, struggling for a meal a day, shrinking democratic space, entrenched dictatorship, fear, and hopelessness of the direction the country is going. Elections came and went when I was in prison, amid an extremely toxic political environment, and the clamor for economic and electoral reforms.

Before going further, any form of electoral process in our country under the same usual conditions and without the necessary reforms to deliver the will of the people has been a challenge confronting us as Zimbabwe since the emergency of the mass democratic struggle in our Country.

This is the center of the democratic struggle for any future political trajectory in Zimbabwe. The call for reforms shall be the forte of our struggle and shall position and give the people of Zimbabwe a golden chance to choose leaders of their own choice. The question to ask is whether the mass democratic struggle is going to achieve a different result from our experiences of the past.

What is the strategy? I will come to this subject at a later stage.

What is currently happening in the opposition is not uncommon. It is the common political strategy that has happened and been implemented by despots throughout the world down the centuries. Mobutu Sese Seko used the same strategy of distributing patronage and buying individuals in opposition ranks to destroy and disorganize it by exploiting the discovered weaknesses in the opposition superstructure. During the mass democratic revolt against imperialism and colonialism in our own country, the Rhodesian kingpin Ian Douglas Smith implemented the strategy with perfection to the extent of delivering an internal settlement. Series of Apartheid leaders applied the same strategy and tactics and ended up establishing homelands which purportedly gave a façade of independence to black self-governed enclaves. Dear Zimbabweans and worldwide friends, Zimbabwe is at a crossroads.

Coming back to the question of whether the mass democratic struggle in our nation is going to achieve a different result from our experiences of the past? Yes, it will be. Yes, it will be. How? Our seemingly unsurmountable struggle for freedom and emancipation needs everyone on board, whether black, white or yellow. It is our challenge together. Our struggle should not be restricted by narrowness, lack of initiative, and hesitation. The question of what to do next is answered by the authors and originators of the mass democratic struggle in Zimbabwe who are the people who, in February 1999, spoke through the People’s Working Convention, where all constituent bodies were represented. The People’s Working Convention was an affirmation to Martin Luther King Jnr’s proclamation that:

“There comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression. There comes a time when people get tired of being flung across the abyss of humiliation where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair.”

The weakness of our 1999 approach was that the meeting of the constituent bodies was heavy at the top with only the ZCTU having grassroots structures. It was the meeting of constituent bodies at the national leadership level with less participation from the shopfloor and village level which eventually led to the clash of egos. Zimbabwe needs a way forward to answer the national question, of where to from here.

The way forward on what should be done from here will come from the people through a Mass Nationwide Democratic Consultative Process. The national consultative process will convene Nationwide Democratic Consultative Conventions.

The Consultative process will involve all important constituent bodies, that is, the general masses of our people, labor, students, traditional leaders, churches, civic society, businesspersons, professionals, residents’ associations, informal traders, women clubs, farmers, peasants, youth organizations, progressive political organizations, war veterans, war collaborators, artists, corporate business sector, and people living with disabilities. It will start from the village to the ward, district, and the provincial level.

This process will be conducted by the representatives of different constituent bodies at every level. The process will eventually lead to the convening of the National People’s Democratic Convention. The input and ideas that will come from the people will be collated and coalesced by the National Democratic Taskforce made up of seconded persons from different constituent bodies who will be the conveners of the National Democratic Peoples Convention. Each ward, in this process, shall elect a delegate to attend the National People’s Democratic Convention which will debate the views collated and coalesced during the Democratic Consultative Conventions held at the shopfloor and grassroots level throughout the country. This will be our guide to the future.

Critics are pointing out that some constituent bodies have been hijacked by ZANU PF like what they have done to the CCC. Let me give you as an example, bodies such as ZCTU, or any other constituent body do not mean persons at the leadership level. ZCTU is the worker who is at the shopfloor level. It is not its leadership. There is no ward, district, or province without a student, a worker or a church elder. Those are the ones that will constitute the Democratic Consultative Convention. Therefore, there will be no one left without being consulted from Malipati to Matusadonha, from Kotwa to Manama, and from Sipepa to Muzarabani. We are embodied by the declaration of Nelson Mandela that;

“Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely daydreaming, but vision with action can change the world.”

We are not here to pronounce the emergence of a political organization but a broad-based mass democratic movement for everyone in the advancement of the mass democratic struggle in the fashion of the United Democratic Front (UDF) of the 1980s in apartheid South Africa. This is motivated by the remembrance of the great ideals held by many Zimbabweans who perished during the period of the liberation struggle, Gukurahundi, and those who died since the resuscitation of the goals and aspirations of the mass democratic struggle in February 1999.

Dala Costa had this message for all the leaders, “Do not promise what you cannot deliver, do not misrepresent, do not hide behind spin doctored evasions, do not suppress obligations, do not evade accountability, do not accept the survival of the fittest pressures”.

We promise that we will stand by our word and deliver in terms of our pact. We are not men and women of empty threats. We are decisive in our declarations.

The mass democratic struggle is people-driven and owned. Every struggle waged throughout the world has succeeded when people own it. The masses must own the next decisive stage of our struggle. Whether I will be there with you or not, as my enemies have not shelved their plan to assassinate me for the sins best known to themselves, this process must proceed uninhibited to finality.

With or without resources, the people shall carry out this most important task in the decisive phase of our history and our people’s struggle against tyranny for their freedom, dignity, and prosperity. To all those who have returned their democratic right to cling to the CCC carcass, I wish them all the best in their project.

We pray to the God of David to give us strength not to be shaken by the antics of our enemies and to bless the fruits of our labour and efforts.

I thank you all.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende