Johannesburg – There are very few political protests in Zimbabwe these days, but one man, a pastor, staged one against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe last month and ended up in detention. But he says he will do it again. And again.
By: Peta Thornycroft
Patrick Mugadza, 45, a father of two, has been released on bail after 16 days in a hot and filthy prison cell in Victoria Falls.
He was arrested in the resort town last month when he staged a peaceful one-man protest at the annual Zanu-PF conference and carried a poster addressed to Mugabe, which read “Mr President, The People are suffering”.
He travelled more then 500km from his home town, Kariba, to demonstrate against Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF near the luxury hotel hosting the conference.
He was arrested and charged with “criminal nuisance”.
He could not raise bail of about R7 500, so the NGO Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights stepped in and appealed to the court to reduce it.
He was eventually freed on new year’s eve on R450 bail.
Mugadza, who has protested several times before against Mugabe, said he had “no regrets” about his protest and time in prison, but could not afford to travel home as he was due to go trial on Tuesday in Victoria Falls.
He said Zimbabweans had “sinned” when Mugabe was promoted from prime minister to president in 1990, because he was now a “god” with unfettered power which he used against ordinary people.
In an interview with New Zimbabwe.com, Mugadza said he shared the dirty 10sq/m police cell with 17 others.
“If you have seen the historical books when people were taken in for slavery, the way they were being chained and all that, that’s how we were sleeping. It was terrible. Victoria Falls is very hot.
“Being in prison in the first place was a violation of my rights. It was not constitutional, but that will not stop me.”
He said he met many people in prison who were being held without reason.
When he was arrested he thought about civil rights activist and regular anti-Zanu-PF protester Itai Dzamara, a married father of two, who was abducted from a barber’s shop in Harare nine months ago and has never been seen again.
Dzamara’s disappearance would not stop him from protesting again.
“Our liberation war heroes, including the president himself, braved a dangerous [then prime minister Ian] Smith regime and went to Mozambique to give us a free Zimbabwe. That’s a good inspiration for all of us.
“We must stand up… maybe civil servants will not be paid again next month? Who will be the next?”