…Towards sealing Tonderai Ndira’s everlasting legacy in 2018

By Roy Muroyi

Today deep political fault-lines remain messy for all in Zimbabwe, we are tired of being molested by these “great giants” of the Liberation war, who know nothing about governance. They pretend to be presiding over a people who never gave them a mandate. They mock every peaceful effort we make to restore order in the country.

As we approach another year end I wish to remind all Zimbabweans that one of the country’s most peaceful political activists Tonderai Ndira will not again be preaching the gospel of democracy to the masses of Zimbabwe and more specifically to the youths of Zimbabwe going towards the 2018 election. The year 2018 will mark exactly a decade after the 2008 run up election, coincidentally this is the year Ndira and fifty other Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists were brutally murdered, but his legacy lives on.

Tonderai Ndira is a symbol of Zimbabwe’s political struggles, his death came during the bloodshed election in 2008. Ndira constantly spoke about his dedication to the liberation of Zimbabwe and that his death should not be mourned but rather celebrated. After the death of Ndira many comrades in the opposition could speak of a sense of loss and devastation, of anger, of the unleashing of resistance and the rededication that came with the murder of Ndira.

They could tell of the personal pain they felt at the loss of a dear friend, comrade and leader. They could also share a sense of fear, and for some guilt, that he died and they had continued to live.

For some there may have been some despair and hopelessness, for example fellow activist Jimmy Chidhakwa expressed his anger at the killers and also the party leadership for not protecting Ndira given his position in the party during a complex and dangerous period like this.

As the sun was rising on May 14 of 2008 just after Robert Mugabe had lost a Presidential election to his bitter rival Morgan Tsvangirai by a small margin, Ndira was asleep at this house in impoverished township of Mabvuku, east of Harare. Around eight armed men wearing masks and dressed in plain clothes barged in and pulled him from his bed, Ndira was under siege. In the full view of his wife and two children Mkoma Tonde was shoved into a truck by these men and they drove off.

After a week of searching for Mkoma Tonde, his brother Cosmas Ndira recognised his brother’s decomposing remains thanks to his height and his distinctive wrist bangle. His body was found in a Harare mortuary with bodies on the floor and failing electricity. A post-mortem conducted showed that Mkoma Tonde had been asphyxiated. Such is the legacy of this revolution that Mkoma Tonde had joined.

Ndira‘s legacy in Zimbabwe can easily be likened by the South Africa’s Steve Biko who died fighting apartheid rule. Both these two figured argued defiance against undemocratic rule. Ndira remains our national hero and an inspiration to the youths his activism went beyond the politics and ideologies of the MDC he went around the country holding workshops, teaching the people about their rights and democracy. It is however important to understand that as long as his killers and the many other perpetrators of political violence in Zimbabwe evade justice, the “sovereignty” of the country remains an illusion.

Exactly a decade after Ndira’s death, the people of Zimbabwe will run for another election like a chicken with a knife on its throat. The demon of violence and intimidation has not been exorcised. The newly formed NERA union of opposition parties has yielded very little results so far. Under the NERA banner very little has been done to insure electoral reforms have been implemented. We are still living in the 2008 era as it stands with Zanu pf scoring yet another victory by introducing the bond notes against every one’s wishes. An era that saw innocent civilians being victimised and killed.  Houses were torched on both sides across the political divide and  images of the beaten and tortured were wired around the world, and diplomats based in Harare collected eyewitness accounts of the horrors being unleashed in the countryside by people variously described as war veterans, militias or soldiers. The opposition political leadership has not been firm enough to change the political landscape to make it conducive for an election to be held. There is no doubt in my mind that if the NERA Electoral reforms are implemented the legacy of Ndira will be sealed within a blink of an eye. NERA advocates amongst other issues, a clean voter’s role, diaspora vote, nonpartisan execution of duties by the armed forces and also a non-partisan broadcast by the national broadcaster (ZBC).

After the death of Ndira the MDC went on to get into an unholy union with the Mugabe regime, this again did not yield any significant reforms that could possibly enable a free and fair election in Zimbabwe. Popcorn demonstrations have sprawled up across the country but to these the regime has again given a deaf ear. We have seen opposition leaders like Themba Mliswa going on against the very document that they subscribe to which clearly states that “NO REFORMS NO ELECTIONS”, contesting for an election in this very same political landscape that we are saying is not conducive for an election. It is very clear that to some it’s an issue of taking chances and I doubt this is what pro- democracy advocates like Ndira would have supported. We need unit of purpose if ever electoral reforms are to be achieved. We need a principled leadership if we have any hopes of reviving this dear country. We need everyone to play their role so that we avoid the political roller coaster that our country has had when it comes to elections and seal Ndira’s legacy come 2018.

RIP comrade Ndira #Salute

Roy Muroyi is a pro-democracy promoter who also believes in youth emancipation and participation in all facets of governance.