The 30th anniversary of Zimbabwe’s independence isn't a time for celebration but it is a time when most Zimbabweans will mourn their lack of basic freedoms, including their freedom of speech.
Christian Aid partner the Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ) is publishing a booklet called ‘I-stories’ in a move to speak openly and freely about what Zimbabwe’s young people have experienced during the last decade of the country’s decline.
Many young Zimbabweans have suffered arrests and beatings for being student activists campaigning for an end to extreme poverty in Zimbabwe.
During the 2008 elections, many people living in extreme poverty - particularly young people - became caught up in and incited as perpetrators of violence during a period of politically motivated conflict.
As a result, many young adults were also severely beaten, bullied and intimidated.
The I-stories booklet brings together the stories of some of the young people caught up in this violence to help them understand each other and what happened.
It includes eight personal student testimonies, including stories from several SCMZ staff and student activist members.
This Christian Aid audio-slideshow features some of those who contributed their stories.
With support from Christian Aid, the booklet is being distributed nationwide through SCMZ groups in schools, colleges and universities to its 5,000 members.
No freedom of speech
‘There is no freedom of speech in Zimbabwe, because there is no freedom after speech,’ explains Innocent, the 26-year-old national coordinator of SCMZ.
Innocent has experienced both physical and psychological abuse at the hands of state security forces for his involvement in student activism and for speaking out.
Among other activities, he suffered abuse for running a Christian Aid-funded project to educate young people on their rights and the importance of their vote ahead the elections in March 2008.
He has been arrested and beaten so many times he has lost count.
‘There are certain rights that some people enjoy in certain countries, like freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of media. They are not quite so prevalent in Zimbabwe’ says Innocent.
‘You have to look side to side before you can start to comment about the situation here’.
Christian Aid and elections
Through our partners, Christian Aid is helping Zimbabweans in deeply scarred communities to choose alternative, constructive and peaceful means to have their voice and opinions heard.
With more elections being predicted for next year, Christian Aid believes it is important we act now to do what we can to limit the likelihood of the violence that marred the 2008 elections.
Partner focus: Making the impossible possible in Zimbabwe
Rights and justice