Harare – A prominent activist in Zimbabwe is chronicling his unpaid work as a labourer at the Harare Magistrates’ Court with thoughtful posts on Facebook.
Patson Dzamara was last week sentenced to do 315 hours of community service for “obstructing the course of justice”.
‘Working for the nation’
On day one on Monday he posted a picture of himself raking up litter.
“Welcome to my new normal. For the next two months, I will be working for the ‘nation’ from 8am to 4pm every week day. Isn’t our government good?,” wrote Dzamara.
“Zimbabweans, subtract 1 ‘job’ from the 2.2 million jobs your government promised.”
The next day he posted a picture of himself in blue overalls and plastic gloves, holding a toilet brush and a bottle of detergent.
“I have made the bewildering discovery that the male toilets are actually generally cleaner than those for females,” he noted with grim amusement.
See pictures below.
Patson is the outspoken brother of Itai Dzamara, an anti-government protester snatched two years ago by unknown men from a Harare barber’s shop in broad daylight.
Since then Patson has proved himself a thorn in the flesh of President Robert Mugabe’s government through his tireless demands over the whereabouts of his brother.
The community service imposed on Dzamara and co-accused Makomborero Haruzivishe, a student leader, stem from a peaceful protest they staged in Harare a year ago.
‘Break their spirits’
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) said on Wednesday the imposition of community service appeared to be a new attempt to cow activists.
“There appears to be a new strategy of negatively profiling activists using court convictions on trumped up charges,” it said in a statement.
Earlier this year another activist, Linda Masarira, was sentenced to do 385 hours.
“This is a new attempt at giving activists a bad profile as a way to break their spirits,” ZimRights director Okay Machisa said. “We are obviously worried by this development.”
Nevertheless, Dzamara appears unsubdued.
A new Zimbabwe
Wednesday’s Facebook post showed him with three street kids he met on his way to “work”. He said each one had a dream: to be a doctor, a farmer, a driver.
“They too must be accorded an opportunity to realise those dreams. It is hard to imagine under the current situation but it is very possible in a new Zimbabwe,” he wrote.
With more than 200 hours of ‘work’ still to go, Dzamara will have plenty of time for dreams of his own.