Truth be told, the judiciary’s shocking mishandling of Bill of Rights cases these days is eerily reminiscent of the gukurahundi years, when the Rhodesian State of Emergency retained between 1980 and 1990 was ruthlessly enforced.
But there was an important difference then, now lost to the judiciary.
While government used a decade of the retention of the Rhodesian State of Emergency for political purposes against targeted political enemies – especially Zapu and the population in Matabeleland and parts of the Midlands – the judiciary then stood firm as the protector of the Bill of Rights and defender of human rights and freedoms.
Ironically, this was under a Lancaster Constitution whose Bill of Rights was in fact meant for the white minority and was entrenched only for 10 years precisely to give the white minority time to either take the gap to apartheid South Africa or the white Commonwealth countries, if not back to Britain itself.
The point here is that during the gukurahundi years – in which the order of the day was the Rhodesian State of Emergency whose effect was the obliteration of the Lancaster Bill of Rights – draconian convictions and sentences like the one imposed on Ngarivhume by Magistrate Feresi Chakanyuka were unheard of.