“IF YOU DON’T CHANGE YOUR MINDSET THE ONLY THING THAT WILL CHANGE IS YOUR AGE” –VIOMAK
In her world of activism Viomak has spearheaded many campaigns for social and political change such as the anti-poverty, anti-donor funds abuse, anti-corruption, anti -political violence, and the women dignity campaign. She remains a pioneer of the Zimbabwe Protest Movement (ZIPROMO) whose activism has inspired many Zimbabweans to speak out publicly and confidently against social and political ills ravaging Zimbabwe.
Ever since Viomak started her socio-political activism she has been a strong proponent of anti poverty and demanding that government stop buying luxury cars for ministers, build mansions but instead set their priorities right and feed the nation first. To eradicate the poverty, Viomak is strongly campaigning against the chaotic land reform program in 2000-2002, whereby vast productive farm lands were violently seized from white farmers and handed over to black Zimbabweans. The land redistribution program was not based on merit or competence but it was based on who is who in ZanuPF and Zimbabwe politics. Since this farming disaster blacks have failed to utilize the farms for national development and the economy has been destroyed leaving many Zimbabweans languishing in poverty. Viomak is tirelessly campaigning for farms to be given back to white farmers as they are much more competent than black farmers. She is always demanding and proposing a reserve of the destructive land reform programme and challenging ZanuPF and Robert Mugabe that white farmers engage in large scale farming and produce for the nation and for export markets thus if farms are given back to such competent farmers Zimbabwe will once again be the bread basket of Africa thus poverty will be history.
In 2005, Robert Mugabe embarked on an evil and illegal operation that saw his terrorists destroy poor people‘s houses and businesses saying their structures were filthy. Operation Murambatsvina (Drive out Trash) was condemned worldwide as it left many Zimbabweans suffering in poverty and homeless. According to UN estimates, the destruction affected 2.4 million people. ZANU PF characterized the operation as a crackdown against illegal housing and commercial activities, and as an effort to reduce the risk of the spread of infectious disease. The United Nations described the campaign as an effort to drive out and make homeless large sections of the urban and rural poor, who oppose Mugabe. After seeing the photos of the desperate victims Viomak went to one of the most affected areas, Epworth on the outskirts of Harare and she took videos showing some desperate families who are now living in plastic houses. The government promised to give them shelter in an operation code named Operation Garikai but nothing has been done and the families are suffering with no one to look up to. Viomak has donated cash for food and has paid school fees for some affected orphans. Viomak continues to be an anti-poverty campaigner donating money for food to many needy Zimbabweans.
Viomak is well known for spearheading an effective and inspiring anti-donor funds abuse campaign following the abuse of donor funds by some local Zimbabwe Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) organizations and individuals purporting to be raising funds for causes that never materialize. Many such NGO’s receive funding from Western countries purporting to be initiating various programmes and once funded the funds are diverted to personal use. In many such instances the funds and material donations are diverted to personal use while the beneficiaries are sidelined and don’t benefit from the donations in any way. Viomak uses social media to denounce the donor funds abuse and challenges the abusers in some cases. Her determination and courage has inspired other Zimbabweans and motivated them to speak out against donor funds abuse and donor funds abusers.
Viomak’s activism has seen her become a renowned anti-corruption campaigner denouncing government, Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) and other Zimbabwe public and private sectors corruption. Zimbabweans are now generally afraid of being victimised and have generally become politically passive because of ZanuPF abuse and so the importance of activism as a force of social change is what Viomak is working on so as to see a politically active society that is ready to demand good governance. Zimbabwe is on the top list for being a corrupt government and activism will help to eradicate this problem. The banned singer who confirmed once more that her music and work is still blacked out by Zimbabwe media has amassed a lot of enemies along the way for her truthful activism and outspokenness against bad governance and corruption in ZanuPF and MDC-T, but said she will not be intimidated into silence and is determined to continue the activism until good governance and democracy is restored in Zimbabwe.
On 12 February 2009 Voices of the oppressed (VOTO), an organization run by protest singer cum political activist Viomak, spearheaded a campaign seeking to have all MDC Government of National Unity (GNU) leaders declare their personal assets. This is a citizen effort to hold Zimbabwe leaders accountable as a way of monitoring and combating corruption and achieving democracy something that ZanuPF failed to do. Viomak released the single song Chinja Maitiro which is the foundation of this campaign to initiative change as a leadership reform initiative. She is at the fore front of running the campaign to curb Zimbabwe government corruption and using the song to motivate and inspire Zimbabweans to be responsible citizens who demand transparency and accountability from their leaders. The song was inspired by MDC’s popular slogan Chinja Maitiro which asks Zimbabweans to change their way of doing things and vote for MDC .Viomak is using the same slogan to have MDC leaders lead by example and declare their personal assets in order to create a government of transparency and accountability something they are expected to do as opposition. This time it is not about her music protesting only but it is also about producing music to raise awareness about a specific governance cause.
In support of the campaign Viomak also drafted a petition explaining the proposal and asking Zimbabweans to sign the petition ‘Zimbabwe MDC (GNU) Leaders Declare Your Personal Assets’ that she will send to parliament for consideration. The petition in part reads, “What many Zimbabweans are looking forward to is a new beginning yes, and a new Zimbabwe and this can only be achieved if the leaders are accountable. Democracy will be achieved if leaders are made to understand that they were voted into power to serve the people and not to serve their personal interests. Our parents failed to hold ZANU PF accountable and this gave birth to an extremely corrupt government. We will move forward and correct what our parents failed to do by asking our promising leaders the MDC to declare their personal assets so that we will not repeat the same mistake that happened when ZANU PF came into power. Now our honourable Prime Minister, Richard Morgan Tsvangirai ,and our honourable deputy Prime Minister Arthur, Guseni Mutambara as we welcome you to your posts ,we are demanding that you and all those in your government publicly declare all your personal assets . It is the citizens’ responsibility to demand that leaders declare their assets. Zimbabwe does not need another corrupt government. Your urgent co operation into this matter will be greatly appreciated.”
Determined to have the petition’s concerns heard Viomak made repeated phone calls to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s house which went unanswered. Viomak who believes that good leaders should always be there for their citizens said she used to call the Prime minister’s house before he was ordained by Robert Mugabe to be Prime minister and does not see why she should not call him now. Viomak then phoned the Minister of Information, Communication and Technology, Nelson Chamisa and as usual she was told to call back after ten minutes .After being frustrated by Chamisa’s poor telephone etiquette she managed to get hold of James Maridadi’s phone number who she immediately phoned and later wrote an email saying, “I called Chamisa on several occasions and no matter what time it was he was about to attend a meeting or attending a meeting and said I should phone after ten minutes. It’s typical of him to say phone me after ten minutes before he hangs up the phone without even saying bye. He has very bad telephone manners and public relations. He seems to be in seventh heaven after he was awarded a free Mercedes Benz by ZanuPF. He’s very unprofessional and I find it very rude that he doesn’t even ask how he can help someone who calls him. At least he should say he can not help instead of lying that he is in a meeting or about to attend a meeting”.
Media reports on 28 February 2010 and 02 March 2010, confirmed that MDC –T leaders will declare their assets. According to the reports the officials will be required to declare their assets before taking office in new regulations contained in a document named the ‘Real Change Code of Ethics and Values’. The party will continue assessing how the leaders accumulate their assets on a yearly basis as a way to fight and eradicate corruption amongst their leaders in line with their mandate for transparency and accountability in government. In a country ravaged by corruption, Viomak concluded that enough is enough so it was time to seek citizen justice and demand that leaders declare their assets something that is completely new in Zimbabwe.
Ever since Viomak spearheaded the campaign some MDC-T leaders have shared their views on the issue with media reports saying the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Lovemore Moyo shared similar sentiments when he said, “parliament is to draw up plans to force MPs, Ministers and Senators to declare their assets in a drive to tackle corruption by public officials”. In August 2009 MDC-T Senator Gutu also shared similar sentiments when he said, “our corruption-fighting tools should now be sharpened and made more lethal. Whether you are MDC or ZANU (PF), if you are found to be corrupt, you should be sent to jail and all the ill-gotten wealth should be confiscated by the State. The inclusive government has to come out very clearly against corruption. It should make it abundantly clear that corruption will not be tolerated in the new political dispensation in Zimbabwe. The time to eradicate corruption and all the evils associated with it is nigh.” In an interview with Zimbabwe Kubatana Trust in September 2009 MDC Deputy Minister of Media, Information and Publicity Jameson Timba shared his sentiments when Upenyu Makoni –Muchemwa asked him about Viomak’s VOTO campaign to declare personal assets when she said, “musician and artist Viomak has started a campaign to have all MDC GNU politicians disclose their personal assets to try and get them to be accountable to the people. Have you heard of this campaign? What is your opinion of it?” The minister said he had not heard of the campaign but supported the idea when he said, “I have not heard of the campaign, but I’m not averse to it. I think it’s an excellent idea. Currently now there is a provision, within parliament, that parliament can actually ask members to disclose their personal assets and I think it is a good idea.”
Zimbabwe Kubatana Trust went on to support the VOTO cause by featuring the campaign in their edition of 60 Seconds Fresh for the Inzwa (Listen) Audio Magazine and to call 0913 444 321-8 0913 444 321-8 and press 1 for 60 Seconds Fresh, to Listen. Viomak confirmed that she spoke to Deputy Prime minister Arthur Mutambara on facebook about the campaign to declare personal assets after which she said she would go back to the Deputy Prime minister as soon as she was ready with the information she is compiling to use in the campaign. In an interview with Radio VOP aired on Radio Netherlands Viomak reiterated that VOTO is demanding that leaders declare their assets so that they can be held accountable and monitor corruption.
The campaign was a theoretical success as MDC-T leaders responded and agreed and promised to declare their personal assets but practically it never happened. Zimbabweans failed to hold ZANU PF accountable and the time to learn from our mistakes is now so MDC should be held accountable. Viomak confirmed that proceeds from the song will be used to cover expenses associated with this campaign as follow up is required to make sure that the leaders honour their word and stick to it.
Viomak who is a victim of political intolerance and violence and one of Zimbabwe’s most wanted political activists and an anti Zanupf pioneer on the internet and social media runs a vibrant campaign to name and shame Zimbabwe’s intolerant political thugs. Viomak also uses her blog to mete out instant justice in the campaign which sees her receive verbal attacks and death threats from both ruling party ZanuPF and opposition party MDC-T supporters. In a bid to end political intolerance and political violence which is very common amongst Zimbabwe political parties ruling and opposing, Viomak set up Zimbabwe Black Book where she lists all the intolerant thugs who threaten and attack those who despise their political parties. The situation in Zimbabwe is so sad and hopeless whereby the ruling ZanuPF terrorise those who oppose their party and the opposition political party MDC-T terrorise those who oppose their party such that both political parties don’t want any opposing voices. Viomak call this hopeless political crisis a black person problem and not a political party problem. In the midst of all this political madness, Viomak remains a Zimbabwe patriot and independent voice hated by both ruling and opposing intolerant thugs for despising their political parties. The campaign is very successful and some of the intolerant thugs have apologised to Viomak for the harm they have caused her. The apologies came after they realized that Viomak is after all right to say that bad leadership in Zimbabwe is a manifestation of blacks’ incompetence, selfishness, evilness and ignorance and a problem with all political parties, ruling and opposition.
On 10 March 2010 Viomak attended and performed at the ACTSA (Action for South Africa) dignity for women campaign that took place in Trafalgar Square, London. About a thousand people turned up to support the campaign for dignity for women around the world, mainly in Zimbabwe. The focus of the campaign was the challenges Zimbabwean women are facing due to lack of sanitary towels. With inflation reaching 1600%, one pack of sanitary towels costs more than 50% of the average monthly wage for women in Zimbabwe. This has resulted in millions of Zimbabwean women being forced to replace sanitary towels with leaves, newspapers and dirty rags, a practice which has led to vaginal infections for which there is no available medication in Zimbabwe. Speakers at the event included Lovemore Matombo and Lucia Matibenga from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the Chairperson of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe Kate Hoey and the NUS Women’s officer Kat Stark. The speakers talked of the plight of the country and specifically the women in Zimbabwe, calling for donations to help them get the sanitary towels they needed. There were also songs from the Zimbabwean protest singer Viomak before a mass procession took people back to the vigil against ZanuPF and Robert Mugabe that takes place every Saturday outside the Zimbabwean embassy on the Strand.