While some activists in Zimbabwe are in detention and others are in hiding following last week's protests, a 25-year-old singer concerned about his pregnant wife condemned security forces.
Obey Makamure, better known as Tocky Vibes by his legion of followers, is singing his latest offering condemning last week’s brutality of protesters by Zimbabwe’s security forces. The protests were triggered by a more than 150 percent fuel hike announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Makamure says he thought up the latest song after his pregnant wife, Donet, called him, saying she could not breathe because of tear gas released by security forces to control protestors.
“We have been together for a long time [five years]," he said. "She has been having problems of miscarriages. So I was hoping this fourth one I will be able to hold my child. Then I heard she is now in tear gas. So I realized whether I like it or not I am involved, we do not have to be ignorant about other people’s lives. I can not be that person. My music is about people. It is not about me, if my life is for my own security then it is not worth it.”
He says since he released the song earlier this week, friends and relatives have been calling, fearing for his safety. He maintains he sings about social life — not politics, even in his latest song.
“I am not into politics, I am for the people you know. The army, it is our security, the police is our security. So anytime we feel like they are abusing our rights, we should be able to say no! Even if we die to say no, it is better than just being like a slave,” he said.
On Tuesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to "roll" heads in the security forces because of its brutality during the three-day protests last week over a 150 percent fuel hike.
The government-appointed Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission says at least eight people died from excessive force by the army and police that used live ammunition during the protests.
Commission member Sheila Matindike says security forces also instigated torture.
“It is acknowledged that property, including a police station, police vehicles and shops, were destroyed and vandalized or looted. That, however, did not justify torture of citizens by the security forces as the right to freedom from torture is one right that cannot be derogated from under any circumstances,” she said.
While Zimbabweans wait for the government to deal with those lost rights, musician Toky Vibes has a few words for the Zimbabwean army.
“We need peace, love and unity," he said. "Make sure that all those who are suffering, they are safe. Because those who are rich, they can protect themselves, but we, the poor, the disadvantaged ones, we need your help. Protect us.”