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AN opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) activist has fled Zimbabwe after continued snooping by suspected State security agents.
Laizah Kwari, a staunch CCC member, skipped the country amid unabated persecution of political activists in the country, and has heightened fears she could be next target.
She has been an active opposition member since the formation in 1999 of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), whose splinter group later established CCC.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com from her new base in Canada, Kwari said she feared for her life after noticing she was constantly under surveillance of known Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives for speaking out against socio-economic and political injustices perpetrated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
‘‘My life was in danger. When it became apparent Zanu PF would be unfairly declared winner in the 2023 presidential election, I started to look for ways to get out of the country,’’ revealed Kwari.
Asked what really attracted the attention of CIO to her, Kwari said her outspoken character did.
“I raised awareness about the plight of the poor and campaigned against the suppression of opposition ideas. I spoke publicly against the harassment of opposition activists by the government and ruling party in Zimbabwe.
‘‘Unfortunately, these activities exposed me to the watchful eyes of Zimbabwe’s intelligence operatives. It was known at my workplace that I was an opposition party member,’’ she said.
‘‘I received several threatening text messages and phone calls from private numbers. I was told that I was under surveillance and everything about me was known. I became aware that members of the dreaded CIO followed me to and from work all the time.
“The threats on my phone continued. Initially, I chose to ignore them, but their frequency increased, and the tone of their content became more menacing. I reported these incidents to the police as early as 2018, but was told that it was ‘the boys’, meaning State security agents,’’ she added.
“I even registered a new cellphone number with another service provider, but it became apparent that they knew what I was doing, and the calls and messages continued to come,’’ said Kwari.
Kwari claimed police told her that there was nothing they could do about it.
‘‘Instead, they advised me to denounce opposition ideas and to publicly say that I was loyal to Zanu PF.
My neighbours warned me that unmarked vehicles were oftentimes seen parked on our gate. These cars would follow me when I went to and from work.”
Although she was less vocal in 2023, the phone calls and texts resumed.
‘‘I became even more afraid for my life because the messages were more explicit and threatened harm to myself and immediate family members, including my husband. This created tension between my husband and l.”
The situation worsened after the disputed elections. Political tensions ran high, with opposition activists being arbitrarily arrested, harassed and tortured by police.
Reported cases of fellow opposition supporters and organisers abducted, beaten up, and whose homes were torched, haunted Kwari.
Close friends and family members, including my husband, warned me that my life was in danger, even though I had gone underground.
State intelligence operatives learnt that I had gone underground, but they believed I was still an active opposition organiser.
Kwari confided in NewZimbabwe.com she doesn’t want to return to Zimbabwe until there is a change of government.
“My desire is to use my education and skills to start a new life here,’’ she added.
‘‘I am afraid to go back to Zimbabwe as the political environment is worsening ever since the 2017 coup that deposed late President Robert Mugabe.
“In fact, the uncertainty and socio economic and political situation worsened after elections in 2023. The poll aftermath has seen a spike in violence, harassment, and the beatings of opposition activists.
“I am afraid that even after elections, Zanu PF and spy agents will continue to target and harass opposition party members.”
The married mother of three children grew up in Karoi, a farming town situated about 200km north west of Harare under the care of her biological father, Biggie Haurobi, a prominent opposition politician.
Having mastered opposition politics from her dad, at the launch of CCC in January 2022, Kwari was among organisers, who actively plotted to annihilate Mnangagwa’s rogue government. — _*NewZimbabwe*_