On Sunday, Jestina Mukoko, Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, was ‘released’ from prison. Her defense attorney and fabulous feminist human and women’s rights attorney Beatrice Mtetwa, among others, greeted her. Yes, it’s springtime in Zimbabwe, as in Zimbabwe Spring … except that it’s not. Friday was International Women’s Day, #IWD2013. To honor that, the Zimbabwean government organized a fake flight and a fake hunt. The government claimed that Jestina Mukoko was on the run. By all accounts, she wasn’t. The government put out an all points bulletin on Jestina Mukoko, organized a full-scale media appeal, pleading with ‘citizens’ to ‘notify the authorities’ if she was spotted.
Not knowing that she was a ‘fugitive’, Mukoko walked into the police station and turned herself in, if that’s the right phrase. And she was held in police custody and interrogated for two days.
Jestina Mukoko is no stranger to Zimbabwean prisons. In 2008, she was held and tortured in prison. She has since sued the government for having tortured her. The Zimbabwean Supreme Court ordered a permanent stay of execution. As the weekend’s events show, ‘permanent’ is a fluid concept.
So … happy International Women’s Day, Zimbabwe! Meanwhile, once again Jestina Mukoko is described as ‘released.’ Released? Really?