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African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle

Divine Rights
November 26, 2011, 12:53 am

There was a story this week about MDC members in Masvingo being refused entry to the ZNA. I don’t know how widespread this practice is but it has certainly happened before. It is, of course, tantamount to blackmail: support Zanu PF or you will not be allowed to follow your chosen career.

In Masvingo this week, a war veteran called Max Chitera made it his business to vet (no pun intended) the line of young hopefuls who were about to  participate in a 10km. marathon from which ZNA recruits would be selected. Max Chiteya apparently walked among the aspiring recruits and pointed out those who, he claimed, were MDC members. “No MDC members would be allowed to become soldiers.” Comrade Chitera is alleged to have said, “They should first convert to Zanu PF, the party with liberation credentials, if they were serious about pursuing their dreams of getting into the ZNA.”

Comrade Chitera’s use of the word ‘convert’ is significant, suggesting as it does, a religious conversion to another belief system. This ‘conversion’ however, is not voluntary, it does not represent a genuine change of mind or heart but rather an enforced move brought about by external pressure, rather like someone converting to Roman Catholicism in order to get a job in the Vatican! Enforced conversion is exactly how Zanu PF operates; we see evidence of it every day in the statements made by officials from different walks of life. This last week we had the Army chief saying that he would not allow security reforms because “they are being pushed by Rhodesians” – whoever they are! Then there was Obadiah Musino, the head of the Mapostori sect and a rabid supporter of Robert Mugabe. Zimbabweans will remember that Mugabe was pictured wearing Mapostori robes. Obadiah has been busy ‘singing for his supper’ ever since. This week he was preaching Zanu PF doctrine while handing out agricultural implements and residential stands in return for ‘conversion’ to Zanu PF. “Mugabe was chosen by God” says the Mapostori chief, “he will rule until he dies.”

The conviction that Zanu PF has a ‘divine right’ to rule Zimbabwe has long been their creed. The claim that they liberated the country is accompanied by access to a whole range of privileges. Farmers in Matabeleland North this week were threatened with violence if they refuse to pay for the upcoming Conference though we also read this week that Zanu PF themselves are refusing to pay for use of the Conference venue in Bulawayo on the grounds that they – Zanu PF – are ‘the revolutionary party’. The fact that Bulawayo has an MDC-led council just might be a factor in their refusal to pay up!      

It will be interesting to see whether delegates to the Zanu PF conference agree to have voluntary HIV tests ahead of World Aids Day on December 1st. That may seem irrelevant but it would be foolish to discount the possibility that sexual privileges are sometimes included in Zanu PF ‘rights’ It is not beyond the bounds of possibility either that sex is sometimes used to gain the favour of a Zanu PF chef.

The International Crisis Group this week said very bluntly that Mugabe’s party is the chief obstacle to timely and fair elections. A number of Zanu PF people have said that they are not going ‘to negotiate themselves out of power.’ There is certainly evidence that Zanu PF already have measures in place to rig the election and it would be miraculous if the forthcoming meetings between the parties - in the presence of the South African Facilitation team - succeed in overcoming the chasm between the parties. It was more than surprising then to read that Robert Mugabe, with all the Zanu PF dirty tricks at his disposal, is appealing to Russia and China for protection in the event that Morgan Tsvangirai challenges the conduct of the elections at the UN. “We rely on good friends like you to protect us” Mugabe is reported to have said. With the police, the CIO, the army – and the Mapostori - so firmly on his side, it’s hard to understand what Mugabe needs protection from, unless it’s himself – but perhaps he knows something we don’t.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.


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The Chinese are ready to step in and help their ,Old Friend' steal yet another victory.
November 18, 2011, 1:14 pm

It was no surprise to hear the Chinese Vice President lauding Robert Mugabe as “a famed leader of the national liberation movement in Africa and an old friend whom the Chinese people know well.” That was followed by the announcement that China is to invest in Zimbabwe’s mining industry and wants to extend its farming interests in the country. Western countries may have turned their backs on the Mugabe regime but China has jumped into the vacuum and is ready to invest in Zimbabwe. Will these Chinese investment projects mean more jobs for African people? Past experience suggests not. Curiously, Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation Act does not apply to Chinese citizens, though it is hard to see how they fit the definition of ‘indigenous’ as “any person who prior to 1980 was disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on the grounds of race”

China has a population estimated at 1.3 billion, 20% of the world’s population. Zimbabwe has chosen to accept Chinese investment, knowing that China generally remains silent about human rights and is unlikely to criticise Zanu PF’s record in human rights. And that suits Zanu PF very well; just this week Zimbabwe received 20.000 AK 47s from China. With such a massive population to feed and clothe it is understandable that business interests dominate Chinese foreign policy. And now, Zimbabwean industries are about to receive yet another battering from cheap goods ‘Made in China.’

Tendai Biti was due to present his 2012 budget this week but that was postponed because Mugabe was out of the country so we are yet to hear a detailed account of how the Zimbabwean economy is prospering – or not. Apparently all government business comes to a halt during Mugabe’s absences which have been, for whatever reason, rather frequent this year.

Meanwhile the CFU reports that the country is less prepared than it has ever been for the new farming season. The strongly worded report warns that the country is faced with real hunger if the farming sector continues to be unproductive. The ‘new farmers’ may have increased in number but, without seed or fertiliser, they are unlikely to be productive. With record high temperatures and widespread water shortages, the danger of diseases such as cholera and typhoid is never far away. The absence of clean water and washing facilities for people in urban areas already living in unhygienic and overcrowded conditions means that without stringent precautions it is surely only a matter of time before there is a full scale epidemic. The combination of hunger and disease is a fatal mix.

Zanu PF have decided that their gathering in December is definitely a conference and not a congress. In this way, discussion of the leadership issue has been avoided. Rumours have been circulating that Zanu PF party members are uniting to get rid of Robert Mugabe. I find those rumours hard to believe; it would be a very brave man –or woman – who came out in the open to challenge Mugabe. It is much more likely that we will hear the usual songs of praise for the Dear Leader though it will be instructive to see how the Wiki-leakers are dealt with at the conference. The ‘leakers’ have been promised a ‘roasting’- whatever that means! What is very clear as the Army Chief of Staff and the Zanu PF Chairman Minister Khaya Moyo made plain this week is that anyone attempting to remove Zanu PF from power will be violently dealt with, though Zanu PF is against violence the Chairman emphasised. That threat was certainly intended for the MDC but any action against Mugabe himself whether from inside or outside Zanu PF would presumably provoke the same violent reaction.

As we head towards the year’s end, it seems that very little has changed in Zimbabwe. The GNU has clearly failed to bring about a peaceful transformation: Zanu PF remains as intolerant and intransigent as ever and the MDC continues to bear the brunt of violent attacks. While there is still no agreement about the date of the next election, no doubt the Chinese are ready to step in and help their ‘Old Friend’ steal yet another victory.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.


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It doesn’t help us just to go back?
November 12, 2011, 12:16 am

Interviewed on SW Radio Africa’s Question Time this week, Rugare Gumbo was asked, “Why did we have this scenario in 2008 where people were killed in election violence, abductions and things like that?” Gumbo replied with a casual, almost throw-away line: “It doesn’t help us just to go back.” Coming from a man whose party’s claim to popular support is based on past glories, that’s pretty ironical. Where would Zanu PF be without Mugabe’s constantly repeated claim that he brought the country freedom from colonialism – thirty-one years ago?

Writing in Heidi Holland’s book ‘Dinner With Mugabe’ (First published in 2008 by Penguin Books) Edgar Tekere comments that it was Rugare Gumbo, still in the government, who preached the idea of ‘democratic centralism’ to Mugabe way back when they were in Mozambique together. The idea is that while everyone is entitled to have an opinion - that’s the ‘democratic’ bit - it is the leader’s opinions alone that ultimately determine party policy. As Tekere says, “It’s a recipe for dictatorship.’  For the last thirty-one years Robert Mugabe’s opinions have dominated on every subject: on the use of violence as a political weapon, on the politics of race, on the land question and ongoing farm invasions and more recently on indigenisation. These are Robert Mugabe’s declared beliefs and they are central to Zanu PF policies. What Mugabe thinks is what matters; the fact that the pro-Mugabe Chipangano gang continues – unchecked - to terrorise Harare suits Mugabe’s political agenda. There are repeated claims that top Zanu PF officials, cabinet ministers, serving and retired military officers and even church leaders are financing Chipangano and giving them material support. It is Chipangano’s violent activities that  led directly to the abandonment of a planned housing project for Mbare that would have benefited hundreds of poor people.

On Sunday last the MDC was due to hold a big rally in Chitungwiza. The Herald published a picture of Zanu PF youth on their way to the MDC rally, armed with sticks and machetes. No wonder the picture was withdrawn within hours; seven people were hospitalised and a further fifteen were injured as the Chipangano-inspired violence escalated. (The picture is in this week’s The Zimbabwean)

After the cancellation of the Chitungwiza rally, the Prime Minister prepared a detailed dossier of the violence, saying that the police were nowhere to be seen during the attack. Despite that, the police proceeded to arrest MDC youths for causing the violence. Then, up pops Rugare Gumbo, he wasn’t there either, denying that Zanu PF had anything to do with the violence. It was the MDC claimed Gumbo, they provoked the violence by force-marching people to their rally. But it is not the MDC who have to force people to their rallies, that is Zanu PF’s way! So unpopular have they become, that the party is reported to be in ‘panic mode’ as elections draw near. Precisely when those elections will be we still don’t know but whenever they take place, people dread them. Elections and violence have become synonymous in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe makes all kinds of promises to Morgan Tsvangirai about stopping the violence but promises mean little; in the 32 months of the GNU’s existence Mugabe has repeatedly broken his word on a whole range of subjects. “What do you expect?” asks Douglas Mwonzoro, “from a party that reneges on everything it agrees on.”

SADC announced this week that the Troika will ‘meet very soon’ to find ways of ending Zimbabwe’s crisis. ‘Very soon’ hardly implies urgency; it could mean later on today, tomorrow, next week, next month or even next year. Perhaps by the time the UN Secretary General visits Zimbabwe in February next year, things may have changed – for the worse, if past experience is anything to go by. Rugare Gumbo claims that ‘going back to the past doesn’t help’ but for the hundreds of victims of Zanu PF brutality, it is past experience that has taught them always to be wary of Zanu PF, especially at election time.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.


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Fighting violence with non violence
November 4, 2011, 2:49 pm

Events in Zimbabwe this week have once again illustrated that without an impartial police force to implement the law, society descends into violence with no protection for the victims. In Zimbabwe, the police have, in effect, become a law to themselves. Despite a Court Ruling that all three opposition rallies in Matabeleland North could go ahead, the police ignored the Ruling and banned the rallies. When that failed and the MDC attracted thousands to their rallies, the police did everything they could to disrupt the gatherings. At one rally in Matabeleland North police actually threatened to shoot people who attended saying that they were not obliged to follow court orders – and anyway the orders were fake! But the real give away line was the comment that the police only take instructions from their bosses! The increasing level of violence throughout the country was reported by Prime Minister Tsvangirai to Robert Mugabe at their weekly meeting and he was told by the President that ‘it will be dealt with.’ The truth, however, is that without the police doing their job and maintaining law and order in an even-handed way, the violence will continue.

That violence came right into the middle of Harare this week when a group of 30 fully armed police raided MDC headquarters on the flimsy excuse that they were searching for vegetable vendors who had taken shelter in the building. The police then fired tear gas into the opposition’s head quarters; unlikely that would ever happen to Zanu PF HQ. And therein, as I have said before, is the root of the whole problem: the police have become a totally politicised force. Augustine Chihuri, the present Commissioner, has openly declared his support for Zanu PF and police officers who support the MDC have been demoted or dismissed from the force. In the wider public, MDC supporters face constant harassment for trivial ‘offences’ such as putting up posters for an MDC rally in Vic Falls while two other MDC supporters were detained when they were heard saying that Mugabe could meet the same fate as Mumar Gaddafi, a remark that was deemed to be a criminal offence, since insulting the president is a crime punishable by imprisonment. There is almost daily evidence that speaking your mind in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is an increasingly dangerous occupation. Senator Eddie Cross spoke out openly about the corruption and theft going on at Marange and was then followed and threatened by the CIO for his blunt speaking.

Apparently the Kimberley Process chooses to turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses going on at the diamond mine and this week they announced that Zimbabwe is once again free to sell their rough diamonds on the open market. Today, Friday, the US is on record saying – if I understood it correctly – that it was necessary to compromise on the Zimbabwe diamond issue in order to find out if Zimbabwe would improve its behaviour! Meanwhile the Minister of Mines, Obert Mpofu is crowing with delight at the KP.decision. In the light of news this week that 1 in 10 Zimbabweans will need food aid by early 2012, it would be good to think that diamond revenue might actually be used to feed the hungry and not just to enrich the few already wealthy individuals.

The question of how a downtrodden population counteracts the violence of a brutal regime was addressed this week by the MDC’s Theresa Makone and her words deserve serious consideration. The MDC’s original non-violent stance was approved by many Zimbabweans tired of the constant violence meted out against them for no reason other than their belief in a different political party. For the past eleven years and more, those opposed to Mugabe and Zanu PF have appeared to sit back and wait for the blows to fall. And fall they did. It has become clear that Zanu PF has nothing but contempt for the MDC’s non-violence stance. Now, in November 2011, here’s what Theresa Makone advises the people: “You do not attack anyone, you do not offend anyone but, should anyone strike you, don’t just sit there because they will kill you. You have seen them do it before. That is what Zanu PF got on Sunday from the people. The people refuse to be battered citizens.”

Theresa Makone’s words do indeed deserve the serious thought and consideration of all Zimbabweans.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.


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Zanu PF continues to idolize the late Colonel Gaddafi
October 29, 2011, 1:01 am

While Zimbabwe or Zanu PF at least, continues to idolize the late Colonel Gaddafi, the ‘African hero’ as they have described him, the African Union has been largely silent on the subject. Zimbabwe has been an almost lone voice, heaping praise on Gaddafi and vilification on his alleged killers. On Thursday Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister, Samuel Mumbengegwi, blamed the UN for Gaddafi’s killing. Mumbengegwi’s argument appears to consist of an attack on the UN.’s nine member Security Council as being unrepresentative of UN. membership as a whole. Mumbengegwi claims that this arrangement makes it possible for the nine powerful Security Council members to flout the wishes of the majority because, as he put it, they have “the troops on the ground and the planes in the air”. Mumbengegwi, predictably, blames the west, his argument being that the west supported the NTC, the anti-Gaddafi transitional government that currently runs Libya. The story goes that Gaddafi was captured hiding out in a storm drain by NTC troops and, in the ensuing clash with pro-Gaddafi forces, the dictator was killed. The UN is anxious to establish the precise facts of his death but for Zimbabwe, and Mugabe in particular, it is not the morality or otherwise of his killing that makes Gaddafi’s death significant - it is a question of money. With the new dispensation in Libya, Mugabe is faced with the problem of how to mend fences with the NTC. He had made several very lucrative deals with the Gaddafi government and this week it was reported that a diplomat is asking that those deals be cancelled. The diplomat is none other than the one expelled by Mugabe for his support of the NTC!

Now that Gaddaffi is dead, his mines, farms and other businesses in Zimbabwe are presumably the property of the new Libyan government. But what about Gaddafi’s widow? Will she and her family now be given asylum in Zimbabwe? Her late husband had numerous properties in the country and he and Robert Mugabe were known to be close allies. However, Zimbabwe’s recent history has shown that property rights have little meaning for Mugabe and Zanu PF. Grace Mugabe demonstrated that this week when she evicted people in Mazowe from their homes – without compensation – on the basis that she wanted to use the land to build an extension to her orphanage. Other reports, however, claim that, in reality, Grace wants to build a shopping Mall on the land.       

As the stalemate in Zimbabwe drags on and on, the moral decline deepens and people are using the political hiatus to enrich themselves. The absence of the rule of law and a partisan police force makes that easier. Impunity is the order of the day and the police so often ‘turn a blind eye’ that they could now best be described as ‘partially sighted’. Kunonga’s thugs are still beating up Anglican parishioners, this week at Watsamba, near Mutare, where five people were hospitalised. Also in Manicaland province, political violence is on the rise and the MDC activist who was abducted last week was found dumped by the roadside. The Chipangano gang in Harare seems to be totally out of control; they attacked MDC. HQ in a pre-dawn raid and on Wednesday assaulted an MDC Organising Secretary with logs and stones, fracturing his leg in the process. None of these attacks are dealt with by the ‘partially sighted’ ZRP. They do however ‘see’ whatever suits their political masters and have banned MDC rallies in Vic Falls, Binga and Lupane. No coincidence, I think, that Binga villagers had earlier refused to comply with Minister Chombo’s directive to take over white-owned fishing companies!

None of this improves Zimbabwe’s international image, though Zanu PF continues to claim that it is all part of a western plot to ‘demonise’ Zimbabwe. The EU has announced that sanctions will remain until ‘democratic reforms are in place’ and this week Switzerland refused to grant visas to Mugabe’s party of 62, including his wife Grace. The huge delegation was due to attend a UN meeting in Geneva. In a typically childish Zanu PF response, Attorney General Tomana threatened to pull Zimbabwe out of the world body; the Attorney General is always quick off the trigger with his threats - but they usually come to nothing. After all, who would be the loser if Zimbabwe pulled out of the UN? The old adage about ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’ springs to mind!      

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.


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