PRINT AND PRINT ON DEMAND EDITIONS (Prices include postage)
Friday August 6th 2010.
Diamonds hit the headlines in the UK yesterday, not Zimbabwe’s diamonds but Liberia’s as the trial of Charles Taylor continued at the International Court in the Hague. In the celebrity culture which dominates news gathering these days it was not the horror of bloody civil wars in Africa that the media was concerned with but the appearance of the super-model Naomi Campbell. She was, as she made clear in her evidence, a very reluctant witness, subpoenaed by the prosecution to give evidence in the case against Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Dozens of mutilated victims had already given evidence against Taylor but for some reason the prosecution decided to call Naomi Campbell to strengthen their case that Taylor had financed the wars in Liberia and neighbouring Sierra Leone using blood diamonds. Almost unnoticed, Charles Taylor himself was sitting quietly at the back of the courtroom but all the cameras were directed at Ms Cambell as she told her story.p>
Back in 1997 Ms Campbell had attended a fund-raising party for a Children’s Charity hosted by Nelson Mandela in South Africa. Various celebrities were there including Campbell’s friend Mia Farrow and President Charles Taylor. After she had retired for the night Campbell claims that there was a knock on her door and two men she had never seen before handed her a little pouch of what she described as ‘dirty little stones.’ In her evidence Ms Campbell said she didn’t know what they were, she had never seen diamonds like that before; she was more accustomed to seeing them all shining in presentation boxes. It was ‘a gift’ said the two men at the door. She was accustomed to receiving gifts from unknown admirers she told the Prosecutor. The next morning over breakfast, Campell told Mia Farrow and her agent Carol White about her nocturnal visitors and all three women agreed that it must have been something to do with Charles Taylor though earlier Campbell had told the court that she’d never heard of Charles Taylor or Liberia before all this began! Farrow and White will give their evidence next week and there is speculation that it may differ markedly from Campbell’s. In fact the story gathered more steam today, Friday, when it was revealed that the diamonds should have been handed over to the South African police all those years ago instead of to the administrator of the Children’s Charity. The plot thickens as they say! The diamond saga is by no means over.
Thousands of miles away, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe also had diamonds on his mind. Unbelievably, he chose the funeral of his sister Sabina at Heroes Acre to lash out at diamond ‘profiteers’, seemingly untroubled by – or unaware of - the fact that his own wife is alleged to be a shareholder in Mbada Diamonds and even, it is further alleged, to own a diamond cutting business in Hong Kong. Mugabe was reported to have been very close to Sabina and it was hard, at first, not to feel a twinge of pity for the 86 year old at the loss of this close relative; another reminder of his own mortality, that can’t be easy for him I thought. That was until he started his usual hymn of hate against his perceived enemies: the west and the USA. Despite the fact that the diplomatic representatives of those countries were all present at Heroes Acre, as a mark of respect for Mugabe in his loss, Mugabe launched into an abusive tirade against their countries for the sanctions they continue to impose on Zimbabwe’s top Zanu PF politicians and military. Telling the west and the USA, not once but three times, to “Go to hell!” the diplomats not unnaturally left Heroes Acre only to be roundly condemned .by Foreign Minister Mumbengegwi for the disrespect they had shown to Zimbabwe’s president!
It’s not the first time that Mugabe has insulted the very same countries who are pouring aid into Zimbabwe, feeding children, providing health care and paying salaries. The truth is that if Mugabe reigned in his own ministers and top military and stopped them ‘profiteering’ as he calls it from the diamond wealth and all the other natural resources he has allowed them to exploit to keep him in power, Zimbabwe would not need foreign aid.
The Kimberley Process Monitor, none other than Abbey Chikane, the same man who reportedly shopped Farai Maguwu to the police and led to Maguwu’s arrest, will be back in the country this coming weekend to set his seal of approval on the sale of the Chiadzwa diamonds. No doubt, Chikane will give Zimbabwe’s diamonds a clean bill of health but it is more than possible after the publicity of Naomi Campbell’s appearance in court on Thursday that the world might not be so keen to buy the ‘dirty little ston
Read more ... Email this letter to a friend
The sight of Robert Mugabe wearing full Mapostori gear and carrying the wooden staff of office must have puzzled quite a few people this week. Had the Dear Leader deserted Rome and converted to the Mapostori creed? It seemed unlikely but then anything is possible when there’s an election in the offing in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe was attending the annual gathering of Mapostori faithful held in the Eastern Districts. It was intriguing to note that the audience of shaven headed faithful were all smiling broadly at the sight of Mugabe and his security guards in their unusual garb. Was it intended as some kind of joke on Mugabe’s part?
These white-robed Mapostori were a very familiar sight in the rural areas of Mashonaland East where I lived and I had had quite a bit to do with them. Which of their rather peculiar beliefs had attracted Robert Mugabe, I wondered. They are polygamists with men having as many as five wives and numerous children by each of their wives. That’s where the biggest problem arises because the Mapostori faith will have nothing to do with western medicine and vaccinations are absolutely prohibited. So when there’s a measles outbreak, the children are taken away and hidden in remote rural villages, as far away as possible from the vaccination teams. Their other practice is that girl children are denied education. Mapostori women are therefore uneducated, suited only to be brides - and often very young brides - to the polygamous men. Travel out to Lake Chivero on a Sunday morning and you will see hordes of docile Mapostori women being preached at by shaven headed ‘prophets’.
What could the highly educated Robert Mugabe possibly find attractive in such backward thinking? His address to the gathering was clearly designed to appeal to his audience; he defended polygamy saying that nowhere in the bible was it condemned, though I can’t imagine the Roman Catholic church approves of that! Finally, Mugabe launched into his favourite ‘hate topic’ a vehement attack on gays and lesbians and that chimed in very well with Mapostori thinking. Then it all became clear; this was no damascene conversion, it was nothing more than a vote garnering exercise – and it worked! Three days later the largest of the Mapostori sects was told by the elders that they must now all buy Zanu PF cards or risk being thrown out of their ‘church’. One wonders how many ‘conversions’ we shall see in the weeks and months ahead as Zanu PF moves further into election mode. In a country where churches of one kind or another are more prolific than mosquitoes in the rainy season, Mugabe will have his work cut out getting round to all of them!
There was not much else to smile about in the news from Zimbabwe this week. By week’s end the already compromised judiciary had proved yet again that they are totally compliant to the wishes of Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF. No less a person than the Chief Justice, Godfrey Chidyausiku postponed judgement in the Roy Bennett case on the grounds that the documents in the case were so bulky that it would take him ‘a very long time’ to study them all! Judgement was therefore postponed indefinitely and Roy Bennett remains exactly where Mugabe wants him: out of government because, thanks to Chidyasiku’s ruling, the MDC nominated Deputy Minister of Agriculture is still facing criminal charges and Mugabe says he will not swear in a man with a criminal charge hanging over him. So now it all becomes clear; once again we see how personal animosity to Roy Bennett explains Mugabe’s attitude – and the Chief Justice’s indefinite postponement of judgement. Meanwhile on Bennett’s former and once prosperous farm it is reported that war vets are virtually in command of the farm school demanding that they be allowed to address the pupils and ‘educate’ them in the history of the struggle. Teachers too are at the mercy of the war vets with anyone deemed to be sympathetic to the MDC subject to harassment and intimidation.
And in another highly contentious case, Farai Maguwu, the Global Watch activist, having been released from prison has now been presented with a fresh charge of ‘being in possession of a stolen vehicle’. If that charge doesn’t stick, say the police, then they will charge him with not having the relevant documentation for such a vehicle. Such is the state of the rule of law in Zimbabwe that justice is sacrificed for petty revenge and spite.
While it’s just possible to excuse the behaviour of war vets and thugs as typical of brain-washed, ignorant people, the same excuse cannot be used for these judges who are highly qualified and educated men. Yet these same judges have brought the rule of law in the country into utter disrepute. A report titled A Place In The Sun, issued t
Read more ... Email this letter to a friend