Saturday, January 17, 2009


January 16th 2009

Dear Friends,

Jestina Mukoko, that ‘threat to society’ as the new Attorney General branded her, sobbed as she described in court the abuses that had been inflicted on her whilst in custody.

“I work for a non-profit organisation, and I am not involved in any political activity…I repeatedly told the interrogators that I'm not a member of the MDC. I'm a human rights activist, currently employed by ZPP. The objectives of ZPP do not talk about toppling the government."

A Supreme Court judge had meanwhile ordered that Jestina be allowed urgent medical attention. As of Thursday 15.01.09 that had not happened. Jestina Mukoko along with other female detainees, is being held in solitary confinement in the Maximum Security section of Chikurubi, a place normally reserved for hardcore male prisoners. Like the dozens of other activists Jestina Mukoko is charged with attempting to overthrow the Mugabe government. The newly appointed Attorney General Johannes Tomana, a Mugabe loyalist if ever there was one, says he will oppose her release. “Any attorney general in the world would do what I am doing given a case like the one involving Mukoko. Evidence gathered proves that she is a threat to society and should not be released now.” Tomana does not say how that so-called evidence was gathered but more than one testimony this week reveals torture and abuse as the preferred method to gain ‘evidence’.
One ‘suspect’ who was released this week was a two year old child. Having been held in confinement for 76 days the small boy was taken away from his mother (and father) who are still in custody and released into the hands of strangers. One can only imagine the mother’s anguish as her child was taken from her. The image of that tiny child’s face must haunt the mind of every decent human being. Along with pictures of the truly appalling suffering being inflicted on innocent children in Gaza, this new year seems to herald a new dark age of barbarism against the most vulnerable and innocent members of society. While the government propaganda in Zimbabwe stridently condemns the Israelis for the slaughter in Gaza, that same government has very recently imported weapons from Israel to suppress the people. All week long the streets of Harare have been patrolled by gun-toting police and military determined at all costs to suppress any form of popular uprising. Now we hear rumours that the Russians will be assisting Mugabe in his desperate attempts to suppress the people. In exchange for shares in diamond mines and other profitable mineral concessions no doubt we hear that the Russians will send in ‘technical advisors’ to assist the military. It was not so long ago that Mugabe described Tsvangirai as a ‘political prostitute’ because he was going round Africa seeking support for democratic change in Zimbabwe. Rumour has it that Mugabe will travel to Moscow on Saturday to finalise the deal with the Russians. With the Chinese, the Russians and possibly the Indians too in on the act, Zimbabwe is up for sale to the highest paying clients. Political prostitution indeed!

Amidst all the other horror stories from Zimbabwe this week the report from the Physicians for Human Rights revealed the total collapse of the health system. The cholera outbreak is the worst in Africa since 1999 when 2085 people died in a Nigerian cholera outbreak. Currently, the death toll in Zimbabwe has exceeded 2000 but it is not only cholera that is killing our people. With such severe levels of malnutrition all are vulnerable: people with HIV unable to acess drugs, malaria sufferers, diabetics, TB patients; women in childbirth in short anyone with a medical emergency faces a death sentence under the collapsed heath care system in the country. The report makes for very painful reading. That of course will not alter Mugabe’s stance for one moment, not even the conclusion that “These findings add to the growing evidence that Robert Mugabe and his regime may well be guilty of crimes against humanity.” Evidence emerged this week of donated medical supplies being sold on the black market by corrupt officials who will sink to any depths to make a quick buck even to the extent of depriving the sick of medication and mosquito nets which must be paid for in forex. More evidence of the total collapse of Zim dollar, Gideon Gono announced just yesterday that his Reserve Bank has introduced a new ‘family’ – how cosy that sounds – of notes, this time in the trillions. 100 of these new $trillion notes will buy you just six loaves of bread.

The PHR Report concludes that Zimbabwe’s health system should be taken over by the UN though why Mugabe’s responsibility for the mismanagement should be handed over to the international community is beyond me. It is precisely the fact that Mugabe and his cohorts have refused to acknowledge their own responsibility to feed and care for the needs of the people that has caused the problem in the first place. By passing the problem on to the UN, Mugabe once again gets away with the complete failure of governance that has dominated every aspect of life in our country for the past ten years. Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF have totally failed and it is time they were made to take responsibility for their failure instead of blaming everyone else.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH



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