Friday, April 17, 2009

ZIMBABWE - LETTER FROM THE DIASPORA !

17th April 2009.

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow April 18th is the 29th anniversary of Zimbabwe's Independence. For the first time the MDC will be officially represented by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change. On the face of it, this seems like a momentous occasion: a so'called Unity Government is in place and there are some slight reasons to hope that at last Zimbabweans may have genuine cause to celebrate Independence tomorrow. Will Robert Mugabe once again use the occasion to remind the country that it was he and his party who, single'handed, brought freedom to Zimbabwe or will he focus on the future shared with his political opponents for the good of all the people of Zimbabwe?

In his book, The State of Africa, Martin Meredith recounts how, in an interview Mugabe gave in 1980, the then Prime Minister expressed his disappointment that the peace negotiations in London, ie. the Lancaster House talks, had "deprived him of the ultimate joy" of a military victory and thus the opportunity to "dictate terms."Mugabe had been compelled by expediency, Meredith writes, to agree to a coalition government with his Zapu rival Joshua Nkomo. The two armies, Zapu and Zanu were merged into one national army but within six months of that first Independence, Mugabe was already plotting to destroy Zapu. He entered into a secret agreement with the brutal dictatorship of North Korea to train the notorious Fifth Brigade to deal with the so'called 'dissidents' in Matabeleland. Using his now familiar technique of the 'discovery' of arms caches, by early 1982 Mugabe was ready to move against his enemy, Joshua Nkomo, "the cobra in the house" as he described the Ndebele leader. And we all know how that terrible story ended with thousands of Ndebele massacred in the Gukurahundi.

It is all in the past, people will say. Forgive and forget! Truth and reconciliation are the new buzz words. I say that without justice there can be no true forgiveness or reconciliation. But now we have a Unity Government, people will say, and Mugabe and Tsvangirai will stand side by side on the podium on Independence Day,2009. My question is will they stand there as equals or is Mugabe already swallowing up his former enemy, the MDC? Despite the hope, Zimbabweans may feel, they must not forget what this man, Mugabe and his band of fanatical thugs, have done and are still doing to destroy the burgeoning shoots of democracy. What Mugabe wanted, what he has always wanted, was a one'party state. He may have failed in that regard but the fact is that since Independence he has ruled Zimbabwe as a virtual dictator. If he has agreed to a Unity Government it is only because he has once again been forced by outside pressure and expediency to accept his opponents as partners. History has repeated itself; supported by a partisan police force that refuses to obey court orders and openly sides with the law-breakers, there is no hope of true unity of purpose in the country. It is unity in name only. Why should the MDC call for sanctions be lifted when the world sees a country where the police force are so lamentably failing to enforce law and order, on the commercial farms and for the generality of Zimbabwean people?

Back in 2000 when I was still living in Zimbabwe I embarked on a series of books designed to illustrate this very point. I chose fiction and the detective story as my medium and from the start my purpose was to show that without impartial policing it is impossible for justice to be done. The books are fiction but the factual reality they represent has been lived out over the past nine years. I remain convinced that without an impartial police force and judiciary, true democracy remains an illusion. Until the MDC partners in this Unity Government find the political strength to force through the total restructuring of the police and courts, nothing will change in Zimbabwe.

From what I hear from friends on the ground, the people are putting all their hopes on the elections that must be held within 18'24 months of the signing of the GNU. With commendable patience they are giving the present arrangement a chance to succeed while waiting for the opportunity to defeat Zanu PF at the polls and vote for their party of choice. Sad to say, there is precious little chance of that happening unless the courts and police are truly independent of all political bias and interference and international monitors are present every step of the way.

That's how I see it.

Yours in the continuing struggle, PH

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