Saturday, April 25, 2009


24th April 2009

Dear Friends,

A magnificent photograph (UK Independent 23.04.09) of a long, winding queue outside a polling station in a Johannesburg township on Polling Day in South Africa is a reminder - if any were needed - of how ordinary African people value their democratic rights. We have seen such queues in Zimbabwe, too, but tragically we have not experienced the democratic change that the people voted for. By the time the results were announced we knew yet again that elections in Zimbabwe can never be free or fair while Robert Mugabe is in power. While we may disagree with the people's choice of leader in South Africa, we cannot fault the democratic process that took place in our powerful neighbour just over the border from the brutal and undemocratically elected rule of Robert Mugabe.

Neither is the existence of a Government of National Unity in Zimbabwe any guarantee of a democratic future for the country. Political expediency may keep the MDC in the Unity Government but there few signs that true justice and democracy will emerge from this enforced arrangement. Talk from MDC commentators of GNU being the only 'game in town' ie. that there's no choice other than this present arrangement, suggests that issues of justice and human rights are a long way down the list of priorities. It seems that the MDC's only priority right now is to keep the so-called Unity government in place regardless of the blatant breaches of the Global Agreement by Robert Mugabe. " Be patient" MDC supporters are urged, it takes time to change things. Perhaps the top leadership and all those MP's and Ministers who have jumped on the Zanu PF gravy train need to be reminded that people dying of cholera, AIDS or just plain starvation – in or out of prison - do not have the time to wait for the government to sort out the mess left by years of Mugabe's misgovernance and widespread corruption. Neither are there signs of Zimbabweans in the diaspora retuning to the motherland in any great numbers, persuaded that a GNU signals a brighter future. The truth, as I see it, is that if the MDC has no meaningful power to change anything then there seems little point in being there, walking the corridors of power with men who have no intention of sharing real power with them.
Just a glance at some of the events of the last few weeks illustrates my point. On Independence Day, with Morgan Tsvangirai sitting alongside him on the podium, Mugabe said of the (continuing) land grab that it was one of his major achievements, "We have resolved the long outstanding land question and the land now belongs to its rightful owners, and with it our sovereignty as well." With breath-taking complacency he concluded, "Our people are happy and contented and that is all that matters." 'Our people' presumably refers to his Zanu PF supporters; certainly none of my personal correspondents are 'happy and contented' with the situation. While they may accept that the MDC was forced into this marriage of convenience, the evidence on the ground is sickening proof that the MDC is powerless to change anything.
It was another photograph, in The Zimbabwean this time, of the Deputy Prime Minister, Arthur Mutambara visiting the besieged commercial farmers that seemed at first sight to suggest a genuine attempt by the MDC and various assorted ministers to restore the rule of law on the farms. The delegation saw for themselves the evidence of looting and vandalism, they saw the agony in the faces of the farmers and their wives, they saw the bewildered children whose lives have been disrupted forever by gun-toting men acting on behalf of top Zanu PF ministers to 'reap what they did nor sow'. Still the delgates did nothing, apart from delivering a pious little homily about living together peacefully with the invaders. After the visit, Mutambara is said to have commented that it was enough for him to see the situation for himself, it was not necessary for him actually to do anything about it! No sooner had the delegation left than the invaders were back to their bad old ways. The poster on the farm gates of one farm said it all; 'Our Land, Our Sovereignty' said the words in front of Mugabe's clenched fist.

And the farmers and farm workers, languishing in gaol on ludicrous charges such as 'kidnap' or 'disorderly conduct', are they 'happy and contented'? The workers shot by the police, are they 'happy and contented' as Mugabe would have us believe? Chris Dhlamini and Ghandi Mudzingwa guarded in their hospital beds - despite being released on bail - by thugs in uniform, are they 'happy and contented'? Dhlamini's sworn affidavit to the Human Rights Forum detailing his torture in prison, graphically illustrates the lengths Mugabe and his cohorts will go to retain power.

Yet even that evidence, has not persuaded the MDC to do the right thing. The people are entitled to ask what has happened to the moral foundations on which the Movement for Democratic Change was built? Has the MDC become so blinded by the trappings of power that they no longer recognise evil when they see it? It is getting harder for people on the ground to see the difference between the two parties. Remember how Animal Farm ends and you'll see what I mean!

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.



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