Saturday, July 04, 2009

ZIMBABWE - LETTER FROM THE DIASPORA !


3rd July 2009

Dear Friends,

Words have a nasty habit of coming back to haunt you. I suspect that Morgan Tsvangirai may well be regretting some of the things he said in Southwark Cathedral a couple of weeks ago. One particular expression he used smacked of the sort of dictatorial tendencies we thought were limited to the Dear Leader. "You better listen to me" the Prime Minister told the noisy crowd of Zimbabweans as if we were naughty children. Perhaps he should have listened to us, the people in the cathedral. If he had really listened, listened with his heart, he would have heard the very real love that his people have for him and the very real anger they feel for Robert Mugabe, the dictator who has ruined all our lives.

In last week's Letter, I described my personal reaction to the Prime Minister's address to Zimbabweans in the UK diaspora on June 20th 2009. I was concerned at the time that my words would be seen as over-critical of Morgan Tsvangirai, a man I deeply admire for his courage and integrity. Respect for the man and for his office, however, should not be allowed to blind one to the truth. I believed then as I believe now that Morgan Tsvangirai was wrong to say that all was well in Zimbabwe and that 'peace and stability' prevailed. His words were ill-chosen and inappropriate for his well-informed audience; more than that, they were simply not an accurate reflection of reality on the ground. Judging from his words, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the MDC leader and some of his Ministers are so keen to defend the Unity Government and Robert Mugabe that they are prepared to be less than honest about the state of the country and the health of the GPA.

It took a woman, the PM's Deputy Thokozani Khupe, to spell out the real issues that are still bedevilling the full implementation of the Agreement. Speaking on June 29th, just before the Prime Minister's return to Zimbabwe, she enumerated the issues that are causing concern: the fact that the National Security Council which is enshrined in the GPA has still not met, four months after the Agreement was signed; the impositon of the Kariba draft as the basis for Zimbabwe's new constitution; the continued and persistent abuse of the rule of law and its selective application; the continuing farm invasions and prosecution of white farmers; the failure to reform the media and the failure to introduce legislation on freedom of speech, association and expression. One particular phrase in the Deputy Prime Ministers address struck me very forcibly. "For a long time," she said, prefacing her remarks, "we have remained polite and subservient upholders of the GPA against clear evidence of the absence of a reliable and honest partner." One event illustrated perfectly the 'absence of a reliable and honest partner' and that was Mugabe's sudden and unilateral decision to bring forward the usual Tuesday Cabinet meeting to Monday. Cabinet meetings are chaired by the Prime Minister and on Monday Morgan Tsvangirai was still not back in the country. What clearer evidence could be needed to show Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF's contempt and disrespect for their partners in the Inclusive Government? As Thokozani Kupe commented, "Innocent and innocuous as this (Mugabe's) decision may be, the fact of the matter is that it underpins everything wrong about this present agreement." The MDC proceeded to boycott the unscheduled Cabinet Meeting; for once MDC words and actions went hand in hand, polite but definitely not subservient.

Interestingly, one of Morgan Tsvangirai's first tasks when he arrived back in Zimbabwe was to defend the newly issued MDC Newsletter from allegations by George Charamba that the Newsletter was in fact an illegal publication. "There is nothing illegal about a newsletter," the Prime Minister declared. "I have a website. This is the modern age. I have to communicate. You cannot keep things to yourself and still say you are communicating. Let the people know." Exactly, Mr Prime Minister! That is just what the people want. But when you tell us 'things' that we know are not factual, then you should not be surprised at the hostile reaction from your own supporters. When the Deputy Minister of Mines, an MDC appointee, denies the well-documented reports of the killings of innocent villagers in the Marange diamond fields as "unsubstantiated reports" and when the Prime Minister himself describes the ongoing farm invasions as "Isolated incidents, blown out of all proportion" it is hardly surprising that his words are greeted with incredulity. As Ben Freeth points out in his meticulously detailed report on the situation of the former commercial farms in Chegutu (as seen on the SW website), the truth must be acknowledged if the whole country is not to remain in the darkness of dictatorship. Anything less than the truth is an insult to the people's intelligence. Let the people know, Mr Prime Minister, and they will be with you every step of the road.


Yours in the (continuing) struggle, PH.



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