Saturday, July 18, 2009


17th July, 2009.

Dear Friends.

"The lion called Zimbabwe is about to roar." declared Nelson Chamisa when he heard that the Minister of Finance had lifted the import duty on cell phones and computers. Chamisa was talking about the effect freeing up communications would have in the rural areas where every son of the soil would have a cellphone and access to the world wide net of information technology. It's hard to believe that people who are barely surviving will be rushing out to buy the latest model computers and cellphones when they do not even have electricity most of the time - if at all. I have been trying to reach a cellphone in Murehwa for a week now only to be told, the number you have dialled cannot be reached. 'Pigs might fly' seems a more appropriate metaphor but the 'lion' image has a nice poetic ring about it.

The events of this last week, however, suggest that the only roar we are likely to hear is from the mob that invaded the Constitutional Stakeholders' Conference on Monday 13th July. The noise made by the likes of Joseph Chinotimba and his bunch of so-called war veterans was certainly enough to drown out the voice of reason. The BBC captured the whole debacle on camera and watching it just confirmed my worst fears that this charade of a Unity Government could ever succeed in the face of such blind intolerance and stupidity. Blood and bullets seems to be the only language they understand. Speaker Lovemore Moyo had no chance and was forced to sit down as the mob chanted and hurled missiles at the official delegates. It was all there on the BBC video including one memorable shot of Minister Tendai Biti as he remained firmly in his seat while most of the other delegates fled from the chaos in the hall and the police stood by.
The fact that the three principals to the GPA did not turn up at all surely suggests that they knew in advance what was going to happen. So who gave the go-ahead to the rowdy demonstrators? Are we really supposed to believe that Ministers and Zanu PF MP's, war veterans and the police themselves acted without their Dear Leader's approval? It is no secret that Mugabe is in favour if the Kariba Draft Constitution that gives him unlimited tenure; neither he nor his followers want a new constitution. After the Rumble at the Rainbow Towers was all over, Mugabe predictably expressed his 'abhorrence' at what had happened and Prime Minister Tsvangirai said he could only agree with what the President had said. As the Zim Independent's Muckraker commented "He (Tsvangirai) seems to be doing an awful lot of that recently."

Meanwhile, the MDC activist, who tried to restrain the Zanu PF MP Patrick Zhuwawo from beating up another MDC MP, is in prison while Zhuwawo, of course, walks free. He is the President's close relative, after all. It is all sickeningly familiar to Zimbabweans and even the most naïve of us have to admit that this Unity Government is going nowhere fast. Robert Mugabe is still firmly in the driving seat and, even if it means taking the whole country over a cliff into the abyss, he will not budge. Unlike The Zimbabwean in this week's editorial, I cannot find it in my heart to give Mugabe the benefit of the doubt – again. "For the sake of our beloved Zimbabwe, we are always prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt." says the editorial. Surely that is stretching credulity too far? Is it not time to face the facts head on and admit that this so-called settlement has been a terrible mistake, for Zimbabwe and all her people. Yes, there has been a short-term advantage in the improving financial situation but in terms of human rights, media freedom and justice for all there has been almost no progress. Is it really in Zimbabwe's best interest to allow this 85 year old man to be given the benefit of the doubt again? This is the man who has repeatedly demonstrated over nearly thirty years his contempt for the democratic process, who has time and again rigged elections, denied the voice of the people and caused immense human suffering. What other reason do we all have to be here in the world-wide diaspora, if it is not Robert Mugabe's intransigence?

For me, there was a tiny glimmer of hope this week that perhaps the light is beginning to dawn in the minds of some of the MDC 'partners' in this Global Political Agreement. It was enlightening to hear in Minister Biti's Supplementary Budget Statement this week the following comment, "I urge our principals to ensure the credibility and integrity of the GPA is respected not in terms of having tea together." Apparently, the ZTV, acting on the directive of George Charamba, the Presidential spokesperson, decided to black out Biti's budget statement and show a cartoon instead. Was it an animal cartoon, I wonder, where the lion was roaring at a bunch of silly sheep?

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.



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