Saturday, August 15, 2009

ZIMBABWE - LETTER FROM THE DIASPORA !

14th August 2009

Dear Friends,

Listening to Joseph Chintimba being interviewed By Violet Gonda on SW Radio Africa this last week was one of those typical 'Zim Moments' when one simply didn't know whether to laugh or cry. My first reaction when I heard that Violet Gonda was planning to interview 'Straw Hat Man' was astonishment. What on earth was Violet thinking about giving airtime to this clown of a man, I wondered. My mind went back to the first sight the nation had of this so-called war veteran back in 2000. There he was on our TV screens, complete with his trade mark straw hat telling a distraught white farmer "This is my farm now". From then on Chinotimba was seen regularly on our screens as he led the violent farm invasions. Over the years his image changed, gone was the straw hat to be replaced by a baseball cap and sometimes even a smart western suit. None of that made any difference to the nonsense that he spouted or the violence of his actions as he led his bunch of rabble-rousing followers into court-rooms where 'Chinos' was seem dancing on the Judge's bench, to breaking up legal civil rights demonstrations leaving blood-soaked demonstrators on the street. And all of his destructive nonsense emanated from Zanu PF headquarters. Chinotimba's latest escapade was the disruption of the Constitutional Conference a few weeks ago where he was once again seen dancing on the table. "Who told you that?" he demanded of Violet as she attempted to have a sensible discussion with 'Straw Hat Man'. But it was no use expecting sense from the man; whoever it was who saw him dancing, he said, then she must have been dancing with him so he should marry her! Violet's utterly infectious giggle burst forth at this point; like her listeners she was reduced to hysterical mirth by this clown of a man. It was Vi's reference to the MDC at one point in the interview that exposed Chinotimba's political thinking, if we can describe such muddled thought processes as 'thinking' "What MDC?" he demanded, "We are one government now" If the purpose of this Hot Seat interview was to reveal exactly why Mugabe and Zanu PF are in this Unity Government, then Violet had succeeded admirably. The reason, as we all suspected, despite our hope that it was a genuine move in the direction of co-operation, was to swallow up the former opposition movement and it was Chinotimba who articulated it so clearly, "We are one government now". Laugh as we may at Chinotimba's antics, he is telling no less than the truth; in Zanu PF's mind the MDC is finished. Like the court jester, the Fool in a Shakespearian tragedy, Chinotimba's role is to speak a great deal of nonsense with one key truth interspersed among the gobbledegook.

On Heroes Day, it was Robert Mugabe's turn. They were burying Joseph Msika at Heroes Acre and, as we all knew he would, the President used the occasion to slate the west and Britain in particular for not supporting the Unity Government. In fact, Mugabe claimed, the west was intent on destroying the six-month old coalition by failing to give them any money and in a remark clearly directed at Morgan Tsvangirai's recent European travels he said, "Let everyone in the inclusive government know that our nation will never prosper through foreign handouts" - conveniently overlooking the fact that it is foreign NGO's who are feeding the population and actually keeping alive thousands of Zimbabweans who would otherwise starve to death, thanks to Mugabe's disastrous Land Reform. "Stop interfering" Mugabe told the west, "We can do it alone" The whole MDC team was there at Heroes Acre to hear this patently untrue statement; it is obvious to everyone that Zimbabwe desperately needs economic help in every area merely to survive. But for Robert Mugabe, wrapped in his mantle of pride and arrogance and unable to admit his own failures, it is the former evil colonial power that is to blame for all the country's woes.

It was one of his Zanu PF's spokesmen who, speaking at another occasion, articulated the real nub of the matter. "What is hurting us most are sanctions" said Ephriam Masawi as he dismissed the Gono/Tomana issue as 'not serious', this in spite of the fact that President Zuma of South Africa is supposedly visiting Zimbabwe to sort out that very issue. The inventive Zimbabwean press is awash with rumours that in return for that rather sketchy 'salute' Prime Minister received from some of the service chiefs on Heroes Day, the MDC is prepared to compromise on the issue of the Reserve Bank Governor remaining in post but will fight to have Attorney General Tomana removed. If this is true, the reasons were very evident this week. The trial of the MDC Deputy Minister accused of stealing Chinotimba's cellphone was postponed by the partisan Attorney General and Roy Bennet's application for bail was once again refused. In a related development, Police Chief Chihuri – who did not salute Tsvangirai – has issued instructions to all his officers, Inspectors and above, to boycott all political meetings held by the Prime Minister and attend only those occasions where Mugabe is speaking.

A close friend of mine who writes a regular blog for ITN was told this week that her blog was no longer required because "interest in Zimbabwe had waned" Perhaps that's not surprising when we see what is happening in Iran or the desperate situation in Burma where my hero Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to another 18 months under house arrest but as I said to my friend, "Interest may be waning in the west but we ain't seen nothing yet in Zimbabwe." The photograph on the front page of this week's The Zimbabwean of a 16 year old boy beaten to death by Zanu PF members for daring to ask for his unpaid wages from his Zanu PF boss suggest to me that Zimbabwe is nowhere near out of the woods. The seven assailants of the boy were arrested and released, allegedly on the orders of Minister Didymus Mutasa, after three days in prison. The horribly mutilated body of the boy, accused by his attackers of being an MDC supporter, is testimony to the complete breakdown of law and order in Zimbabwe. Salutes or not salutes for Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC has a long hard battle on its hands if it is to restore Zimbabwe to real peace.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.

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