OUTSIDE LOOKING IN A letter from the diaspora

Watching a sour-faced President Robert Mugabe at Prime Minister Tsvangirai's inauguration, it was difficult to believe that anything good would come out of this botched up Government of National Unity. But then no one seemed to be smiling, it was rather like a shotgun wedding where both sides knew that there was no alternative. They had to go through this sham of a wedding to give their relationship legitimacy but no one really believed that the marriage would last.

It was a different matter at the reception' after the ceremony. Lots
of smiling happy MDC faces and shouts of joy from the thousands
gathered in Glamis Stadium to welcome the new Prime Minister. We used
to be dead. Now we are alive, said one observer. This is the start of
change. That's what we all desperately want to believe that, we all
want to hope that Zimbabwe has turned the corner at last but the signs
are not good. Right up to the very last moment before Tsvangirai's
inauguration we were all longing to see the activists released – but it
did not happen. It would have been a sign of Mugabe's good faith, a
sign that perhaps we could place some reliance on him to do the right
thing. The Prime Minister referred specifically to the plight of the
abducted activists but carefully did not say what steps he would take
if they were not released. Then on Thursday, the very day that Morgan
Tsvangiri became Prime Minister, three of the abductees were taken to
the Avenues clinic for medical treatment. Jestina Mukoko, Ghandi
Mudzingwa and Fidelis Chiramba were each seen by two sets of doctors
from the state and private sector. The doctors all agreed that the
three were in urgent need of hospitalization but according to reports
they were once again taken back into custody at Chikurubi Maximum
Security Prison. So much for hope, so much for placing any trust at all
in Robert Mugabe and his murderous regime.  Hope deferred again!

was one sign that Morgan Tsvangirai perhaps had some influence – if not
real power. To his credit, one of his first calls as Prime Minister was
to Chikurubi to visit the detainees. Despite the fact that the service
chiefs, including the head of the Prison Service, have vowed never to
salute Morgan Tsvangirai, the guards on the prison gates apparently
gave Tsvangirai a snappy salute and addressed him as Prime Minister.
Perhaps that was a good sign, I wondered, but if it was, then it was
the last one. As I write on this Friday 13th February the BBC are
reporting that Roy Bennet the Deputy Minister of Agriculture in the new
government has been arrested, allegedly at Charles Prince Airport while
attempting to board a flight to South Africa. The Zimbabwean this
morning contained a heart-warming picture of Roy with his arms round a
smiling black man.  There they were, their faces wreathed in beautiful
smiles. It was surely a sign of hope for the new Zimbabwe?

Now Roy
is again under arrest. I phoned home immediately. Was it true?' I
asked and the news was confirmed. Pachedu' is indeed in the hands of
the Law and Order department. The ZBC, I was told, is also reporting
that the new government has not yet been sworn in. The ceremony was due
to take place at 10.OO Zim time. It is not hard to understand the
reason for the delay; Roy Bennet was one of the MDC's cabinet nominees
and without him the swearing in cannot take place… or can it?

begins to seem that nothing will halt the MDC's progress, if that's 
what it is, into government; not the violent abduction and imprisonment
of activists, not the arrest of their own cabinet members and not the
wholesale infringement of human rights. The latest news is that the
swearing in is taking place even now – presumably without Roy Bennet.
To those who have been saying all week that it was all a terrible
mistake getting into a marriage of convenience with Robert Mugabe, I
have to admit that it's beginning to look as if they are right; hope
and trust are just not in Robert Mugabe's vocabulary. For the rest of
us at home and in the diaspora, hope is deferred yet again; none of us
will be going home any time soon.

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