OUTSIDE LOOKING IN A letter from the diaspora

air_zim_-_mugabeDear Friends.
In the same week that the Minister of Finance vigorously condemned the excessive spending by government ministers on foreign travel, comes the news that Robert Mugabe is to attend the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen next week.

Its hard to see what meaningful contribution Mugabe can make to a debate on climate change when he and his bunch of crazed war veterans have done more than a little to contribute to it by chopping down trees, slaughtering wild life and destroying the natural environment. While the AU fulminates about the wests miserly contribution to the funds allocated to help poorer nations counteract climate change, they remain silent on Zimbabwes destruction of the environment. No doubt, Mugabe will manage to blame sanctions for climate change along with all the other ills he and his party have brought down on the heads of Zimbabweans at home and in the world-wide diaspora.

But before he ventures into the Scandinavian winter, Mugabe must first face the 10.000 or so delegates at the Zanu PF Congress. With a complete blackout of news about the Talks, on the grounds that discussing them in public would only weaken their positions whatever that means! journalists in Zimbabwe have filled their columns with speculation about Mugabes future and the possible splits inside Zanu PF. We are led to believe that the party is desperate to revive its fortunes, financially and politically. Unfortunately, that does not include ditching the Dear Leader. It seems that Zanu PF top people, terrified of losing their ill-gotten gains and of prosecution by the ICC, have firmly endorsed Mugabe as Party Leader for the next five years. By which time the Dear Leader will have reached the grand old age of 91, almost in line for a telegram from HMQ. His real intention of course is to remain in office until death, always assuming he admits that possibility! Only death would automatically exclude him from prosecution for human rights abuses, at least from an earthly court.

On International Human Rights Day, AIDS Free World, an international advocacy group, issued a damning report that indicated quite explicitly that prior to the 2008 elections Zanu PF mounted a systematic campaign of rape against women aligned to the MDC. The report contains sworn affidavits of 70 victims of rape by Zanu PF supporters who actually gave their names to their victims and told them why they were being raped: because they were wives, mothers, daughters or sisters of MDC officials. There were no less than 380 rapes and 241 perpetrators named in this report which further claimed that the campaign was quite deliberate. It was organized by the Joint Operations Command and Mugabe not only knew about it, he was complicit in that he refused to punish those responsible. The evidence is incontrovertible and unassailable, maintains Stephen Lewis the co-director of AIDS Free World. Will the rest of the world take any notice of this detailed 64 page-long report? Will SADC or the AU, armed with such a damning indictment of one of their own members find the courage to condemn Robert Mugabe and the Zanu PF members responsible for such heinous crimes against humanity? On past experience, it is unlikely, I would say.

For me, there was one small item of good news this week. That was the news that the MDC has expelled and suspended members of their party found to be corrupt. All the bad apples are going to be crushed, announced Nelson Chamisa. We dont want a culture of violence, we want a culture of discourse. At last, we have a frank admission of something which many of us have suspected for a very long time: that the MDC is not immune to the all-pervasive moral decline that has dominated Zimbabwean political and social life in recent years. The MDC cannot continue to expect the unquestioning support of ordinary Zimbabweans at home and abroad if they abandon the moral integrity that first attracted us to the party. Many of us profoundly disagreed with their decision to join Zanu PF in a government of national unity but we accepted it because we were told it was the only way forward if the country was not to be plunged into even greater suffering. When I heard fellow Zimbabweans expounding the view that the MDC in government would be no better than Zanu PF, I dismissed it as mere cynicism of the sort one hears all the time about the behaviour of politicians. I heard it again this week when a good friend from home, exiled here in the UK, phoned me. He had been a passionate supporter of the MDC from the beginning but now he is utterly disillusioned. Theyre all the same, he said, once they get into power. You can be sure he wont be going home any time soon no matter how often Morgan Tsvangirai urges Zimbabweans abroad to return and help rebuild the country. Go home to what? my friend asked, When there are no jobs. He has a point.

An editorial in the Zimbabwe Independent this week claimed Zimbabweans in the diaspora will not return home until theres peace and security, to which I would add justice and equality for all, not excluding Zimbabweans of a lighter shade. When the MDC regains its courage and moral integrity and raises its voice in defence of human rights for ALL Zimbabweans, regardless of their race and colour, then I might begin to believe in them again.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH. aka Pauline Henson author of Case Closed published in Zimbabwe by Mambo Press, Going Home and Countdown, political detective stories set in Zimbabwe and available from Lulu.com and Amazon.

Post published in: Opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *