OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: A letter from the diaspora

Dear Friends.
Like many Zimbabweans in the UK diaspora, I suspect, I found myself smiling ironically as events unfolded here this last week; there was an almost uncanny resemblance to Zimbabwes recent election experience! Comedians had a field day with jokes about the Mugabe comparison and how the Zimbabwean dictator could teach the Brits a thing or two about how to rig elections and stay in power.

Having lost the election pretty conclusively, Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown appeared at first to be holed up in No 10 refusing to accept defeat. He has resorted to Mugabes political philosophy ranted one Conservative right-winger. The problem was that the Conservatives had not gained the clear majority required to govern. It all sounded very familiar to Zimbabweans who remember only too well how Mugabe dealt with the problem back in 2008. He simply got George Chiweshe his Electoral Commission Chairman (the very same man he now intends to reward by making him Judge President of the High Court!) to delay the publication of the results for five weeks. Then, surprise, surprise, the MDCs victory had miraculously metamorphosed into an insufficient number of seats to give them a majority. Out of this blatant vote rigging sprang the so-called coalition government, nothing to do with the will of the people or the national interest – simply a way of maintaining the status quo.

Mugabe has said that he can do business with the Tories, perhaps he thinks he can persuade them to lift sanctions? Mugabe, as always is living in the past, It is a very different Conservative party that is now in power; it is a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, a compromise, requiring trust and give and take on both sides, all in the national interest we are told. The crisis that had rocked the UK for five days was over. With absolute dignity and an honest admission of his own failure to win the election for his Labour Party, Gordon Brown resigned and quit No 10.Within hours David Cameron was the new Prime Minister of a coalition government. On the face of it, the national interest had taken precedence over narrow party politics and the wishes of power-hungry politicians with inflated egos.

And as we were still recovering from these extraordinary events in the UK came the equally extraordinary news from home of Roy Bennetts acquittal on the capital charge of treason and attempting to overthrow Robert Mugabe. Interviewed by the British Guardian newspaper two days earlier Bennett had said he would not stand in the way of restoration and reconstruction in Zimbabwe. A single post should not stop the process moving forward he said, So if it means that I should step aside completely and not be involved and that would move the process forward towards a fresh election and towards democracy, I would be the first to endorse that. Whether it was Bennetts conciliatory statement in the Guardian which led to some kind of deal or a genuinely impartial judgement by Judge Bunhu we shall never know. The fact is that the State in the person of the incompetent Attorney General, Johannes Tomana had totally failed to prove their case against Bennett. In itself, that would not necessarily have meant an inevitable acquittal in Zimbabwean courts where Mugabes judges have time and again failed to demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law in favour of political considerations. Whatever the case, Roy Bennett was momentarily a free man, all charges against him dropped. Then, on Wednesday 12.05.10 came the news that the State would appeal against the acquittal and in a further sinister development we heard that Bennetts passport and his bail money – has mysteriously disappeared. One might expect Pachedu has suffered enough at the hands of his political enemies but Zanu PFs malice against him knows no bounds. Nelson Chamisas comment as the trial ended that Bennett was an angel was admittedly somewhat over the top but it was enough to inspire Jonathan Moyo into print. Writing in the Herald where else Moyo was at his poisonous best, describing Bennett as an active member of the murderous Rhodesian Infantry during the Liberation Struggle. Just like former Nazis in Israel, former members of the murderous Rhodesian army are not angels but devils with no place in any government in a free Zimbabwe. It is certainly news to me – and to Israel I should think – that former Nazis are hiding out there but then Jonathan Moyo was never one to deal in hard facts; propaganda and lies are his natural medium. We all know that Moyo is only saying what his master wants to hear. Mugabes hatred of the popular and much-loved Pachedu is well-known. Sadly, Roy Bennett was correct when he said after his acquittal that Zanu PF are still out to get me. It is glaringly obvious that the States decision to appeal against Judge Bunhus acquittal verdict is the result of pressure from the Zanu PF hawks. Reports that Tomana consulted Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice, suggest that Tomanas belated decision to appeal has more to do with Chinamasas desire for personal vengeance against his old enemy than a concern for justice and the rule of law.

It was the Kenyan Prime Minister a couple of week ago who commented that coalition governments do not work in Africa. The fact is that coalitions cannot work anywhere, be it the UK or Zimbabwe, without trust between the parties and a shared commitment to the national interest. Zimbabwes political crisis is over declared Morgan Tsvangirai this week. The country is safe for investors.

Facts on the ground suggest otherwise. Roy Bennetts continuing persecution in the courts is just one example. Innocent villagers are also suffering at the hands of a vengeful regime that will brook no opposition to Mugabes Kariba Draft which would ensure his continued stay in power. Operation Hapana Anotaura – No one speaks is hardly an indication that the crisis is over much as the so-called coalition government would have us believe in their desperate desire to court foreign investors.

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.

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