OUTSIDE LOOKING IN – A letter from the diaspora

The dictator only lets go of what he can control I read that comment somewhere as I was studying the reports of Aung San Su Kyis release from house arrest last week and I wondered how the generals were going to control this woman.

Were there any conditions attached to her release, she was asked. No, none, came the firm answer. She wanted a revolution she told the BBC journalist who interviewed her after her release, but not through violence.

In most peoples minds, the words revolution and violence go together. History shows us that the overthrow or repudiation of a regime or political system by the governed, as the dictionary defines revolution, generally comes about through massive social upheavals accompanied by violence and bloodshed.

In Zimbabwe, Zanu PF boasts that it is a revolutionary party. The means whereby the system of white rule was overthrown was, in reality, a war of liberation from an unjust system where skin colour and racial identity were the deciding factors. In fact the revolution did not change the system, it merely changed the colour of those in power. The war that the revolutionary party is fighting thirty one years later is, so we are told, to defend that revolution. The MDC cannot be allowed to gain power, goes the reasoning because they are no more than British-backed imperialists, nothing more than a cover for the return of the country to white colonial rule. No evidence is given to support this claim but as propaganda it serves its purpose – even though half the population was not even born when the whites ruled.

The revolution Mugabe boasts of on every occasion, was won through the barrel of the gun, not through the ballot box and everything that is happening in Zimbabwe today as we head towards 2011 and possible elections shows that Zanu PF has not changed; violence and repression are still their weapons of choice. On Tuesday, we heard reports that Zanu PF has drafted the General Laws Amendment Bill to prevent public access to information such as court judgements, legislation, official notices and public registers that would of course, include electoral rolls. Mugabes spokesman George Charamba stated quite categorically this week that he had no intention of issuing licences to private players (in the media field) until the government develops the capacity to monitor and regulate the new players. Only let go of what you can control! Journalists are increasingly being picked up and any journo reporting police misbehaviour can be sure he will find himself in custody. Threats against citizens such as Minister David Coltart are issued openly by the likes of so-called war vet, Joseph Chinotimba and the police do nothing. Such is the absence of the rule of law in Mugabes Zimbabwe. Strangely enough, even war vets themselves are liable to be turned off the farms they took from the whites if someone comes along prepared to pay a good price for the land. The Chinese, with Zanu PF approval, this week took over a resettled farm for a brick making project, leaving the war vets with no land, no homes and no crops just like the white farmers the war vets kicked out. Its dog eat dog in Zimbabwe.

As the Unity Government stumbles towards its almost inevitable demise, SADC meets today in Gaberone to discuss Zimbabwe yet again. Mugabe says he will abide by the GPA but only when sanctions are lifted. Perhaps the time has come to put Mugabe and the regime to the test: lift the sanctions and see whether he will honour the Agreement he signed two years ago. Will Zanu PF call off their dogs of war; will we have free and fair elections with international monitors in place; will the media be free to report; will the ZRP once again uphold the rule of law and will the army stop their relentless violence against innocent civilians? Whether the lifting of sanctions will bring about that transformation in Zimbabwe so that citizens of all races can live together without fear in a truly democratic society is, as they say, the $64.000 question. Never forget, the dictator only lets go of what he can control.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH. aka Pauline Henson

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