OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: A letter from the diaspora

Is it too much to hope that Zanu PF locked into the past as its leader and its members are can learn anything from events in other parts of the world?

Acknowledging the bloody history between their two countries on her historic visit to Ireland this week, Queen Elizabeth 11 said we should bow to the past but not be bound by it, adding that Irelands example gives hope to other peace makers around the world. In an eight minute speech, the Queen, herself an octogenarian, showed that it is possible despite advancing years to move away from the past and to understand, with head and heart, present realities. Without denying the pain and suffering for both sides of the past conflict, the Queens speech was a model of restraint and sincere humility and for that she received a standing ovation from the gathering of Irish dignitaries. From her very first words in Gaelic addressed directly to the Irish Head of State, President Mary McAleese, the Queen demonstrated that she is indeed a peacemaker. There were things we could have done better and things which with historical hindsight we might not have done at all. After her speech, the Irish papers and even the Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams who was opposed to the royal visit, had warm praise for her sincerity and open- heartedness.

The comparison between Queen Elizabeth and Robert Mugabe is not intended to convey the notion that – though he may think otherwise the Zimbabwean President is a royal personage entitled to an inherited royal prerogative. As Morgan Tsvangirai remarked this week, Zanu PF does not have the divine right to rule Zimbabwe. I am no royalist myself but the Queens speech in Dublin was everything one hopes Mugabe will one day bring himself to admit: that the past is just that, past, and old enmities must be forgiven and forgotten in the light of the new realities of a Government of National Unity where, one hopes, the national good comes before narrow party interests. Sadly, despite his apparent admiration for the British royal family, there are no signs that Mugabe is about to embark on the path of peace and reconciliation even though he has sent his emissaries around Africa to convince fellow leaders that all is peace and stability in Zimbabwe. Mugabes party has apparently sponsored a group of young Zanu PF heavies to lobby the SADC Summit. Their stated intention is to disrupt proceedings if the Summit attempts to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe and in particular the land question. That may explain why fresh farm invasions are going on even now. And in Bulawayo, a group of Zanu PF youths have once again invaded and taken over a block of flats owned by an Indian family. Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans the group told the Indian family. How many times have we heard that in the past decade from Mugabe himself and his fanatical followers? Strange how in Zanu PFs racist ideology, a brown skin or a white skin disqualify one from being Zimbabwean while oriental colouring is perfectly acceptable especially if it comes with very large sums of cash. The Chinese are financing a new military intelligence HQ in the Mazowe Valley at a cost of $ 98million we hear. Rumour or truth, no one knows. With Zanu PFs stranglehold on the media, its hard to differentiate. Did Mugabe collapse on Tuesday evening, for instance, and was he revived by his medical team? Is he being given regular injections of adrenalin just to keep him alive? Or are these just stories dreamt up by journalists desperate for news? One inevitable result of a media clampdown is the proliferation of wildly exaggerated stories.

This Friday morning brings the news that President Zuma will not attend the SADC Summit in Namibia and Zimbabwe will therefore be off the agenda. Meanwhile Mugabe continues to insist that he will hold elections this year using the combination of an utterly discredited Voters Roll and pre and post-election violence that we saw in 2008. Yesterday saw CNN journalists arrested in Harare for filming in the city and Woza women arrested in Byo and detained for demonstrating about power shortages. Nothing changes or will change in Zimbabwe while Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF continue to reign.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH. aka Pauline Henson author of the Dube books available from Lulu.com

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