OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: A letter from the diaspora

A report by the International Bar Association has put the blame squarely on Zanu PF for the failure to implement reforms in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe, says the IBA report, is still in crisis three years after the signing of the grandly named Global Political Agreement, “…political environment gravely polarized by resurgence of violence, arrests, intimidation and hate speech…”

Zanu PF, of course, responded the just way we have come to expect. Rugare Gumbo condemns the IBA as an organization that is “in business to criticise Zanu PF.”

If this short extract is anything to go by, the IBA report is relatively mild, compared to what is really happening in Zimbabwe. A worrying development recently is the increasing use of so-called ‘youth’ in carrying out violence and disruption. I’m not exactly sure what age one has to be to qualify as a ‘youth’ but last weekend it was reported that ‘Zanu PF youths’ had seriously disrupted a ZCTU meeting being held in Bulawayo.

The meeting was being addressed by top Union officials when this rowdy group of ‘youths’ disrupted the gathering. For once, the police actually did what they are supposed to and ordered the youths to leave but they would not budge. It was only the intervention of a senior Zanu PF official that finally persuaded them: Zanu PF’s law had prevailed!

The news that the activities of the Chipangano gang has the support of senior Zanu PF leaders came as no surprise and this week the MDC called on Mugabe to stop the gang’s violence. Needless to say, Mugabe has done and the gang continues to wreak havoc in Harare. ‘Zanu PF youths’ were busy this week taking over the carparks in a Harare suburb.

They say it is part of the ‘indigenisation’ programme, empowering the people! To demonstrate their loyalty to Mugabe and the former ruling party, the youths hoisted the Zanu PF flag at ‘their’ carparks.

At the same time as this patently illegal activity was going on, a group of MDC youth were denied permission for a march. All marches are banned, the police announced, except for those organised by government ministries or departments.

The combined motives of violence for political ends and personal greed make for a toxic mix that has poisoned all aspects of life in Zimbabwe. Zanu PF thugs have banned the Seventh Day Adventist Church from holding their services in a local school because some of the church members are also members of the MDC. ‘Bishop’ Kunonga continues to evict bona fide Anglican priests from their homes.

This week he was in Chegutu where his thugs were accompanied by a court messenger to give a veneer of legality to their illegal activities. Apparently, the thugs are masquerading as priests while they beat and threaten both laity and clergy. In the rural areas too, some traditional chiefs appear to be in thrall to Kunonga as one chief orders Anglican parishioners in Chikwaka to pay allegiance to Kunonga – ‘pay’ being the operative word.

A statistic from the IBA report shows that politically motivated arrests have increased from 300 people for the whole of 2010 to 800 in the first six months of 2011. The continuing harassment and arrests of the Woza women is clearly political and the charge of ‘kidnapping and theft’ against the leaders, Mahlangu and Williams is simply nonsensical. These brave women have been remanded in custody until October 6th despite calls from all quarters for their release.

Reports speak of 5000 Mapostoris invading sugar estates in the lowveld where sugar production has been reduced by 70%; I seem to recall another such invasion some years back. It is, as a good friend of mine always says, “Same old, same old” in Zimbabwe.

As the net tightens, Zanu PF they descend to crude threats against their enemies, real or imagined. This week it was Emerson Mnangagwa telling those countries that want to invade Zimbabwe (!) that the ‘ZNA will crush them.’ No comment needed, I think.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH. aka Pauline Henson author of the Dube books, detective stories with a political slant set in Zimbabwe and available on lulu.com

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