Outside looking in: A letter from the diaspora

There was a story this week about MDC members in Masvingo being refused entry to the ZNA. I don’t know how widespread this practice is but it has certainly happened before. It is, of course, tantamount to blackmail: support Zanu PF or you will not be allowed to follow your chosen career.

In Masvingo this week, a war veteran called Max Chitera made it his business to vet (no pun intended) the line of young hopefuls who were about to participate in a 10km. marathon from which ZNA recruits would be selected. Max Chiteya apparently walked among the aspiring recruits and pointed out those who, he claimed, were MDC members. “No MDC members would be allowed to become soldiers.” Comrade Chitera is alleged to have said, “They should first convert to Zanu PF, the party with liberation credentials, if they were serious about pursuing their dreams of getting into the ZNA.”

Comrade Chitera’s use of the word ‘convert’ is significant, suggesting as it does, a religious conversion to another belief system. This ‘conversion’ however, is not voluntary, it does not represent a genuine change of mind or heart but rather an enforced move brought about by external pressure, rather like someone converting to Roman Catholicism in order to get a job in the Vatican! Enforced conversion is exactly how Zanu PF operates; we see evidence of it every day in the statements made by officials from different walks of life. This last week we had the Army chief saying that he would not allow security reforms because “they are being pushed by Rhodesians” – whoever they are! Then there was Obadiah Musino, the head of the Mapostori sect and a rabid supporter of Robert Mugabe. Zimbabweans will remember that Mugabe was pictured wearing Mapostori robes. Obadiah has been busy ‘singing for his supper’ ever since. This week he was preaching Zanu PF doctrine while handing out agricultural implements and residential stands in return for ‘conversion’ to Zanu PF. “Mugabe was chosen by God” says the Mapostori chief, “he will rule until he dies.”

The conviction that Zanu PF has a ‘divine right’ to rule Zimbabwe has long been their creed. The claim that they liberated the country is accompanied by access to a whole range of privileges. Farmers in Matabeleland North this week were threatened with violence if they refuse to pay for the upcoming Conference though we also read this week that Zanu PF themselves are refusing to pay for use of the Conference venue in Bulawayo on the grounds that they – Zanu PF – are ‘the revolutionary party’. The fact that Bulawayo has an MDC-led council just might be a factor in their refusal to pay up!

It will be interesting to see whether delegates to the Zanu PF conference agree to have voluntary HIV tests ahead of World Aids Day on December 1st. That may seem irrelevant but it would be foolish to discount the possibility that sexual privileges are sometimes included in Zanu PF ‘rights’ It is not beyond the bounds of possibility either that sex is sometimes used to gain the favour of a Zanu PF chef.

The International Crisis Group this week said very bluntly that Mugabe’s party is the chief obstacle to timely and fair elections. A number of Zanu PF people have said that they are not going ‘to negotiate themselves out of power.’ There is certainly evidence that Zanu PF already have measures in place to rig the election and it would be miraculous if the forthcoming meetings between the parties – in the presence of the South African Facilitation team – succeed in overcoming the chasm between the parties. It was more than surprising then to read that Robert Mugabe, with all the Zanu PF dirty tricks at his disposal, is appealing to Russia and China for protection in the event that Morgan Tsvangirai challenges the conduct of the elections at the UN. “We rely on good friends like you to protect us” Mugabe is reported to have said. With the police, the CIO, the army – and the Mapostori – so firmly on his side, it’s hard to understand what Mugabe needs protection from, unless it’s himself – but perhaps he knows something we don’t.

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

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