OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: A letter from the diaspora

Events in Zimbabwe this week have once again illustrated that without an impartial police force to implement the law, society descends into violence with no protection for the victims. In Zimbabwe, the police have, in effect, become a law to themselves. Despite a Court Ruling that all three opposition rallies in Matabeleland North could go ahead, the police ignored the Ruling and banned the rallies. When that failed and the MDC attracted thousands to their rallies, the police did everything they

At one rally in Matabeleland North police actually threatened to shoot people who attended saying that they were not obliged to follow court orders – and anyway the orders were fake! But the real give away line was the comment that the police only take instructions from their bosses! The increasing level of violence throughout the country was reported by Prime Minister Tsvangirai to Robert Mugabe at their weekly meeting and he was told by the President that ‘it will be dealt with.’ The truth, however, is that without the police doing their job and maintaining law and order in an even-handed way, the violence will continue.

That violence came right into the middle of Harare this week when a group of 30 fully armed police raided MDC headquarters on the flimsy excuse that they were searching for vegetable vendors who had taken shelter in the building. The police then fired tear gas into the opposition’s head quarters; unlikely that would ever happen to Zanu PF HQ. And therein, as I have said before, is the root of the whole problem: the police have become a totally politicised force.

Augustine Chihuri, the present Commissioner, has openly declared his support for Zanu PF and police officers who support the MDC have been demoted or dismissed from the force. In the wider public, MDC supporters face constant harassment for trivial ‘offences’ such as putting up posters for an MDC rally in Vic Falls while two other MDC supporters were detained when they were heard saying that Mugabe could meet the same fate as Mumar Gaddafi, a remark that was deemed to be a criminal offence, since insulting the president is a crime punishable by imprisonment.

There is almost daily evidence that speaking your mind in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is an increasingly dangerous occupation. Senator Eddie Cross spoke out openly about the corruption and theft going on at Marange and was then followed and threatened by the CIO for his blunt speaking.

Apparently the Kimberley Process chooses to turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses going on at the diamond mine and this week they announced that Zimbabwe is once again free to sell their rough diamonds on the open market. Today, Friday, the US is on record saying – if I understood it correctly – that it was necessary to compromise on the Zimbabwe diamond issue in order to find out if Zimbabwe would improve its behaviour!

Meanwhile the Minister of Mines, Obert Mpofu is crowing with delight at the KP.decision. In the light of news this week that 1 in 10 Zimbabweans will need food aid by early 2012, it would be good to think that diamond revenue might actually be used to feed the hungry and not just to enrich the few already wealthy individuals.

The question of how a downtrodden population counteracts the violence of a brutal regime was addressed this week by the MDC’s Theresa Makone and her words deserve serious consideration. The MDC’s original non-violent stance was approved by many Zimbabweans tired of the constant violence meted out against them for no reason other than their belief in a different political party. For the past eleven years and more, those opposed to Mugabe and Zanu PF have appeared to sit back and wait for the blows to fall.

And fall they did. It has become clear that Zanu PF has nothing but contempt for the MDC’s non-violence stance. Now, in November 2011, here’s what Theresa Makone advises the people: “You do not attack anyone, you do not offend anyone but, should anyone strike you, don’t just sit there because they will kill you. You have seen them do it before. That is what Zanu PF got on Sunday from the people. The people refuse to be battered citizens.”

Theresa Makone’s words do indeed deserve the serious thought and consideration of all Zimbabweans.

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 from Lulu.com.

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