Zimbabwe’s bloggers have a wealth of information on the week that was in the troubled southern African country. There are reports of more arrests and torture, an emergency monetary policy statement, and an indepth look at the myopic bigotry of some in the west with regard to Mugabe. First however, a look at how South Africa’s increasingly complicit role in Zimbabwe’s crisis came back under the spotlight last week. (more….)
It seems last week was the week of interviews for yours truly. I appreciate the feedback left by those who stopped by even those who remain critics of our efforts to chronicle the Zimbabwean story. Undaunted by circumstance or criticism, we’ll continue to tell you the Zimbabwean story from an unheard perspective. This is an excerpt from my interview Richard Fernandez of Pajamas Media.
PJM: What happens next in Zimbabwe?
Zimpundit: This crisis continues while the world watches. With no oil, or “national security” interest for western powerhouses like the US, Zimbabweans are on their own as they continue to bear the brunt of the leadership’s poor choices.
South Africa, our biggest trade partner won’t intervene either because Mbeki considers Mugabe one of his own or because he’s enviously hatching plans to carry out his own atrocities, or both.
Zimbabweans must find it in themselves to negotiate a way out of the present situation. It will take more lives, it will take more suffering, it will take more pain, but we have no other choice.
The MDC leadership will be released with no charges because the state has no case against them. I suspect, having been brutalized once, both Mutambara and Tsvangirai will be out again urging people stand up against the cruel regime. And they’ll both have stronger credibility.
Because of their visible wounds and the fact that they have sacrificed their own bodies and led by example, more people will listen to them. Their wounds and tales of brutality have the potential to spell an end to ZANU-PF’s tyranny. If the government thinks they are going to get the MDC to back down, they have a surprise coming.
PJM: Are there any red lines left?
Zimpundit: The only thing remaining to happen is a public ground swell of people refusing to stand the oppression any longer. Zimbabweans have been pushed long enough, they’ve suffered long enough, all that remains is that their anguish be channeled toward one central place.
Sooner rather than later, there will be an out pouring of rage against the oppression. The economy has yet to grind to a complete stop. Keep in mind that it was the Tsvangirai led crowds that stoppped the nation in its tracks back in 1998 protesting against the cost of living. History has a funny way of repeating itself.
Richard also found some very interesting videos to go along with the article he wrote. Be sure to check both videos for some historical perspective.
It has been a rough weekend for the MDC; not only were the two leaders of the party arrested and tortured, the police killed an opposition activist, and the state press blamed the MDC for the violence.
ONE person was shot dead by police and three police officers severely injured during an attack by MDC thugs, while opposition faction leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara were arrested for inciting people to engage in violence.
Other opposition leaders picked up were the Tsvangirai faction secretary general Tendai Biti, organising secretary Elias Mudzuri, Grace Kwinje, Sekai Holland and Job Sikhala, the latter aligned to the Mutambara faction.
National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku was also arrested, ZBC News reported last night.
Police said the opposition leaders were observed going around Highfield inciting people to engage in violent activities.
Various opposition groups and civic organisations had planned to hold a political rally at Zimbabwe Grounds disguised as a prayer meeting.
Kubatana observantly notes that
The Herald is correct I think – it wasn’t a prayer meeting) which was disrupted by the ZRP in Highfields in Harare.
The media in Zimbabwe is owned and operated by the Mugabe regime. So Sunday’s aftermath, aka how the events are being portrayed, is in the hands of the State. Zimbabweans, since last night, are being force fed a diet of MDC thuggery, non-attendance and opposition violence.
This makes me wonder when the pro-democracy movement will get its act together in terms of creating its own robust media and information response unit.
Anyone who’s been following developments in Zimbabwe is hardly surprised it came to this for the Tsvangirai and Mutambara. ZANU-PF is scared of the opposition and real possibility they maybe faced with an insurmountable tide of anger. This is part of their fight or flight response to certain danger. Still, that doesn’t excuse the egregious human rights violations.
Here’s how bad things are inside the torture camps
The methods of torture are beating all over the body with baton sticks, falanga (beating the feet), pulling their teeth so they become loose, tying hands and feet together and hanging them up like that while they beat them. As I receive many of them at a medical facility in the city, I see it with my own eyes and hear their stories first hand.
What must be remembered is that severe torture, including the falanga, has long term effects, not just psychologically but also physically. The generally unknown statistics are those torture victims who die a year or two later as a result of the torture.
What the state is doing now is tantamount to another form of Genocide – “systematically dealing with the out group”. But no-one likes to recognise it as such. “It is too strong a word” I was told by the EU representative for Human rights two years ago when I presented them with a photographic record of five years of HR’s abuses in Zimbabwe. And warned them that much worse was still to come! If “that word” is used, then it means the UN and others are obliged to do something.
We know, as does the rest of the world, that the UN only acts “too late, with too little”. Ruwanda is the most horrific and recent example of this. The indications are here for us to see, the utterances by the misruling party make no bones about how they intend to deal with the opposition, and the armed forces (which includes the militia) have explicit instructions. I hope I am mistaken, but I do feel that bloodshed is not far off.
I hope that prediction is wrong.
In what has been widely condemned as the state’s approval of police cruelty, Mugabe berated Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) leaders for crying foul after police brutalized them for their attempted demonstrations last week. Speaking at an official event during a stopover on his way back from Cuba and New York, Mugabed raged at the demonsrators accusing them of putting on a charade for western media to document,
The President said the ZCTU leaders — who were beaten up by police for holding an illegal gathering in Harare — got the treatment they deserved for ignoring warnings to disperse.
“We cannot have a situation where people decide to sit in places not allowed and when the police remove them, they say no. We can’t have that, that is a revolt to the system. Vamwe vaakuchema kuti takarohwa, ehe unodashurwa. When the police say move, move. If you don’t move, you invite the police to use force,” the President said.
And as if they had planned it ahead, the police did it again.
27 people on Monday were left with bruises after police in Harare crushed a protest march by the pressure group National Constitutional Assembly (NCA). Demonstrations, which took part in several cities last Wednesday, had failed to take place in Harare due to heavy police presence.
Dr Lovemore Madhuku, chairperson of the NCA, said the impromptu strike action which was attended by around 300 people was to make the people of Harare go back to the streets and regain their confidence as the police blocked the protests last week. He said; “The objective is to raise awareness and putting pressure on the government.”
Police are said to have started beating the protesters who were not resisting but merely sat on the road. There were no arrests. Madhuku believes it was a well calculated plot by the authorities not to arrest anyone so as to create the impression that there were very few people in the streets. He also said perhaps it was coinciding with the return of Robert Mugabe who was returning home from the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
All this does is instill tremendous amounts of fear in an already fearful lay population in Zimbabwe. One of the things Mugabe’s propaganda has done extremely well is overmagnifying the consequences of opposing them whilst underplaying or downright ignoring the progress made by activists for a better Zimbabwe. Ultimately, as ordinary Zimbabweans engage in the cost-benefit analysis of whether it’s worth the risk of going out on the streets, there are huge disincentives for the people to be involved in street protest. We cannot forget the plain reality here; at just 7 years of age, the MDC has attained heights scaled by no other opposition party in Zimbabwe. And despite Mugabe’s constant belittling, the NCA and ZCTU are still out there for the people. Don’t forget the other civic activists braving assured police torture on a daily basis either.
As for the Bull Conner like government, their time is fast approaching. They too, like their infamous predecessor will realize that just the most violent beatings, the most inhumane punishment, and the most demeaning things they can do and say will not take away from the people of Zimbabwe that which the government didn’t give; our God-given right to freedom and dignity. Pretty soon, the people will have nothing left to fear anymore. In Why we can’t wait, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. describes Mugabe’s impending reality,
When for decades you have been able to make a man compromise his manhood by threatening him with a cruel and unjust punishment, and when suddenly he turns upon you an says: “Punish me. I do accept it so that the world will know that I am right and you are wrong,” you hardly konw what to do. You feel defeated and secretly ashamed. You know that this man is as good a man as you are; that from the some mysterious source he has found te courage and the conviction to meet meet physical force with soul force.” p.16
It’s only a matter of time….
Stanford Mukasa (Ph.D), is the most vocal of Zimbabwean citizen in the US. He pens this “Letter from America” for SW Radio highlighting recent efforts of Zimbos in the USA
Representatives from two US-based advocacy groups had a first- hand experience of just what the United Nations can or cannot do on the Zimbabwean crisis. But they also successfully lobbied for a discussion and resolution on bad governance and corruption.
The North American District of the MDC or NAD and the Association of Concerned Citizens in North America (ACZ) had been invited to participate at the informal interactive hearings to review the program of action for the Least Developed Countries and held at the United Nations. NAD will soon become the North American Province of the MDC.
Both NAD and ACZ had planned to have the Zimbabwean crisis placed on the agenda in the hope that the issue would be taken up by the Security Council or the General Assembly. The delegates had brought toughly worded statements calling for the United Nations to use its institutional resources to bring pressure to bear on Mugabe.
The ACZ statement contained five recommendations.
First, ACZ noted that, because the Mugabe regime is aware that is has lost the support and the legitimacy to rule the country it is now unrestrained in its use of force and coercion to maintain its rule in the country.
The United Nations has an international obligation to take effective measures to ensure the return of the rule of law, democracy and democratic governance in Zimbabwe.
Despite many breaking news stories in Zimbabwe I want to continue to address the proverbial big picture in a bid to retain some perspective about where we are as a nation. This is the third installation of my “Dreaming of Nepal” series where I’m taking principles that undergirded Nepal’s succesfull non-violent protest and evaluating them Zimbabwe through them. Read the first two here and here.
The third step in building towards succesful non violent protest is,
Let there be a build up of protest rallies in many villages and towns to culminate in one decisive protest rally in the capital city. (Take Over Tundikhel) Depending on the local conditions, you might face a military crackdown, or the regime might fall, or you might have to declare the formation of a parallel government that the international community must come forth and recognize.
Our grade: “C-.”
Owing mainly to Zimbabwe’s political heritage which has confined politics and political power mainly in Harare and some of the other bigger towns and cities, the protest movement has been essentially been centralized in Harare and Bulawayo. Even in 1998, when Tsvangirai ground the country to a complete halt, peripheral cities recorded only marginal involvement in the protest. Another way of seeing this is as manifestation of the exclusive nature of Zimbabwean politics; only the rich, powerful and educated feel empowered enough to exert themselves politically.
So if you’re not rich, powerful, highly educated, or resident in one of Zimbabwe’s urban centers you have very little political recourse. Tragically, as a third world country most of Zimbabwe’s citizens are in one these four disadvantaged groups. Not that poor rural people deserve isolation from political involvement; it’s not like they don’t know what’s best for them or that they cannot think for themselves. In Zimbabwe what is wrong with the country is as plain as daylight and people everywhere know this. The fact is none of Zimbabwe’s political movements can do what it takes to restore the country without the involving rural people. Nepal’s success derived not only from efficient planning in high places, but most importantly from the simple involvement of villagers from some of the most remote parts of the world.
The second principle for succesful revolution planning is,
If [there is] more than one party, form a coalition.
Our grade: “F.”
To fully understand how the above statement bears out in Zimbabwe, one must first understand the country’s political heritage. To do this it is imperative to reach back into the nation’s liberation history. There we find that mutual distrust and turgid collegiality were the order of the day. Uninformed peasants had little trust for the leaders of Zimbabwe’s liberation movement; liberation cadres didn’t fully trust the people because they endured immense pressure from the imperialist forces; and there was little trust shared between the different leaders themselves. There really was never such a thing as a coalition in independence attaining process for Zimbabwe. What Zimbabweans came to know and understand as the modus operandi during the days of the armed struggled can best be described as the politics of fear.
During the days of the armed struggle strongmen cowered the people into loyalty through frequent displays of brutality and playing on the ignorance of the people to trump up fear. Likewise, imperialists employed the same predatory tactitics to keep the people from feeding and abetting liberation soldiers. You either supported vanamukoma the liberation war cadres, or where a traitor selling them out to the Rhodesian Armed Forces. People’s actions where for the most part, dictated by their perception of how best to avoid being considered a traitor by either side.
As you can imagine this precipitated unmitigated fear in the people when it came to all things political during the struggle and beyond. What is worse is that Mugabe & Co. did little to mollify said fear in the people when they finally liberated the nation. On the contrary, they ritualized the process of drumming up unwarranted tensions and manufactured volatility particularly through ZANU-PF’s youth wing.
So high was the mass hysteria generated by these scare gimmicks, many Zimbabweans essentially divorced themselves from political involvement. While many across the nation reposed in the paralysis of fear, ZANU-PF’s henchmen rolled their familiar tactics and consolidated their party’s gruff outlook.