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Editor’s Memo

Giving Zanu PF deadly ammunition 

By Vincent Kahiya

JUST a week after its publication the much-awaited MDC commission of inquiry report into the assault on MP Trudy Stevenson and others has dis

sipated in the wake of this week’s presidential support for the police’s brutal assault on ZCTU demonstrators.

That the report has quickly lost public interest is not surprising because its “findings” were as predictable as sunrise. It was wafer thin on tangible evidence to nail the Central Intelligence Organisation in the assault on Stevenson and her colleagues from the Mutambara faction. Even before the appointment of the commission, there were two ready answers for anyone vaguely interested in politics as to who was responsible for the beating up of the activists — it was either Tsvangirai’s people or the CIO.

The report accuses both and to some extent tries to suggest collaboration between the two.

“Infiltrators could have used members of the MDC or their own people pretending to be MDC members to perpetrate the attack in an effort (which has been successful) to cause instability and further friction between the two opposing groupings,” said the report.

The report said there were three factions in the constituency and all of them had been seriously infiltrated by state intelligence. It said “the infiltrators in all three groups were working together and coordinating their activities in the lead up to and the perpetration of the attack”. Conspiracy theories are clearly not the preserve of Zanu PF!

In the end the hazy picture of the plot is further muddied by statements that the sort of violence which befell the Harare North MP did not surprise the dozens who gave evidence. It appears to be the modus operandi of the party.

This is summed up by the party’s director of security Nhamo Musekiwa’s admission in a 2004 Report of the Commission into Disturbances at MDC party headquarters, that violence was necessary. The report captures the admission in this way:

Question: “Do you have faith in the use of violence as a way of investigating offences in the party?”

Answer: “Oh yes, it is a useful method because people always feign innocence when in actual fact they are guilty, so the best way is to beat them up until they admit.”

This is deadly ammunition for Zanu PF and the state.

It is blood-chilling to contemplate that this brazen admission on the use of torture has been left to fester to this day. I do not recall the statement being recanted anywhere.

This tactic could be employed tomorrow with impunity because mere words by the party’s leadership denouncing violence are not necessarily supported by tangible action on the ground. The unwillingness of the leadership to deal with violence was highlighted in the 2004 report. It is also there in the current report because the cancer has remained untreated.

While the commission struggled to tell us “who dunnit”, the report is very useful in as far as it portrays the MDC as a sick political entity rotting at the core as a result of disunity, self-aggrandisement and lack of proper direction. This is not about Tsvangirai vs Mutambara. It is a dislocation within the Tsvangirai faction itself, according to the report. The evidence adduced by dozens of people who testified shows lack of trust among office bearers in Mabvuku, hence accusations and counter-accusations of officials working with the government intelligence

There is a disrespect of leaders, there is no clear policy direction and there is also a feeling that occupying an executive position in the party has become a vocation for officials. They are in it for the money and they do not seem to mind where the money comes from. The testimony of Mabvuku MP Timothy Mubhawu — himself not a paragon of virtue — supports this unfortunate observation.

The commission makes this important recommendation on what the party needs to do in Mabvuku: “The national organising secretary, together with the Harare provincial chairperson, need to urgently put in place measures to ensure that all office-bearers within Mabvuku constituency are familiar with the provisions of the party constitution, especially insofar as they relate to their own structures, the composition thereof, how they are elected, how they may be removed, their mandate and function, and how they interact with other structures within the constituency.”

The commission further recommended that the measures “be undertaken as part of a nationwide educational process of members by the party, as we are convinced such lack of awareness is not limited to Mabvuku constituency, and it is hindering the party’s efficacy”.

Reading Zanu PF Bulawayo province secretary for information Effort Nkomo’s Q&A session in the Sunday News this week about indiscipline in the party, I couldn’t help but draw parallels with the commission’s observation about the MDC. How ironic!

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