Tsvangirai Not A New Beginning

I’M a Zimbabwean victim of Robert Mugabe’s brutality enjoying Canada’s protection since coming here as a political refugee in 2003.

However, I’m sickened by the West’s one-sided coverage of the ongoing electoral fiasco in Zimbabwe. The unrelenting anti-Mugabe avalanche in the Western media is clearly an effort to conceal the West’s complicity in Mugabe’s murderous rule.

Following scattered incursions by apartheid South Africa-sponsored rebels in southern Zimbabwe in the early 1980s, Mugabe unleashed his ruthless, North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade military unit. The unit exterminated 20 000 innocent villagers.

Mass disappearances, beatings, gang rapes abound. Hundreds were burned alive. Some victims were forced to dig their own graves. Some were forced to sing songs praising Mugabe before being executed.

The international community neither intervened nor chastised Mugabe. In 1984 Scotland’s Edinburgh University awarded Mugabe an honorary doctorate of law degree.

In 1986 the University of Massachusetts awarded Mugabe the same honorary degree. Michigan State University honoured Mugabe in 1990. In 1994, he became the Knight Commander of the Order of Bath, knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

Zimbabwe’s crimes grabbed global headlines only after the post-1999 killings, which claimed 300 lives from both the MDC and Zanu PF. But now these killings included about a dozen white Zimbabweans. The state had also started repossessing white-owned farms to give to landless black peasants.

What’s worse, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is also complicit in Mugabe’s crimes and the continuing violence in Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai was a fully subscribed member of Mugabe’s Zanu PF party. He even held the rank of “political commissar”. He never spoke out. According to The Independent (UK) in 2004, he said Mugabe was once “my hero, and the hero of the liberation struggle”.

The international community is justified in condemning and isolating Mugabe, but coddling Tsvangirai is acting complicit. Tsvangirai is Mugabe in democratic disguise. In 2005, his veto of a majority vote in the MDC National Council supporting participation in Zimbabwe’s senate elections split the party.

In July 2006, politically-appointed thugs brutalised MDC MP, Trudy Stevenson, with whom I worked briefly in the 1990s, and left her for dead. She identified her attackers as Tsvangirai supporters.

On paper and in the biased Western media coverage of the Zimbabwe crisis, things will change, but in reality they’ll stay the same. While Mugabe represents the last detour toward Zimbabwe’s final descent into hell, Tsvangirai represents a false beginning.

Obert Madondo,

Toronto.