THIS is an abridged version of an interview by SW Radio Africaâ€™s Violet Gonda with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangiraiâ€™s former personal aide, Gandhi Mudzingwa, currently in detention after he was re-arrested last week following a brief release.
Gonda: In the Hot Seat is political detainee Gandhi Mudzingwa, a former personal aide to MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai. Despite being freed on bail, he and the MDCâ€™s director of security Chris Dhlamini, are still under police guard at the Avenues Clinic where they are having treatment for injuries received from torture during their five months in detention.
The MDC officials are among a group of political and civic activists facing charges linked to alleged plots to overthrow the former Zanu PF government. They deny all the charges. In a telephone interview from his hospital bed Mudzingwa talks about the abuse he continues to suffer at the hands of the police and expresses his disappointment in the MDCâ€™s Home Affairs co-minister, Giles Mutsekwa. I first asked him to explain his present situation.
Mudzingwa: Yes Iâ€™ve gone through a long ordeal starting from the 8th of December last year and this abuse seems to be not ending. Last week on Friday we were granted bail by the Supreme Court, in fact by the High Court, on the basis that the state had not filed an appeal in time. And the registrar of the Supreme Court issued a Warrant of Liberation and as Iâ€™m speaking I am supposed to be a free man.
However, the freedom was not to be long lived, the prison officers packed their things about half past four on Friday last week, so Friday evening, Saturday morning, Saturday evening, Sunday and the whole of Monday during the day we were free persons. I and my two colleagues were free persons and then these guys from prison just reappeared to come and re-detain us â€” without any papers from the court. All they can say is that they have orders from above. Well who exactly this person or this above person is, Iâ€™ve no idea.
Gonda: Why do you think you are being picked on because not only were you released on bail on the 17th April, theyâ€™ve come back and as youâ€™ve described it seems like you are now under ward arrest. But also most of the people you are accused with were actually released a long time ago on bail, except for yourself, Chris Dhlamini and Shadreck Manyere. So why do you think you are being picked on in particular?
Mudzingwa: That question could be best answered by the Minister of Home Affairs, the co-ministers of Home Affairs that is Giles Mutsekwa and Kembo Mohadi. Those are the people who could answer that question best, why theyâ€™ve placed us under police, under house arrest. But I suspect though that there are other forces behind this apart from these two ministers, because really, honestly speaking I can go on a witch-hunt but the buck stops with Mutsekwa and Kembo Mohadi.
But none the less, we believe that Zimbabwe is currently under siege from a cabal, a civil military cabal which has been profiting out of creating a situation which resembles something like war or instability. And they use that to line their pockets, through the usual things like, you know, misinformation and then which require special operation, which require expenditures and things like that. I think this is what is happening. And this civil military cabal I donâ€™t believe itâ€™s very big, I believe itâ€™s just the top brass of the army, the police, the CIO, and a few politicians. But it would appear they are desperate, desperate that the inclusive government is coming in and bringing in accountability. They think if they hold on to us, they could blackmail this government either to give up or to give them amnesty.
Gonda: If I could just go back to something that you said earlier on where you said I should ask the Home Affairs ministers about why they actually arrested you and why the police continue to harass you, but how do you feel though that you have actually put one of your own officials, your colleague, Giles Mutsekwa in that bracket?
Mudzingwa: Look Violet, he is Minister of Home Affairs, heâ€™s not my colleague, his colleague is Kembo Mohadi, his co-minister, so I think itâ€™s a misnomer for you to say that Mutsekwa is my colleague. He is not my colleague.
Gonda: I meant from the MDC, that heâ€™s one of your members of the partyâ€¦
Mudzingwa: Oh there is always a separation of a political party from the government. I am a private citizen, yes Iâ€™m a member of the party as well. I donâ€™t know about Giles, if heâ€™s still a member of the party because if he were, then surely one of the things that you would want to address would be the issue of this unwarranted arrest, wanton arrest which is an issue that was charted by the All Peoplesâ€™ Convention in February 1999 â€” where it was actually resolved that the problem in Zimbabwe, that was bedevilling Zimbabwe is misgovernance and one of the manifestations of that misgovernance is this lack of rule of law. And if you have somebody now who purports to support, to come from the MDC and is not following the basic and fundamental tenets of the party then he becomes a stranger to me.
Gonda: He becomes a…?
Mudzingwa: He becomes a stranger to me. He is no longer, I donâ€™t know him, I donâ€™t know him, and maybe all this time I never took time to know him, to know him well. Maybe he believes in something else. Isusu in the party we are very clear that the issue is about governance. I hear some people saying let the law take its course. We resolved in 1999 at the All Working Peoplesâ€™ Convention that Zimbabwe does not have the rule of law â€” so how does the rule of law actually take its course when there is an absence of the rule of law? It becomes a paradox.
Gonda: So in your view, who do you think was behind your release finally because youâ€™ve spent over four months in police custody? Do you think it was because of the inclusive government or just the courts?
Mudzingwa: Look, when I was abducted there was no inclusive government. Iâ€™m very grateful to my prime minister for the efforts he put in for us actually to be finally brought to a police cell and then later on to the courts because without his efforts really I donâ€™t know what was going to happen, we could be talking something else, I could be dead by now. I and my colleagues could be dead by now. So Iâ€™m very grateful to him. Iâ€™m also very grateful to a number of other people within the party for what they have actually done in relation to our case.
Gonda: Has Mutsekwa visited you?
Mudzingwa: Yah, he came once but surely, he professed ignorance of our situation, of what was happening at his ministry. I think he was simply trying to say look Iâ€™m disinterested. By his actions, one could read it kuti (that) this fellow is saying Iâ€™m disinterested. My only interest is that Iâ€™m Minister of Home Affairs and I can move in a Mercedes Benz.
Gonda: That is really worrying what you are saying about Mutsekwa and if I could go back to the issue of why you are still in the situation that you are in, I understand that theâ€¦ (interrupted)
Mudzingwa: Violet, we have phoned the fellow so many times over the past few days â€” please come in and see for yourself, bring your co-minister. You know they move together all the time like twins, I donâ€™t know if twins move together, but whatever. I say please come and see for yourself what is happening here. We are being abused. All this just falls on deaf ears. So Iâ€™m just led to that conclusion that perhaps we are no longer together.
Gonda: Have you tried talking to other leaders like Tsvangirai, youâ€™ve said he has visited you at least four times now, have you tried to tell him about this problem?
Mudzingwa: Yes, heâ€™s doing something about it, just today Iâ€™m sure he took the issue up with Mugabe. Iâ€™m still to get feedback on what is happening.