THE past four weeks saw a lot of activity as the international community tried to push Zimbabwe’s lethargic government of national unity to move forward and implement the full Global Political Agreement signed a year ago.
As usual, Sadc was a big disappointment as it failed to stamp its authority on matters that it created for itself.
It has always been difficult for other nations to go past Sadc and adopt policies or offer assistance without Sadc. Many times Sadc’s silence or pronouncements on Zimbabwe stopped nations outside Africa from doing something about the situation in Zimbabwe.
South Africa, during the days of former President Thabo Mbeki, also acted as a buffer for President Robert Mugabe by blocking any attempts to table and discuss the problems in Zimbabwe.
Although the Mugabe government’s excesses and human rights violations were there for
everyone to see, South Africa’s behaviour at the UN succeeded in giving the impression that Zimbabwe was a victim of both former colonial power Britain and the US.
African nations continue to behave as if they do not know what the real problem in Zimbabwe is.
I have therefore come to the conclusion that the world wishes us well but not Sadc, especially South Africa, because these two continue to protect Mugabe.
In November last year, about 80 white commercial farmers rightfully took their case to the Sadc Tribunal and won an order barring the government from compulsorily acquiring their land without paying compensation.
The court further ordered government to compensate those who had lost their land under Zimbabwe’s violent land reform programme since 2000. But Mugabe steadfastly refused to abide by the court’s rulings, which he says are in conflict with the country’s land acquisition laws.
Early this month, Zimbabwe “formally” withdrew from the jurisdiction of the Sadc Tribunal. This was obviously a move to blunt and avoid being held accountable for the two judgments passed against her by the Windhoek-based court.
One would have hoped that problems of law and order, human rights, and instability — a member state such as Zimbabwe is going through — would be of primary importance when Sadc summits are called but in their last summit a few weeks ago, Sadc did not even mention the issue of a member state refusing to adhere to agreed protocols. In fact, heads of state spent time trying to avoid discussing the Zimbabwean issue all together.
But Mugabe has done it before.
Several years ago, he refused to implement the Sadc Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, something he continues to do to this day. And in 2002, Zimbabwe was suspended by the Commonwealth and Mugabe, to avoid humiliation, decided to withdraw Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth.
Because of human rights abuses, violence, corruption, economic plunder and other transgressions, the international community, minus Africa of course, imposed travel bans on Mugabe and his close associates. This was an effort to force them to stop the abuse of people and to stick to
law and order.
During the recent Sadc Summit in the DRC, African leaders had the audacity to ask European and Western governments to lift those sanctions against Mugabe and his cronies as if things were back to normal. They did not say anything about how Mugabe was violating Sadc protocols.
“Significant progress has been made under the auspices of the inclusive government,” South African President Jacob Zuma told fellow leaders. “We are all encouraged by how the three parties put their differences aside.”
He added: “These achievements signalled to the people of Zimbabwe, the region and the world, that the Zimbabwean political leadership was ready to collectively tackle the political and the socio-economic challenges facing that country.”
But Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had a lot to say and complain about, only to be shut out.
As Zuma was saying this, farms were being set on fire in a bid to force the owners off the land and three MDC activists were allegedly murdered in a spate of violence in the month leading up to and during the Sadc meeting.
On the day the Sadc Summit opened, Tsvangirai’s MDC reported that its activists had been murdered in incidents linked to renewed political violence. It identified the deceased as Godknows Mtshakazi (33), who was reportedly beaten to death by four soldiers at a township in Shurugwi, Midlands. His crime: playing a popular MDC song in a bar.
Edwin Chingami (32), who during last June’s violence had fled Zimbabwe ironically to South Africa for protection, was allegedly murdered by Zanu PF supporters upon his return home.
Reports say that another MDC activist, Joseph Munyuki, died recently at Masvingo hospital where he had been receiving treatment for injuries sustained from a brutal attack by a known Zanu PF supporter.
As this mayhem was going on, there was also a marked, simultaneous increase in farm invasions. Mugabe’s speech to the Zanu PF Youth League conference did not help matters either.
Murray Pott, a white farmer from Mugabe’s home province of Mashonaland West, is recovering from serious injuries after a brutal beating by invaders last Tuesday. He was allegedly attacked on his farm by suspected Zanu PF youths trying to take over the farm.
“Once people have offer letters (to take over a farm) and they are valid, that’s it. The farm is not yours anymore,” said Mugabe at the youth congress. “Please don’t resist. If we hear about any resistance, we will
stop pleading. I will just send the police to drive them away. If they thought they would be saved by the inclusive government, that is a lie.”
Last Wednesday, less than a week after making this statement, Mugabe is reported to have told businessmen at a mining investment forum that potential investments would be safe in the country. He claimed this was
because his government respected “the sanctity of property rights and the rule of law in all its dimensions”.
Meanwhile, 115kms from where Mugabe was delivering his speech, South African farmer, Louis Fick, was watching his 4 000 pigs, 14 000 crocodiles and several hundreds of beef cattle starve in Chinhoyi, as he tried to fight off a deputy Reserve Bank governor who is trying to grab the farm. The next day, Tsvangirai spoke at the same mining investment conference Mugabe had addressed the previous day.
He reportedly told the investors that the coalition government would implement rational mining royalties and taxes and deregulate mineral marketing to attract as much as US$16 billion in investment by 2018.
But six days before his speech government had used an extra-ordinary gazette tofreeze the assets of the Meikles Group that owns the world famous Meikles Hotel among several other big companies.
Just how does anyone help Zimbabwe.
The world appears to be at a loss as to what to do. Mugabe is hoodwinking the world using innocent citizens as bait. Does he really want a solution in Zimbabwe?
How long will the world, especially Africa, stand by and watch these gruesome happenings in Zimbabwe?
There has to come a time when our conscience takes over and Africans, especially Zimbabweans, must get up and fight for their emancipation.
In Zimbabwe, we long proved that colonial oppressors were much better than a black government and all African leaders must be ashamed of such a development.
Relying on foreigners won’t do anymore. — The Sunday Standard (Botswana).
By Tanonoka Joseph Whande