HomeOpinionMuckraker: Mukoko Acquittal Lays Bare State Terrorism

Muckraker: Mukoko Acquittal Lays Bare State Terrorism

WE can all share with Jestina Mukoko a sense of relief and vindication following Monday’s Supreme Court judgement.

Here was an entirely innocent woman accused of terrorism who was herself the victim of terrorism — state-terrorism.
The New York Times (NYT) on Tuesday reminded us of the events surrounding her arrest. Taken from her home by armed men at daybreak on December 3, barefoot and still in her nightgown, while her teenage son looked on helplessly, she was not seen again for nearly three weeks, and later testified that she was held in secret locations, where she was tortured in an attempt to extract a false confession. She said her captors made her kneel on gravel and repeatedly beat her on the soles of her feet with rubber truncheons.
Mukoko led a civic group that documented human rights abuses. She was accused of involvement in a plot to topple President Mugabe with insurrectionists receiving military training in Botswana.
“The jailing of Mukoko and dozens of other activists has been cited by Western diplomats as a sign of Mugabe’s unwillingness to restore the rule of law,” the NYT said. “The Zimbabwean judiciary has been deeply compromised in recent years, with many judges accepting luxury cars and farmland from the Mugabe government,” it added.

On Monday, despite her victory in court, Mukoko said the abuses continued.
In June, at a hearing before the Supreme Court, a prosecutor admitted that Mukoko had been abducted illegally. Irene Petras, executive director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said Monday’s decision “can be read as a movement toward the restoration of an independent justice-delivery system”. But she said she did not want to sound overly optimistic, complaining that the government continued to pursue trumped-up charges against the innocent.
“The office of the attorney-general should have refused to prosecute this case in the very beginning,” she told the NYT.
And what should we say about the role of Didymus Mutasa who claimed Mukoko was a threat to state security? At least we can all see with this ruling who the real terrorists are. And the Botswana authorities have been vindicated. They did not supply the training facilities alleged by Harare. It was all pure invention. What is needed now is for the terrorists responsible for Mukoko’s abduction to be prosecuted.
Mutasa was on CNN last week denouncing human rights. Support for white farmers was indefensible, he argued. “If that is human rights, keep them away from us,” he declared. “We don’t want to see them.”
This is useful to have on the record, just as his court affidavit was useful in admitting the abduction of Mukoko when the police were saying they didn’t know where she was. The next time Zanu PF columnists in the Herald pretend that the world is being unfair to them by maintaining sanctions, all we need do is quote Mutasa on human rights. He speaks for his party and the world needs to hear him.

CNN is fond of parading its presenters as modern-day heroes. They are billed nightly as being omniscient in a world where audiences are craving their “take” on events. So-and-so “has the story”, we are told.
But sadly, their stellar reporter, Christiane Amanpour, didn’t have the story when she interviewed President Mugabe in New York last week. She missed several opportunities to land a mortal blow on our dissembling leader who denied any responsibility for the devastation his populist policies have wrought.
It was all the fault of sanctions, Mugabe insisted. Amanpour didn’t deal with this dishonesty in a way that could be described as robust. Instead she gave a hostage to fortune by claiming sanctions were only targeted at individuals. Mugabe gratefully seized the opportunity given to claim that malnutrition was the product of Zidera.
There then followed an unproductive dispute about whether Mugabe’s mismanagement was at the core of the country’s problems. Only people outside the country thought so, Mugabe claimed.
Amanpour then played a clip of Archbishop Desmond Tutu saying Mugabe had destroyed a wonderful country. Mugabe said that, on the contrary, the country had managed to grow enough food for itself — a rather clumsy economy with the self-evident fact of national starvation.
Another clip was played of Mugabe saying the country was “mine”.
When pressed on what he meant, Amanpour allowed him to get away with the claim that he meant it belonged to the Zimbabwean people.
She did score a useful point by pointing out that 80% of the land that Mugabe acquired was taken after he took office and with certificates of no interest from government.
White farmers were not being “hounded out of the country”, Mugabe insisted. But they were still being hounded off their farms, productive farms, Amanpour could have pointed out.
Wouldn’t that be a good moment to play a clip from Ben Freeth’s and the Campbells’ farm? And what do the farm workers think of their new employers — the policemen, judges, and army officers who have taken over? Not much, we gather.
Amanpour soldiered on. She did talk about the plight of farm workers but mixed up their expulsion from the land with Operation Murambatsvina, thus handing Mugabe another gift.
Amanpour didn’t appear to know what Roy Bennett was charged with and how flimsy those charges are. Mugabe at least appeared well aware of that!
“We’ll obviously have to ask him about that,” Amanpour replied to Mugabe’s claim that Bennett was “organising arms of war”.
What she could have said was, identical charges brought against the current co-Minister of Home Affairs Giles Mutsekwa fell apart when the state tried to run with them three years ago. And what happened, she could have asked, to the principle of being innocent until proved guilty?
All in all, it was a very unsatisfactory interview with neither interviewer nor interviewee coming out with many laurels.

‘Political freedom or political power is absolutely hollow without the input of economic power, and economic power derives naturally from your natural resources,” Mugabe told the Africa/South America summit last weekend.
He didn’t mention what had happened to Zimbabwe’s diamond resources in recent years. How had those resources been managed by his government and its incompetent parastatals? How much wealth has devolved to the people from that “power”?
Anyway, it was useful to have the Herald’s front page pictures on Monday of riot police laying into football fans with the heading “Fight for economic uhuru”.

The  democratisation process in Zimbabwe still has a long way to go judging by an episode reported on Tuesday where the Standing Rules and Orders Committee of parliament had been interviewing candidates  for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Sitting member Joyce Kazembe was asked by Minister Eric Matinenga whether the ZEC had made an independent and objective assessment on the environment in last year’s elections as really peaceful before they compiled their report.
It was of course a pertinent question given widespread scepticism regarding both the independence of the commission and the claims in its report as to the electoral environment. But first Patrick Chinamasa and then Emmerson Mnangagwa jumped up to object to Kazembe being asked such things.
Welshman Ncube, who you may be surprised to hear is not actually a Zanu PF member, joined in saying it was “not fair” to ask Kazembe such questions on the conduct of last year’s elections when the same was not done with another sitting commissioner, Theophillus Gambe.
Of course, the rule should be that sitting members who glossed over the events of last year in their misleading report should be asked as many questions as possible. And those questions should be searching. They should explore every aspect of the process including why it took five weeks to count votes in the first round of the presidential poll.
If Ncube’s claim that the report was a collective and not an individual effort was adopted for such interviews, nobody would be responsible for anything!
As Matinenga pointed out in response to this partisan fury, his question was relevant because it stemmed from Kazembe’s response to a question on what she understood an independent commission to be.
Needless to say, the Herald which covered the exchange didn’t tell us what that understanding entailed!

‘The Chinese government and people value its traditional friendship with Zimbabwe,” we are told by ambassador Xin Shungkang. He was speaking at a function to mark the 60th anniversary of the Chinese revolution.
Our question is, which Chinese people? How many were actually consulted or even have a clue where Zimbabwe is?
The International Herald Tribune last week carried a story from Namibia on a large low-interest loan from China in 2007 which the Namibian government soon tapped to buy US$55,3 million worth of Chinese-made cargo scanners to deter smugglers.
It was a neat illustration, Chinese officials said, of how doing good in Namibia could do good for China.
Or so it seemed until Namibia charged that the state-controlled company selected by China to provide the scanners — a company until recently run by President Hu-Jintao’s son — had greased the deal with millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks. When Namibian investigators asked for help looking into the matter, China threw up the barriers.
Acting Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge, wearing his other hat as a local historian, reminded his audience at the 60th anniversary event that “we used to export huge volumes of gold and ivory (to China)…That was a time associated with the glory of Zimbabwe.”
So what is the present time associated with, Stan? And what commodities do we pay tribute in now?

Finally, we can be sure that Elton Mangoma’s remarks to a visiting German business delegation went down like a lead balloon.
He assured them that Zimbabwe respected property rights but pointed out that the land issue “should be understood in its historical context”.
“We have always respected property rights, except on land which has its own history,” he said Zanu PF-style.
Indeed it does. That is a very recent history, dating back one year to the formation of the government of national unity. Since then there has been a systematic escalation of land seizures, many involving violence and theft.
The response of people like Mangoma has been to do nothing except to offer the limp excuse of “history”.
A history of colonial land seizures does not mean every single abuse needs to be repeated, especially when, as South Africa has shown, other remedies are available. German investors have been notable victims of Bippa violations. Now we have apologists like Mangoma saying to the Germans — and he hasn’t denied the Herald’s report — that you can come and invest in Zimbabwe in all areas except land. If you invest in land you are likely to be subject to unconstitutional expropriation!
The Germans are already making it clear this is an entirely unsatisfactory situation. Any country that allows land seizures and violence of the sort going on at present will get a yellow card from investors.

Latest developments include, according to the South African Sunday Times, Reserve Bank deputy governor Edward Mashiringwani forcing South African farmer Louis Fick off his pig and crocodile farm putting livestock worth US$250 000 at risk; tobacco farmer Murray Pott savagely assaulted when he tried to prevent a “war veteran” from taking over his land and charged with public violence; and cattle farmer Mark Surtees convicted for failing to vacate his farm.
At least 233 farmers are being charged with the same “offence”.
These are productive farmers trying to make a contribution to Zimbabwe’s recovery. Their fate will provide an object lesson to German and other investors.
According to the Sunday Times, citizens of 14 countries have had their farms grabbed with predictable consequences for production. In 2000 Zimbabwe produced two million tons of maize. Last year that figure was down to 450 000 tons. Let’s see Mangoma explain that away.
Among those touting Zimbabwe as a good environment for investors was Simbarashe Mumbengegwi who said the political parties were determined to implement the GPA in its entirety!
The Germans should have asked him if that included media freedom, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. Apparently not!

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