HomeCommentEditor's Memo: Tomana’s actions smack of hidden hand

Editor’s Memo: Tomana’s actions smack of hidden hand

IT IS interesting to surf around the globe ascertaining how countries responded to the release of United States diplomatic cables by the whistleblower website, WikiLeaks, since the first batch was posted on November 28 last year.

The US, the creator of the cables, is reported to have concluded, late last year, that the exposé “was embarrassing but not damaging”.

Iran, which at first thought the release was a dummy aimed at diverting attention from the nuclear standoff, has changed tack and demanded explanations from the US government on certain contents of the cables.

Russia has asked the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) to explain certain contents showing that the release of the cables was a game changer in international relations.

In Zimbabwe, however, the release of the cables was used as a tool for checkmating political opponents with Zanu PF seeing a potential arsenal for its propaganda artillery which was empty as issues of land, sanctions and indigenisation had become repetitive and monotonous.

Strategists in Zanu PF saw the release of the cables as a defining moment for their standoff with the MDC, and they started shouting “treason”.

Many did not take them seriously, given the history of treason charges levelled against politicians in post-independent Zimbabwe, but the announcement that the Attorney-General, Johannes Tomana would appoint a team to look into the issue to see if a crime was committed called for soberness.

Tomana, in an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent last week, flatly refuted authorship of statements published in December and this month by state-controlled media announcing the intention to appoint the said commission. He was adamant that he had no constitutional mandate to appoint a commission to look into the WikiLeaks, and insisted that was President Robert Mugabe’s prerogative.

Given the constitutional hurdles, Tomana was on Sunday quoted in the state-controlled media saying instead of a commission, he had appointed a “panel” to give him “expert advice” on the WikiLeaks.

Any observer would realise that things do not tally here. Who then authored the statement in December? What forces were behind Tomana’s decision to appoint the probe team which has remained shadowy and nameless? What are the terms of reference for the team? Would a nameless probe team’s final report be taken seriously?

One is forgiven for thinking that there are invisible hands manipulating Tomana. What gives credence to this suspicion is the confluence of Tomana’s response, that he made no such statement, and the call for a probe by the Zanu PF hardliners during the party’s annual conference in Mutare last month. It’s crystal clear that Zanu PF hardliners intended to arm- twist the Attorney-General to come up with a team whose main objective would be to probe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on his engagements with United States diplomats who later sent cables to the State Department, which have now been made public by WikiLeaks.

The idea is simply to charge Tsvangirai with treason on shaky grounds ahead of possible elections this year in a bid to distract him and his party and tie them up in legal string.

Tomana should resist being used as an attack dog of Zanu PF hardliners and execute his duties in line with the constitution of this country. And if the state media continue to put words in his mouth he should have the courage to object.

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