How many readers we wonder recall Graham Greene’s classic novel, The Comedians, featuring the notorious tonton macoute secret police which the regime used as its enforcement arm.
Both father and son Duvalier were involved in running the sinister spy agency. They were known primarily for their dark glasses which never came off, even in the bath we suspect.
It was this projection of power and ruthlessness which maintained the Duvalier regime in power.
Set in Haiti under the rule of “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his secret police, the novel explores the political suppression of the island state through the figure of a local American hotel owner.
Last week’s edition of the Zimbabwe Independent carried a powerful portrait of a Zimbabwean general decked out in all his finery. It is doubtful if it the subject of this study in power was modelled on an actual tonton boss. But there was a similarity that was striking.
A more harrowing story comes from within Zimbabwe. A white couple revealed how they invested everything they had in agriculture.
“We had every dollar tied up in our crops in the ground and in farm chemicals, fertiliser etc. They stole it all and you expect folks like me to ignore the fact?
“You are encouraging a bunch of thieves and liars to do the same to the British investor community. We fell within the maximum farm size bracket. We created employment, we grew maize, we paid our taxes, we paid for youngsters from the farm to go to university, we paid for the teachers and health workers on the farm.
“I am not interested in being compensated for my land but I want to be compensated for our farm improvements which included a multi-million dollar farm dam, all our farm equipment, green houses and all our livestock and our personal possessions.”
The writer says she is attending the investor conference in London this week. She is a former commercial farmer now in the UK legal firm of Stephenson Harwood which is hosting the Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Forum in London.
She says she has at least had the decency to write to the law firm five days before the conference whereas they were given only an hour to vacate the farm.
Those attending the conference include a number of senior government ministers and politically well-connected individuals. At a similar forum in 1985, the victims lost millions of dollars through dodgy investment.
Apart from them having blood on their hands, she says they are all directly responsible for the economic and political collapse that has seen Zimbabwe go from being the bread basket of Africa to the basket case of the continent.
Apart from being totally corrupt, their racist attitudes are unacceptable in this day and age she says.
“Why are they in the UK in the first place when they openly despise white folk and preach hatred towards them when back in their own country?
“I’ll tell you why, because their Chinese masters have pulled the rug from underneath them, their “look east” policy has failed, they now have to import maize from Zambia and are totally reliant on foreign food. They are absolutely desperate and are now grabbing anything and everything. They blame it all on the drought or Western sanctions yet the dams are full.”
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week told parliament that he was not aware that city councils were struggling to pay their workers. He indicated that he was hearing it for the first time.
A clear indication he was not interested in addressing the plight of workers and other impoverished Zimbabweans, Mna-ngagwa pretends to be alienated from the sad economic dereliction afflicting the country.
How then can he be Vice-President who only attends to the whims of the elite? Used to a deceitful system of leadership, he and other Zanu PF leaders have never been honest with people.
They can even deny that workers are being retrenched and they also lie they are doing everything to find Itai Dzamara who was allegedly abducted in broad daylight close to seven months ago.
This is not new, Muckraker understood that it was even rampant during the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland and Midlands regions.
Zanu PF abused the monolithic state media to peddle falsehoods that no atrocities were being committed.
Some of the shocking headlines that were earmarked to muzzle reality in the government-controlled press included; “Hunt for mass graves, a wild goose chase” (the Herald, May 19 1984), “No signs of mass killings — Nhongo” (the Herald, May 11 1984) and “Atrocities: Reporters find no evidence” (the Chronicle, May 11 1984).
In all these articles, the Zimbabwe National Army denied reports from Western media that the North Korean-trained Fifth brigade was killing and torturing innocent civilians. Doesn’t this show Zanu PF has always been anti-people and thrives on conjuring up false images to entrench its hold on power?
Can anyone believe Mnangagwa’s dismal claim that he was not privy to the goings on in the industrial sector?
Like his boss, President Robert Mugabe, he deserves no place in the lives of ordinary citizens who are watching from the terraces as the nation slides further into the economic abyss.
A reminder to the vice-president: the parliament is not a repressive place to safeguard Zanu PF in its quest to subjugate the masses; it’s a place where progressive policies should be made to alleviate the suffering of the ruled — to use the ruling party’s dictatorial term.
Finally, Agriculture minister Joseph Made appears to be having one of his dizzy spells again. He declared last week that white farmers were behind most of the veld fires in the country.
They were bitter over the seizure of their farmland, he declared. The country is burning, he said at the workshop. This is all populist propaganda of course. We recall his journey over Karoi by air some years ago and the declaration he brought back that a good cropping season lay ahead.
It was actually a disaster. Made, in addition to his post as minister, is private adviser to Mugabe. This perhaps explains his less than sparkling career.
While Mugabe was on Monday at the United Nations pontificating in a pompous and dogmatic way — without any sense of irony — about the European refugee crisis, statistics show South Africa deported 14 450 Zimbabwean immigrants since January.
Mugabe’s disastrous leadership and policies have spawned political and economic refugees scattered all over the world from South Africa, Botswana to Britain, United States, Canada, New Zealand and Down Under — Australia. Even in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America you can find Zimbabweans there!