HomeAnalysisMilitary brutality, bond notes and Fidel Castro

Military brutality, bond notes and Fidel Castro

“Politics without principle is like wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, science without humanity, knowledge without character or commerce without morality.”

THE recent barbaric attacks on citizens in high-density suburbs by soldiers in a desperate violent campaign to quash simmering protests and social unrest over the growing economic crisis and introduction of bond notes on Monday shows yet again how the law of the jungle has taken hold in the country.

Twitter: @MuckrakerZim

It also further proves that President Robert Mugabe is a brutal dictator and runs a despotic regime. Since 1980, citizens have been harassed, intimidated and brutalised as well as killed in their thousands by security forces.

A group of soldiers recently assaulted patrons at a night spot in Budiriro 1 in Harare, accusing them of all sorts of funny things, including allegedly rejecting bond notes and plotting demonstrations against the introduction of the controversial promissory currency.

Among those attacked by the rogue army elements — who should be court martialled for indiscipline — was the Zimbabwe Independent’s chief sub-editor Zivisai Chagaka who had gone to collect a friend at the night spot. That the army has resorted to beating people into submission over the economic crisis and bond notes is the clearest indication of a government that is bereft of ideas and dangerously desperate. It is a sign of brutal tyranny when soldiers — who are funded by the taxpayers — emerge from the barracks to turn on the very people they are supposed to protect.

The police also do the same. They often harass and brutalise citizens without good reason. Police brutality is one of several forms of police misconduct in this country: harassment, intimidation, corruption, selective arrests and political repression.

Security forces must remember they are paid by the very same people they harass and terrorise, not their commanders or Mugabe. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you; repay citizens’ generosity or kindness with ingratitude and injury. Soldiers and police must understand the important rule of life and business: never bite the hand that feeds you. Or else one day the people will hit back, not with baton sticks or guns, but their collective power of the vote and tax which is stronger than the security establishment.

As Victor Hugo would say, “no army is more powerful than an idea whose time has come”.

Bond notes

After a long wait the bond notes are finally here. Well, the market reaction on them has been mixed. Yet the captive state media would have us believe that bond notes have been welcomed with open arms by Zimbabweans. Nothing could be further from the truth if the roasting of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) director of economic research Simon Nyarota got from captains of industry at the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe congress in Victoria Falls is anything to go by. Nyarota’s claim that bond notes were optional was dismissed with contempt by employers. He was told by employers that the RBZ had destroyed their lives in 2008 through such currency measures. As a result, they did not trust the central bank.

While RBZ governor John Mangudya might be sincere in his efforts to address the liquidity crunch and cash crisis through introducing bond notes, the concern is that he is doing so in an environment where citizens simply don’t trust politicians and the government he works for anymore.

People are right to question and even oppose the bond notes because we have seen such desperate interventions from this government before. The government’s move to introduce the bond notes after the calamitous failure of similar interventions is what Albert Einstein called insanity which he defined as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

While still at it, people must stop being ridiculous in their opposition to bond notes. For their comments and protests to be heard and taken seriously, the argument and dissent against bond notes must remain logical and coherent. To say bond notes are a fake currency and illegitimate because their colour comes off if you rub them on something is silly and absurd because all currencies are like that.

Internal democracy

The widespread protest within Zanu PF against the resolution by Mashonaland Central led by Dickson Mafios to have vice-presidents in the party elected instead of being appointed by Mugabe shows that democracy is not only an alien concept, but is also reviled in the moribund party. The argument that the democratic process of electing VPs will promote factionalism and thus it is better to leave Mugabe to remain the only centre of power appointing his deputies as he sees fit, reflects ideological and intellectual bankruptcy within Zanu PF. How can a whole party and its leaders come out so strongly and furiously defending dictatorship?

Of course, there is the confusion by those behind the call for the constitution to be changed to ensure VPs are elected, not appointed. The trouble is the very same people who changed the party constitution to entrench tyranny in the party by allowing Mugabe to appoint his deputies — motivated by a parochial agenda to remove Joice Mujuru on the basis on untested allegations of corruption and a fictitious presidential assassination plot — are the ones running around saying let’s now have VPs elected.

Look, you can’t always amend a constitution simply because you want to remove an individual leader. It leads to chaos and autocracy. While the argument that Mugabe must have elected instead of appointed VPs is clearly rational and democratic, and must be supported, myopic flip-flopping and opportunism by those behind this is not helping matters. Although Muckraker knows Zanu PF always finds democracy confusing, this muddle is just too much.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “politics without principle is like wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, science without humanity, knowledge without character or commerce without morality”.

AirZim’s fishy story

The national flag carrier Air Zimbabwe — or Air Simba-bwe, as it is now popularly known since the nepotistic appointment of Mugabe’s son-in-law Simba Chikore as chief operating officer — on Monday evening once again demonstrated why it has now become a national joke.

A friend of Muckraker who flew AirZim on Monday night from Johannesburg to Harare retold a funny story in which the flight was delayed landing at Harare International Airport after the captain and his crew announced they would orbit around the airport for a while because of “air traffic congestion”.

Passengers were curious and even alarmed. Air traffic congestion at the deserted Harare airport? How come? Since when? Which flights were landing and taking off at such a frenetic pace and rate? In any case, the AirZim flight was scheduled and was on time, so what was the problem since it was expected? Why did the AirZim crew have to give such a ridiculous explanation?

Well, nobody really knows. But when the flight eventually landed, passengers discovered there were no flights on the runaway or which were landing and taking off except an Air Namibia flight which had just left. Upon further enquiry by curious passengers, it then transpired Mugabe had just taken off to Cuba to attend Fidel Castro’s funeral. So if that was the reason the AirZim flight from Johannesburg had to delay landing, why not simply say so? Why lie and tell such a ludicrous falsehood?

As someone once said, you may tell the greatest lies and wear a brilliant disguise, but you can’t escape the eyes of the one who sees right through you! In this case, Muckraker’s friend clearly saw through the AirZim captain and his crew’s lies.

short and sweet …

Cuba’s Fidel Castro: A hero or tyrant?

Last Friday the Cuban revolutionary giant Fidel Castro — the commander-in-chief of the famous island’s revolution who ruled his country for about 50 years — fell. His death marked the end of an era.

Naturally, given his complex history and legacy it was not easy for the world to write epitaphs and obituaries for the El Comandante.

His admirers always said Castro was first and foremost always committed to a dream of an egalitarian society. He despised any system in which one class or group of people dominated and lived much better than another. He wanted a system that provided the basic needs to all — enough to eat, health care, water, housing and education. They also said the authoritarian nature of the Cuban revolution and his rule stemmed largely from his commitment to that goal.

Castro was convinced that he was right, and that his system was for the good of the people. Thus, anyone who stood against the revolution stood also against the Cuban people and that, in Castro’s eyes, was simply unacceptable.

There was, then, very little in the way of individual freedoms, especially freedom of expression and assembly. And there were political prisoners — those who have expressed positions against the revolution, fierce repression and human rights abuses, as well as rigid dogma and economic ruin. Lionised by many, dismissed by others as a man who locked his people in a socialist prison, there is no doubt that Cuba’s former leader made the island matter.

For opponents, he was a tyrant who locked his people in a socialist dungeon and threw away the keys.

To his supporters — including Africans whom he helped to liberate from colonial rule — he was a revolutionary, an anti-imperialist and a hero. Indisputably, however, Castro was one of the most remarkable political figures of his generation and time.

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