ZIMBABWE hit the headlines this week as the world pondered in stunned silence how a government big on rhetoric and dismal on delivery has spectacularly squandered the goodwill of the international community with a series of catastrophic own-goals.
Candid Comment,Brezh Malaba
There are graphic reports of abduction, torture, the heart-rending impoverishment of pensioners, and the decimation of a former middle-class now degraded into hopeless paupers.
Atrocious human rights abuses are unsustainable. Let’s be realistic. Just how many people can a totalitarian government torture or kill — and to what end? Robert Mugabe orchestrated a genocide which wiped out more than 20 000 defenceless civilians. Did the slaughter of innocents prevent his eventual unceremonious ouster? Dictators don’t learn.
In the past few days, had Mugabe not rejected Zanu PF’s very definition of a hero?
As an instrument of political control, state tyranny has well-known limitations. To politicians whose twin motivations are power retention and self-enrichment, deploying the military to intimidate or kill civilians is always a tempting quick-fix. But what happens after you have played your last card?
When the leaders make a habit of routinely deploying the army to fight civilians, the citizens’ fear begins to wear off. Not only that; the disciplined soldiers are likely to start questioning what they view as illegal orders.
One of history’s abiding dictums is that legitimate power is derived from the consent of the governed. But then again, Hegel reminds us: “We learn from history that we never learn from history.”
In a dictatorship, leaders become fantastically corrupt and use political power to further their own interests instead of working for the common good. It must alarm us that the number of people who have been charged with “subverting a constitutional government” since January has reached 22. This is a record of sorts. Why is Mnangagwa’s government criminalising dissent?
The greatest threat to national security is not the clique of brave human rights activists who are being abducted and tortured in a crackdown that has all the hallmarks of central co-ordination.
The greatest threats to Zimbabwe’s survival are poverty, corruption, economic mismanagement, cronyism and state-sponsored murder.
Foreign diplomats based in Harare are increasingly losing confidence in the government’s reformist posturing.
Before August 1 2018, many were desperately clinging on to the hope that perhaps — just perhaps — Emmerson Mnangagwa and crew were capable of reform.
In Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, there is a pithy saying which strikes a chord with the situation in today’s Zimbabwe: “If you live in a graveyard, you can’t weep for everyone.”
Nobody must turn this country into a collective graveyard as Zanu PF has done.