|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
They (whites) stole our land and now turn around, when we reclaim our land, that we are breaking the rule of law. What cheek is that?
Political violence triggered by the illegal occupation of some 1,700 farms by ruling party militants since March last year has already left at least 77 people dead and tens of thousands homeless.
But Mr Mugabe, 77, told members of his ruling Zanu-PF party: "We will win. We cannot lose the fight for our land.
Mr Mugabe's chief opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has complained of harassment after he was briefly detained by police.
Police said they detained Mr Tsvangirai after they found a two-way radio during a search of his home.
He was released about 35 minutes later, police said.
"He was not arrested. He was merely called in connection with the security radio which requires a licence," police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told Reuters.
He said that in Britain he was now characterised as a Hitler or a Napoleon.
And he said the MDC was a puppet of white interests.
But a BBC correspondent in the region says this was a relatively restrained performance by Mr Mugabe, who now faces a gruelling three-month election campaign.
The opposition says Mr Mugabe has become desperate after leading Zimbabwe to economic crisis.
Robert Mugabe will be 78 by the time he is expected to face Morgan Tsvangirai in presidential elections in March 2002.
If he wins, and stays healthy he would rule Zimbabwe until the age of 84.
The last thing most octogenarians would want is the onerous task of running a country in economic free-fall and facing international isolation.
Mugabe is our king
Zanu-PF's Didymus Mutasa
But if nothing else, Mr Mugabe is an extremely proud man.
He will only step down when his "revolution" is complete. He says this means the redistribution of white-owned land but he also wants to hand-pick his successor, who must of course come from within the ranks of his Zanu-PF party.
This would also ensure a peaceful old age, with no investigation into his time in office.
One senior party official told me that the defeat of the government's proposed constitution in February 2000 - which showed the strength of the opposition - had set back Mr Mugabe's retirement by several years.
That defeat stirred him into action, transforming him from a relatively relaxed man contemplating his twilight years, into someone desperate to remain at any cost, even willing to destroy the country he had fought to liberate.
The key to understanding Mr Mugabe is the 1970s guerrilla war where he made his name. World opinion saw him as a revolutionary hero, fighting racist white minority rule for the freedom of his people.
Since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980 the world has moved on, but his outlook remains the same. The heroic socialist forces of Zanu-PF, are still fighting the twin evils of capitalism and colonialism.
His opponents, in particular the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are labelled "sell-outs" to white and foreign interests and, as during the war, this tag has been a death warrant for many MDC supporters.
But Mr Mugabe's critics - and these days they are many in a country where he was once an untouchable figure - say that despite his socialist rhetoric, his rule has been one of state capitalism which has not materially benefited ordinary Zimbabweans.
The president's political cronies have meanwhile been given lucrative state contracts irrespective of how they perform, and the economy as a whole has suffered.
Whenever economics gets in the way of politics, politics wins every time
Professor Tony Hawkins
Harare, a hotbed of political opposition, frequently buzzes with rumours of Mr Mugabe's impending death.
While the predictions have always proved premature, the increasing strain of recent years has obviously taken its toll and his once-impeccable presentation now looks a little worn.
But at 77, he still has remarkable stamina. His second wife, Grace, 35, says that he wakes up at 0400 for his daily exercises. In 1997, she gave birth to their third child, Chatunga.
He professes to be a staunch Catholic, and worshippers at Harare's Catholic Cathedral are occasionally swamped by security guards as he turns up for Sunday Mass.
However, Mr Mugabe's beliefs did not prevent him from having two children by his young secretary, Grace, while his popular Ghanaian first wife, Sally, was dying from cancer.
One of the undoubted achievements of the former teacher's 21 years in power is the expansion of education. Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa at 85% of the population.
Political scientist Masipula Sithole says that, ironically, by expanding education, the president is "digging his own grave".
The young beneficiaries are now able to analyse Zimbabwe's problems for themselves and most blame government corruption and mismanagement for the lack of jobs and rising prices.
Having realised his political mistake, Mr Mugabe is now trying to disenfranchise the young, who generally want political change - and jobs.
As many others have found, it is far easier to find ways of sharing the national cake than to make it grow bigger. Professor Tony Hawkins of the University of Zimbabwe sums it up by saying that "whenever economics gets in the way of politics, politics wins every time".
But, in his own way, Mr Mugabe is indeed a clever politician. As his fortunes have declined, he has resurrected the nationalist agenda of the 1970s - land redistribution and anti-colonialism.
He unleashed his personal militia - the self-styled war veterans - who are using violence and murder as an electoral strategy.
It may not be playing by the rules but it is widely believed to have ensured the Zanu-PF victory in the June 2000 parliamentary elections and may work again in 2002.
The man who fought for one-man, one-vote now wants potential voters to prove their residence with utility bills, which the young, unemployed opposition core is unlikely to have.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that Mr Mugabe is becoming a cartoon figure of the archetypal Africa dictator.
One of Mr Mugabe's closest associates, Didymus Mutasa, told me that in Zimbabwean culture, kings are only replaced when they die "and Mugabe is our king".
But if Zimbabweans feel they have been cheated at the polls, they may look for an alternative way to remove him.
From ZWNEWS, 14 December
MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai was this morning arrested by police. Fifteen armed policemen led by Superintendent Matema of the Law and Order Section raided Tsvangirai's home at 5:30 am this morning and took him to Harare Central police station where he is still being held. He is accused of "being in possession of walkie-talkie radios without a licence". The radios in question have a range of about 50 metres, can be bought in supermarkets, and do not require a licence. Tsvangirai's arrest follows a raid on his home yesterday. The charges against Tsvangirai are similar to those brought against MDC members in Bulawayo prior to the mayoral election in early September. The Law and Order Section of the police is a unit which seems to have been set up solely for the purposes of harassing the political opposition in Zimbabwe.
From The Star (SA), 13 December
Zim police search opposition leader's home
Harare - Armed police made an overnight search of the home of Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and arrested three of his security guards, a party spokesman said Thursday. Three truckloads of armed police, led by five investigative officers, arrived at Tsvangirai's home around midnight and searched it for about 90 minutes, said Learnmore Jongwe, spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). "The search lasted for at least one and half hours as the police details went through every detail in each room. They left around 1.30am after they had failed to find anything," Jongwe said.
Police arrested three of Tsvangirai's guards, and questioned them about MDC's security arrangements, Jongwe added. The search warrant said the police were looking for Zwelithini Msimanga in connection with an unspecified kidnapping and murder case, Jongwe said. Msimanga is an employee at MDC's office in Bulawayo, the country's second largest city. Cain Nkala, a militant war veteran and government supporter was abducted and killed outside Bulawayo last month. The government has linked Nkala's death to the MDC, which has categorically denied any involvement. Tsavngirai said the search of his home was another instance of harassment and intimidation of the opposition in Zimbabwe.
More than 50 pro-government militants forced a mayor-elect from the MDC, who won election last weekend in the town of Chegutu, from his new offices Wednesday, hours before he was due to be sworn in. On Monday, the body of an MDC activist was found floating at a dam in central Zimbabwe, two days after he was kidnapped from his home. Rights groups estimate that at least 66 people have died since Zimbabwe's crisis began almost two years ago, while more than 42 000 have been forced from their homes and thousands more have been tortured.
From BBC News, 14 December
UN appeals for Zimbabwe food aid
The United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) has issued an urgent appeal to international donors for $54m to buy emergency food aid for more than half a million people in Zimbabwe. The WFP said President Robert Mugabe's government had agreed to emergency moves to provide food to people in the south, west and north of the country. "We need to start delivering food to thousands of hungry people as fast as possible," said the WFP's regional director for eastern and southern Africa, Judith Lewis. The WFP announced in November it was planning the food aid, which it said was needed because of drought and the violent occupations of white-owned farms, a development encouraged by President Robert Mugabe's government.
Ms Lewis called for contributions to come in the form of cash where possible, since this would allow food to be transported in quickly from neighbouring countries like South Africa. The WFP said food aid would initially be given to 558,000 rural people in the worst affected areas. Before the next harvest began in April, food availability was likely to become "extremely tight", Ms Lewis said. Officials estimate that Zimbabwe needs to import at least 600,000 tonnes of maize to meet domestic demand. The government has acknowledged a need to import 100,000 tonnes. But aid agencies say Zimbabwe's economic crisis has left it short of foreign currency to pay for food imports. The WFP's call came as the European Parliament demanded that financial sanctions be imposed on Zimbabwe because of what it called the deterioration of the rule of law and increasing human rights abuses. In a strongly-worded resolution, the parliament called for any assets held in Europe by President Mugabe and his family to be frozen. The recommendations will now go to the Council of Europe.
From The Financial Gazette, 13 December
Mudenge off to Belgium to avert EU sanctions
Zimbabwe has partially succumbed to international pressure and will next week meet the European Union (EU) in Belgium for talks meant to give President Robert Mugabe another chance to address concerns about the political and economic crisis in the southern African country and avert imminent sanctions. Francesca Mosca, head of the EU delegation in Harare, yesterday confirmed that the crucial meeting would take place on December 19 in Brussels. The Brussels meeting is to be held under Article 96 of the Cotonou agreement of European countries and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations that allows the EU to demand talks with any signatory deemed to have failed to respect democratic principles and the rule of law.
Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel will lead the EU team while Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge is expected to be in charge of the Zimbabwean delegation. "A ministerial meeting on Zimbabwe will be held on 19 December in Brussels at which issues relating to Zimbabwe will be discussed," Mosca told the Financial Gazette yesterday. No comment was available from Mudenge or the government. The EU invoked Article 96 last month after failing to secure Mugabe’s cooperation over promises he made at the Abuja land conference in September to restore law and order and arrest Zimbabwe’s continued slide into anarchy. The EU, the world’s largest trading bloc, also wanted Mugabe to assent to international demands for foreign monitors to the crucial presidential election to be held in March but whose dates have not yet been announced.
Mugabe this week however maintained that he would invite only African and Asian observers to next year’s poll and not monitors. He told visiting Nigerian academics that he was even reluctant to invite "some white men" to observe the election, perhaps except those from individual friendly EU countries. Last month he snubbed a team of senior EU officials, led by Michel, that visited Harare to discuss Zimbabwe’s involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo war and issues of good governance, by storming out of a meeting. Experts said next week’s talks were a last ditch attempt by the EU to give Mugabe another chance to address issues concerning democratic principles, the rule of law and the need for a free and fair presidential election next year, before sanctions can be considered. The United States is already preparing targeted sanctions at Mugabe and his close allies after its Congress passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill early this month.
From BBC News, 13 December
Mugabe warns of battle ahead
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has urged his supporters to prepare for a physical fight with the main opposition party, which he has again accused of terrorism. Speaking at the start of a three-day conference of his ruling Zanu PF party, Mr Mugabe said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change had chosen to use violence and terror, because it had no viable political programme on which to contest presidential elections, now set for March. "Violence is not just happening, it in fact has been deliberately hatched at the center of the MDC and by its patrons and principals overseas... This is a real physical fight and we have to prepare for it," he said in a nationally televised speech.
However, an independent human rights group in Zimbabwe has said that most of the people known to have been killed in political violence in the past year were opposition supporters. And they say the widespread intimidation of farm workers and opposition supporters is continuing, with police failing to intervene satisfactorily. President Mugabe is launching his presidential election campaign in front of the thousands of delegates who have gathered in the resort town of Victoria Falls. It is expected that Mr Mugabe will face the oppositon leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, in the poll. President Mugabe also accused Britain, the former colonial power, of being behind an international campaign to discredit his party over its policy of land seizures.
The conference comes amid mounting political tension, with Zimbabwe's neighbours concerned that the situation there should not slip out of control. Our Southern Africa correspondent says that Zimbabwe's big neighbour, South Africa, has most to lose should the crisis deepen in the coming weeks. Already hundreds of jobless Zimbabweans are trying to cross into South Africa every day, and the dramatic fall in South Africa's currency is partially due to a loss of confidence because of the Zimbabwean upheavals. Other, smaller neighbours, have similar concerns. Both Malawi and Mozambique fear that thousands of migrant workers could return home from Zimbabwe if they lose their jobs. But in public, African leaders are reluctant to criticise too much. And Southern African leaders have spoken out against the sanctions threatened by leaders in the United States and Europe.
From The Cape Times (SA), 13 December
Rand slides as SADC supports Mugabe
The rand was savaged by international markets on Thursday after support given to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe by Southern African Development Community (SADC) foreign ministers. It slid to record lows against the dollar, sterling and euro. Currency traders saw no respite, with one predicting the rand could soon fall below R12 to the dollar. Traders said the rand's plight was worsened by indications that SADC ministers opposed US and European Union plans to slap sanctions on Mugabe's government to force it to restore the rule of law ahead of presidential elections. The rand was beaten down to R11.63 in New York after closing at R11.555 against the dollar in Johannesburg. It kicked off just above R11, but rapidly declined as SADC ministers supported Mugabe. The rand had a horrid day against the euro, falling to R10.4262. But it regained some ground to close at R10.348.
From The Star (SA), 12 December
Mugabe will be test of Mbeki's plan, says US
The ability of African leaders to deal with Zimbabwe was a "test case" for the African renewal programme's goals of ensuring good governance and rule of law through peer pressure, a senior United States official has said. In an exclusive interview with Independent Newspapers, Walter Kansteiner, US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, said on Wednesday that the way the Zimbabwean situation was handled would be closely watched by all G8 countries as a test for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) plan. "Nepad is focused on the notion of good governance, rule of law and peer responsibility - obviously the test case is Zimbabwe," he said. Kansteiner said he believed South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was "going in the right direction" concerning Zimbabwe. "This really is the big test. Zimbabwe is probably at a more critical juncture today than it has been since independence in 1980. I think we all are exploring ways to send that message and to encourage Zimbabweans to enact good electoral codes and make the (election) process free and fair," he said.
Kansteiner defended the Zimbabwe Democracy Bill recently passed by the US Congress, which threatens travel restrictions and the attachment of foreign assets of Zimbabwe's rulers, saying it would only target Zimbabwe's elite. "What the bill does is provide all sorts of incentives for Zimbabwe to return to the rule of law and enact a free and fair electoral process. "The bill lays out an assortment of actions that will take place if in fact that happens, including serious consideration of Zimbabwe's debt forgiveness, looking at ways we can support Zimbabwe agricultural extension and land reform," Kansteiner said. "(But), if those electoral processes are deemed unfree and unfair, there are restrictions that could be imposed on the Zimbabwean government elite. It is not a sanctions bill. In fact, I would suggest there are no sanctions at all."
Reacting to the SADC's rejection this week of sanctions as a tool for change in Zimbabwe, Kansteiner said the US wanted to discuss its "restrictive actions" with the SADC. "The restrictive actions are simply restrictive actions for the elite, so I'm hard-pressed to see how it affects others, be it Zimbabweans or their neighbours," he said. "The bill hasn't even been passed. We are just starting to talk to our various allies (SADC, the European Union and the Commonwealth) about how and when it might be implemented." But Kansteiner warned that ultimately it was up to the Zimbabwean government to determine whether the bill's punitive measures were enacted. "My point to the Zimbabwe government officials that I met over the past few days is that they are the ones that have their finger on the trigger; they are the ones who are going to decide if the electoral process is free and fair," Kansteiner said. "They are the ones who are ultimately going to decide if there are in fact travel restrictions and asset freezes. It's really up to them," he said. Asked whether he had observed any inclination of Zimbabwean officials to adhere to the rule of law, he said that some government members seem keen to "get this thing right". But others, he intimated, seem more bent on re-election.
From The Cape Times (SA), 13 December
SADC in pact with Mugabe to avert sanctions
Harare - A team of Southern African Development Community (SADC) ministers and President Robert Mugabe have entered into a pact to avert sanctions by the United States and Europe in exchange for a pledge from Zimbabwe to ensure free and fair presidential elections next year. The six-member SADC team, visiting Zimbabwe to audit the country's land reform programme, told a media briefing on Wednesday that it opposed sanctions against Zimbabwe. It also said it supported Mugabe's land acquisition programme. Sanctions would "not just hurt Zimbabweans but the whole region", said Malawi's Foreign Minister, Lilian Patel, who chaired the meeting. An official of Zimbabwe's department of foreign affairs said that the SADC team, during its closed-door talks with Mugabe, had "seriously expressed its concern" about the decay of law and order in Zimbabwe. It said there was a need to resolve the crisis because it was affecting the entire region. Mugabe responded by asking them to join him in opposing sanctions. Patel had assured him the ministers were opposed to sanctions, said a source close to the meeting. But the ministers emphasised they would be able to help Zimbabwe better if the government took adequate steps to contain violence and ensure that the presidential polls next year were free and fair.
But critics said Mugabe had outwitted the team and succeeded in bringing the ministers around to his view. The critics said the sanctions envisaged by the American Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill targeted only those individuals deemed to be responsible for violent actions, but the SADC leaders had been duped into believing they would affect the region as a whole. Independent political analyst Elfas Mukonoweshuro noted that the bill did not say "sanctions are intended for Zimbabweans". It targeted only Zimbabwe's leadership. "It will affect their assets outside the country and their families and they will have travel restrictions against them." The Movement for Democratic Change, whose representative met the ministers for five hours, expressed disappointment at the SADC team's "failure to understand the gravity of the situation in Zimbabwe". It had hoped for "a more balanced and constructive assessment". "It would not have been difficult to insist on the rule of law and that (the SADC's) own rules on elections be applied," said Welshman Ncube, who presented the MDC's position to the team. The team was also criticised for apparently following the Zimbabwe government line that the press was to blame for its bad image.
From The Financial Gazette, 13 December
Mugabe tries to block Harare municipal poll
President Robert Mugabe might invoke his presidential powers to postpone the Harare mayoral and council elections whose date has been set for February 11 by the Supreme Court to well after the crucial March presidential poll, official sources said this week. The sources said Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa was crafting statutory instruments under the Presidential Powers Act that would be used to amend the Urban Councils Act and postpone the eagerly awaited mayoral and council elections in the capital. Harare has been run by a government-appointed commission since 1999 after the state fired the Zanu PF executive led by businessman Solomon Tawengwa for mismanagement. Retired diplomat and former senior civil servant Elijah Chanakira, whose term is expected to end on December 31 this year, heads the commission that has since governed the affairs of the city, Zimbabwe’s largest.
The Supreme Court last week ordered the Registrar-General’s Office to hold mayoral and council elections for Harare on or before February 11 next year. The ruling was made after an urgent application by the Combined Harare Residents Association compelling the government to hold the thrice-postponed elections. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo warned when the Supreme Court ruling was made that the government would explore other legal options "to ensure that the right thing is done". Official sources told the Financial Gazette this week that government legal experts were already working on a statutory instrument that could be used to postpone the mayoral and municipal elections until well after the landmark presidential election in March.
Mugabe faces the stiffest challenge to his iron-fisted 21-year rule from Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who also enjoys massive support in almost all of Zimbabwe’s urban centres including Harare. Analysts say Mugabe is reluctant to have the Harare mayoral and municipal elections held before the presidential poll because the MDC would trounce Zanu PF and the result would adversely affect the morale of his supporters. Senior governing party officials have also raised concerns about the impact of the results of the municipal elections, which Zanu PF is likely to lose heavily, on Mugabe’s presidential campaign that is supposed to gather momentum at the same time. ZANU PF has already lost three mayoral elections to the MDC this year in Masvingo, Bulawayo and recently in Chegutu.
The statutory instrument to be used to postpone the Harare mayoral and municipal elections is likely to be issued when Parliament resumes on Tuesday and the amendments would be passed before the House breaks for its Christmas recess. "We will be seeing a statutory instrument shortly under the Presidential Powers Act that will seek the postponement of the Harare mayoral elections until after the presidential election," an official in the Ministry of Justice told the Financial Gazette this week. Chitungwiza municipal elections that are scheduled for next month are also likely to be postponed under the proposed amendments to the Urban Council Act. The sources said the government would claim that the postponements were necessary for the Registrar General’s Office to thoroughly prepare for the presidential poll. Chinamasa could not be reached for comment yesterday.
ZIMBABWE: THE TERRORIST STATE
Dr Duncan Clarkedgclarke@global.co.za
The state of political play in Zimbabwe not only raises global concern as it should, but also deeper issues about the nature of the regime - from its origins, through its operational track record, and about its current reign of barely mitigated terror and confiscations.
And new reflections now emerge, requiring clinical objectivity, that readily demonstrate a pattern of violent actions, Presidential irresponsibility and major damaging consequences.
For indeed, at few times and for limited periods in the course of the ZANU-PF era (1965-2001) has unambiguous normality prevailed: whether in times of active "self-legitimated" violence (justified by proponents as "armed struggle") spanning the pre-Independence Chimurenga, through the early Liberation Years of Gukhuarundi (genocide wrought on the AmaNdebele – justified as "the sweeping away of the ashes"), during the emasculating State-controlled quasi-totalitarianism in the 1980s and 1990s (variously depicted at times as Marxist-Leninism, Socialism and Zimbabweanisation), and now evident in the new wave of State-orchestrated Terrorism (via militias, "war veterans", land invaders, apparatchiks, youth brigades, and the like) in the late 20th Century and early Third Millennium.
Zimbabwe’s leadership and its now-dominant Party has planted, watered and tendered these seeds of Terrorism, and now created many of the dimensions and foundations of a Terrorist-Sponsored State.
For here is a "Government" – the true use of that epithet is an abomination – and a "President" (much less gracious descriptions come to mind), with anointed Chefs, cohorts and clients, and at least a 21-year liability, that has built its roadmap and survival on a pathway of blood.
Not all acts in the struggle for Majority Rule over 1965-80 (yes, that was what it was called) had the overtones of "acts of war". Many acts of guerrilla-terrorist violence directed at white settlers, rural Africans and myriad others were quintessentially Terrorist in nature: viz. the casual if calculated infliction of violence for political ends and as a means to inculcate fear and compliance in the minds and hearts of those that might not succumb to ZANU and later ZANU-PF’s dubious electoral charms.
Many of the liberation movement’s victims indeed were inter or intra-Party foes, Dare members, political dissidents, nominated "sell-outs", ideological "deviants", Tribal Elders, Official Chiefs, ethnic "others" (whether white, Ndebele, Karanga, ChiManyika, Korekore or Zezuru), Party competitors for position, military threats (inside ZANLA, ZIPRA and ZAPU), and the like. Even the Rhodesian Army remained mostly a partial and episodic target, and one often avoided for much softer opportunities of cowardly intimidation – villagers, the elderly, isolated farms, rival Nationalist Movements, and so on – the list is a long one.
Then to Independence in 1980: power arrived if not at the barrel of the gun, then with up-front threats and armaments in storage, latterly in the form of the Armed State, much augmented beyond reasonable dimension primarily for internal purposes – witnessed rapidly in a Prime Ministerial-orchestrated onslaught by the North Korean-trained 5th Brigade on mostly rural innocents in Matabeleland: a gruesome set of massacres, burnings, butchery and draconian intimidation (much documented by the Catholic Justice & Peace Commission) that has yet to be in any way reasonably atoned or compensated, let alone accounted for in the local or international Halls of Justice.
Throughout the 1980s and much of the 1990s the instruments of State (an expanded Army, inflated Central Intelligence Organisation, politicized Police, and State-funded Veterans Association) were augmented at the expense of the population and its normal democratic social and economic interests.
Enhanced State control became the sine qua non of economic and political management. Respect for the Rule of Law became eroded, and manipulated into the contemporary use of Courts and Judges for Party political and Presidential servitude. And so the denial and abuse of human rights became widespread.
A warped One-Party State Ideology dominated common sense – often in even simple and practical matters regarding economic management, social reform, Parliamentary order, and legal status.
Constitutional "adjustments" designed for the powers-that-be were exercised at least 18 times in 21 years. This included the naked if ingenuous disenfranchisement and citizenship-removal of hundreds of thousands born in the country.
Periodic Electoral manipulation served the Masters of Monomotapa. Their Servants (the Povo) were reduced to penury, and thereby made easier to control through the regulation of food (including Food Aid), fear and ultimately famine.
Control of the Press and later its intimidation and attempted repression (fire-bombing, arrests, deportations, torture, and use of legal fiat) was implemented as a necessity for the retention of fading power and diminished legitimacy. Propaganda in the form of the Ministry of "Information" took on a grotesque and Kafkaesque quality.
The loss of any residual compassion by the inheritors of a once viable albeit imperfect "democratic order" was rapid and pervasive. The use of racism and ethnicity (vis-à-vis whites, democrats, civil society, Gays & Lesbians, others) as a tool of separatism invited the spectre of divide-and-rule strategies, ethnic-cleansing, and measures whose results have led many to vote-with-their feet (in emigration, skills flight, and displacement across the Limpopo – Southern Africa’s Rio Grande), while forcing others to become "internally displaced persons", especially so in the case of now multitudes of both local and foreign-born farmworkers ("They – the latter - have no Totem", was the President’s ultimate cultural insult). The million-plus Ndebele and many others displaced into South Africa constituted another category of the discarded and neglected.
The elected Opposition by definition has been depicted as inherently "disloyal" (its leader made a target of assassination attempts), and thousands of MDC supporters made the subject of continuous attacks by State-assisted and armed militias in complicity with organs of the State (Army, CIO and Police). The use of what has been widely-perceived as periodic targeted political intimidation (with beatings, burnings, whippings, detentions, imprisonments) has not escaped this unhappy landscape. Ishe Komborera Zimbabwe (God Bless Zimbabwe), it might be said, because no one else in authority will.
Confiscation of lands, assets and properties has continued unabated as only an extension of a long record of larceny. The theft of State funds by a corrupt Presidential entourage and Party elite (raised to an art form, resembling advanced Kleptocratic States elsewhere) has become de rigeur.
State-mandated evictions from commercial farms has been "sold" as "land reform", indigenisation and the finale of a long-lost "Revolution", thinly disguising the primary aim of securing private wealth for Party stalwarts and Civil Servants, as well as above all else the retention of permanent tenure in Office for the President and Party.
Any semblance of reasonable macro-economic management has been sublimated to the dictates of guaranteed penury for the population and privilege for the Party. That Zimbabwe will not now ever recover to its Independence level of real income per head, appears to be of little concern to the interests of "Ministers of State".
The Spokesmen for this State (Ministers, High Commissioners, Others) peddle inanities grossly at variance with the appalling record, as sycophants to His Master’s Voice. A few have taken the courage to abandon the rotting Ship of State, and flee abroad. Detachment from the facts has unhinged their cognitive abilities.
Truth in any relativist or objective sense has now become a prisoner to political convenience, and Zimbabwe’s History reduced to acts of crude revisionism.
Hopes that any minimal moral compass might yet guide the affairs of State have been deeply and irrevocably compromised by increasingly desperate measures designed to perpetuate a new paradigm built on this evident History of Terror.
That all this has led to rampant disorder and anarchy, amidst deep fear amongst the many, should not disguise how such a status quo aids and supports the now much-threatened and incumbent regime, regaled in the trappings of a pseudo-legitimate State.
The State has no need of its even flawed democratic institutions (and so it undermines them), goodwill in the form of regional advice and cooperation (which it regularly resists), international agreements it strikes (which it dismisses, or finesses with threats), reasonable international legitimacy (which it ignores), or normal legal constraints (which it breaches).
Mugabe has been disposed more than once to reject support from the IMF-IBRD and Aid Agencies with all manner of fallacious rantings about Neo-Colonialism and conspiracy. The "Government’s" failures to execute agreed Structural Adjustment Programs has had little to do with "conditionalities", and everything to do with its own narrow political agenda.
This regime does not seek respect, except its own, and it does not respect its inhabitants. It has no apparent need of an economic future for its people (which it leaves to chance, and at best The Hand of God). It is focused solely on its own survival at all cost, especially where any liabilities can be met by others. It now preaches little but hatred since it has no other currency of worth. Its alienation from principle and self-pity run extraordinarily deep. It envisages no way forward other than through accelerated continuity along a bloody path long trod.
Mugabe’s quasi-Stalinist symbols (Heroes Acres, Presidential photos in all public places, self-aggrandisment in Presidential motorcades) are not merely those of the flawed 20th Century but of a long bygone era much discounted on the world stage, and one rejected in much of Africa as long forgotten images of a flawed passage. The recent demented Presidential retreat to "Socialism" is only one manifestation of the archaic and nostalgic cause.
It is a sad and heart-rendering feeling to know that the attributes of the Terrorist State and State-Sponsored Terrorism have manifested in several deeply embedded ways: facts-on-the-ground, philosophy and values, violent actions, and numerous self-serving edicts – illustrated inter alia by a litany of State-influenced acts:
It can be no surprise that Zimbabwe’s "Government", and the de jure and de facto Head of State, attract few reasonable friends, and are aligned with those on the wrong side of the civilized global community.
Nor can one but read into Mugabe’s regular "escape" through persistent taxpayer-funded foreign travel as but a flight from the consequences of his many "irrational" deeds, and self-help therapy for an increasing chronic pathological behaviour. The troubled soul needs its refuge, and Mugabe’s has sought balm in foreign climes where ignorance has too often allowed the trappings of power to cloud any judgment of the facts.
This State of Terrorism has many deep and historical roots, but even more contemporary manifestations. They need acknowledgement.
Those in the Zimbabwe political hierarchy (ZANU-PF, Politburo, Central Committee, and other "clandestine" extra-Parliamentary cabals), with so much blood on their hands, have become much accustomed to its presence, and disinclined to wash the past, and now the present, in the light of any acceptable contemporary standards of governance and civility.
"Smart sanctions" sound deeply implausible as any panacea for all this, while "quiet Diplomacy" has died a predictably quiet death, and yet still the Terrorist State appears immune - except for the rumblings of a potential civil war that might yet come, and could last many a year.
It is already extremely late. A Terrorist-Sponsored State is in advanced birth on the doorstep of democratic South Africa, and looks increasingly like it may haunt History and The House of Stone for some time to come.