News analysis: When things fall apart

via News analysis: When things fall apart 18 December 2014

UNDER what constitutional order would one be punished before the cause for the punishment has been determined by an independent tribunal? One may be tempted to see the recent treatment of the perceived Mujuru gang both in Zanu PF and in the government in isolation to the habitual and systematic abuse of the organs of state by an organised few.

It is tempting to reduce the recent events to an internal struggle for power within the confines of the party and the state but when regard is given to the objective facts as they have revealed themselves over the last 34 years of independence, one is compelled to add his voice to a number of existential and foundational issues with a view to opening debate on what kind of Africa do we want and how best to get to it.

The Zimbabwean route is certainly not the best way to get to the destination promised by independence. It is significant that in an article entitled: “Mujuru probe hots up” http://www.herald.co.zw/mujuru-probe-hots-up/ published by the Herald on 18 December 2014 well after her unceremonious dismissal, it was reported that the police have intensified investigations into allegations of corruption and abuse of office levelled against former VP Dr. Mujuru.

This begs the question of what precisely in terms of jurisdictional facts the President relied upon to invoke s 106(2)(b) of the Constitution especially prior to the completion of investigations let alone the involvement of the prosecuting authority of Zimbabwe.

It is hypocritically reported in the said article that Dr. Mujuru was fired from government for behaviour inconsistent with the discharge of her duties. This conclusion could only be made by someone other than the alleging party which in this case would be the President, Dr. Mujuru’s former boss.

It is astounding that an adverse finding can be made against an individual without any due process. President Mugabe studied law to Master’s level and, therefore, apart from his role as the custodian of the constitution one would expect him to be cautious in acting in a manner that is clearly inconsistent with the constitution. It also does not help that Dr. Mujuru’s successor is also a lawyer who should also know and act better than a layman. How can anyone be proud to be a beneficiary of a fatally flawed process?

We have all been subjected to what Dr. Mujuru is now going through. Only yesterday, some of us were accused of externalization and the rest is history. What is significant is that when the treatment was meted against some of us, the people including Dr. Mujuru, thought that this would never visit them and, therefore, there was no need to say or do something. Even the scribes developed amnesia.

However, now that things have fallen apart, it is important, as we search for the way forward, that we attempt to walk down memory lane to draw lessons from the wounds of the unknown victims. It will naturally take time for people like Dr. Mujuru to realize the system that gave them a comfortable life can be unpredictable and ruthless.

It is indeed tragic that at this late stage, the police had this to say: “the investigations are on and police will take action depending on the outcome”, suggesting that the President acted prematurely. Why would the President choose to pull the trigger prior to the completion of investigations? Surely, it cannot be the same President Mugabe who speaks of the virtues of the post-colonial state and the political morality of its actors.

Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba is reported to have said: “The allegations warrant investigations for us to establish the truth and find out if she has a case to answer”, confirming that the President had no legal basis to act in the manner he did. Just on the basis of Ms. Charamba alone, one would expect VP Mnangagwa, who was spared a death sentence in his long journey to his current position to take note of this and inform the nation correctly and to give substance to his statement that he was surprised when he was appointed.

Clearly, to the extent that Ms. Charamba could not provide details to the media about the status of the investigations by saying: “I am still trying to get the details and I will only be able to furnish you with a proper position tomorrow”, one would expect this concession to have political and legal consequences in any constitutional state. It is often easy and comfortable to sit in the terraces and watch the drama because today its Dr. Mujuru & Co but tomorrow no one knows who will be next.

The symptoms of a despotic order reveal themselves in so many ways.  Even the First Lady who unfortunately is being credited for undermining the rule of law would agree that the due process of the law must be allowed to take its course. However, when the accused has already been subjected to punishment on the very same facts and circumstances that form the basis of an investigation by law enforcement agents, one wonders what is going on in Zimbabwe.

There is no doubt that the manner in which this affair has been conducted, the real culprits will never take responsibility for their shenanigans as the First Family appears to have naively been sucked into a self-serving project that regrettably exposes that which is fundamentally wrong in Zimbabwe.

I am reminded of the words attributed to President John Adams as follows: “It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, ‘whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection’ and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.”

COMMENTS

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    Coinneach MacAoidh 6 years ago

    What an insightful piece of writing. Why were we all so blind to not see the wickedness of finding all these people guilty before any real evidence was brought again them is to our discredit? But sad to say that the initiators of this wickedness were so eager to take the power and privilege for themselves, from the accused, that they ignored the most basic of the rules of law…Accused persons must have clear evidence of wrongdoing placed against them. It is then for them to answer to this evidence…then and only then can both the merits and demerits of the case be weighed and decided upon. But then only by persons who have no vested interest in the rights or the wrongs of the matter and the outcome of the case.
    In addition to the confused statements from Assistant Commissioner Ms Charity Charamba we have also heard reports that no less than Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri has been lecturing young police graduates on their pass out parade. He told them that the Zimbabwe Republic Police is now going to investigate these alleged wrongdoers…wrongdoers who have already been found guilty and punished with no real evidence being produced or heard. But then found guilty by people who have already moved into the positions of power that the alleged accused have already been evicted from.
    I know that I will be howled at by speaking on behalf of the those whose rights have now been trampled in the latest purges in ZANU PF. I fully agree that many of them were guilty of identical wicked deeds in the past. However, even as a young boy I was influenced by the famous statement and provocative poem by German pastor Martin Niemőller about the cowardice of the German people to speak up against the purging of perceived enemies of the Nazis regime.
    His poem reads as follows:
    “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out…Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out…Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out…Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
    Who will be next in the line of fire…?