Zimbabwe - A letter from the diaspora
GOING HOME: The year is 2004 and Caleb Dube, the former detective with the Zimbabwe Republic Police has been in exile in the United Kingdom for two years. A letter arrives from his old friend and colleague, Moses Musindo, alerting Dube to the fact that his former teacher and friend, Father Hugh Malloy, is in great danger. Friendship demands no less and Caleb Dube goes home to his native land. With no help from a partisan police force, Dube and Musindo set out to investigate. In the course of their enquiries deep in the rural areas, the two men meet a host of unforgettable characters, including Sami the AIDS orphan and Sami's friend, Tatenda, the hunter. The two boys are an indispensable part of the investigation and the search leads them to an old adversary of Dube's who holds the key to the mystery of the missing priest.
Click here to find out more or buy online
Countdown is a political detective story. It is fiction but the background is accurate and verifiable. Set in 2001/2 and the start of the land invasions, the book shows how the politicisation of the police force has led directly to the breakdown of law and order. In this hostile environment, two honest cops attempt to investigate a murder. Click here to find out more or buy online
Has the Unity Government lived up to expectations? Are things improving or are they not? Watching David Coltart's interview shown on the World Service's Hard Talk I was struck by his equivocal answer to that blunt question. Things are much better than they were, he said, the problem was that people's expectations were too high! There is food in the shops now he claimed but made little mention of the fact that it was often unaffordable to the poor, though the economy has improved he maintained and the media has been partially freed up. This in the same week that the ZTV/BC resumed its playing of Zanu PF jingles denigrating the GNU and their MDC 'partners'. Schools and hospitals are functioning again, Coltart claimed. It all sounded quite rosy but then Coltart would say that wouldn't he? He and other MDC and Zanu PF ministers are in the UK on a begging trip, appealing for funds. They have to put a positive spin on the situation to attract the investment they so desperately need. What Coltart couldn't quite bring himself to say was that no one is going to invest in a country where the rule of law is meaningless, where property rights are ignored and the police continue to turn a blind eye to Zanu PF's blatant disregard of human and democratic rights. Coltart admitted that the situation on the farms has deteriorated even further in recent months but he was careful not to say what every Zimbabwean knows: that Robert Mugabe's so-called Land Reform has been nothing short of disaster for the country leading to widespread hunger and unemployment.
16th July 2010
"It is our mineral resources," Mugabe announced, "helped by the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of our people which will turn the economy around." For 'ingenuity and entrepreneurship' read downright theft and criminal cunning but undeterred by any such linguistic niceties, Mugabe assured his audience that "We will sell the diamonds anyway, with or without the Kimberley Process approval."
You really have to wonder about the psychological state of an old man who constantly reiterates his belief that the shedding of blood is the way to solve problems. Hardly a speech goes by without the Dear Leader obsessing about blood! Thirty years after Independence, does Robert Mugabe still feel so unsure of 'His' victory that he has to remind his followers that they must be prepared to shed even more blood to defend their revolution? Or, is it a coded message to the thugs on the ground, who are doing their best to disrupt the Constitutional Outreach Programme, that it is perfectly acceptable to shed more blood – as long as it is someone else's – to keep Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF in power?
While all this was going on in Harare the Inclusive Government delegation was meeting the EU in Brussels to discuss the way forward for Zimbabwe and how Europe could assist. "Don't waste your time talking to Europe" Mugabe advised from the security of the Shake-Shake building in Harare but, apart from the shedding of blood, what solution does he offer to the country's many problems? A statistic issued this week revealed that one third of Zimbabwe's children under five years old are officially classified as 'under-nourished'. If we are to believe the proponents of diamond sales, both Zanu PF and MDC, such problems will all be solved once we have the diamond money. Our economic future hangs on the sale of diamonds we are told but no one is telling us how ordinary Zimbabweans can be sure that the money really will flood into the national exchequer to benefit all the people and not just into the pockets of corrupt politicians. And if Zimbabwe sells the stones without KP approval, as John Robertson pointed out this week, we would be selling outside the internationally approved process and only highly dubious buyers would choose to purchase in that way – at rock-bottom prices too.
Coincidentally – or not - it was just three days after Farai Maguwu's release from prison that this 'tough agreement' was reached. Now, so we are lead to believe, Zimbabwe's economic future is secure! Can we assume then that money will pour into education and health care? Those little under-fives will no longer be under-nourished as schools and hospitals are restored to their former glory and the whole population benefits from the diamonds, no longer tainted with blood.
How different it is now! We can hardly distinguish between the Zanu PF politicians and the MDC ministers as they tell us that all is going well in the Inclusive Government. This week it was the Secretary General of the MDC, Finance Minister Tendai Biti who was calling for the lifting of the ban on Zimbabwe's diamonds. "Its hurting ordinary Zimbabweans" he claimed but carefully made no mention of the continued detention of Farai Maguwu whose bail appeal has once again been delayed. And what about the newly appointed MDC Co-Minister of Home Affairs, Teresa Makoni? If anyone should be taking up Maguwu's case it should surely be Teresa Makoni. Instead her first official business was to assist Didymus Mutasa to locate his son. Defending her action in an interview on SW Radio, Makone claimed it was her duty as a Co-Minister in the Inclusive Government to assist anyone who came to her for help, be they Zanu PF or MDC. Sounds fair enough, you could say but then we remember all the MDC local activists thrown in gaol and beaten during the current Constitutional Outreach exercise. Didymus Mutasa's complaint that his son was being held in appalling conditions rings pretty hollow when we consider how many MDC activists are being held in similar conditions. Top MDC officials like Biti and Makone say and do little or nothing to help them. Why is it that the MDC is turning a blind eye to Zanu PF's continuing violence, preferring instead to tell us that all is well with the Inclusive Government.
A report by the Bar Council which includes the Bar Human Rights Committee, the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and Advocates Sans Frontiere issued this week and entitled A Place in the Sun spelled out in no uncertain terms the true state of affairs in Zimbabwe. "Zimbabwe has failed to stop extra-judicial killings" they claim. "Abuses go uninvestigated, there is a culture of impunity on the part of the police, the army and the intelligence services. The majority of the senior judiciary are still compromised by state patronage - land and other inducements. Magistrates are subject to threats and intimidation. Access to justice is virtually non-existent." That is the reality on the ground as ordinary Zimbabweans know only too well. Meanwhile, the Head of the Prison Service says he's not going anywhere until his boss Robert Mugabe leaves office and Henry Dowa the policeman investigating Farai Maguwu's case threatens in court that Maguwu could face two years on bail if he does not allow access to his laptop. Do we hear the MDC raise their voices to defend this innocent man whose only crime as far as I can judge is that he has the knowledge which could expose the criminal behaviour of Ministers and other chefs as they plunder the country's diamonds?. Does Tendai Biti really expect us to believe that lifting the ban on the diamond sales will stop "hurting ordinary Zimbabweans"?