Nkosana Moyo in Zimbabwe’s Politics of Opposition: The Pigeon thrown among the cats!

13 Jul

On 29 June 2017, Nkosana Moyo launched his bid for Zimbabwe’s Presidency thus throwing himself into the fray of opposition politics in Zimbabwe. His pitch and tone is that of a person who has really thought about this new journey and is ready to stand in the ring with Robert Mugabe as one seeking to defend his tenure and on the other side the opposition political parties calling him all sorts of names for being allegedly divisive and potentially splitting the vote against Mugabe. Well, some have called him an opportunist who is after the fame and glory of being a presidential aspirant in Zimbabwe. Others have accused him of either being too delusional or overconfident to think he can snatch the presidency from Mugabe. Yet others have accused him of wanting to siphon the millions of hard cash that come in from donors whenever election time is around the corner. Call him whatever they want, I think the guy although very brave, well qualified and all, he is at this juncture almost turning the old idiom “throwing a cat among the pigeons” upside down and he himself can be characterized more as “A PIGEON THROWN AMONG THE CATS”. Pigeons are not known to scare cats and neither are cats known to fear pigeons. I say this for several reasons which I will discuss below, save to just say that this guy has no chance whatsoever against Robert Mugabe in the 2018 elections, unless he is in this time just to test the waters for another chance after Mugabe is gone.

Nkosana is like a pigeon thrown among the cats for now because I do not think that he can turn the tables against Mugabe in next year’s elections. It is not possible! It cannot be done. It’s already water under the bridge. Give or take the rigging allegations by Mugabe’s party, I do not think that Nkosana necessarily has and will be able to build the connection that is needed with the almost resigned Zimbabwean voter at this moment. Mugabe knows god willing that if his batteries do not run out, he will be the President of Zimbabwe after the 2018 elections.

That Nkosana has chosen to run for the Presidency as an independent candidate is most laudable. In the current politics of Zimbabwe where politicians continue to be recycled offering no new ideas, it is better to have something and someone new: –  Anything! The opposition in Zimbabwe is failing to understand the simple logic that you cannot continue knocking one’s head against the wall. Others must be given a chance where your strategies have failed. Alas, all you hear is that “nzizi dzese dzinoyerera dzichipinda muna Save”. Fair and fine. If that is the case, Nkosana go it all alone! – all the way and do not even turn your back to any whistles! (usacheuke miridzo). That Nkosana, this pigeon who has stirred the dirty waters of Zimbabwe’s opposition politics will be derided and thrown of course by the opposition is in no doubt. The opposition in Zimbabwe has the masses. It will be more than difficult for him to convince die hard supporters of the MDC or any other opposition force to ditch their parties for him. All the same, the politics that Nkosana has played here by refusing to join any umbrella is most welcome. The fallacy that Mugabe can only be defeated by a large umbrella of political parties is now tired. It would be better to have a Mugabe with his two VPs than to have a whole bunch of hooligans in suits calling themselves the new government fighting and dishing out nonexistent posts in government all because they contributed to Mugabe’s ouster at the ballot.

Another point that Zimbabwe would want to know is the who, what, when, how and why of Nkosana’s politics. That he has this pigeon label on him is in no doubt. The masses will look at him and feel that he is just trying his shot at a game he cannot win. For instance, without knowing those people who are standing with him (besides Fadzayi Mahere), without knowing who his family is, without knowing who is funding his activities, without knowing his ideas and recruitment bases (young people, farmers, old people, workers etc.) it will be difficult for this pigeon to scatter the cats that are already sitting in the ring for the 2018 Presidential elections.

For Nkosana to want to run as an Independent presidential candidate he must have thought well about the fact that even if he were to win he would not have a majority in Parliament. He would not be able to form or run any government as it were. The trick could be that he wants to avoid infiltration through political party structures by the CIO. Good move, but in the end, it will not lead Zimbabweans anywhere. Therefore, Nkosana needs to lay his cards on the table. The years when politicians would tell voters that just vote me in and you will see what I will do are long gone. He must make it clear how will pass and skip past such hurdles first. Zimbabwe must know what he is selling and if it can be bought. Otherwise he will remain in my eyes a pigeon thrown among the cats.

That Nkosana has stood up to challenge his yester-year boss when he was Industry and International Trade Minister is laudable. But so many have taken this path and not gone anywhere with their projects. Edgar Tekere, Simba Makoni, Joyce Mujuru just to name a few struggled and their projects suffered still births. Nkosana needs to convince Zimbabweans by showing us that he has a plan that will work. To just say that he will be able to change Zimbabwe’s politics is not good enough. The issues are very contentious. Thus, for anyone to come and say that when we return to the rule of law all will be well is not good enough. Others see a return to this rule of law as bequeathing power to our erstwhile colonizers. Others think that a return to this “rule of law” will be the end of ZANU PF and a chance to reverse ZANU PF’s policies around land reform and natural resources empowerment. The questions are daunting. Nkosana must be able to stand up and share his vision with more vigor and have a national presence. Otherwise Mugabe will have the last laugh saying that Nkosana ran away only to come back to run away again. Otherwise known as a pigeon thrown among the cats.

 

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Islamic fundamentalism is not JUST any other African problem!

20 May

So the past month has been awash with comments on the abducted 276 Nigerian Chibok girls and the ever increasing terrorist attacks in Kenya. These attacks have been carried out by two notorious groups connected to the Al Qaeda: the Al Shabbab outfit based in Somalia and the Boko Haram based in Northern Nigeria. The attacks and abductions have been merciless and vile to say the least. Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Goodluck Jonathan have been criticized left right and center by citizens and other observers who argue that they can do more to end these attacks and improve security in Kenya and Nigeria. President Jonathan was further criticized in the media for attending the security Summit called for by Francois Hollande in France instead of visiting Chibok. While the two Presidents can be found wanting in other areas, I contend that these two Presidents are hamstrung and the best they can do for now is align more with the West to get assistance in the form of weapons, intelligence and finances to fend off these groups.

The visit by Goodluck Jonathan to France to meet with the EU countries and the neighboring African Presidents was necessary. It is a clear fact that these African countries do not have the necessary human resources to collect vital intelligence to fend off these Islamist groups. By visiting the Northern city of Chibok, the President of Nigeria would have just paid a solidarity which would not have achieved much except to raise the villagers’ expectations for nothing.

America, UK and France including the rest of the EU have significant knowledge of the operations of these Islamist groups from years of sophisticated intelligence gathering. The West also has the financial and military resources to alleviate this crisis that seems to be slowly engulfing Africa. It will not pay for any African to continue clamoring for African solutions to African problems in this instance – Islamist fundamentalism is not an African problem per se. What is happening in Kenya and Nigeria is a mere shifting of battlefields from the West to Africa by the Islamic militants.

A clear mapping exercise will reveal that most of the attacks that have occurred in Kenya and Nigeria started as targeting European, American and Jewish interests in Africa. Talk about the 2013 Westgate attack in Nairobi, talk about the 2011 UN suicide bombings in Nigeria and many more. That these groups are now attacking local citizens such as the poor girls in Chibok and Kenyans on public transport and vegetable markets in Nairobi are just sick diversionary tactics. Their main goal is to score major victories on the UN compound and the US Embassy in Nairobi. What they are looking for is a score like they made in Libya when they killed the US Ambassador Chris Stevens. In Nigeria clearly they want to instill fear in the government by invoking religious feuds so that they can have their way in the economic and political structures of the country. Al Shabbab would definitely want to rile Kenyan citizens and push for the withdrawal of the KDF from Somalia. This is unrealistic and has to be opposed with all might by the African Union and the UN.

Enter the West’s hypocrisy

Due to the might of their intelligence gathering mechanisms the West has managed to bolster security measures in their own backyards and their interests in Nigeria and Kenya. Recently travel bans were issued in Kenya and even evacuations back to the UK and America for citizens on holiday from Kenya. While there is nothing wrong in the West protecting its citizens, one can also understand the frustrations of the Kenyan and Nigerian governments that the West is now playing into the hands of the Islamist groups and also fuelling the platforms for these groups to continue with their terror activities. For instance, when the American, British or Israeli intelligence officers acquire credible information, do they share it with the Kenyan government to apprehend the suspects? The West has been found wanting in this instance because just in the same week the Chinese Premier was in Nairobi, threats for the attacks spiralled to unprecedented levels in Kenya. Of course everyone knows that the Chinese are bringing loads of investments into East and West Africa and the West is lagging behind. Al Shabbab and Boko Haram are fully aware of these dynamics and they want to sow seeds of fear and uncertainty in the countries. The West therefore cannot condone this by sitting on information and not assisting the two governments on the basis that they want to appease their egos over their geo political and economic fights with China.

So what should Africa do?

The arguments raised by Goodluck Jonathan that he could not visit Chibok because of security fears were justified. Some years ago, I saw live on TV Al Qaeda militants attacking Hamid Karzai whilst he addressed a rally. What will stop these Boko Haram militias from doing so in Nigeria? All the same, the situation raises questions on what the Nigerian government is doing enough to secure such vulnerable areas as Chibok – citizens who vote and pay taxes live there daily and they need protection. To argue that government officials will not go there because of insecurity will not hold water forever.

More importantly, the two governments of Kenya and Nigeria need to review their government systems. Corrupt Kenyan Immigration officers allegedly continue selling travel documents to many Somali young people linked to Al Shabbab. Nigerian borders are so porous that terrorists find it so easy to move between Chad, Benin and Cameroon. The police and military services need to be strengthened and more collaboration established between the different African countries.

The African solution to some of these problems will NOT come from the Kenyan government attacking each and every Somali national they bump into in Mombasa and Nairobi. In the same manner extrajudicial shootings of suspected Boko Haram suspects will not end the attacks in Nigeria. What are needed are more robust intelligence gathering mechanisms by the two countries working in tandem with the Western countries. The Kenyan and Nigerian nationals especially religious and community elders who live amongst some of these rogue elements in Al Shabbab and Boko Haram need to play an active role.  They also need to help the authorities and not continue to be quiet while the two countries burn from economic stagnation, stigmatization and more deaths and misery.

In the end one will find that although not appealing and looking strategic in the eyes of the African, President Goodluck Jonathan needed to go to France and consult with his fellow African statesmen just to get things moving. There is no point asking 3 or 4 besieged and clueless African Presidents to meet in Africa to find African solutions to a perceived African problem when we know clearly that the problem is not African per se. The African countries whether by omission or commission do not have the financial wherewithal and the necessary intelligence gathering technics to tackle such problems.and the Western countries need to know that no amount of travel bans to African countries will end terrorism. They must not mix up their long held battles with China and Kenya and lump them up with the terrorism problems Africa is facing.

After all is said and done, Goodluck Jonathan went to France and came back with threats to annihilate Boko Haram from the face of the earth. How about a report back to ECOWAS or to your African brothers in Addis Ababba, Mr Goodluck on this unAfrican problem?

A look at the 2018 Zimbabwe Transitional Justice Symposium – “a few take aways from Nesbitt Castle”

1 Dec

The National Transitional Justice Working Group held a Symposium from 21 – 23 November in Bulawayo. The meeting was a high success judging by the comments, interactions and other engagements at the meeting as well on social media.  The coverage in newspapers and radios in Zimbabwe and abroad is also testimony to the success. Besides, bringing close to 100 stakeholders working on transitional justice matters in Zimbabwe, the region and internationally together, there was an affirmation and recognition that the transitional justice debate in Zimbabwe needs to be moved to a higher level. That status will be achieved by coming  up with a civil society policy framework to direct how transitional justice should be implemented in Zimbabwe. There are several positive and negative issues that could be highlighted but I will focus on a few that stuck out for me.

The question of the disputed tenure and false start of the NPRC

One of the NPRC Commissioners attending the Symposium raised an issue that civil society had to stand in the corner of the NPRC and question the government on the exact tenure of the NPRC. There are misunderstandings on whether the NPRC’s tenure should be calculated from 2013 when the Constitution was promulgated, as the NPRC is a creation of the new Zimbabwe Constitution. This would effectively mean that the tenure of the NPRC ends in 2023. Another argument is that since the Commissioners were only appointed by Robert Mugabe on 24 February 2016 it means that their tenure should be calculated from that time and the life of the NPRV should therefore end in 2026. I find this argument rather preposterous and is akin to the same arguments that caused problems for Pierre Nkurunziza’s tenure in Burundi.

The law is clear on the life span of the NPRC. That one person could have been sworn in at a later stage is none of the Commissioner’s business. The Commissioners must serve their terms until the legally prescribed timeline and if ever there will be need to extend their terms, the government of the day at that time will ensure that happens. 

Yet again, there is another argument that since the NPRC Act was gazetted on January 5, 2018 it leaves room for another interpretation on the tenure of the NPRC. Again, I find this argument unnecessary. The call for civil society to be involved in such arguments would be a complete waste of time, undeserving of precious time and if the Commissioners were really worried about such they would need to question the government through their normal interactions or take the matter to the courts of the land.

The question of the unrepresentative composition of the NPRC

At the Symposium, Siphosami Malunga, the Executive Director of OSISA made a passionate plea that the NPRC should be reconfigured so that its composition reflects the needs of Gukurahundi victims and survivors. This call seems and sounded very controversial on one end and on another very reasonable considering the circumstances in which the country finds itself in with regards the Matabeleland massacres. There have been arguments that on a practical level, to call for an inclusion of more Commissioners would need the Constitution to be amended. Sceptics think that such a call would be used by the current Government to divert its attention from working on Gukurahundi and thus would lead to serious and further delays in resolving the matter. However, I am of the view that the call to include one or two more Commissioners specifically from Matabeleland would serve as a conciliatory gesture by the Government of Zimbabwe as ell as ensure that the people of Matabeleland have someone in the NPRC who they trust and know would be able to articulate their issues well. Sipho acknowledged that the presence of Mr. Sello Nare, who hails from the region was clearly recognised but maintained that the selection and appointment of the NPRC Commissioners by Robert Mugabe had been shrouded in so much controversy at the beginning that it would be only be right to reconsider adding some Commissioners from the region or asking some current Commissioners who have questionable credentials to step down. 

We will wait to see how this one plays out but certainly the die was cast on that day and a responsive Commission will pay attention to such an issue and civil society on its own end will evaluate the pros and cons and possibly push for it with the Government of Zimbabwe.

The call for a separate Gukurahundi Bill

Another call was made by Sipho Malunga to consider having a separate Bill to deal specifically with Gukurahundi or consider having a special Unit to focus on Gukurahundi in the NPRC. Sceptics again, argue that this could be self – defeating and places unnecessary importance on one conflict in Zimbabwe at the expense of other conflicts such as the resources conflicts in Manicaland, rights violations from the 2008 elections, the farm invasions as well as other economic rights violations that have bedevilled Zimbabwe over the years. I for one, still do not understand how a separate Bill would deal effectively with the Gukurahundi question without being used to divert attention by the ruling government which has so far succeeded to do that since the atrocities occurred. 

What is clear though is that the NPRC needs to come up with a more robust and responsive action plan to handle Gukurahundi. One way of acknowledging such calls would be coming out to do public inquiries through social media, radio presentations and even requests for ideas from the public in the diaspora and at home on the issue.

The flawed perception that the NPRC cannot comment on controversial issues in the country

There seems to be a position in the NPRC that the Commissioners cannot “comment, affirm or condemn” when issues that demand their attention occur in the country. The preferred position seems to be that the NPRC will conduct closed door interactions and meetings with stakeholders to solve whatever matters might arise. I find this rather problematic and unfortunate on a number of levels. The NPRC is a statutory body mandated by the Constitution to deal with issues of healing and reconciliation among others. The people of Zimbabwe place their trust in the 9 men and women sitting on the NPRC to deliberate and intervene in important matters related to their mandate. It would be important in my opinion for individual Commissioners to comment, condemn or affirm certain issues whenever they occur so that their voice is heard and just as a sign that their independence is not compromised in any way. To want to play the diplomatic role and argue that their role is not to ruffle feathers with politicians in the ruling party, opposition ranks or the general population is rather unfortunate and in essence shows a Commission that is more interested in its incumbency rather than dealing with issues openly.

There are several examples where Commissions have stood up against their governments, taken strong positions, taken governments to court, been sued and defended themselves as well as voiced their concerns on critical issues such as the compromised Chairperson in the Kenya TJRC who was eventually removed from office. The office of the Ombudsman of South Africa is another clear example of how a healthy interaction with the government can be conducted without necessarily doing it because the Commission just felt the need to do so for malicious reasons. 

In Zimbabwe and in a country whose economy is at its tethers, there is always going to be that last person who will think that the Commissioners will not “condemn, affirm or comment” publicly because they are afraid of being removed from their “salaried jobs and perks” … and really that is the truth.

The need for Government to immediately deal with the psycho social needs of survivors and victims

There was a call at the Symposium that the Government of Zimbabwe needs through the NPRC, its different Ministries such as the Ministry of Health, Social Welfare and even Home Affairs to come up with a comprehensive and immediate process/policy to deal with the needs of survivors and victims of past human rights violations right across the country. The point that was raised also related to the notion that the NPRC even though mandated to deal among others issues with healing, investigations and reconciliation does not necessarily have the machinery or wherewithal to instruct the rest of the government machinery to respond in the desired manner to deal with its findings or recommendations, In that case, the NPRC could just be another white elephant. It will be important to see how the NPC responds to such a call.

Transitional justice for Zimbabwe – whereto?

Other issues that were of topical concern included the need to deal with past economic justice issues including the long standing  pensions matter that the Pensions Conversions Commision failed to resolve. Another discussion focused on the need to reform the security sector in Zimbabwe. As one participant noted, this was the elephant in the room that everyone wants to avoid but it is not known until when this will be able to hold. Zimbabwe requires a change in attitudes at all levels, socially, politically and economically especially from the large corporates who have largely benefited from the chaotic state of affairs for a long time without anyone questioning their involvement when government has implemented policies that have indirectly benefitted them at the expense of citizens. Zimbabwe needs to find itself within this mess. No austerity measures, no amount of rhetoric or lip service will heal Zimbabwe on its own. Every other Zimbabwean who wants peace has to start or continue to engage issues around past human rights violations including Gukurahundi, the liberation wars, human rights violations by Mugabe and his party, state sponsored violence in the past, economic rights violations, the theft and plunder of national coffers by ZANU PF politicians and many other issues.

The 2019 Zimbabwe Budget – Obligations for citizens need to be matched by a respect of responsibilities by the Government to its citizens

1 Dec

The new Finance Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube presented his much awaited 2019 budget to Parliament and there have been mixed reactions by Zimbabweans as expected. The Minister has taken on a new mantra that Zimbabweans must learn to live under austerity and endure pain before the economy recovers. While this is understandable the Minister need not be reminded that a government that creates obligations of any sort on its people also has legal and moral responsibilities towards its people to deliver economic, social and political goods as enshrined in the constitution. It cannot be that the Minister will recommend and propose policy measures to the nation and not have the  same measures by government. There are a number of issues that have remained topical and need to be unpacked.

The figment of luxury that is the second – hand vehicle and the forex tax debacle

The first issue concerns the issue of the car import duty which will now be charged in forex. There has been a loud outcry that this is not right because the government pays the majority of its employees in Zimbabwe Bond and thus cannot demand forex. I find this argument insincere and short sighted. Zimbabweans who are importing cars into the country buy their cars  in foreign currency. There can be no basis for one to argue that the duty should then be paid in Bond. My reasons for arguing against the people who are crying foul stems from a different view point though. 

I am of the opinion that the importation of second-hand vehicles into the country bleeds the country of much needed foreign currency. Right from the time the car is imported, to the payment of freight and insurance charges, the purchase of new tyres, a new service kit, etc.  All that money could be used by households for investment into other more productive uses.

Besides the foreign currency that is wasted through the purchase of the second-hand vehicles, there is the cost of fuel which leaves Zimbabwe with a heavy burden of having to  fork out  millions of USD/day in  fuel importation costs. This is quite staggering for a small struggling economy like Zimbabwe’s. 

One might want to argue that the ability to purchase fuel should be left to the owner of the vehicle but that mindset is short sighted. The Zimbabwe government is struggling with fuel importation costs at the moment and one would think that bar the corruption and rent seeking cartels dominating the fuel industry in Zimbabwe, the fuel importation would in any case still remain high because of Zimbabweans’ high consumptive and voracious appetite for petrol and diesel. The “Petronellas” and “Petroses” of Zimbabwe need to find other ways of getting from point A to B without having to drive 2 – 3 cars on a daily basis to work for the husband, the wife and an extra car for the kids to school. It’s really mind boggling for example that that Zimbabweans spend most of their time doing “school runs” picking and dropping children from school in the process using so much fuel. Besides the immense time lost from work, the sheer volumes of fuel and money wasted is just unreasonable.

The fuel queues can be ended through a good public transport system

One could argue that the country does not have any reliable public transport means and thus they are forced to import second vehicles hence the cry for import duty to be paid in Bond. The former issue of a poor public transport is very real and needs to be dealt with effectively. The Finance Minister cannot relegate such kind of an issue to a Transport Ministry or the Minister of Transport and hope for the best. The Government of Zimbabwe needs to have deliberate financing mechanisms to ensure that Zimbabwe develops an efficient, affordable and well managed public transport system in all suburbs and across the country allowing for citizens to travel to and from work safely, reliably and on time. Public transport systems should allow for parents and schoolchildren to be able to travel school without problems. This goes to the root of the constitutional obligations that the Zimbabwe government has towards its people and the need to provide efficient public services. 

The Minister needs to look at his budget again and also change the way he perceives this public policy matter that might just prove to be a panacea to the fuel headaches and the high petrol importation bills. 

Indeed, even the most optimistic of Zimbabweans could still find a way to argue that the ZANU PF government cannot be trusted to set up public transport systems after the plundering of ZUPCO, Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries as well as the teetering Air Zimbabwe.

However I argue that with the right mindset where political leaders have a sense of national duty, ubuntu and sheer dedication to their country this should be possible to achieve even before ED’s term ends whether the country is under sanctions or not. 

Government does not have any business in business and just needs to work with private partners to facilitate the right environment and infrastructure for private businesses to flourish in the public transport sector. In any case with the high taxes paid by Zimbabweans one wonders why it would not be possible for a responsive and responsible government to create and provide  such  public goods/services.

The two per cent tax – Burden or Necessary evil

There is no denying that Zimbabwe remains one of the highest taxed countries in the world. People continue to cry foul about the two percent tax arguing that it is too much and places unnecessary financial burdens on citizens.

However, with such a highly informal economy, where money no longer circulated in formal channels it is difficult to understand how else government was going to be able to reach out to the citizen for taxes. Taxes are ideally supposed to take care of national policy providing social goods and services as well as allowing the government to run efficiently.

The scepticism that surrounds the issue of taxation and its high abuse by Government officials in Zimbabwe is understandable. However, there must also be an agreement that citizens have legal obligations to pay their taxes. What the citizens need to do is to challenge the Government that obliges them to pay such high taxes to then be fully responsive with regards providing the public goods. A government that creates such heavy obligations needs to be responsive and be able to provide services/goods of high quality that are affordable and accessible to them without having to beg  for them.

A government that neglects its responsibilities towards citizens should be ashamed

A government that allows its taxpayers to move around neighbourhoods carrying containers of water at churches, schools etc as well as being at the mercy of Asians who allow  citizens to draw water from their private boreholes should really be ashamed of itself. 

A government that taxes its citizens but allows the state of roads and other infrastructure to deteriorate to unimaginable levels as in Zimbabwe should ask itself serious questions on whether it is still respecting its duties to respect, protect and promote rights for its citizens as enshrined in the Zimbabwe Constitution of 2013. 

On any given day, it should be really embarrassing to the point that a Minister should resign if as much as a single citizen dies of a disease like cholera. The idea that the Zimbabwe Government still spars with the opposition led City Councils about the issue of cholera shows clearly a lack of leadership and this should be addressed.

The Minister of Finance could do himself a favour by looking into his budget and asking the right questions on whether the funds he allocated are clearly monitored, targeted and address the problems that the money allocated was intended to fix.

National Budget deficits – The avenging spirts of our forefathers or what?

The Finance Minister wants to continually sell a story that Zimbabwe’s high budget deficit is everyone’s cross to bear. This is not necessarily true and the earlier he realises that the better. The ZANU PF government that appointed him into power continues to borrow large sums of money apparently in a bid to stimulate the economy so they can repay off the debt. 

There is nowhere where such policies have ever worked. One cannot continuously borrow to pay off loans by other lenders. At some point, the faux will collapse and the ruse will come off. The Finance Minister is trying to tell Zimbabweans to brace for tough times and allow the present government to borrow further. However, the creation of such obligations on citizens by this Government must be matched by an equal amount of austere living, governing and spending of national resources which mainly come from the high taxes levied on Zimbabweans. The Zimbabwe government cannot have its cake and eat it too. They want to behave like a drunk father who spends his salary on beer and  other nefarious activities but neglects to buy his family food or pay for school fees. When called to order, the father always wants to run to the neighbours to borrow money for those essentials. That cannot be right and it cannot be allowed. The government that creates austere obligations for its citizens needs to take of the responsibilities towards its citizens.

The Minister needs to be a servant leader and listen to Zimbabweans

I have listened to the Minister of Finance several times on radio and on TV. There is something about him that shows he means well and he would like to change things around. What I find a bit putting off is the “seeming arrogance” that is slowly creeping into his head and his mouth. There is a growing dismissive tone that seems to be coming from him and it is not clear whether its because he is tired of being criticised and receiving comments or what. 

One thing that remains very clear though is that for this government to put heavy obligations on its people, it must also be able to meet its end of the bargain by taking up the constitutional responbilities to take care of its people through provision of infrastructure to grow the economy as well as providing social goods and services and ensuring that public funds are not looted left right and centre as is currently the case.

Remembering Zimbabwe’s 2017 coup: Jonathan Moyo’s COMING out

12 Nov

So, Jonathan Moyo finally “came out” in Alex Magaisa’s BSR on Sunday, 11 November. There have been mixed reactions with some applauding the interview and others castigating the former Minister for all sorts of reasons. Mine is not to judge the BSR because I think Alex has an important role to play inJM terms of information dissemination and analysis of the Zimbabwe political arena. What I have issues with is the content of Jonathan Moyo’s responses. Crass, arrogant, seemingly invincible, unrepentant, manipulating and devoid of hunhu (morals and ethics) is a bevy of words that I could only think of to describe his responses in that interview.

Jonathan Moyo wants to portray a picture of being invincible when he is asked whether Mugabe knew about the coup and failed to prevent it. He says Mugabe knew about but did not think that Mnangagwa and Chiwenga would pull it off. That is his opinion, but I think the truth of the matter is that Mugabe knew he was finished and there was nothing he could do about it. Neither could Mugabe’s lieutenants do anything either. If they could, then they were sloppy. The other side of the story told by the coup plotters paints a picture that they were resisted but they triumphed leading to the attacks and killings that happened on the coup day and soon after. It is not news also that there are stories of the police led by Augustine Chihuri trying to effect an ambush arrest on Chiwenga on his return from a trip to China. If that was not resistance from Mugabe, then I am Moses from the Bible. Jonathan Moyo wants people to read a picture that Mugabe and his acolytes were and are invincible. The coup came, and it happened, the rest is history.

Jonathan Moyo has a history of arrogance and spewing trash whenever he opens his mouth. Whenever he says “with all due respect” in the interview you can expect to receive a barrage of verbal munitions from him. He rightly argues that it is his inalienable right to join a political party of his choice and no one should or has qualms with that. What is problematic though and what I find arrogant is the way he wants to behave as if he is the only person who appreciates that he must be allowed to join any grouping of his choice. We all have that inalienable right, what is problematic though is saying you are principled and then you sup with the devil under the guise that you want to “reform them within”. That is pure nonsense!

Then there is the issue of a grown man who lacks “hunhu” or ubuntu as they would say. He mentions that Mugabe did not respect him when it came to the issue of the coup and information about Chiwenga and Mnangagwa. So, if Mugabe did not respect him with that issue, what else did he not pay attention to when Jonathan Moyo engaged him? If he did not command that kind of respect from Mugabe why did he then stay on in such an environment? Jonathan stayed in there with the coup plotters who he says he was “very close to” and also those with the fake PHDs that tried to “decimate” the coup plotters. He wants to play victim but this guy, this man, this Professor lacks morals. Haatorina hunhu and that is why he stayed and supped with these people he complains about today when they didn’t respect him and even wanted to kill him.

Jonathan Moyo talks about amending the ZANU PF constitution, but you can see from between the lines that whatever they were doing it was ultimately meant to change the Zimbabwe constitution and political arena. The idea of amending the ZANU PF constitution was for him a way to get his gang of Four into the presidium but he failed to see that the coup plotters had the same line of thinking albeit for a different person. He is not being sincere with the truth and s being too economical with his words on why Mnangagwa tricked him on the constitution and why Chiwenga as now know towing him and telling to defer to “Shumba”. Jonathan was outwitted by the coup plotters and he didn’t see it coming because he had set his mind on an Oppah Vice Presidency.

Jonathan Moyo is an opportunist who tried his luck with Sydney Sekermayi and it backfired. He laments that Sekeramayi did not bite the bait. But for God’s sake, mdara Sydney is past his sell by date. He is old and would not have changed Zimbabwe’s fortunes by even a dint. What Jonathan Moyo says about Sydney Sekeramayi sells out his hypocrisy and opportunism in ZANU PF’s politics. He on one end tries to sell a Generation 40 gimmick which was all a ruse to get his gang of Kasukuwere, Zhuwao and the motormouth Grace into Government but with the protection of the old guard. It failed, the other geezers saw it and they stopped it right in its tracks. Still Jonathan Moyo thinks he had a bright idea. What rubbish!

Jonathan Moyo talks about his father, he mentions Gukurahundi and how the military tried to murder him. All these issues put together do not speak to each other one bit. What he reveals is someone who has failed dismally to choose his battles and which side to fight from. He smacks of a person who sheds tears with one eye and the other one wide open smiling at ZIMDEF as he is accused.

Jonathan Moyo speaks of the Men and Women of Letters. He surrounded himself with those who have never read at all like Grace Mugabe and he was comfortable with the arrangement. The crass behaviour he tries to present here by defending Grace Mugabe is abominable. He was close to her and they worked on the Interface rallies together. One mind thinks that he was the brains behind what Grace Mugabe did but unfortunately that one was just too thick to learn anything. You could tell from the way she used to mix Shona and English with that fake accent and it always was going to be a big disaster. Jonathan Moyo tries too hard to sell ZANU PF’s internal problems as a national issue. It will never fly.

Next time we would want to hear more stories about the disappearance of Itai Dzamara; how and where Jonathan Moyo got money to survive in the crazy Zimbabwe economy;  what happened to the Daily News when it was bombed; how much money he was paid to do all the work for ZANU PF etc. He is a part of the mess that Zimbabwe finds itself in today and cannot try to avoid censure, blame or questions.

The BSR has done well to start these conversations. We now await to see what will be in Jonathan Moyo’s memoirs and the letters to his father. He just better be careful not to dance on his father’s grave with letters full of hypocrisy, lies, deceit and unethical banter not fit conversations between father and son.

Chamisa v Mnangagwa: Between the PITH and the FULCRUM lies the need for primary evidence.

30 Aug

The Zimbabwe Constitutional Court did it’s “rachet” or “immaculate” job depending on who you are talking to. What is clear though is that Emmerson Mnangagwa is now the duly elected President of Zimbabwe. A few points to digest and questions to ponder over the constitutional court case as we move forward especially with regards how the applicant’s case was handled and presented on that fateful Wednesday morning.

Were the teachers going to vote Chamisa anyway?

Firstly, there was an issue of the 40 000 teachers who were reportedly disenfranchised by being posted on duty to polling stations far away from their registered polling stations. Clearly, there is an issue here because of the polling station based system and the close contest that was the Presidential elections, those votes could have swayed the vote in any one of the candidates’ favor. Moreover, in a country as poor as Zimbabwe where the same teachers were already rubbing their fingers for a run off so that they could get more “election” allowances there clearly is need for them to be afforded a chance to vote first before their deployment. I’m sure ZEC knows this and if they really wanted or if it was going to work in the incumbent’s favor they would have made provisions for it to happen. The situation in Zimbabwe worked well for ZEC, ZANU PF and the teachers and all chose to hear nor see evil when election time came.

Questions linger: would the teachers have voted for either of the candidates in the petition if they had been given a chance to do so before the election; were the 40 000 teachers registered voters anyway?

There was always going to be a real risk of making so much noise about these so called disenfranchised voters and being proven wrong in the end. A take away point remains though for ZEC that the people and civil servants it deploys must as a matter of principle be afforded a chance to vote before they are deployed.

The teachers argument – was it Chamisa’s bone to chew?

A concomitant question is related to the strategy by Chamisa’s counsel to bring the issue of the supposedly disenfranchised teachers before the courts. Was it their bone to chew?

Even if they had done so, would Chamisa have locus standi?

A better strategy for the MDC Alliance would have been to get the aggrieved teachers who supposedly wanted to “work” as polling agents to then approach the courts as individuals or as a class with like issues challenging ZEC and the government of Zimbabwe on the disenfranchisement. But alas, that did not happen. The argument posed by the MDC Alliance was quite weak here.

The question of state sponsored and politically motivated violence

In the applicant’s averments, allegations of politically motivated violence, state sponsored violence and intimidation were raised. While it is a known fact that Zimbabwe has always struggled with the scourge of election related violence and intimidation, a stronger case would have emerged if solid evidence to back the allegations had been provided. A number of international bodies and foreign observer missions had already set the bar very low by arguing that “Zimbabwe was at least not very violent this time around”.

While it is a sad phenomenon that as Zimbabweans we have to measure the credibility of our elections based on the absence of violence, the truth of the matter is that the MDC Alliance had to then prove that the violence and intimidation alleged prior, during and after the election influenced the result against them. Evidence for these allegations was scanty. It is not clear why this was so but it certainly worked against them.

A take away point for Mnangagwa is that he must work on ending state sponsored and politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe. Moving forward, Chamisa needs to have a stronger team that documents such intimidation and violence and be able to show how it influences election trends against his party.

A point can also be made about the different civil society organisations operating in Zimbabwe and working on these issues of political violence and state sponsored violence. If they have or had the evidence they could also have approached the court as friends of the court or to support or oppose the applicant and the first repsondent. The issues of violence have been with Zimbabwe for ages since Mugabe’s time. An open and transparent Constitutional Court would have taken more time to hear out this part of the matter carefully for the sake of Zimbabweans. We all know that the legal bench remains inundated with legal cases of political violence that have not been finalised or compensated and the judicairy has remained quiet, unbothered and reticent about these cases stretching as far back as 2008.

The farce that was the EU report on V 11 form posting

Then there was the rather farcical argument about the EU observations that ZEC had not posted V11 forms outside polling stations. A question was posed to Advocate Mpofu on the names of the polling stations but he dodged the question and do not provide the answers. I failed to understand why it was so difficult for him to give the names of the alleged polling stations as reported by the EU unless if the information was not just there at all. Such kinds of gaffes in my opinion only led to the defence and the bench poking holes in Chamisa’s case unnecessarily. The alleged report by the EU actually raises more important questions for me: did the EU have the names of the polling stations; at what time did the EU observers note that the results had not posted; are there any other missions that reported the same anomalies as the EU; what did the MDC polling agents at the said polling stations report? If no one can answer these questions and more then it would have been difficult for this point to sail.

The question of primary vs secondary evidence

A vexing issue arose over the use of primary vs secondary evidence in the Constitutional case. Advocate Thabani Mpofu prompted on the matter by Chief Justice Luke Malaba quickly noted that it was not necessary to delve into primary evidence because the secondary evidence based on the numbers was sound enough. But the question that begs answers is whether this was true? Thabani Mpofu kept arguing that to consider the evidence from ZEC would be akin to drinking from a poisoned chalice. This could be equally true but I think the onus still fell on Chamisa to bring out the V11 and V23 forms which they say contained all the evidence that the election had been rigged.

This should not have been a complicated act or process. Chamisa for some time after the election noted that he had this information. This is not information that is sold or difficult to find because it is easily available from their polling agents. So if the MDC Alliance had this information why was it not made available in court. If the MDC Alliance fielded polling agents in all the polling agents across Zimbabwe why then did it become difficult to produce such information where it was most needed – that is the Constitutional Court.

There were insinutations that there had been ghost polling stations. It is known that ZANU PF has employed such crude tactics before. However, it is important that the MDC Alliance proves at least that this actually happened. This allegation was dismissed by the ZEC lawyer and leaves one wondering whether the MDC Alliance had been cluthing at straws or they had been using hearsay and past allegations against ZANU PF to bolster their case against Mnangagwa.

The case would have been thrown out by the judges anyway?

Allegations have been made against the Constitutional Court judges who are said to enjoy lavish lifestles at the expense of the taxpayer through ZANU PF. There are allegations that the verdict was already known and this process was just to rubber stamp an already made decision. Chief Justice Luke Malaba in certain instances kept interjecting Advocate Thabani Mpofu and asking prodding questions. People are raising dust over this and asking why he did not do the same to Magwaliba and Uriri. But I honestly don’t see any problem with that. Any one in their right mind would have asked the same questions.

So what if you speak Latin and the Queen’s language?

Then comes the fascination with the “Qui facs” and “pith fulcrums”. Thabani Mpofu played around with Latin and the Queen’s lingo much to the amusement of those attending the court and much of the whole country. But then, so what? Speaking a different language and knowing small phrases here and there is not what makes a case strong. It will excite people but will not win you any case. It is all well and good to be a dribbling player and one who dances on the ball but if you cannot score goals, and the other team focuses on scoring goals they will definitely win the game anyway.

Were some of the questions not already anticipated?

Questions abound on whether the MDC Alliance did not anticipate some of the questions they were asked especially with regards the need for primary evidence, the issue of the teachers and even small things like the EU allegation on the losting of the V11 forms. Did they do their homework; did they do their own scenario mapping before they went to the court.

Chamisa must not waste his time with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights!

He will be taken in circles. We all know what happened with Chinamasa and the SADC Tribunal. The African Commission has funny rules with regards admissibility of cases. Strange questions are asked about “disparaging language” in the complaints etc. If you call someone a murderer, a dictator etc you will not be liked by the Commission. The case will drag till Mnangagwa’s five years are done. And the funny one is that whatever decision is passed by the African Commission has to be ratified but the African Union Heads of States. After the debacle with Kagame early this year, Chamisa must know better. The show of support at ED’s inauguration by the SADC states must  send a clear signal of what will happen at the AU when the time to deal with Chamisa’s Cass comes. Honestly, people must do their homework before embarking on the long and winding trip to Banjul.

Anyway, Mnangagwa is now the President for the next five years

Anyway, it is all too easy to poke holes and ask questions in the aftermath. Maybe the MDC Alliance knows better why they took the route they embarked on at the Constitutional Court. I guess it is all lessons learnt for the two contestants and ZEC as well. One important one for Mnangagwa though is that he knows he is leading a very divided nation and he must do more to bring Zimbabwe together and lift the country out of this debilitating poverty that we find ourselves in. For Chamisa I guess its back to the drawing board to assemble the MDC party and also rally his forces in Parliament, councils and outside government to continue holding ZANU PF accountable. ZEC is just beyond correcting – their mistakes, gaffes and blunders are too glaring – they must go home. I wonder how Mnangagwa is even prepared to work with such sloppy people. My advice to him is that he spares us such from his Cabinet and other senior appointments.

The message for Mnangagwa is clear: REPAIR THE BROKEN COUNTRY MR PRESIDENT!

Mnangagwa’s Commission of Inquiry: A crocodile looking for a goldfish image in its own mirror?.

29 Aug

So President Emmerson Mnangagwa has appointed the much awaited commission to investigate the killings that occurred in Harare soon after the 30 July 2018 elections. The identity of the trigger pullers remains unknown and the architects of the tragic act disputed. The most laughable joke of today is this move by the President so soon in the infancy of his presidency to appoint such a weak, partisan and useless Commission. Call it cynism or whatever but this Commission will just be another one of those ZANU PF things – things that you can’t give decency by even naming.

Well I don’t know but Prof Charity Manyeruke is a known ZANU PF supporter reportedly married to a top CIO. She is minting it by getting paid sitting allowances from taxpayers money through appointments to boards and such commissions of enquiry. She struggles to articulate herself and has not brought anything new in terms of ideas to ZBC and even the political science department at the UZ.

Lovemore Madhuku cannot certainly be called upon to carry out an investigation into such a process when he was also involved in the presidential election. He has endorsed the election and certainly if the issue is about getting an objective assesment then certainly other people other than him have to be involved. But what do we know?

Vimbai Nyemba is a lawyer who is reported to be closely connected to ZANU PF from her days at the Law Society of Zimbabwe. She continues to get appointed to boards and bogus posts through the ZANU PF largesse. But maybe she is competent – what would we know?

Chief Emeka Anyaoku is 85 years old. He is a former Commonwealth SG from Nigeria. He served well but definitely now he is serving the interests of the British on that panel. We know where the British stand on Zimbabwe and we also know that the Commonwealth is “owned” by the British. But what do we know😀

General Davis Mwamunyange is a darling of the ZANU PF government. He is known to Sydney Sekeramayi and has visited Zimbabwe before on official business during his days as the Tanzania Head of Defence Forces. Well respected in Zimbabwe and Tanzania as well as a close ally of former President Jakaya Kikwete who is also close to ED, it would be folly to think that he would see, hear nor speak ill of what is going on now. Davis Mwamunyange being a former army general he would be very well known to VP Chiwenga. We all saw Jakaya in Harare last weekend. You think he came here to play and wish you well?

Kgalema is the only respectable fella there in that group. However, being friends with (Quiet Diplomacy) Thabo Mbeki and Cde (Marikana) – Ramaphosa who have thrown spikes into Tsvangirai and Chamisa’s presidential bids before we will have to see what happens with him.

That other white one is just there for the drama – kuti zvityise!

They will lambast and say “so who did you want to be appointed”? The answer is simple and ED can still do right. He would be better advised to consult with the MDC on their preferred member in the Commission. The church in Zimbabwe is there. Internationally, the UN through Antonio Gueteress can be consulted. This is not rocket science. There must be a break with Robert Mugabe’s times and President Mnangagwa can do better.

Or better still, is this a sign of what kind of a Cabinet and calibre of officials wil be appointed by the President?

It was only going to be a matter of time before Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe reverted back to default settings: – violence, impunity and torture

8 Aug

zanu pf

The 2018 watershed general elections seemingly ended with the ZEC’s Priscilla Chigumba proclaiming incumbent Emerson D Mnangagwa’s (ED) victory in the Presidential elections. Many have argued that a different outcome could not have been expected judging from what transpired after the November 15 coup that ousted Robert Mugabe. On the other hand, credit has to be given to ED for the climate of peace and general freeness that prevailed in the country during the pre election period. Zimbabweans and the international community were quite ecstatic about this man, this President; this supposed reformed ZAU PF stalwart who had stood against all odds so that the country could become a democratic state at least without politically motivated and state sponsored violence, repression and intolerance. The hope has since faded since the August 1, 2018 killings of about six people on Harare’s streets allegedly shot by Zimbabwe’s security forces. People are shocked, fear has engulfed the whole country, Tendai Biti has fled the country and sought asylum in Zambia and as usual speculation is rife about who exactly is in charge of the country between Mnangagwa and his VP, (rtd) General Constantine Chiwenga. Well, after all is said and done, the truth of the matter is that it was only going to be a matter of time before ZANU PF reverted back to their default settings (rule by fear; torture, violence, state sponsored violence, abductions of opposition officials etc). Continue reading

26 June: Remembering Zimbabwe’s torture victims and the role of the Zimbabwe National Peace and Reconciliation Commission

27 Jun

On June 26, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating the United Nations Day in Support of Victims of Torture. This commemoration is important in reminding perpetrators especially those aligned to the state that the crimes committed will not be forgotten just like that. On the other hand, it serves to remind victims, survivors and their families that their pain and suffering will not be forgotten until they receive justice.

In Zimbabwe, much focus has been placed on the work of the constitutional body that is the Zimbabwe National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC). Lately there has been a lot of publicity on its work vis a vis violence prevention in the upcoming 30 July Harmonized elections in Zimbabwe. This is important and commendable. While this work continues, I would like to note a few points related to the work of the NPRC, past victims of torture and how the NPRC can contribute further to the achievement of sustainable peace in Zimbabwe.

The issue of human rights investigations – the NPRC looking for an elephant standing in front of them

The NPRC has since its formation carried out wide consultations across the provinces and communities in Zimbabwe. I cannot speak for them on what they have achieved thus far but certainly there are issues that they might want to consider as they carry out the work of reconciling Zimbabweans. Firstly, it is important for the NPRC and its sister institution the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to acknowledge that the information about who was violated, by who, when and how is largely known to most Zimbabweans. Minor details might be missing but most of this information is held by reputable human rights and civil society organizations in Zimbabwe and at the international level. It would be at the least time wasting and at most preposterous for the NPRC to want to go on a frolic purporting to be investigating past human rights violations when they can as well approach most of the human rights organizations that have carried out this work before for information and clarifications if need be.

The need to attend to the mental health issues of victims and their families

Secondly, it is a known fact that Zimbabwe has in the past experienced very serious levels of human rights abuses by state security agents such as the police, the army, the intelligence as well as other private organizations working with the acquiescence of the state especially during election periods and other significant national events. Most of the victims and even their families have suffered major post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) leading to mental health challenges. These challenges are well documented and known in communities. While families might have challenges in identifying such issues as clinical problems it is important for the NPRC to take this matter up and decisively deal with it. Zimbabweans are a traumatized people coming from years of abuse by the Mugabe regime. Our traditional beliefs where people suffering stress disorders are easily considered to have been bewitched or plain crazy are very real and play a detrimental role in perpetuating the plight of victims of torture who suffer from PTSD or mental health issues.

The NPRC could do well by articulating a policy to government where it requests government and its financiers to avail funds so that mental health programs are implemented countrywide free of charge. One program that could be implemented is that of having “mental wellness clinics” in most major hospitals and other safe centers with dedicated staff to cater to the needs of such patients. What would be most critical in such a policy and program is to ensure that no questions are asked to the victims and even the perpetrators but generally just ensuring that those who feel they need help are assisted by the doctors and mental health experts deployed to the hospitals and the other “safe zones”. The NPRC could work with the Ministry of Health as well as mental health practitioners at home and abroad for the finer details of implementing such a program.

Government’s failure and refusal to pay damages/compensation to victims

This issue has been discussed at length in Zimbabwe but never seems to get solved no matter how much noise is made about it. The Government of Zimbabwe has managed for a very long time to dodge paying damages for crimes of torture and other human rights violations committed by its agents citing inability to pay and a weak economy. While at face value this argument seems to hold water, it is largely absurd and needs to be held with all the contempt it deserves. The Government of Zimbabwe has also managed to rope in the State Liabilities Act and continues to abuse such legislation to their advantage. While this strategy of refusing to pay by pleading poverty looks “clever”, it simply looks arrogant and treacherous to the victim and their families who would have lost breadwinners and loved ones.

The NPRC and even the ZHRC by extension cannot argue that they are bound by what the law of the country says when such matters arise. If anything, by now the NPRC should have gone to the High Court or the Supreme Court to ask for an opinion on how the Government of Zimbabwe’s refusal to pay damages for crimes committed by its agents should be handled.

Neither the NPRC nor the ZHRC are extensions of the state – they are independent institutions set up to serve the people of Zimbabwe. To remain quiet without even trying to question the government on such an important issue is to abrogate a very important constitutional mandate. The refusal by the government of Zimbabwe to pay compensation/damages has an added negative effect of touching on issue of accountability.

The question that the NPRC and the HRC must be asking themselves is that: If the Government of Zimbabwe and its agents cannot be asked such important questions who else will be able to hold them accountable to anything?

The problem of crimes that just fall away because of time – Prescription

On numerous occasions one hears victims of torture and past human rights violations lamenting that they failed to report or act against their perpetrators on time. The Prescription Act in Zimbabwe gives elaboration on the time periods to report violations which is usually 3 years for civil matters and 20 years for criminal matters.

This is highly problematic and fundamentally wrong. While the law could have been made with the purpose of wanting to ensure the swift administration of justice and preventing fraudulent claims against other people or the state, this law is no longer fit for purpose considering our circumstances in Zimbabwe.

The NPRC and the ZHRC know fully well what has happened in the past with regards the reporting of human rights violations at police stations. It is important to note that reports abound of victims being arrested when they had gone to lodge their cases; it is known that several case files were destroyed by the police during the 2008 election violence and most evidence was destroyed.

Now, when faced with such scenarios – it is difficult and unrealistic for the Government of Zimbabwe, the courts or anyone in his or her right state of mind to argue that cases of torture and related human rights violations can prescribe.

The suggestion here is that the NPRC and the ZHRC need to move from their comfort zones and deal with the hard questions of reconciliation and healing in today’s Zimbabwe. Part of the solution will lie in these bodies challenging laws that do not make sense or stand dead against reconciliation and healing in Zimbabwe.

It is ironic that the state in Zimbabwe can try to give Zimbabweans, the NPRC with one hand and then take away whatever the NPRC will give with the other. It cannot be right and this mentality and or policy by the Government of Zimbabwe will need to be turned on its head.

Pushing for law reform and standing for justice –

Such issues of changing laws or interpreting laws positively definitely need collaboration with the Parliament as well as seeking the advice of the judiciary in certain instances. The NPRC and the HRC need to elevate their work to a higher ground where they discuss the moral fiber of society, where they talk about the software of the microcosm that is the individual Zimbabwean and ensure that our values as a people are respected by all who live in our country. A new parliament and senate will be in force by August. It would be important for the NPRC to also have its legislative agenda set for the next few years so that they deal with some of the issues if at all this is something they regard as critical.

In this regard, the NPRC besides carrying the mundane tasks of investigating human rights violations now needs to more actively confront some of the ugly issues bedeviling healing and reconciliation in Zimbabwe. This kind of work does not need people who toe the line and want to be people pleasers.

Parting shots

There was a time during the early years of South Africa’s independence when most of the country clamored for the death penalty because of high levels of crime. The courts were confronted with this matter but ultimately, unanimously decided for different reasons that the spirit of ubuntu which everyone had fought for needed to be respected. Killing perpetrators was vengeful and did not represent the true values of a society running away from such an ugly past.

The same is true for Zimbabwe. The time is now for mindsets to change. The government cannot send its security officials to torture citizens. Private organizations affiliated to the state or ruling party cannot be allowed to victimize fellow citizens. The scourge of impunity and corruption that has seen most perpetrators walk scot free from the jaws of justice cannot be allowed to reign supreme in Zimbabwe. The idea that a whole government can refuse to pay for damages through its Ministers and hide behind the fat finger of the state should be long gone. Zimbabweans are a broken society from years of abuse. The evidence is there and we all know it. Zimbabweans need healing and reconciliation. Part of that healing will come from an NPRC that fights for the repeal of archaic legislation that prevents victims of torture and other human rights violations from claiming damages. Part of that reconciliation will come from the efforts of an independent and impartial NPRC that questions government and the legislature about senseless prescription laws.

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