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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.

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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.

The silent and dangerous patriarchs of our times: Nelson Chamisa’s boob about Zimbabwean women is not on!

7 May

Nelson Chamisa is in London meeting with the Zimbabwean diaspora community. He traveled there on Sunday 6 May and is scheduled to hold several meetings and rallies while on his tour. At the UK meeting he spoke about the values of the nation but he also did not shy away from making some very controversial statements. I want to focus on the one he made when he  apparently “pledged” his 18-year-old sister to Emerson Mnangagwa if ever the “Ngwena”  wins a “fair and free election” in the upcoming Zimbabwe general elections. As usual such kinds of statements arouse a lot of debate and attention from diverse Zimbabwean communities with some cheering him on while others question such. I am not too amused and think that Nelson Chamisa blundered in his reference to the “pledging of his young sister” in a bet over who will win the next election.

Calling out culture

It cannot be right that in this day and age where Nelson Chamisa speaks about “spaghetti junctions” and “rural airports” he still has the audacity to quote from old days’ cultural innuendos about how women can be pledged in a bet. Those who do not think what he said is offensive to women argue that the expression was an idiom used in Zimbabwe and it is part of our culture. But that cannot be right! Those who have defended him want to speak as if culture is some static thing that cannot be questioned.

No!

The idea of talking about women as if they are some commodity are long gone and if Zimbabwean culture condones such then it must be called out. Chamisa needs to be the first person to do that.

Perpetuating patriarchal nonsense

Chamisa was circumspect when he was making his speech and noted that this sister he referred to had just turned 18 and was looking for a husband. Chamisa is a lawyer and he is a public figure. He knows that what he says will be scrutinized at any given turn. It was no coincidence that he mentioned the legal age of majority. He knew he would spark an ire of criticism if he had not mentioned this but in his mind, he wanted to make a lasting “joke” of sorts to his audience.

Well, while people will cheer him on, what is left to be read after the speeches and when he has departed the UK is that Chamisa is a young man who is amenable to the idea that as soon as a woman reaches the age of 18 she can be married to any man who can even be suggested by the males in the family. These kinds of behaviors and thinking are not new to Zimbabwe – very patriarchal, backward and have caused many a young woman especially in rural Zimbabwe to be married off when their male counterparts are sent to university, go to work etc. Chamisa cannot be the one to perpetuate such kind of patriarchal nonsense. He can do better!

Do not make stupid jokes about women – it’s not on

To want to dignify what Chamisa said with any justification is just pure nonsense. One cannot make embarrassing and demeaning statements about women and try to pass them off as jokes or by the way kind of statements. Women in Zimbabwe and the world over deserve better and it is their male counterparts who should change the way they look at them and not out of pity or as a favor. It is not on to make stupid jokes and sexist innuendos about women. Chamisa should know better.

One thought made me ask if he should have used his wife or mother as an example, but then again it still would not be right.

What message does this send to his wife, his female relatives, and women who look up to him as a leader in Zimbabwe? Chamisa knows he can do better and he must do exactly that. How can someone even joke with the idea that an 18-year-old woman can be married to a 75-year-old man. It could have been a jibe, others will argue, but I will contend also that those jokes must be kept far away from us. They are sick jokes and they are not funny.

Find other things to politick around: Not women

Whatever was said yesterday has come and gone and people might even have forgotten about it. However, statements like these are reflective of how society thinks and regards women. From that perspective what Chamisa said becomes political and a dangerous position that seemingly sits in his head. Chamisa cannot want to hold the pole position as the spokesperson of such archaic thinking.

If ever he should politick, let him play with other things – run around and talk about bullet trains, spaghetti roads, rural airports and what have you but not refer to fellow human beings in degrading ways such as suggesting that they can be traded for marriage, they are only good to be given as bets in political battles and that their male patriarchs can trade them off.

The values of the nation that should form our software as Zimbabweans and give us a break from our “broken” past with Robert Mugabe should be a deep sense of respect for each other as Zimbabweans and human beings be it women, men, boys and girls.

Maybe it is high time that Zimbabwe started a conversation about a Female President in 2023.

Bring back the #Confidence4 girls back to the University of Zimbabwe

23 Apr

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Social media was abuzz all of last week after a video emerged showing a group of University of Zimbabwe (UZ) female students beating and scolding #Mr Confidence Thomas a UZ undergraduate student who was reported to have impregnated two of them while also dating the other two. The video and images of the fracas on campus were shared extensively across social networks. Memes and jokes were made from the whole saga. However, no one expected the rather unfortunate, rash and arbitrary decision from the University of Zimbabwe authorities. News is that the four young women have been suspended from the UZ for two years. This is an unacceptable and chauvinistic behavior from the University of Zimbabwe and the decision must be rescinded with immediate effect.

Due process questions

The first question that I would like to ask is whether the four young women were accorded due process in the determination of this case. The charge would be clear I guess – probably it read as follows: “disturbing the peace at the Campus ; violent behavior; assault on a fellow student OR something like – complicit in bringing the name of the University into disrepute”. I am just making up these charges because I do not have information on the exact charges that were brought against the four young women. Be as it may, I argue that whatever charge/s would be preferred against them it should not and cannot amount to the ludicrous two-year ban from their studies.

Old men wielding power against defenseless young people

The young ladies most likely faced a whole machinery of the University of Zimbabwe Disciplinary body presided over by some old men who wield so much power the girls would have trembled and stammered just at the sight of such people. The question that begs answers is whether these young female students were accorded their right to legal representation when they appeared before the disciplinary committee that presided over the matter. If they did not, then the decision cannot be valid. On those grounds alone it should be rescinded barring that it should not even have been passed in the first instance.

The need to resort to alternative dispute resolution mechanisms

The next question that any sane person would ask is whether the University’s Disciplinary body ever considered alternative methods of censure for the supposed trespasses by the four female students. The girls could have been made to pay a fine; they could have been asked to do community service either on the campus or after their case was reported with the police they could have been given a warning as first offenders. Deliberations could have been held with professional counselors to deal with the trauma that each and everyone one of the five parties involved have gone through because of the relationship that they were all in at the hands of this Confidence Thomas boy. There is just too many alternative dispute resolution mechanisms under the sun to consider. The University of Zimbabwe should have considered other methods of censure for the four female students because the two-year suspension just does not make any sense at all.

The fallacy of Heroism for the boy child who has sex with all the girls

In Zimbabwe there are always cases of young girls who get impregnated by their “young boyfriends”, resultantly sent away from school and endure the agony of caring for the child alone while the father of the child remains in school. The case of the University of Zimbabwe reeks of the same mentality by a patriarchal society that prefers to punish the girl child for having sexual relations with their male partners before marriage. This young man called Confidence Thomas dated all four young women at the same time without them knowing. He has become a sensational hero of sorts on social media for his exploits. When the young ladies found out about his wayward ways they confronted him and a brawl ensued. No one is talking about Confidence Thomas’ philandering behavior. If he had been #Confident and man enough he would have informed all four of his decision that he wanted to be in a “polygamous” relationship of sorts with all the four girls. He chose not to do so. In my view Confidence Thomas is as responsible for this mess as the rest of the girls.

Reversing and going against the tide of girl child empowerment

Word has it that Confidence Thomas reported the case to the police who arrested the young ladies on 20 April and they spent the night in detention at Avondale police station?. This is all within his rights and he was right in doing that. If the girls were charged by the police and dealt with by the courts, would that not have been enough punishment for the girls?  For the University of Zimbabwe to then send the four female students home without considering Confidence Thomas’ contribution to the whole saga is preposterous and should be condemned with all the contempt it deserves. The world over, everyone is talking about protecting girls and young women from prejudice and ensuring that they are brought to par with their male counterparts. Such kinds of administrative actions as the decision passed by the University of Zimbabwe goes against the spirit of the SDGs and other global initiatives to support the girl child. What will the University of Zimbabwe achieve by barring the four young women from the institution for two years? The girls must just be brought back to school.

The hidden political hand – the fear of the youth

The decision passed against the four female students was rash, arbitrary and harsh. Rather than being just a disciplinary decision, the decision reeks of politics. The University of Zimbabwe is a political hotbed and authorities in and outside always struggle to control students leading national discourses or protests. Could the situation of the four young women and this Confidence Thomas have provided an opportunity for the University to show power and flex some muscles for any would be protesters or “trouble maker” at the University of Zimbabwe? I say yes. Zimbabwe continues to have this or that strike and elections will be held soon. There isn’t a greater need and time to want to control students and showing them the mighty hand of force than now.

Double standards and inconsistency by the University of Zimbabwe

This same University had problems dealing with Grace Mugabe’s fake PHD degree and it took ages to respond to calls for redress by the public and even the courts of law. However, all of a sudden they have woken up, have the nerve and all the time in the world to descend on four distraught young women and a young man who were involved in a matter that could have been handled differently. This situation could leave them prejudiced of their education and have their dreams deferred by another two years but who cares to evaluate all that.

Zimbabwe is a broken society in need of healing – a call to civil society

The country is a broken society. After years of misrule by Robert Mugabe a lot of the social fabric was and has been damaged. How Zimbabweans treat each other and deal with social problems is reflective of a broken people who have lost touch on how to be compassionate, reasonable and adapt to a changing world where the past can no longer deal with the present. When calls for national healing are made, these are some of the issues that need to be discussed. Questions touching on: How as a nation we handle young women and men’s sexual relationships, how our society deals with the abuse of social media by young people etc should be key. National healing cannot just be about dealing with past human rights violations but it should also be about mending the broken software that is our social fabric. This then calls on civil society organizations working on women’s rights issues, legal rights organizations and even men’s organizations as well as educators in Universities to come together to start discussions on the Zimbabwe we want to see going forward.

Recommending a more accommodating approach to problem solving

The University of Zimbabwe needs to consider with immediate effect reinstating the four young female students back into the University. My call is not to condone violence and untoward behavior by allowing students to take the law into their own hands. However, the University of Zimbabwe must ensure that the atmosphere at the campus is that of a zen place conducive for learning, sharing ideas and innovating. They must with immediate effect start implementing programs that build characters of young men and women who can be Zimbabwe’s future leaders as well as beyond our borders. Sexual health programs administered by the University to help young men like Confidence Thomas understand the dangers posed by STIs and HIV/AIDS will be essential. The Government of Zimbabwe is grappling with the HIV/AIDS public health challenge. Is this not an opportunity for the University of Zimbabwe and other institutions of higher learning to institute programs that impart information on the dangers of having unprotected sex and even having children too early in life. The University of Zimbabwe cannot be like a prison where the administration is just there to command and commandeer students – it is a place of learning – if students were experts at everything they would not need to be there. One might argue that the University is not a Sunday School, Scripture Union or Social Club but the argument remains that for the University to produce capable, quality alumni they must invest in the social good and well being of its students. That will have to start with Confidence Thomas and the four young women who were his “girlfriends”. The #Confidence4 need to be back in class!

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