Political mischief

2010-05-21 00:00

ROBERT Mugabe’s application for leave to persecute Roy Bennett under the shameful guise of exercising the “constitutional right to appeal” is downright political mischief and unacceptable. The only responsible thing to do right now is to swear Bennett in.

It is worrisome beyond words that two years into the inclusive government, Mugabe should continue to exhibit such breathtaking insincerity and unwillingness to co-operate in what should be a progressive and bi-partisan effort to build a new Zimbabwe.

Ironically, the very people who have openly and consistently disregarded the precepts of Zimbabwe’s constitution through the systematic violation of its constitutional rights today have the audacity­ to rely on that very constitution to justify their evil intentions. This is hypocrisy of the highest­ order.

When the High Court of Zimbabwe finally acquitted Bennett, Mugabe’s devious time-saver Johannes­ Tomana indicated that the state would not be opposing Judge Chinembiri Bhunu’s judgement. For a moment we Zimbaweans believed that our hopes to move the nation forward were, at least in part, being realised.

No sooner had we dared to hope than that eloquent charlatan Jonathan Moyo labelled Bennett as having been a member of the “murderous” Rhodesian army and, “therefore”, could never be allowed to be a member of the government in a “free” Zimbabwe.

The state changed course and lodged an application for leave to further persecute Bennett.

Zimbabweans have managed to remove any residual doubt they may have had about the motivation for Bennett’s trauma thanks to Moyo, who bluntly revealed Zanu-PF’s true position that “the quandary has never been a legal one but rather a political one”.

“The question whether Bennett should be sworn in as deputy minister of agriculture”, Moyo went on, “has absolutely nothing to do with his acquittal but his abominable Rhodesian past. The MDC-T [Movement for Democratic Change — Tsvangirai] can have Bennett as their treasurer, agriculture secretary or even their president, but the majority of Zimbabweans simply can’t stomach him as a member of their government in any capacity whatsoever.’’

It really is wishful thinking in the extreme for anyone, let alone a Zanu-PF parliamentarian who should know better, to suggest that the widely discredited Zanu-PF enjoys the support of the majority of Zimbabweans.

One should venture to explain to Moyo that Philip Chiyangwa, a multi-millionaire and Mugabe’s nephew, was a member of the Rhodesian military police. David Coltart, a distinguished lawyer and now Minister of Education served, together with Bennett, in the British South Africa Police (BSAP) service in the seventies. So why the fuss with Bennett’?

Here is why: Zanu-PF members and apologists are now terrified that Bennett could expose, among other things, the aberration of multiple land ownership. Indeed he must. Indeed he will.

It is not for Mugabe, Mnangagwa, Chinamasa or, for that matter, the politically irrelevant Moyo, to say who the MDC can or cannot designate for appointment to the cabinet. That is the prerogative of the MDC and the MDC alone.

If Bennett’s mere service in the BSAP warrants an unprecedented perpetual isolation from government activities, what penalties should be imposed on those who sanctioned the massacre of over 20 000 innocent Zimbabweans in Matabeleland during the 1985 to 1986 Gukurahundi atrocity?

What should Zimbabwe do with those among us who, in 2005, without prior notice, demolished the homes of hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable­ people in a political campaign that resulted in their displacement and loss of livelihood, effectively rendering the bulk of them refugees in their own country?

What should happen to those Zimbabweans who, in breach of the very constitution Mugabe now relies on to ensure Bennett is persecuted for as long as possible, erected torture camps across the country in 2008 and mercilessly maimed and butchered innocent people?

The very people who should be facing the music in Zimbabwe’s courts, some of them even at The Hague, are walking freely on the streets. Indeed a number of them remain in our government today.

In contrast, when members and officials of the opposition are charged on the most bogus of grounds, not only are they swiftly brought to court, but their rights are grossly violated and they are kept on trial for as long as politically expedient.

Enough of this tyrannical and racist nonsense. Mugabe has no other acceptable option but to forthwith and unconditionally swear in Roy “Pachedu” Bennett, a Zimbabwean citizen beyond question, who has been cleared by the high court and whose subscription to the ideals of democracy and experience as a successful commercial farmer will immensely boost current efforts to reconstruct Zimbabwe.

The time has come for Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC to find within themselves the fortitude necessary to tackle Mugabe head-on. They must take a determined, no-nonsense approach to implementing all the terms and conditions of the unity government without compromise.

 

• Psychology Maziwisa is the interim president of the Union for Sustainable Democracy.

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