Almost a year now without publishing anything here. Was keeping my tongue in check. In January last year, I quoted Habakkuk (I usually spell it with a double b not double k) without attribution (I can't possibly plagiarise the bible, can I?). I am compelled to revisit the issue of justice again. Solomon Madzore was in remand prison for over a year. I am happy that he is out and the same time incensed by his unjustifiable incarceration. Just in case, I am accused of missing something in this accursed saga, there are twenty six others still being held. They have been there for longer too.
I remember Justice Bhunu and the Chief Justice reprimanding a lawyer in this trial (is it persecution?) for saying that the judges are political. Well, he should not have said that but are they apolitical? Why are they hopelessly and blissfully oblivious to the obvious and very public fact that they are presiding over a contrived case designed to achieve political ends? Let's have some context here.
There was a gathering of MDC youths, exercising their right to gather. What they were gathering for is immaterial. They were exercising this right without interfering with any other persons rights. The later point is important since the only reason why the exercise of one's rights can be limited is when they infringe on the right of others. Even then, the extend to which you infringe on others' right should be factored in. A police officer or officers decided that this gathering of youths was illegal. I wonder whose rights were being affected by this gathering. The youths proceeded to gather, and the police proceeded to try to disperse the gathering and one of them was killed in the violence that followed. Now, any death is not justifiable...but there are some people who have died for worthier causes. The response was the arrest of many people at different times and they were all accused of killing this single officer using a single stone or that they contrived to kill that officer.
The judges then proceeded to deny them bail because there is a law that says if you kill an officer on duty then you should not be granted bail. There is something very ridiculous about this law. It is one-sided. What happens if a police officer kills a person? Why should they be granted bail (less than 100 USD in the Shamva murder case compared to 500 USD for Madzore)? After all, they have a higher responsibility given that they act for an institution. It simply means all those people killed by the police do not matter, only a police officer matters. Even if there were compelling arguments for that law, surely there should be a prima facie case for someone to be arrested and detained for this long. There problem is, in a mad rush to persecute and reduce these activists' political and social horizons the police arrested people from a random list of persons without bothering to investigate and put together a credible story. Realising that their case was not in any way credible, they assigned Ntini to come up with different versions of the story based on unknown witnesses. I understand the the Rashomon effect is where several witnesses to an incident have different recollections and indeed renderings of the story. I haven't heard of the same effect in a single individual in a court of law under oath.
Surprisingly, there were well over 200 murders in 2008, a lot more in 2002, even more in earlier events but the murderers are free to roam, intimidate and repeat their crimes while Ntini is giving different versions of the same story. We have seen this before. Remember Cain Nkala? He was abducted and killed. The police immediately arrested activists. The party, ZANU PF, took this opportunity to go on a propaganda drive (remember the posters written BEWARE OF THE MDC SHOELACES?). The police completely forgot that a crime had actually been committed. Instead of approaching the issue with an open mind, they followed where the propagandists pointed. The result was prosecution that could not be sustained. It was mired in torture allegations, denial of much needed medical attention, falsehoods, different versions of the same story and outright failure to investigate. The police neglected their duty to find the perpetrators. Those people are still at large.
We are now confronted with the same issue. Surely, if someone was not at the place where the police officer was killed then he cannot be accused of killing him. He or she cannot be accused of planning to kill him given the spontaneous nature and circumstances of the killing. You can only believe that such a conspiracy existed if there was a well planned ambush. There was none. And, you cannot arrest a relative in order to flush a person from hiding. This matter has not been concluded, but there are questions that can be asked. Is it admissible to base an argument on a nameless and faceless informant who, obviously, cannot be cross-examined? Is it okay for an investigating officer to suppress key information pointing to a person's innocence, deceiving a judge in the process, and get away with it? Will the apolitical judiciary act on this effort to con them? These people are being granted bail. The prosecution, which strenuously opposed bail, are now willing to discuss which people they do not mind granting bail. That seems like progress. Sadly, it is not. What is happening here is to get these people out on bail but leave the threat of prosecution hanging over their heads. This means the trial will drag on for as long as possible while the 29 people's ability to travel (surrender your passport), organise (a capricious policeman can detain you and claim you violated your bail conditions - these guys can lie) or live normal lives are severely limited.
What the judges do not realise is that this trial is based on profiling people on the basis of their political affiliation. It makes the trial and everything in it political. Sadly, that includes the judges. True, it is the fault of the procedures that they are supposed to follow but those procedures inflict so much pain. In the event of these people being acquitted, they will not be compensated. They will be told to pursue their case in civil court and the issue will drag on and on. I do not have the words to describe this system. And, I wonder why a gathering organised by a legal political party to pursue its political goals can be deemed to be illegal by a police officer. The poor officer died in the process of enforcing a hopelessly ridiculous and repressive piece off legislation. He could have died for a better cause.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Man U will be on the pitch in a few hours, Dynamos will be on the pitch in a day. Hope they get the best out of the games. These are my favourite teams. Man U is the most successful team in England and Dynamos is the most successful team in Zimbabwe. There the comparison ends, sadly. Man U are great planners, Dynamos do not have a clue how to spell the word 'planning' - but anyway let's go on and on and on...
Thursday, April 14, 2011
African leaders must be cursed. How else do you explain leaders who do not know when to leave, even when their own people show them the door? Leaders are willing to face humiliation (Gbagbo, Mubarak etc) instead of simply handing over the baton of power to someone else. There was a burial of a 'hero' today, an event that is keenly followed by both friends and opponents of Zanu PF. What has made these funerals interesting is that the party has converted them into a farce. How else do you explain Mr Mugabe's rant against the United Kingdom or is it Gaydom? Surely it shouldn't come as a surprise if you are discussed in the British parliament after all you spent a whole day mobilising people to go and sign a so called anti-sanctions petition aimed at the British. Is a graveside speech incomplete without insulting other people? What is more interesting is the Zanu PF habit of disengaging. If the Commonwealth raises inconvenient facts then get out of the Commonwealth, now SADC is stating the obvious and we already have diatribes aimed at the well-meaning and peace loving people of the region. What I find bizzare is that according to Zanu PF everyone else is wrong except themselves. Only a genius can be in the minority and still be right and genius is not a word to be wasted on Zanu PF.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Shall I dare to ask again, if you may suffer such impudence from a mere mortal, 'How long, Lord Creator, must I call for help but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save? Why do you make look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralysed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.' I always feel very emotional when I read this ancient query because it remains relevant today as it was then. Two major reasons today; (1) the shooting in Tucson and the burial of the youngest victim half a globe away and, (2) the death of a Tunisian youth. Whenever there is a gathering of African leaders it feels like a convocation of beasts with the blood of innocent Africans dripping from their fangs and talons. It is sad that it took the self immolation of a poor Tunisian student for a dictator to step down (I wish more dictators will step down too without such a huge sacrifice from from young people who have a lot to offer their nations). My condolences to the Tunisian nation. Another twit is wasting our time in Cote d'Ivoire while his colleagues are fiddling. Sad sad sad.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Sanctions, what sanctions? A pretty reasonable question to ask. We have been bombarded by so many views on the current sanctions regime imposed by the US, the EU and allied nations on Zimbabwe and their impact of the the economic situation, prognosis on the economy, political reform and democratisation. I know a lot of people with very strong views about these sanctions. My view is that, apart from irritating a few ZANU PF people, the sanctions are largely irrelevant.
This is not the first time sanctions have been imposed on Zimbabwe. The Rhodesian Front government went for fifteen years or thereabouts of full blown UN-imposed sanctions in the middle of a civil war but did not suffer the kind of economic meltdown that Zimbabwe witnessed in the decade after 2000. That the sanctions regime currently in place is a much weaker version compared to what Smith faced is indubitable, unless you are using the sanctions for propaganda purposes. Needless to add, with every pun intended, Mugabe loved the sanctions against Smith but is not happy about the sanctions on himself. To add further inconvenience, the sanctions imposed on Smith were because he was a very undemocratic individual who oppressed, abducted, disappeared and killed a lot of people. And, to be fair to Mugabe, he is also a very undemocratic individual who oppresses, abducts, disappears and kills a lot of people. That's the reason why sanctions were imposed for both. The only reason why anyone would bother to consider the lifting of sanctions is when there are visible signs of reform. I do not see them, does anyone else see them?
The economic meltdown was largely caused by bad policies...and poor personnel, I must add. In addition, while the Rhodesians realised that they were in the cauldron together and did everything to work in the same direction, Zimbabweans a are fractious and peevish lot led by a thieving cabal which is not designed for survival under threat. The country has the resources to get out of the quagmire but those resources are being abused. It is this difference in culture and outlook that allowed Rhodesia to survive for those years despite being an obviously reprehensible regime while Zimbabwe's economy failed. Gideon Gono's strategy to reintroduce the Zimbabwe dollar, announced with a lot of fanfare in 2009, could have been implemented when he became the reserve bank governor in 2003 not after the demise of the local currency under his watch. Lack of timely and judicious implementation of sound programmes is what caused the death of the ZimDollar, not lack of printing paper and spare parts from Germany. While Smith implemented a sound sanctions busting programme despite having only one friendly nation in the neighbourhood, Mugabe has failed dismally to do anything despite having friends all over the place. It's something to do with political will.
ZANU PF have no intention of reforming themselves. So, whether they are under sanctions or not is immaterial to the democratisation process. Even if you were to remove the sanctions today you will not move ZANU PF an inch from their current position. Such is ZANU PF's intransigence. The democratisation process itself is inimical to their continued stay in the corridors of power and the opportunities for corruption that come with it. It is illogical to assume that they will allow a process that will definitely remove them from power and for some will lead to prosecution. In addition, none of these people are actually serious business people. Such an appellation is inappropriate for a person who walks onto a farm, harvests all the produce, receives loans from the RBZ, free inputs and implements and gets a yield of zero tonnes per hectare...let's be serious. Such people cannot survive outside cabinet and they know it. While Zuma thinks removing sanctions will improve the pace of reform, I think it will do nothing of the sort. The only reason why ZANU PF is where it is is because they have lost the confidence of the people of Zimbabwe. The thin veneer of legitimacy (acquired with the connivance of the ANC and SADC in previous elections) was discarded after March 2008. So, Zuma's focus and energy should be better spent consulting the people of Zimbabwe and making sure that their voice is heard. This can be done if people focus on it. Zuma suggested we should park some issues and proceed. Good idea, let's park the sanctions and proceed!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
We have been introduced to new words, or new meanings of words during the past decade in Zimbabwe's politicsscape (I invented that one, do not look it up). These range from baccossi, fast-track land reform, quasi-fiscal activity and, recently, impeachment of a witness. The biggest question I want answered is are all these funny sounding activities necessary. Bennett's arrest was not necessary, his prosecution was not necessary, the state's 'star' witness had refused to testify and calling him to testify was not necessary, his supposed impeachment is not necessary and quite baseless ... and Zimbabwe's attorney general does not recognise all these issues. I wonder where we got him from.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
...where? I can't remember. So please do n0t ask. This the end of 2009. Year of our Lord. According to the calender. Been trudging through the year. Hoping. Not hopping. Hoping, that one day things will get better as they must. But things did not bother to get better. May be I would be better off hopping. Simpler. Just your usual expenditure of energy, you lose weight, the neighbours wonder if you have lost your mind (which is okay, anyway), then they wonder if you have been bewitched (which is outlandish ... but the outcome is the same) or both (which is fine, you can blame your condition on the bewitchment). The principals of the school called Zimbabwe do not know what they are doing. I doubt if anyone knows what they are doing. Doesn't matter. May be, one day things will get better, as they must.