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Vengeance against Mugabe a waste of time

By Courage Shumba

The realities of the Zimbabwe situation are sad but if human rights groups and governments outside cannot help our country it would be better if they did not interfere.

The calls by a US human rights group demanding Mugabe to be trialled at the Hague at a time his brutal regime is holding a gun to the head of the Zimbabwean population are manipulative and non-constructive.

P W Botha maimed and killed black South Africans in their thousands. Ian Smith killed and maimed black Zimbabweans in their thousands. Where was the Hague? Is this Hague a court for non Caucasian leaders ?Why does this group not talk about reconciliation ?

I will not divert to talk about Bush and Blair whose war in Iraq murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians before, during and after the capture of Saddam Hussein. I am tempted to ask why the leaders of the parties in Northern Ireland are not standing in the dock at the Hague for murders perpetrated under their command.

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P W Botha was a brutal dictator who punished a people because of the colour of their skin and so did Ian Smith .Is it not the fact though that these rogues were allowed to die without even setting a foot at the Hague ?

It has to be said that the situation in Zimbabwe requires a step by step process of reconciliation characterised by assurances and promises legislated into law that no one will be prosecuted or persecuted for the political developments that led to the unnecessary killing and brutalising of the Zimbabwean people.

By demanding Mugabe’s head we make the mistake of strengthening his resolve to hold on to power for the very reason that he needs to guarantee his freedom and security and of those around him with whom they committed abominable and heinous acts to which this debate refers.

It is quite narrow to believe that by demanding Mugabe to be sent to the Hague when he is still the sitting President campaigners for the Hague route are significant in their contribution. How will he go to the Hague if he decides to stay put to his very last day alive and then to be succeeded by like thinking or similarly minded people ?

The fascination with the Hague as a court of justice is misplaced. It is a falsity and an exaggeration that the Zimbabwean people’s sense of justice runs blindly around the humiliation of Mugabe and his followers at an international court.

It is disturbing to imagine that our collective triumph is not to be seen in the objectivity of reconciliation and unity but rather to be appreciated in the subjectivity of vengeance and retribution.

I am not aware of the existence of sensible Zimbabweans who are prepared to sacrifice an opportunity to put paid to the past, and deal decisively with the problems which that past created with the view to ensuring that a safe negotiated exit for Mugabe and his colleagues will give birth to a Zimbabwe built on democratic foundations.

There is no question that the atrocities committed against the people of Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s leadership are grave. There is no doubt that feelings of anger ,resentment and anguish are in abundance over what happened in Matabeleland and in other careless egoistic operations designed to retain power for Mugabe over the years. Gukurahundi was a mindless ,bloody, genocidal expedition of a callous nature.

The victims of that episode of violence and inhumanity are still and will always be scarred and dented by the nature, proportions and absurdity of Mugabe’s regional war and slaughter of defenceless civilians. Their situation has to be visited.

The atrocity Mugabe committed is indefensible. The violence was incomprehensible, and that the army unit which was trained and equipped  to undertake this campaign reported directly to Mugabe makes it abundantly clear who the sponsor of this mentality ,madness and mayhem was.

In appreciating these facts we have a duty to balance the calls for justice before us. It will be unjust to the millions of Zimbabweans who are denied democracy ,who cannot find employment owing to the disruptive and destructive policies of Mugabe’s regime, who are increasingly becoming poorer if our desire for Mugabe to pay for his crimes outweighed the need to get Zimbabwean working and able to provide both economic stability and democracy in a post Mugabe period for its people.

By dangling jail before Mugabe’s face we are being deaf and blind to the need to engineer a progressive, historically conscious, socially responsible conflict free post Mugabe political generation.

Mugabe belongs to a generation of African leaders who have first hand experience in the organising of liberation struggles. That generation, which brought independence is heroic. It is not easy to plan and execute a guerrilla warfare that lasts and secures a liberation victory as ours. Chitepo ,Joshua Nkomo ,Robert Mugabe among others are the founding fathers of our country. They are towering luminaries who dwarfed the idea of colonialism and the extraordinary arrogance and ignorance with which it managed race relations.

But Mugabe failed the persistency and consistency test. He failed to walk out of the colonial mindset and to deliver Zimbabwe into the hands of its own people. He continued with the use of the police and intelligence services to suppress democracy. He failed to radicalise our nationalism by appearing to want to rule forever which created mistrust and apathy. He failed to excite policy based politics by continuing with the sloganeering of the liberation struggle which divided people into enemies and friends.

In the absence of strong institutions and political will by the people to control government and hold it to account for its decisions in the early years of independence Mugabe was allowed to mutate into a dictator.

 But these are now historical facts ,myths and oral constructions about a man who failed to turn independence into a national feast. He remained a slave to the limited and little idea that independence was opportunistically and  exclusively about being powerful figures. He remained confused and enslaved to the ridiculous ambition to consolidate that power for his own ego outside any spirit to share it for the good and greatness of Zimbabwe.

We need to move away from this heartbreaking tragedy and betrayal. We had faith in Mugabe but he failed to deliver and betrayed us.

That we must pre-occupy ourselves with thoughts of  taking Mugabe to the Hague displays a lack of our appreciation for the hard work Mugabe did to lead the fight for independence. We cannot ,at the expense of genuine national business indulge in the vindictive thoughts associated with the “Mugabe to the Hague” campaigners.

The justice Zimbabwe requires lies in the laying in law and practice a thriving democracy such as you find in western countries like Britain ,America ,Australia where people do have have real enforceable rights and where institutions are there to serve and obey the national needs of their countries. These are democracies where government works for the people. These are democracies where opposing political parties compete and collaborate to work for the people.

 Britain is a model of democracy that works .To appreciate this fact is to be reasonable and mature. We need to accept colonialism as a past event and to borrow from the former coloniser the tastier parts of their day to day dealings with their lives which make them progressive in areas of economy and their political diet. These countries have internal problems of course but they do not resort to bloodshed to resolve their political differences anymore. Are we content to be so behind in this political evolution as to continue to labour in  the delusion that there is nothing extraordinary about the politics of coercion and the bigotry associated with it.

Zimbabwe requires a new mindset not folklores about the liberation struggle. Zimbabwe needs a new approach and new political dimensions not the ragged arguments based on clenched fists or open palms just mere sloganeering both of which runs on the script of either you are a friend or enemy ,with us or against us. Can one not be him or herself ?Can one not have an original idea which neither M.D.C or Zanu PF has ever had. Can a country not have room for creativity within the social ,political and economic fabric that makes us compound  ?

For the sake of the future of Zimbabwe we must allow the forgiving and the moving forward of our country from the trauma visited upon us through sheer indiscipline ,ignorance and lack of faith in African and black people by Mugabe and his collegues.The bribery and fraud in elections points to Mugabe’s scepticism towards African blacks ability to make informed choices.

He is wrong.

We need to be able to raise our national flag above Mugabe’s fear of reprisal and vengeance. We must allow Mugabe to see what can happen to a country when its people are free and when a government is placed into the hands of people who seek no more than the cheer and merry of their people and when a government embarks on a selfless agenda to transform lives.

We need to let Mugabe go so we can concentrate on  rewiring the power points that feed energy into the livelihoods of our beautiful motherland , a country in whose earth our umbilical chords are ploughed  ,our very only lovely home Zimbabwe.

Vengeance against Mugabe is a waste of time and resources. People of Zimbabwe ,the message for you today is that you and me  have a country to run. We cannot mortgage the future our country to uncertainty because we deliberately frighten Mugabe time and again with the possibility of him doing time behind bars.

Courage Shumba, Co-ordinator, Amnesty Action Zimbabwe