US based Zimbabwe music legend Thomas Mapfumo has written a stinging letter to the US Congressional Black Caucus, African Union, Amnesty International, US State Department, European Union, United Nations, SADC, Black Lives Matter, ANC (South Africa) appealing for intervention in the Zimbabwean crisis. The outspoken singer also warned President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to “reform or it will perish in big headed arrogance.”
By Thomas Mapfumo
My name is Thomas Mapfumo. I am a celebrated Zimbabwean musician and human rights activist and am now based in the USA. I have been using the music stage to advance my political activism and fight for social justice since 1975 when Zimbabwe was still Rhodesia.
Then, the country was ruled by Ian Smith a British descendant who advocated for white supremacy and the subjugation of the native majority of the people of Zimbabwe. We lived under oppression from 1890 up to 1980 when we got independent and President Robert Mugabe became the Head of State and Prime Minister.
Zimbabwe Early Years
Following his election into office, the economy and the political environment started deteriorating continually as the inherited economy started showing signs of neglect. The Prime Minister who in 1987 changed his title to President started ruling with an iron fist.
By 1990 his true colors of incompetence had manifested as he also started eliminating all potential enemies for power security. He persecuted many opposition members and some had to be killed. Fast forward the years, President Mugabe went on a series of failures that saw the economy and the infrastructure falling apart without any renovations or repairs.
Added to that crisis was a series of scandals in government as well as appointments in high offices that came through the nepotism ticket. The quest for more power made President Mugabe build a fearsome central intelligence service that did not focus on national security as such. Instead it would focus on any potential opposition to the ruling ZANU PF party and the only action taken against opposition was to kill them.
The further declining conditions saw President Mugabe amassing more power as he increased his security while surrounding himself with his cronies for protection. There were a number of effects that emerged with such kind of rule:
- The rule of law weakened to alarming levels
- The economy made a drastic downfall
- Inflation came in and worsened the cost of living
- Citizen morale faded as disgruntlement started building up
- Poverty and unemployment levels increased
- With the indigenization of the economy, many good industries were destroyed by the warped nationalization scheme
To try to cure the looming issues President Mugabe pulled a card on the land issue as an excuse to try to win the waning support from the suffering and disgruntled public. The land was confiscated from the farmers on racial lines. All white farmers were displaced and promised some compensation that never came. Lives and assets were lost through the violent land seizures.
While some may have assumed that the land grab was justified to reverse the imbalance in ownership of land between the white minority race and the black majority, people were even more aggravated to realize that after the land was taken, President Mugabe and his cabinet acquired vast tracts of land for themselves as the majority was still without enough land.
President Mugabe himself had up to ten farms and his cabinet members owned multiple farms as the 99% were forgotten. To worsen the crisis, the new farm owners simply sat on the land and did not do much to farm and feed the nation.
More food imports continued under President Mugabe as the new farmers stayed clueless on what to do with the land. Government tried some farming schemes like “Command Agriculture” but corruption came into the schemes and government funds were stolen without consequence.
President Mugabe would be also responsible for externalizing foreign funds and offshore investments in nations like Malaysia and Singapore where he invested in real estate as the nation suffered foreign currency crisis.
Amid all the anti-patriotic stances that President Mugabe took, his party was responsible for rigging elections and committing nationwide public violence where people got killed, maimed and lost property as they were being coerced to vote for the ZANU PF party.
Where the coercion did not work, voter suppression was the other tool ZANU PF used under President Mugabe. The ultimate strategy to keep President Mugabe in power was through election rigging mechanisms where for example even the deceased registry names were used to feed voter names for elections in favor of President Mugabe.
After the elections, President Mugabe had the tendency of sitting on the results as he took time to manufacture figures and forge statistics to declare himself the qualified winner. Such was his style that saw him rule Zimbabwe for 37 years as the nation fell into deeper crisis.
The Coup in 2017
As the situation seemed endless and desperate to be under a power hungry Robert Mugabe, people wanted some intervention. In November 2017, Emmerson Mnangagwa led a coup in Zimbabwe that toppled President Robert Mugabe. People who were weary of national oppression supported the takeover as a possible option to end Robert Mugabe’s life presidency.
President Mnangagwa promised to end corruption within one hundred days, start re-building the country and seek accountability on public assets in national interest. He promised to be an honest and accessible man who would rule to develop Zimbabwe into a stable economy and democratic nation.
We the people embraced that and welcomed him as a potentially great leader who would act differently from President Mugabe who had mainly focused on personal wealth building and free speech suppression. President Mnangagwa went on to establish the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC).
Many parties welcomed the move and went on to provide leads for investigations on corruption. Even the Auditor General provided the government with evidence and leads. Lists of witnesses were provided. It was a matter of plug and play as many waited for action.
To every citizen’s surprise, the President and his ZACC developed cold feet. No one was arrested or tried. Many were caught and released as the state and the ZACC claimed “insufficient evidence”. It became a public concern because many realized that the President himself and his family had a hand in most of the corruption happening in Zimbabwe. Accountability would be an uphill struggle.
Also, it became a concern that the citizens were sold a dummy in that the removal of President Mugabe was not for national good. It was a selfishly driven agenda that saw President Mnangagwa fulfilling his personal interests especially on the search for power and the acquisition of wealth. Many now realize that President Mnangagwa is a very selfish man and he will not listen to anyone.
Today, President Mnangagwa continues to practice corruption and he pays lip service to efforts on stopping corruption. It’s even more aggravating because his family members and close friends including cabinet members are at the front of most of the corruption scandals that are milking the national coffers.
The impact of government-sponsored corruption has been that:
- The economy is dying due to lack of incentive to promote commerce or trade
- People continue to languish in poverty because they cannot afford basics
- There are no jobs for people to generate income for survival since industries are dead
- National assets like minerals are now being parceled among the President, his close friends and family as they divide the wealth with China Government
- The President has allowed China to come in to mine minerals of interest and the profits made therefrom are not accountable before parliament. As China continues to milk the national assets of Zimbabwe including wildlife, the President has become part of the exploiting team because he is mortgaging national assets for personal gain.
- While nations like America pour in aid funds for aspects like HIV, Malaria and various other humanitarian causes, China, the trusted friend by the President does not do any of that. Instead we have seen our situation as Zimbabwe so compromised and exploited to the frustration of the entire nation at large.
- The President is breeding more corruption due to government lack of inertia to implement measures to criminalize corruption and have culprits processed through the criminal justice system.
- The President has openly failed to condemn corruption because his hand is in most of the scandals so he finds it hard to condemn because his hands are tied.
- The absence of the rule of law and general lawlessness in society could a seed for more issues on peace and stability in Zimbabwe.
- The arbitrary use of force by the police to quell bread riots or any protests against corruption has been deplorable.
Sanctions on Zimbabwe versus Government Leadership Corruption
The sanctions in Zimbabwe were triggered by the abuse of human rights and the breakdown of rule of law. The President is fully aware of that but his propaganda to the illiterate folks nationwide is that some unpatriotic people are persuading nations like the USA and the UK to punish Zimbabwe for taking over land from white farmers.
The West has nothing to lose or gain from the land issue in Zimbabwe. In any case, the prime poison to economic growth in Zimbabwe has been the rampant corruption that’s enabled by the Government leadership.
Then nothing has been done to improve the rule of law in Zimbabwe. The judiciary has been captured and the courts now issue partisan judgements in favor of ZANU PF. People get abducted every now and then. Recently activists like Hopewell Chin’ono got arrested as activists like Joanah Mamombe, Alan Moyo and others were imprisoned without cause.
Land seizures continue to happen as people lose property rights without recourse to the courts of law. Police has become corrupt and many criminals aligned with the President are immune from prosecution. The superior courts of law now fall under a partisan Chief Justice who now controls all the judgements from the courts as he must know the outcomes pending court sittings.
In other words, High court and Supreme Court judgements are now subject to calibration by the Chief Justice who must make sure the judgements do not pin down members of ZANU PF or any close connections. As a result of this bleak picture, Zimbabwe has lost the rule of law.
So many people are languishing in jail without proper trial and some have been sentenced to life without option of parole. Some are just kept in detention for too long with no trial and this is the same country begging for removal of sanctions. The solution is clear, the government of Zimbabwe needs to reform or it will perish in big headed arrogance.
Now that President Mnangagwa is now part of the corruption cabal, he spearheads the propaganda that the sanctions are the ones causing Zimbabwe to suffer as he tries to sweep corruption scandals under the carpet.
It’s a truism that corruption in Zimbabwe is draining away millions of dollars monthly from national coffers into private pockets. Such funds could be used to re-build industry and revamp the economy. By end of day the corruption is hurting Zimbabwe nine times more than sanctions would hurt Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe cannot be seen begging for aid from other nations while abusing its funds in national coffers. It is not making sense to let a few individuals steal millions of dollars from the Reserve Bank as the nation continues to rely on foreign aid.
The President of Zimbabwe should realize his priorities and also keep in mind that the resources in Zimbabwe if fairly administered can surely turn the economy around. We cannot have a situation whereby foreign aid is the only way to build when money in our reserve bank awaits fraudulent activity.
It has also become clear that President Mnangagwa plans to have a one party state in Zimbabwe. He has invested into a number of mechanisms to harass members of the opposition, to infiltrate them using state resources and to disempower and intimidate them.
Currently a number have been persecuted and more are on the list. Free speech is now out of reach as many live in fear of being followed or abducted in the open. It is a very dangerous environment now if one tries to belong or to identify with the opposition.
The courts and the armed forces now openly identify with the ruling party leaving the opposition members compromised and unsure of exercising their rights to belong to parties of choice. It is an unsafe environment filled with fear, intimidation, persecution and the potential to be sent to prison for any offense aligned with opposing or criticizing the current government.
Those who have tried to oppose the government have been arrested in the past and the trends continue like that. This is not the Zimbabwe we entered at independence. We are now living in a full swing dictatorship where our civil liberties are at risk.
SOS Message to Global Entities
To the following organizations:
The US Congressional Black Caucus, African Union, Amnesty International, US State Department, European Union, United Nations, SADC, Black Lives Matter, ANC (South Africa):
We write to kindly seek immediate international intervention and diplomatic pressure on Zimbabwe Government to stop a rising crisis in the country. The people of Zimbabwe continue to suffer under selfish leadership without any promise for the restoration of lives with dignity.
The proliferating corruption that is sponsored by the government remains an eyesore to the nation. People are drinking sewer water. Urban city transit systems are dying and yet the government puts blame on the opposition. Hospitals are ill-equipped. Industries are at a standstill and yet the government continues to steal public funds for selfish gain.
The government has gone rogue, throwing millions of people into refugee status among regional and international countries. Driving that crisis is a Head of State who has openly embarked on a national asset grabbing spree as the country continues to suffer. Please help us put pressure on President ED Mnangagwa to accelerate reform and be able to partner with others to open doors for proper governance and promotion of free speech and the rule of law.
Immediate solutions to end the Zimbabwe crisis
- Holding free and fair elections monitored by independent international community nations
- Pressuring the government of Zimbabwe to stop violence against opposition forces
- The upholding of the rule of law through an independent judiciary
- Assurance of the public that police and broadcasting services stop partisanship trends
- The assurance for opposition political parties to be able to freely campaign and be on the ballot without fear for consequences.
- A serious commitment for government to stop corruption and promote accountability through following the criminal justice system.
- An engagement of the citizens of Zimbabwe at various social levels and demographics by authorities to understand the crisis in Zimbabwe and how to end it.
We pray that this crisis in Zimbabwe catches attention and gets a resolution because the people have suffered for 41 years under selfish leadership dragging the country down. We mainly appeal to big organizations and big nations to intervene on our behalf and ensure that justice and sanity prevails in government.
When we saw Mnangagwa use the coup to topple Robert Mugabe, we thought he was the solution. Takepemberera ngozi tichiti mudzimu. Little did we realize that Mnangagwa had his own agenda. He got into office to loot national assets and make himself powerful and fearful. He has no clue on what to do to improve the conditions in Zimbabwe. He has no plan to control his appetite for wealth greed or corruption.
Our people are suffering. They need clean water, hospitals, roads and refuse collection. People need food and jobs. Mnangagwa does not care about all that. Daily, the headlines are about catch and release. This is a scheme to release all fraudsters using Government power.
Those in leadership have no remorse or patriotism to help Zimbabwe. They ARE SELLOUTS BECAUSE it’s no longer about a better Zimbabwe but about themselves. What a sad situation in Zimbabwe after losing so many heroes!
Signed : DR. Thomas Mapfumo