January 25, 2010

The dead and displaced now run into the millions, lawless ruination continues unabated in Zimbabwe. But, Morgan Tsvangirai, the president, and man Zimbabweans looked to for salvation, looks surprisingly pleased with himself.

He is not easily embarrassed. Caught on film recently, looking rather smug beneath a portrait of his bête noire, Robert Mugabe, Mugabe’s face seems to say it all: real power remains with me, and the one in the chair is a political dummy deployed to deflect world anger. Tsvangirai’s recent behavior might be without precedent: where in history do we find a politician who clearly won a murderously skewed election, who then tosses a political lifeline to the killers, reinstates them, and effectively surrenders all real power to the losers?

Maybe we should not be surprised. For years, Tsvangirai groveled at South African President Thabo Mbeki’s feet, rising only to sing his tormentor’s praises while Mbeki connived with Mugabe to destroy him and his party. Still, it was an understandably furious and combative Morgan Tsvangirai we bore sympathetic witness to following the stolen election of 2008. He assured us repeatedly there would be no compromise with the electoral villainy of Robert Mugabe and his gang. Those of us who sought vindication of the democratic will, cheered.

But then, the rhetoric suddenly softened. Interestingly, this followed the precipitous transfer of R300,000,000 (US$40,000,000) from the South African Government to Zimbabwe, ostensibly for agriculture. Just where this money went remains as clear as mud. But soon thereafter convoys of new Mercedes Benzes rolled in to town, and Morgan and his merry men changed their tune entirely. No sooner had their bottoms hit the soft German leather than they bolted to the signing table to sell the peoples”€™ mandate for real change and started clucking loudly in praise of their assailants.  (A chuckling ZANU PF Minister Francis Nhema is reported to have said that his associates had no idea it was going to be so easy to “€˜buy off”€™ their MDC opponents.)

Clearly, treachery was afoot when Roy Bennett, a dispossessed white farmer and senior opposition figure who some say is the most popular politician in the land was thrown into jail and charged with treason”€”despite assurances from the new prime minister, and the South African president, that he would be safe from arrest. As the prosecution process unfolded, Tsvangirai maintained a thunderous silence. Obviously, a political stitch-up, Bennett still sits in the dock with a rope around his neck while the MDC mutters its disapproval.

“€œSome paid for their commitment to him and his party with their lives”€”the rest with their homes, land, and livelihoods. All this while the nation starves, food aid pours in, and the populace flees the country in waves overwhelming the country’s neighbors.

Despite a commitment in the newly signed, so called (Global Political Agreement) GPA to “€œ… a nation where all citizens respect and therefore enjoy equal protection of the law and have equal opportunity to compete and prosper in all spheres of life,”€  his party’s supporters have been jailed, tortured, and murdered, and the few white farmers left on the land are being mercilessly evicted. Tsvangirai has trivialized these outrages as “€œisolated incidents”€ while talking up his relationship with Mugabe and calling for world support for him and his quislings.

Conveniently forgotten by Tsvangirai and his cohorts is the fact that it was the commercial farmers and their labor who provided the vital impetus that made him and the MDC a serious political force. Some paid for their commitment to him and his party with their lives”€”the rest with their homes, land, and livelihoods. All this while the nation starves, food aid pours in, and the populace flees the country in waves overwhelming the country’s neighbors.

Tragically, it appears Tsvangirai, along with his MDC colleagues, has betrayed the people who died for the cause of freedom. And yet the opposition hierarchy have their heads firmly stuck in the national feeding trough. The miserable farce seems set to play on! All politics in Africa is business, as the cynics say, and the MDC proves that right.

Against this back-drop came recent news that Giles Mutsekwa from the MDC has joined Kemba Mohadi, his partner in crime at Home Affairs, and overseen the arrest, torture, and death of political activists. But this should come as no surprise. Just in case investors thought it was safe to go back in the water, he also co-signed a Stalinist “€˜specification”€™ order aimed at plundering the Meikles Group, one of the country’s largest business conglomerates. Critics are now calling for Mutsekwa and other MDC ministers (recently accused of corruption) to be put on the sanctions list with their ZANU PF cronies.

Frustrated though he may be, a beleaguered Roy Bennett may one day be appreciative of Mugabe’s obstinacy. Mugabe has denied him his place at the cabinet table because he is a “€˜white settler”€™.  History will be harsh on the gluttons who now gorge on the carcass of the country they were elected to preserve while their people starve. 


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