Popular Posts

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Sacrificing patriots to shield mass murderers


How would President Kgalema Motlanthe and other Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state explain to Jestina Mukoko why they still treat Robert Mugabe with kid gloves and why they can't even wrest the rampant Zimbabwean police from his control?

There's a good chance Motlanthe and his brothers don't even know who Mukoko is - there is no one as deaf as those who don't want to hear.

She is the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) and is being held in a male prison in leg irons without proper medical care for the injuries she sustained when tortured by the police.

Mukoko was one of more than 30 ZPP staffers and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists who were abducted by the Zimbabwean police in November and December and kept at secret locations. They were only found by lawyers two days before Christmas.

The next day, nine of them were produced in the magistrate's court, and that same evening a high court judge granted an order for the release of Mukoko and several others to Avenues Clinic for medical examination and treatment under police guard, as well as the outright release of 23 others.

The police are still refusing to execute this order from the high court. All the abducted people were locked up in Chikurubi maximum security prison.

They were examined a few days later and strong evidence of torture was found.

On the last day of 2008, lawyers lodged an urgent high court application on behalf of Mukoko for an order compelling the police to disclose the identities of those responsible for her abduction and detention.

Minister of State Security Didymus Mutasa filed an affidavit confirming state security involvement in her seizure and detention, but claimed that divulging the information sought would prejudice national security.

A week ago lawyers succeeded in getting Mukoko's case referred to the Zimbabwe Supreme Court for an order to grant redress for numerous breaches of her constitutional rights by the State.

The Zimbabwean chief justice, after he had seen a doctor's affidavit stressing the inadequacy of the prison hospital and the necessity for getting Mukoko medical attention in a hospital with proper facilities, directed that she should receive "appropriate medical attention as a matter of urgency".

More than a week later she was taken, in leg irons and under armed escort, to Avenues Clinic. There she was examined by doctors and, still in leg irons, sent for X-rays and an ultrasound scan to assess her injuries. She was put on a drip and admitted for treatment.

But the prison warders refused to allow her to remain and against her will, and still on the drip, took her back to Chikurubi.

The doctors refused to sign her discharge papers, as she was removed against their professional medical advice.

How would Motlanthe, who acts in your and my name, explain to Mukoko, a proud and dignified Zimbabwean patriot, why he is helping to shield the man responsible for her torment?

Zimbabwe's Legal Resources Foundation has documented the "continuing flagrant disregard of court orders by state functionaries".

Zimbabwe has "reached a situation where an executive authority completely ignores the orders of the courts, thus placing itself above the law, able to do whatever it wishes to citizens, ignoring all laws and constitutional rights, abusing its powers at will and with impunity".

In short, Mugabe is tearing up the constitution he helped to write.
This is the regime that Motlanthe and his brothers are propping up. A president and a party who had lost the elections they themselves had organised and overseen.

A president and a party under whose leadership about 3 000 people have died of a preventable disease, cholera. (The fortune Grace Mugabe spent shopping in the Far East recently alone would have saved dozens of lives.)
Poor Morgan Tsvangirai. The MDC leader can parade his track record and popular support all he wants, the heads of state of the region just don't like him.

It started with Thabo Mbeki, who seemed to agree with Mugabe that Tsvangirai was too fond of white people to be a good African.

Now Tsvangirai is damned either way: If he rejects SADC's deal of joining a unity government and sharing the control over the department that runs elections and the police, Mugabe will form his own government and simply continue the raping and pillaging.

If he does join, Mugabe, Zanu-PF, the army and the police will do everything in their power to marginalise and frustrate him and his party, while claiming legitimacy for their new government.

This has been the problem with our continent since the days tyrant and mass murderer Idi Amin was cheered at meetings of the old Organisation of African Unity: we fear and honour the violent dictators among us in the name of African pride and solidarity.

I never thought an ANC leader would be a part of that, and now we've had two in a row.