Worrying signs on the ground

HARARE - Zimbabweans dread wading in dangerous political waters which have, in the past, brought death, pain and sad memories in our history.

We all know the emotive debate on Gukurahundi and how relatives of those slain in the crackdown have not recovered from the gruesome acts.

There are memories of the aftermath of March 2008 presidential elections, a period which witnessed excessive violence against villagers and opposition supporters mirrored in Mashonaland East and Central provinces, in the run up to the run off. Nobody wants to go back to that period.

We might not be entirely happy with the performance of our inclusive government but the stability it has brought is priceless. This is why events of last week in which journalists and a Cabinet minister were arrested in moves that smack of harassment, remind us of the route we have travelled before.

There is every chance that what we witnessed before the consummation of the inclusive government —violence, torture and arbitrary arrest of pro-democratic forces — could be repeated.

What guarantees do we have that it won’t happen again when a Cabinet minister is arrested five months after allegations of slurring the President?

The arrest itself is normally cleared by the President but it doesn’t need him to wait for five months to allow a probe. Minister Elton Mangoma, as we have seen before, is a victim of political abuse.

He has been arraigned before the courts on scurrilous allegations where he was acquitted. Today, 29 MDC activists and Glen View residents are languishing in prison for allegedly murdering a policeman.

A year after the regrettable death of Petros Mutedza, wheels of justice appear to have been stuck in the rails.

Recent arrests of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) editors at the behest of an embattled businessman, who claims to have the ear of the security chiefs, brought back memories of harassment and intimidation against journalists, flooding.

Now, a new axe is hanging over the heads of journalists from the independent media who face prosecution, suspension and withdrawal of practicing licences by the newly-formed Media Council of Zimbabwe.

This was the case during the reign of Zanu PF which used the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) to punish media houses and journalists deemed “offensive” to President Robert Mugabe.

In 2012, even with the inclusive government operating at full steam, we still have these inhibitive laws and new creatures to stifle debate.

What then can stop Zimbabwe from sliding back into chaos and political dangerous waters?

Every instrument is at the disposal of politicians! - Staff Writer

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