Zim hopes fading

HARARE - Thirty five years ago this week, Zimbabwe became independent, in ceremonies witnessed by a host of international dignitaries. Hopes were high.

At Lancaster House we managed to negotiate an agreement that ended a vicious war, established a ceasefire and enabled the first free elections to be held in the presence of international observers.

Implementing that agreement was even harder than negotiating it. Zimbabwe owes a huge debt of gratitude to the Patriotic Front delegation led by President Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwe Rhodesia delegation led by then Prime Minister Bishop Abel Muzorewa, and the British delegation led by both Peter Carrington and Christopher Soames.

We felt proud of our achievement in ending a conflict in which white farmers and black Zimbabweans were being killed every week.

The new government created in 1980, did attempt to achieve a degree of reconciliation between black and white. Great efforts were made to improve education and healthcare.

During the liberation struggle, village headmen who failed to co-operate with Zanu PF party were butchered in front of villagers.

Once Zanu PF was installed in 1980,  the same weapon — terror,  was used to crush Joshua Nkomo’s supporters in Matabeleland.

Today, the same weapon is being used in a desperate attempt to shore up a regime that has lost all significant public support.

Many of Zanu PF’s allies are horrified at what has been happening, more so in the ruling party where dissenters have been brutally purged. The rule of law has been destroyed in Zimbabwe, with opposition voices such as Itai Dzamara abducted and vanishing in broad daylight.

Anyone who cares about Africa has watched in horror at the unfolding of this tragedy. Zimbabwe’s economy has been destroyed.

The world, meanwhile, administers rhetorical slaps on the wrist to the offender.

Zanu PF has calculated that no external power, and no one inside the country, is going to be able to prevent him clinging to power by the most brutal means.

What, we may ask, is the reaction of the Sadc and the AU that he lords over?

No doubt, Zanu PF will continue on its course until the world is prepared to do more to bring them to its senses.

On the last occasion in 2013, Mugabe’s party returned to power in an election sledged as “fraudulent” by the opposition.

The likelihood is that he will “win” the next election in 2018 using the same modus operandi.

The world’s reaction to that eventuality will be a test of whether we care about democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Africa, or whether these are just empty slogans for use in the communiqué after the next ritual meeting of European foreign ministers.

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