2008 murders haunt Zanu PF

HARARE - The senseless brutalisation and murder of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s followers around the country in 2008, following his stunning victory over President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF in that year’s hotly-disputed national elections, continues to haunt the panicking ruling party.

Zanu PF insiders who spoke to the Daily News yesterday admitted that many party bigwigs and ordinary supporters alike were worried sick about what could happen in the event of political change in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 polls — amid fears that the families which had lost loved ones then could bay for retribution.

“Just like Gukurahundi (the massacre of an estimated 20 000 innocent civilians by the military in the early 1980s, mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands), the political deaths of 2008 remain very problematic.

“While Tsvangirai has repeatedly said he will not seek retribution if he wins, it is still a big concern to those comrades who are linked to the violence and killings of the time, as one may never know what will happen in the event of change (Zanu PF being kicked out of power),” one party official said.

Such is the worry within Zanu PF about this, that the party itself also officially and openly admitted at its just-ended annual conference in Masvingo, that it was worried that 40 of its members in Mashonaland East were facing charges ranging from violence to murder relating to the 2008 barbarism.

“Mashonaland East province has 40 pending court cases largely arising from the 2008 presidential run-off. The cases are mainly assault, arson and murder,” the ruling party’s legal department said in its conference report.

It also noted that the cases it had on its books were not comprehensive as some provinces were not keeping full records of such cases, with others also not aware of the procedures that needed to be followed when party cadres were arrested or accused of violence.

After Tsvangirai beat Mugabe hands down in those 2008 polls, the MDC and rights groups accused Zanu PF of killing hundreds of opposition supporters and maiming thousands of others — as the ruling party and the State apparatus that it controlled worked to reverse the MDC’s victory.

As a result, Tsvangirai and the MDC— despite beating Mugabe and Zanu PF in both the respective presidential and general election that year — were thuggishly prevented from assuming power.

The election was subsequently condemned by the international community after the national elections management body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), withheld the results of the presidential poll for about six weeks, to save Mugabe.

In a moment of weakness about six years later, the increasingly frail Mugabe told his senior lieutenants, at the height of Zanu PF’s seemingly unstoppable tribal, factional and succession wars in 2014, that Tsvangirai had won 73 percent of the presidential vote at the time.

It has also since been widely claimed within Zanu PF that much of the political violence in 2008 had occurred in Mashonaland East as this was the home province of the late and revered liberation struggle icon, Solomon Rex Mujuru.

Mugabe and his close aides conspiratorially suspected that Rex, as Solomon was known, had allegedly engineered the nonagenarian’s embarrassing loss to Tsvangirai then.

The MDC told the Daily News yesterday that the fact that Zanu PF itself was admitting that 40 of its members were still facing charges relating to the 2008 violence was indicative of both the ruling party’s “barbaric” politics, as well as the selective application of the rule of law in the country.

“Violence and thuggery are part and parcel of the Zanu PF political DNA. The main challenge is that the regime has always been protecting and cushioning its thugs from arrest.

“There is a virtual impunity among Zanu PF cadres. They can maim, rob, rape and murder in the name of the party knowing fully well that they will not face justice as long as the regime is in power.

“Instead of dismantling its terror infrastructure, Zanu PF is actually re-tooling and revamping this terror machinery for 2018,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu raged.

“Out there in the rural areas, Zanu PF has instilled so much fear among ordinary villagers that they are now hopelessly traumatised.

“The regime is harvesting political dividends from fear. This is one of the main reasons why the MDC is advocating that the 2018 elections should be run under the auspices of Sadc, the AU (Africa Union) and the UN (United Nations).

“And as the Zanu PF regime will not reform itself out of power, all eligible Zimbabweans should register to vote in their millions once the new biometric voter registration exercise kicks off in May next year,” Gutu added.

Analysts and rights groups also said yesterday that Zanu PF had not shown sincerity and any political appetite to bring closure to the 2008 violence.

“The reality is that Zanu PF is a violent party. The orgy of violence perpetrated by this party, from Gukurahundi to the 2008 electoral violence, is well documented.

“One hopes that justice will be served one day against such cannibalistic and archaic means of retaining power and dealing with opponents,” political analyst, Gladys Hlatywayo, said.

“Although the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission is constitutionally mandated to deal with these past human rights abuses, the government has taken long to operationalise it.

“I am very skeptical about whether the government is committed to the objective of justice and accountability relating to past atrocities given the role they played in this dark past.

“What makes it even more difficult is that human rights abuses continue to be the modus operandi of this government. Whenever its power is threatened, it resorts to its default strategy of violence.

“It is in this regard that any talk against violence by the current Zanu PF leadership is political grandstanding and devoid of sincerity,” Hlatywayo added.

Former Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition executive director, McDonald Lewanika, said it was “a travesty of justice” that Zanu PF was worried about its members yet its government was reluctant to put the wheels of justice into motion.

“Justice delayed is justice denied, and all this shows that impunity is real and a serious cause for concern in Zimbabwe,” Lewanika told the Daily News.

“Without knowing who the 40 people Zanu PF is referring to, there is also room to speculate that this could be an extension of the internal wars ravaging the party, or even a way of dealing with the remnants of (Joice) Mujuru’s support base, as she enjoys significant support in Mashonaland East.

“While ordinary Zanu PF members were involved in violence, it is known that the critical element of that infrastructure of violence is the abuse of State arms of coercion,” Lewanika added.

Comments (1)

Asi Tsvangirai anopenga? (Are you mad, Tsvangirai?) How can you say that you will not seek retribution for the deaths of those killed in 2008 and Gukurahundi? This is the kind of senseless stuff that stops us from voting for you. Mugabe and his corrupt ministers must be punished. Anything less is injustice and blood on your hands. If they don't account for their misdeeds then the pound of flesh must come from you. Perhaps because you are Shona you do not feel the pain of what happened.

More Gangster - 23 December 2016

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