Zimbabwe:Tsvangirai Fails To Rescue Beatrice Mtetwa, Own Lieutenants
With the referendum news to the effect that many voted for a yes vote for the draft Constitution to pass and become the governing document for Zimbabwe, many would assume, winds of change had already started blowing across Zimbabwe to revamp the rule of law, democracy and human rights. Sadly, the very opposite has happened within the last four days and even before the New Constitution ink has dried.
The malicious detention of Beatrice Mtetwa, a prominent female lawyer in Zimbabwe creates lots of controversy and vivid question marks on ZANU (PF) police. Why would ZANU (PF) choose to defy the law to that extent? Why would the police defy a lawful order by a seasoned High Court Judge? Given the triviality of the charges, what flight risk did Mtetwa present for her to be denied bail? Is this a test of powers between the judiciary and the executive; is it not simply an act of long-calculated vengeance against this legal firebrand that has excavated lots of issues and hung out countless dirty linen on bad governance in Zimbabwe to the world?
Would not the powerful African Union and SADC bodies instantly act out against such a blatant disrespect of Zimbabwe’s judges by mere police officers? Why did the Prime Minister not utilise these African fathers to rescue his own?
As I watched President and Amai Mugabe at the Vatican occupying their seats in the bright sunshine next to the stage where the Pope was being inaugurated, I wondered what was going through their minds. In that somber environment, they hardly conversed like those around them. They looked lonely and occupied with other thoughts as well. Many chatted, smiled and conversed on low tone but the royal pair sat quietly and an invisible island surrounded them. That was moments after the CNN and other major world news channels came guns blazing condemning the incarceration of Mtetwa and other accused. In that same atmosphere, I asked myself why it would appear so beautiful for our leaders to appear comfortable on other people’s peaceful lands yet they could find it hard to bring peace and happiness to the majority of their home at home. In that historic architecture underlying the Vatican city ambience, I simply wished and prayed Zimbabwe could one day be that peaceful and beautiful, God loving and happy. I prayed for the leadership so that one good day it would assume servant-based leadership traits where leaders like Mugabe could be free to walk the streets of Zimbabwe without so much men in black. I imagined a situation where a President could freely meet and greet people, sit down and talk without worrying about any security concerns the same way Julius Nyerere used to do in Tanzania. Sadly, I jittered as I developed a caption of one who leaving a burning home to attend a great wedding. The conscience, motive and intent for leaving chaos behind simply sent me grieving.
I then imagined how many of our own would die searching for free speech, cmfort and happiness. My mind dashed to all possibilities that could make Zimbabwe content, successful and happy. I looked at President Mugabe, the man I admired and respected since childhood. I compared his current age with his renowned prudence and charisma. I sobbed as I imagined how great this man used to be in 1980. Whatever happened to this great statesman, I kept wondering. I was truly hurt. In Mugabe I truly believed. In Mugabe I had seen hope not only for Zimbabwe but for Africa at large. I never knew one day laws could turn that arbitrary in the pursuit of power and wealth. Among his kids, I saw Chatunga amid other top aides. I then wondered what could make the first family as acceptable before all the people without creating resentment and doubts. I was even hurt more. The President looked concernedly old and did not look happy. He was well-dressed but the body language told stories or regret, anger and resentment. He was not himself. That was sad.
I then made a flash back home. Beatrice Mtetwa, Thabani Mpofu, two great lawyers languishing in police cells together with their fellow cadres facing gossamer charges. I heard Mai Mujuru had met with Tsvangirai yet little had been done if ever anything was discussed along those lines. She was acting President without so much power to do anything. Maybe she feared to disappoint. That made me think she was not that effective because she could not make pragmatic decisions to make peace with her fellow countrymen or resolve issues to make progress. I was disappointed as usual.
I then took a quick analysis of PM Tsvangirai. I blamed him equally. Except for his assuring emails to subscribers, he seemed not doing enough to save his detained team. Under such circumstances there was no need to take a bath, choose the best suit from the closet and then go and have tea with Mai Mujuru. There was no need to appeal or negotiate for a citizen’s freedom where an order for liberty was at hand. He was supposed to be boldly demanding for the release of the detained. There was nothing really treasonous that they had done to deserve such gruesome treatment. Morgan forgot to read the language of the environment and assumed he was holding an olive branch to Saint Francis. If he was firm enough and made loud but peaceful demands with full appeal and conviction, his followers could have been released that very day by Mai Mujuru. Now ZANU (PF) have already studied the psychology that drives the PM. They know his weaknesses. He lacks clear solutions on options that make him look credible before the nation. His weaknesses have become his vulnerability and his team feels endangered.
He had lots of peaceful options. The world media had already set the tone for him to press for the demands of the release of his people. He was supposed to also take off his shoes and join the detained at that very moment to demonstrate that he was also ready to be persecuted together with them. Secondly he could have taken the next flight to the Vatican and join President Mugabe right there. He could then have asked for an urgent aside (with the newly anointed holy Pope) and hold a firm discussion that could even call for mediation right in Rome in case there was no breakthrough in negotiations. He was supposed to send the “all is not well in Zimbabwe Pope Francis please start your prayers on Mugabe and I” message before other world leaders and religious gurus.
He could, if he wanted, even jet into South Africa and consult with SADC leadership for prompt action. Instead of doing all that, his communications office writes to the world to plead for peace. The communique stated that only if President Mugabe could find a secret corner in the Vatican, he could ask himself what was going on in Zimbabwe as he reflected on the situation. Does he think Mugabe has time for all that? Good luck reminding Mugabe to treat his enemies with velvet gloves in this do or die hour.
This is the hour when strategic options should not be interpreted along the lines of treason or violation of POSA. There are so many traps ahead in this political game. He needs to tread the line carefully but must be seen to be doing something credible and realistic before the persecuted. If he is not careful, he could be the next one to go behind bars, mutongi gava style and people like Biti could also issue same communiques to the world to test his emotions.
PM Tsvangirai could be perceived as developing jelly knees because he is getting richer and fatter by the day. He has drank tea with the Presidency and eaten cheesecake with them. That’s nothing. He must stand firm and serve the very people that serve him. By failing to explore practically peaceful options that trigger urgent solutions, he has thrown his servants under a moving bus. The Christpowers arson issue shook everyone and remains fresh. The Mutedza case is still up in the air. This Mpofu-Mtetwa issue has been added to his in tray and more is on the way. Talk is cheap. Diplomacy at times needs consultation with regional leaders for faster options. He was supposed to check why the High Court order was ignored by police. Chihuri Makone, Mohadi, Mai Mujuru are all home. All these heads were supposed to roll in search of solutions. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort happened. And four days is a long time for a professional lawyer of means to be in filthy, bug-infested cells. This sends a wrong signal to the profession and to the world regarding the application of the rule of law in Zimbabwe. Peaceful options are there only if he thinks outside the box. This is a world that names and shames people who do bad stuff. If he sits down with his team of advisors, they can advise him well on how to be a foot soldier that knocks on right doors in the region to invoke peaceful resources and means to get the lawyers and other team members released on bail. A lackadaisical approach just sends the wrong signals to sympathizers and supporters. This could be a great opportunity for other opposition politics to exploit such weaknesses and carry the day.
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