Sunday, July 6, 2008


Before the Zimbabwe run-off election three weeks ago, someone asked me about the Zimbabwe situation if I thought the country would erupt in civil war. At that time I had not thought about the run-off election since I had been engrossed in choir preparations and HIV/AIDS work. I said I would think about it. I had to re-acquaint myself with the situation. My final answer was no. This is because I know the Zim people. And though I have only met a biased sample (those who leave the country are not a representative mix of the country), they are not a people that would erupt into the type of violence you saw in Kenya. Kenya was a racial issue, as we know. It’s not racial in Zimbabwe. Even the type of xenophobic attacks you saw here in South Africa would be improbable (not impossible) in Zimbabwe. It’s just a qualitative opinionated observation, but they are not as discontented as South Africans.

Anytime you take the time to write something and stick your neck out, people will criticize which is not a bad thing. So let me qualify the previous statement because some will say they are discontented. Let me put it like this. Tsvangirai desire a regime change as do many people in the country. But desire does not equate to choice. Tsvangirai is own his own. The people want him to win and they want him to stand up for them. But the Zim people are not standing with him, fighting for him. They are not even standing alongside him and fighting with him. Do you see the difference? In other words, they are waiting or watching him fight for them but they are not joining in it. So it’s like he and his group are alone in a sense. Imagine what the country could achieve if they all worked together against Mugabe. I’m not advocating violence at all. I know that South Africa/UK/US will not do anything (I would be ok with this if the foreign policy were consistent; for Mbeki, it is consistent). So things would move faster if they did something for themselves. Again, I’m not advocating violence, and I know how scary it must be. I don’t know that I would do anything myself, though I would want to do so. The most crushing thing in my heart during all of this was when I read that they had kidnapped the son and wife of the new MDC mayor of Harare, Chiroto. They left the 4-yr-old son unharmed but beat his wife to death. I couldn’t imagine the pain that that man must be going through, the ease with which he could take up a grudge and hold unforgiveness in heart, the ease with which hate can develop. Again, the people in Zim are very much different. And this observation (about the people watching Tsvangirai fight for them instead of fighting with him) is observed by Zim people. They would not move toward civil war. And they have not.

Whatever moments that found Mugabe originally ready to concede the first election have elapsed. They were ephemeral. The people of Zim, or the MDC, are willing to grant amnesty or pardon to Mugabe for past wrongs, so that he may transition, concede, or retire peacefully. But when you look at the Matabele Land Massacres in the 1980’s done by Mugabe and his group (with the help of North Korean mercenaries 25,000 Matabele (enemies of the Shona) people were killed and it could have been up to 30,000), you realize that the problem lies in the rest of “his” gang—the Joint Operations Command (JOC). This group is not run by Mugabe and has someone chairing it that is not Mugabe. It is this group that does not want to let control go because if a new government is in power, they will be tried and convicted, and they know and understand this. Pardon has not been extended to any of the JOC should Mugabe concede and leave. And this is the problem. People still remember those Massacres. That’s not surprising as people remember atrocities committed much older than that (remember the update I gave with all of the International Criminal Court cases on past dictators and killers).

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