Mass murder in Zimbabwe

Eddie Cross on how Zanu-PF accidentally exposed its own atrocity

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe is now a well-established tyrannical State. I think most of the world's population know about the country and also have some idea about the fact that we have been governed over the past 30 years by a typical, post independence "Big Man" regime supported by a political party that brought us to Independence and then promptly abused its new power and authority and, hidden behind its pre colonial status as a "liberation" movement, destroyed the economy and trashed the basic rights of its people.

But they have little idea of just what price the people have paid under such a regime. I have in my possession the latest report on politically inspired violence in Zimbabwe. It covers the period from March 2008 to April 2011. In it are reports of 13 434 incidents which are the subject of a police report, a medical history and a personal narrative. It represents, therefore just a minority of the actual number of incidents. It makes for sobering reading.

What disturbs me most however is that none of this is news. I turned on the TV this morning and scanned the major stations - the men with the guns are getting the coverage but stories from places like Zimbabwe, are largely ignored. I have had journalists say to me - take up arms to defend yourselves! They want us to fight back, to smash windows and burn tires; they want to see a bit of blood and gore. We choose not to go that route and we drop off the agenda.

But the terrifying thing is that nobody counts the bodies, nobody assesses the human impact of what is going on and the degree of human suffering is ignored. The statistics are simply frightening. The fact that the author of this report has the names of over 500 people who were actually killed by the regime's agents, and states that in most cases the perpetrators are known and yet not a single case has been investigated and no prosecutions have taken place. There is no justice, no closure for those families.

The State press trumpeted recently that a mass grave from the Rhodesian era had been found at Mount Darwin. In a blaze of televisions lights and in front of a crowd of onlookers, over 800 bodies were taken from a mineshaft and piled on the ground under a scanty lean to shelter.

Slowly it began to dawn on the observers that these bodies were not over 31 years old, many were recent. A T-shirt from the 2008 Soccer World Cup appeared, someone found 2005 Bearer Cheques on another body. Soon it was clear, these were not the victims of a Rhodesian army operation, they were the "disappeared" and most were in fact MDC activists.

In a similar incident a "mass grave" was found in Mashonaland East - the bodies exposed, only to be identified as MDC leaders, journalists hurriedly driven away, the bodies buried and a news blackout imposed. A woman recounting how her husband, a former Army officer had disappeared - she described to the human rights activist what he had been wearing and what he looked like. The activist reacted saying that she had seen a picture of a body recovered from a dam by the police, hunted for the photo only to have the body in the picture identified as that of her husband - he was bound with rope and drowned.

But it is the statistics of the "silent genocide" that has taken place that should be center stage: The 3 million deaths from aids, cholera, malaria, tuberculosis, malnutrition, hunger and a simple lack of basic hygiene in maternity wards, since 2000. The fact that we have the highest infant and maternal mortalities in the world, the highest ratio of orphans to general population in the world, the steepest decline in life expectancy in history, that should really grab our attention. The flight of a third of our total population and half our adults as economic and political refugees to other parts of the world in just 10 years.

All of these frightening statistics in a country that is not at war, except that its government has declared war on its own people and carries on this war behind a screen of deception and lies then relies on the short attention span of the world community and the studied ignorance of its diplomats.

Perhaps this is why Hammas fires rockets at Israel - not so much to kill Israelites, but to get the attention of the global community to the plight of Palestinians. Then when the media investigates they ignore the fact that for 60 years, the Arab States have keep the Palestinian refugees homeless and stateless, hungry and angry as a tool to constantly harass and murder Israelites. An Arab proxy army of liberation. The Arab countries have had the resources for decades from a booming oil and gas market, to fund the settlement of the Palestinians, but have not done so and the senseless struggle goes on.

And so we struggle on - fighting a tyrannical regime that somehow hangs onto power and refuses to accept defeat. To restore democracy and the rule of law with the full observance of human and political rights in Zimbabwe, we need help. We need the region to stand up and say that this has to stop; that the essential reforms laid out in the Global Political Agreement must be implemented immediately. If they fail to act, regional leaders will condemn us to the kind of futile symbolism of Hammas just to get their attention and to spur the international community.

The SADC summit to consider the Zimbabwe crisis is now scheduled for the 11th June in Johannesburg, South Africa. Zanu PF is frantically sending emissaries to all SADC States to try and undermine their recent resolve and unity. They must be told that this time, the region is determined to see to it that further prevarication and delay will not be tolerated; that Zanu PF must accept the changes they agreed to in 2007 and 2008. It is time to draw this situation to a close and to stop the suffering in Zimbabwe.

Eddie Cross is MDC MP for Bulawayo South. This article first appeared on his website www.eddiecross.africanherd.com

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