Wednesday, August 03, 2005


The Zim government have dropped treason charges against Morgan Tsvagnirai the leader of the MDC. Oh well.

It's not as dramatic for me because it had to happen, they had no case. The basis of this case, was less firm than the previous case(remember the Ari Ben Menashe case). In that case, the state's prosecution's case rested on a grainy video recorded at the offices of notorius businessman Ari Ben Menashe in Canada. If they did have a case against him, people shouldn't be jubilant because the case was withdrawn before plea. In Zimbabwe as in many places around the world, this means they could resume the charges at any point. But we all know they won't because they never had a case.

Anyway, the story was a peach for the Herald (read Horrid) to spin something pro-ZANU and anti MDC, but they tried. I'll give you Tsvangirai's press statement from immediately after the hearing verbatim, then I'll give you the Horrid's spin on it and let you enjoy that.

This is how they do it in Zimbabwe.
"AS YOU are all aware, the regime has dropped treason charges against me arising from the mass action, which took place in June 2003. This was the third treason charge leveled against me by Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF.

I wish to thank my lawyers, my family, the party and all Zimbabweans for their support during the period of relentless persecution by the regime.

You will recall, I spent two and half years of daily vilification and state demonisation during the Ben Menashe case. That case, as you know, was thrown out just as the one put before me while I was the secretary general of the ZCTU.

Let me say that this is a worthless attempt to divert attention from the issues confronting our nation. The sooner Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF realize this, the better for all of us.

We are a home grown political party, working for Zimbabweans and engaged in a genuine form of political competition for power with Zanu PF. We have a right to political space in order to promote our political activities without hindrance.

For the record, the MDC has never sought to partner Zanu PF in government. We have made the point abundantly clear that we seek no such partnership, not another so-called Unity Accord nor the kind of co-operation that leads to demise any political party in Zimbabwe.

We value the principle and benefits of a multi-party political environment after 25 years of an unhealthy dictatorship that has presided over the collapse of our political, economic and social fabric.

Against this background, remarks by an irate Robert Mugabe on his arrival from a worthless trip to China indicating his resentment at suggestions for principled dialogue between Zanu PF and the MDC are unfortunate. The benefits of political dialogue need no particular emphasis, given the dire consequences, political polarization and humanitarian emergencies that confront us today.

To the ruling elite, we make it clear that there is a huge difference between national dialogue and political accommodation. We further make it clear that Parliament has a clear Constitutional mandate to execute its duty. That duty does not include the kind of interaction which our neighbours, the international community, local political parties, civil society and other stakeholders engage in from time to time when a nation faces an emergency and a crisis such as the one created by Zanu PF in Zimbabwe during the past 25 years.

It is clear that Zimbabwe is now a failed state. The UN recently sent out an envoy to Zimbabwe because our institutions and systems have all crumbled to a point where the state is unable to protect the people. The African Union has appointed former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano as a special envoy to Zimbabwe precisely for the same reason. Zanu PF and Mugabe are running around with a begging bowl to seek some relief. The IMF, the African Development Bank and other creditors are unhappy with the behaviour of this rogue regime. All these august bodies have come to acknowledge that the failed state status of our country. This is the sad reality we have to live with. It is beyond Parliament to tackle, hence the need for an all-inclusive process involving all Zimbabweans.

As Zimbabweans, we have a duty to enhance the complex political processes essential to collective national activities and accomplishments in order to build a shared future and to spot emerging opportunities for Zimbabwe. Resorting to hard-line positions, populist posturing and open dictatorship denies Zimbabweans a golden chance to capture their experiences for translation into shared ideals, shared knowledge and national unity.

Given our pariah status, I fully understand Robert Mugabe’s growing frustration with a tired political defense mechanism which has begun to give in to reason, international exhaustion and fatigue.

The people know that the future lies in a society with adequate food and jobs, a society that works productively with other regional trading blocks in a civilized manner, and society that is sovereign and respects its diversity as a source of strength and progress.

Zimbabweans desire a day when their nation starts to move in a compelling and productive direction, energizing its citizens, orienting its political culture to universal norms and standards and engaging the abundant national resources at their disposal for their own good.

Taking pot-shots at the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union and other goodwill institutions for suggesting corrective action to raise the international profile of Zimbabwe is a futile exercise that is loathed by the people of Zimbabwe and shall get us nowhere.

Given the seriousness of our plight, let us avoid embarrassing ourselves by attacking and trading off sanity and international advice for short term political expediency.

We shall be taking the people’s wishes to our international partners and the entire international community to nudge them to help us find a lasting solution to our problems. If, as Mugabe says, no other option is available to resolve the crisis, let us hope that he refrains from pushing the people to the wall and force them to try out something else."
Morgan Tsvangirai--the MDC leader shortly after charges against him were dropped

Here now is the the Herald's report:
"THE State yesterday withdrew treason charges against opposition MDC leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai before plea, but will proceed by way of summons once certain issues have been clarified.

The treason charges stemmed from the demonstrations, dubbed "The Final Push", the opposition party embarked on in 2003 to overthrow President Mugabe and the Government.

Yesterday, Mr Tsvangirai, who arrived at court in a bullet-proof Isuzu twin-cab vehicle, appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Paradzai Garufu, who announced the withdrawal of the charges.

Two aides and a chauffeur accompanied the opposition leader to court.

"The allegations you have been facing in this court have been withdrawn before plea at the instance of the State," Mr Garufu told Mr Tsvangirai.

Mrs Florence Ziyambi represented the State during the proceedings, while Advocate Eric Matinenga, instructed by Mr Chris Mhike of Atherstone and Cook, represented Mr Tsvangirai.

In an interview, the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Attorney General’s Office, Mr Joseph Musakwa, said the State was still examining various issues pertaining to the case and may proceed by way of summons.

"We are still looking into the matter. There are still some outstanding issues and we will proceed by way of summons," Mr Musakwa said.

Addressing journalists after the hearing, Adv Matinenga hailed the decision by the State.

"They have withdrawn the charges because he never committed treason and obviously someone has seen sense. No offence had been committed," he said before Mr Tsvangirai was whisked away by his security personnel.

Mr Tsvangirai later told journalists at his Strathaven home that the charges were never going to stick, saying they were a futile attempt to divert his attention from party issues and to distract the attention of the people from what he called the real issues that were affecting the country.

He said he had not been perturbed by the charges and had remained focused on the goals and direction that was being pursued by his party.

The MDC leader, however, admitted that there were problems rocking his party, saying there was need to review some of the tactics it had employed during the past five years.

Mr Tsvangirai said of late there had been infighting in the MDC, although he was quick to point out that this had arisen because of what he called unruly elements in the party’s youth wing who had gone about beating up some top officials of the party. He said these elements had been dealt with.

The MDC leader said he had not yet considered suing the State over the latest charges although he was pressing ahead with his intention to sue key State witness, Ari Ben-Menashe, who testified in an earlier treason trial in which Tsvangirai was acquitted.

He said he was ready to meet President Mugabe, whom he recognised as the President of the country, for the purpose of what he called charting the way forward for the country.

President Mugabe, however, has ruled out any talks with the opposition leader, saying the MDC was not nationalistic in outlook.

Cde Mugabe has said any dialogue between Zanu-PF and the MDC should take place in Parliament where both parties are represented.

The President has also ruled out a government of national unity mooted in some circles.

Allegations against Mr Tsvangirai arose in June 2003 after the opposition party engaged in countrywide demonstrations, dubbed "The Final Push".

The demonstrations were meant to overthrow President Mugabe and Government.

Days before the demonstrations, High Court judge Justice Ben Hlatshwayo issued an order barring Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC from carrying on with the street marches, but they defied the order.

MDC secretary-general Professor Welshman Ncube went on to describe the order as an illegal ruling which did not exist and encouraged supporters to ignore it, the State alleged.

As a result of the demonstrations, the State alleged, business was brought to a halt and a lot of property was damaged in the process.

Some members of the public were also attacked and injured.

Mr Tsvangirai was out on $10 million bail and as part of his bail conditions had been ordered to surrender title deeds for property worth $100 million."
The sad part is that due Zimbabwe's repressive media laws, most people in the country heard or read the Herald's account.

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