Thursday, March 09, 2006

"Arms Cache" or Political Gimmickry?

So Zimbabwe's government has discovered an "arms cache" in Manicaland province, or at least that's what they are alleging. And just like Ian D. Smith and his repressive government did in during the run up to liberation struggle that led to Zimbabwe's independence, this government immediately tied the "discovery" to "the extralegal tendencies" of the opposition MDC. Said the Herald,
"TOP MDC officials — including Mutare North MP Giles Mutsekwa and former Chimanimani MP Roy Bennett — were arrested yesterday over the arms cache found in Mutare.
I would love to laugh this charade of top tier intelligence work by the highly inept CIO and say it's ok because the suspects will vindicated by the truth. But it's not ok. Of course all suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty under Zimbabwean law, but if you are associated with the opposition you are not entitled to such an assumption. Second, "questioning," or "interrogation" or however nicely they might put it is by no means a life preserving process. These purveyors of fear and paranoia are infamous for their brutal torture of "suspects." So I worry, epecially for this man because of all he has endured.

Question: what else could have led to the "discovery" of the cache besides the suspects culpability?

The MDC--the Tsvangirai led faction--thinks the government is trying to derail plans for their congress, which is coming up shortly. In an email statement sent out yesterday, Nelson Chamisa the party's spokesman said,
Our experience shows that the dictatorship has targeted the MDC for vilification and demonisation. The destabilization project started in 1999 and has taken various twists and turns, without success. The dictatorship often revises its destabilization strategy each time there is evidence of a strong and organized MDC under the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai. We recall that in 2000, one Nkomo, who worked for the police force bombed our party offices.

We wish to place it on record that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) does not have any links with the ZRP special constabulary, Mr. Hitschmann, the so-called Zimbabwe Freedom Movement or any person or group that seeks to effect a regime change through the barrel of the gun, an armed struggle, violence and unconstitutional means.

We wish to state categorically that while we believe Zimbabweans have lost faith and confidence in the electoral process and in elections, our desire to effect democratic change shall be realized through peaceful democratic resistance.

We have a people’s congress set down for the weekend 17 – 19 March. With 13 000 delegates expected to converge in Harare, this congress shall decide Zimbabwe’s future. The dictatorship is disturbed by this event, given that earlier attempts to destroy the party over the Senate election failed dismally. The Senate debacle saw the emergence of a splinter unit in the MDC. But all indications are that Zanu PF’s attempt to split the party has embarrassed the dictatorship, even after the regime supported the MDC rebels with billions of tax-payer dollars.
The UN's IRIN caught up with reknowned University of Zimbabwe political science professor John Makumbe whom they report in unimpressed by arms cache fiasco:
John Makumbe, a senior political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, described the alleged plot as a "work of fiction" and an attempt to discredit the opposition. "It is also an attempt to divert attention from the country's problems," he commented, adding that it was not unusual to unearth arms caches dating back to Rhodesian days.
There's clearly more to this than meets than meets the eye, especially if one is reading from the Herald.

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