Did the Mugabes deserve immunity?

Did the Mugabes deserve immunity?
Published: 13 March 2018 (297 Views)
In 2006 I was part of a few select delegates that attended a workshop that was held by the UNDP in Victoria Falls which included senior officials in the Ministry of Justice led by Patrick Chinamasa, academics such as the late professor Walter Kamba, members of the Zimbabwe Law Society le by Joseph James and most importantly part of the team that was taking part in the Special Court for Sierra Leone. At that time issues to do with human rights and rule of law had been steadily gaining ground due to the Lard Reform Programme and the rise of the MDC.

The one thing that stuck a note with me was a submission by one of the presentations from a member of the Sierra Leone team.  He indicated that in one of their depositions Charles Taylor denied the allegations of human rights and maintained that he had observed the doctrine of human rights.  Taylor is said to have appealed to the African members of the team saying something like "my brothers tell them I observed human rights as much as any African leader can".  This point was raised as a way of reminding the Zimbabwe Government that the long arm of the law would catch up with transgressors eventually.

The story  of former President Robert Mugabe's rise as a liberation icon to his fall from grace and his ouster in November 2017 has been chronicled from here to Timbuktu. That Mugabe became a ruthless dictator who ruthlessly crushed opponents and preyed on the weak is not up for debate. The same Mugabe was also heralded for his pro-poor policies such as the land reform, while some argue that his move to allow the acquisition of land by the war veterans under the leadership of Chenjerai Hunzvi was not out of his genuine concern for the masses, but just another survival tactic.

In his later years Mugabe had become a ruthless old man who abused state power for his and his circle's survival. His repeatedly defied court orders, used the same courts to punish and intimidate opponents, and granted amnesty to his shock troops that carried out his orders with zeal and no moral compass. In the words of former ZANU PF Chief Whip Moses Mvenge, "I have never seen a country where one arm of Government, the Executive, goes all out to discredit another arm, the Judiciary. It really is becoming a dictatorship because one man thinks he can make every decision and ignore every other arm of Government."

With all that has been documented concerning Mugabe's extremities, that he is safely living in his Blue roof mansion and yet thousands of Zimbabweans are still awaiting justice is a travesty. Some citizens lost mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, on the orders of Mugabe and to this ay some o not have a grave to lay flowers and find closure. Some carry scars as marks of their punishment for standing against Mugabe, others lost limbs, and many more have been emotionally and psychologically damaged as a result of Mugabe's attempt to remain in power.  

In the last few years, this ruthlessness was also being displayed by his much younger wife, Grace. Nicknamed Gucci Grace for her love of the finer things in life, Mugabe's wife is widely disliked among the general population due to her excesses which ranged from seizing land from villagers, dipping her fingers into the country's treasury, outrageous shopping trips presumably using taxpayers' money, and beating up journalists. Many view her venturing into mainstream politics and the attempt by Mugabe to succeed her both in ZANU PF and Government as the turning point that broke the camel's back.  

Her vicious attack of opponents and public outbursts gave Zimbabweans a taste of what was to come and many could only shake their heads in dismay. The events of November 2017 provide a much needed respite for Zimbabweans, and many believed that once the Mugabes are out, all the aggrieved would have their day in court. Alas this was not so.

I believe that Mugabe and his wife were given an easy way out when one looks at what happened to the likes of Colonel Gadaffi and the Gbagbos. The two were afforded and accorded rights civilities that they would have never given their opponents. In fact, murmurings among many Zimbabweans are that the new dispensation should have shown them the way to Chikuribu or better yet let them walk along First Street and let the public deal with them.

What is unnerving is that the very same Mugabe who denied many Zimbabweans their future is at it again, seeking to nudge his way back to the levers of power. The Mugabes cannot be protected or shielded from facing the consequences of their past actions and continue in their shenanigans of making Zimbabwe their play ground. This sets a precedent that each President who comes into power can literally get away with murder and continue to do so when they are removed from power.

- Tafadzwa Masango


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