‘Mugabe going won’t change much’
ZIMBABWEAN human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa is sceptical that things will be different should President Robert Mugabe be ousted.
She said week’s stand-off was the result of disagreements between Zanu-PF’s warring factions, not ideological differences. “They have been together for nearly 38 years, all the decisions they have made they have made together,” Mtetwa said.
She said the factions had differences only once one of them was thrown out, in a clear reference to last week’s ousting of vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Delivering the Carlos Cardoso Memorial Lecture at Wits University on Thursday night, Mtetwa said it was unlikely something different would arise from Mugabe’s axing unless the SADC and the AU stepped in to supervise the transition of power.
The annual lecture was part of the Global Investigative Journalism Conference, described as the world’s largest international gathering of investigative reporters and which ends tomorrow.
Asked why Mugabe had been allowed to rule for nearly four decades, Mtetwa responded: “Do you think President Jacob Zuma wouldn’t like to be a Mugabe? They’re in awe of him.”
Mtetwa said Zuma would not reprimand Mugabe for wanting to remain in power when Zuma was trying to get his former wife to become president.
She was referring to ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who Zuma has endorsed as his replacement.
Mtetwa said Mugabe was seen as a regional godfather by Zimbabwe’s neighbours.
“Leaders in the region are a union of leaders, you scratch my back, I scratch your back,” said Mtetwa, adding that she doubted Mugabe would be rebuked by SADC leaders.
She said in the past decade the situation in Zimbabwe had worsened.
“We are where we are because our problems have multiplied.”
According to Mtetwa, Harare had become the rumour capital of the SADC region.
“The culture of openness just isn’t there.
“There is more reliance on rumour than fact,” she said.
Mtetwa said, strictly speaking, Zimbabwe had never been free, largely because there had never been attempts to deal with historical issues that were there before independence in 1980.
“It’s very difficult to break from that past,” she said.
Mtetwa also urged journalists to pursue private business with the same vigour with which politicians were pursued.
She said Zimbabwe was now worse off than when diamond fields were discovered, with Mugabe admitting a few years ago that $15 billion in revenue from the precious stones had disappeared.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga was recently accused by Zanu-PF’s youth league of being responsible for the disappearance of the billions.
“Where did the diamond revenue go?”
Mtetwa said the private businesses that helped siphon off the $15bn in Zimbabwean wealth should be found and banned.
Mtetwa, a former prosecutor in Swaziland and Zimbabwe, has represented human rights activists and journalists who have fallen foul of Mugabe’s regime.
She has received numerous accolades, including the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2005 and an honorary doctorate from Rhodes University.
President Robert Mugabe, centre, in a meeting which included the ZDF commander General Constantino Chiwenga and South African Minister of Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.