‘Mugabe go­ing won’t change much’

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS - LOYISO SIDIMBA

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.

PIC­TURE: ZIMPAPER/REUTERS

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.

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