By Denford Magora
THE Zanu PF government expects the world to applaud it for sending wolves to herd sheep. This is the closest analogy one can give for the setting up of a Human Rights Commission by this discredited government.
Nobody, except the state me
dia, took the announcement seriously.
There are very good reasons for this.
This is the same government that has ignored such basic human rights as the right to shelter, enshrined in the UN Human Rights Charter to which our government assented with fingers crossed behind its back.
This is only one area in which the government has not only ignored a basic human right but has also gone out of its way to deny the people of Zimbabwe the same.
Here, I am not even thinking about Operation Murambatsvina.
I am instead talking about the complete lack of interest in the housing needs of people displayed by Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo and his cohorts.
True, now and again, even this most inefficient minister in our government feels some shame and tours “Blair Toilet Houses” masquerading as Operation Garikai “homes”.
A picture of one substandard house is flashed across TV screens and newspaper front pages and the minister thinks he has done enough to fool the world.
There are other examples: such as the fact that to this day, policemen believe that the uniform they wear gives them the right to beat up citizens, despite Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri’s impassioned pleas for them to conduct themselves professionally and respect the rights of prisoners and those that they have arrested.
Now, even Chombo’s municipal police believe that their tattered blue uniforms give them the right to assault citizens in broad daylight in the middle of the Harare city centre.
Of course, we won’t even talk about other rights such as freedom of movement, which is currently being assaulted at one roadblock after another while criminals have a field day breaking into homes and raping people.
The freedom to freely assemble was curtailed in a calculated legislative sleight of hand known as Posa and Aippa.
There is also the right to such basic things as food, where Agriculture minister Joseph Made has made a hash of things.
This year, Zimbabweans face yet another food shortage because this minister is patted on the back each time he messes up.
At the next cabinet reshuffle — if there ever is going to be one — I bet he will be elevated to a “senior minister” in charge of the destruction of food security, while his equally clueless counterpart at Local Government will also receive another promotion as thanks for a job well-done in demolishing Zimbabwean civilisation.
In fact, it would be difficult to find a human right that Zanu PF has not butchered in recent memory. And this is the party that now wants to set up a Human Rights Watchdog?
You will certainly be excused for laughing.
But hold your mirth a moment.
This body will no doubt be staffed by people who have no record of campaigning for human rights.
It will instead be staffed by former military personnel, Zanu PF functionaries and other cast-offs from society whose sole mandate will be to furnish plush offices, buy expensive four-wheel drive vehicles and draw huge salaries and expenses.
All this will be funded by a taxpayer who is currently reeling under the burden of the most irksome tax regime in the world — perhaps second only to Israel.
The extent of the new body’s involvement in human rights issues will no doubt be the granting of interviews to the state media in which we will be told just how wonderfully our rights are protected.
We will be reminded about former Rhodesian premier Ian Smith and colonialism.
Imperialists will be mentioned.
A “uni-polar” world, also. And, if we are very lucky, we will also get lengthy articles from dubious “professors” on how the West is using human rights to advance a nefarious agenda which is bent on world domination.
All this will mean nothing to you and I.
But it will be extremely satisfying to a government that has chosen to constantly engage in intellectual prostitution, pleasing only itself with its own self-indulgent acts, obviously paid for by the people currently squirming under its thumb.
I for one have already taken a $5 million bet with a friend that the new body will contain not one person known to have voiced misgivings about the state of human rights in Zimbabwe.
Specifically and just as an example, I will have to pay out the $5 million if Reginald Matchaba-Hove, that tireless veteran campaigner, features anywhere in this commission.
Or if Beatrice Mtetwa is offered a job there even as a tea-lady! I certainly have no fear of losing the bet, I can tell you!
I think that people have now realised how Zanu PF works:
it seeks to promote theory above practice, saying one thing while doing the opposite, talking of freedom while oppressing people, talking of tightening belts while it loosens its own, talking of a fairer world at UN summits while practising nepotism, favouritism and opportunism back home, talking about equitable distribution of wealth while hoarding farms, fuel, Zupco double-cab cars and even Operation Garikai “homes”, preaching virtues while engaging in unbridled vice.
In a word, this is called insincerity and it is the bane of our nation, one that will never leave us as long as this party remains in government because no one is taken to task or made to account for their action in the Zimbabwe government.
In other words, this is a government that is not governing, a government and a country that has no leader because a national leader protects the interests of the nation, not the interests of a clique within a political party.
This human rights body is yet another structure erected by a government that is playing house (mahumbwe). The people of Zimbabwe know this.
The world knows this.
The government knows this. But, just like the children who play house, our government thinks that when it closes its eyes, no one can see it because it cannot see anyone itself.
Denford Magora is a Harare-based marketing executive.