[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Kagoro on Zim politics
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Tue May 27 19:10:38 BST 2008
SW Radio Africa Transcript
Journalist Violet Gonda speaks to human rights lawyer and analyst Brian
Broadcast on 26 May 2008
Violet: My guest on the programme Hot Seat is political analyst Brian
Kagoro. So much is happening in Zimbabwe but the most worrying is the
issue of violence. This week alone a heavily pregnant woman was killed
along with two others in Mashonaland East because they support the MDC
and the body of Tonderai Ndira a prominent MDC youth activist was found
decomposing. More than 40 people have been killed since elections were
held on March 29. Brian let’s talk first about this issue of violence,
what would it take to end this kind of violence?
Brian Kagoro: I think that the first thing that needs to happen, the
International Community and by that I mean the African Union and SADC
must intervene. There is no option for them to fiddle whilst Zimbabwe
burns and the International Criminal courts and other authorities must
start seriously looking at and investigating these cases of organized
violence and torture.
Violet: Clearly the present political climate is not conducive for a
free and fair run off election, how can the MDC push for acceptable
conditions in which the run-off can be held?
Brian Kagoro: I think the dialogue they have been having with political
leaders within Africa and other global opinion makers is one where each
brings pressure to bear upon the Mugabe regime. Further I think that
their return to the country, mobilisation of people, inspiring people to
be able to act in their own self defence as well as for people to be
able to realise that we have a historical precedent - that in
Matebeleland in the 80's they butchered people, almost 20,000 to 30,000
people were butchered. This did not alter the vote of the people in that
region and if that precedent repeats itself, NO amount of violence – as
regrettable as it is, as brutal as it- will alter decisions already made
in the hearts and minds of Zimbabweans who are hungry for change.
Violet: Speaking about what happened in Matebeleland in the 80's, can we
say that the gruesome deaths that we are seeing now are not different
from what we saw during Gukurahundi and is this a way to force the MDC
into agreeing to some sort of Government of National Unity like Zanu PF
did to ZAPU?
Brian Kagoro: There are indications that the violence itself might be
motivated by three things. The first one is the naive impression that
the violence will alter the course of the votes in the rerun, the second
one is the desperate attempt to create conditions that force the MDC
into a weaker political position than it has been in after the March
29th poll, the third one of course as you rightly predict is that there
is an assumption amongst many that violence will persuade those who are
trying to negotiate or to reach a negotiated settlement in Zimbabwe to
abandon a course in which they look for one winner and accept that the
country is so unstable that both sides - the winning and the loosing
side in the March 29th election – need to be accommodated in government.
So it’s a strategy to arrive at power sharing or force negotiations.
Violet: So what are your views on, first of all the issue of the run-off
and secondly the issue of a negotiated settlements?
Brian Kagoro: I think the run-off is unavoidable because
constitutionally it is a natural consequence. If it is accepted that
none of the candidates got the requisite votes it naturally follows that
there must be a run off. So this is a constitutional or legal statutory
position. With respect to the issue of a negotiated settlement, if you
look at the vote difference - whether or not rigging accounts for it -
four percent is too small a margin for people not to look at options of
how to avoid bloodshed, how to avoid the expense of running elections
that might reproduce the same results as before.
Also the margin of the March 29th election -- and I know that there are
many irregularities regarding that, that have been alleged by the
opposition, by the civil society and others -- suggest that the two main
parties are evenly split. What one does with the other smaller parties –
the parties that had 8% or less -- is a matter of political
consideration. If people feel that those actors deserve inclusion in
government it will be literally at the discretion of the triumphant
party. It’s not a matter of automatic consideration.
I would urge - like most Zimbabweans - that the situation that we are in
is so dire that expending a lot more time on procedural questions, on
electoral processes might not help the plight of Zimbabweans especially
the crisis of livelihoods and now the brutal assault on peoples rights,
murder and arson and all the other ambiguities and crimes against
humanity that we see being committed.
Violet: On the issue of a negotiated settlement that you just talked
about, there are quite a few people including Simba Makoni who have said
that there is need for some sort of coalition government or a
transitional authority but wouldn’t a negotiated settlement look like
actually rewarding Mugabe’s bad behaviour?
Brian Kagoro: A negotiated settlement in the circumstances we are in
would of necessity or must of necessity not include Robert Mugabe. I
think Robert Mugabe must retire, must be allowed to retire. So a
negotiated settlement would be a settlement of political actors be it
from Zanu PF, the MDC which won the March 29th election and other
political actors who may at the discretion of the MDC be included in
such a settlement. What is the benefit of a negotiated settlement? It is
forcing everybody at least on paper to go together towards a common
objective… (Inaudible). It also allows for a quicker opening –at least
in the short term - of the democratic space. It does not always work
like magic, we saw in Kenya and we continue to see in Kenya that
negotiated settlements or inclusive governments have the potential to
collapse if the foundations upon which they are based are not strong enough.
So there will be for example, for me, a negotiated settlement in
Zimbabwe must be based on the premise that there will be no amnesty for
murderers especially those who have been engaged in murder of innocent
citizens in the last couple of days since the March 29th election;
number 2, that there will be a free, open and impartial investigation of
various factors that have led to the political and economic crisis that
our country is faced with, number 3 that there will be a commitment to
address the question of the constitution and long term structural question.
So it’s not a negotiate settlement simply to share power. It is a
negotiated settlement to move I think towards a four-point plan;
settling the immediate political crisis, setting up a constitutional
framework to address the long term structural crisis and then having a
program for economic and other recovery. In my view, and this is
something I should have said from the beginning Violet, whether or not
people negotiate now or after the election on June 27th is immaterial.
The fact of the matter is that in order to effectively run the country
MDC will need Zanu PF and other political players and Zanu PF will need
MDC and other political players. The reason why the present government
fails is its inability to be inclusive in its approach.
Violet: Brian that’s what I also wanted to find out - before I ask you
about the other issue where you say no amnesty for Mugabe and his people
- but on the issue of negotiating without Mugabe, don’t you think that’s
where the stumbling block is because not only is Mugabe the President
but he is also the power base of Zanu PF. So how can you even start to
talk about all the stakeholders talking when you are excluding this one
person who is the main person, the authority?
Brian Kagoro: I think we have to locate where the fear is within the
ruling party. The fear is not so much in Mugabe - who is in fairly
advanced in age – and who may not actually believe that he is culpable
or liable for any human rights violations. The fear is within and among
those arms of State that were used to perpetrate the violations. So if
you are talking about who one needs to negotiate with and to whom
assurances need to be made to that there will be no recriminations
necessarily - there are two positions I am putting on the table; one is
there is no need for vindictiveness. So people should not proceed from
the premise that we want to take Mugabe to prison or we want to take
“action Y” to prison.
However, people should also not proceed from the premise that we will
grant blanket amnesty because there is evidently acts that constitutes
crimes against humanity at International law, and some very genocidal
thinking that we have witnessed in the last couple of years and months
and these need to be stemmed so that they don’t recur in the future. And
I don’t think that the block is only Mugabe, I think the block is a
whole system, it’s a whole network of people who see themselves as
co-conspirators in the violation of people’s rights whether those people
are communities or activists within the opposition and civil society.
Violet: Now Brian you mentioned that there should be no amnesty but the
MDC is promising amnesty for Mugabe. Is this a realistic approach given
the fact that the MDC cannot prevent private citizens from seeking
redress from the injustices?
Brian Kagoro: No. What I said is there should be no blanket amnesty.
What needs to be in place is a legal process by which cases of deserving
amnesty or those cases deserving amnesty are ascertained. So in practice
what does this mean? It means you cannot say to people who were
responsible for murder, for gang rape, for all sorts of crimes against
humanity that it doesn’t matter what you did you are forgiven in the
spirit of political settlement, because there was no causal linkage
between the gang rape of women, the murder and dumping of Tonderai
Ndira’s body and the political objective, okay. You cannot claim that it
was done in the heat of the moment, that somebody had lost control of
their faculties and didn’t know what they were doing, and that’s one.
Number two, in a realistic political situation where you will accept
there would have been violations of rights by people sometimes on both
sides of the political divide. You look at the cases and the nature of
criminal conduct complained of and then you assess whether it deserves
it, but you can’t do it before the matter has been assessed, you can’t
do it outside the framework of establishing truth with a view to
achieving justice. So there must be that process of arriving at truth.
Violet: Should this also include the violence in the MDC and the
violence that is perpetrated by opposition supporters?
Brian Kagoro: I think when you are doing it within a constitutional
framework and in this particular incident what I'll say is that let us
assume the MDC will be in government and will be the government it
cannot forgive itself. This must be one of the cardinal demands of the
democratisation in Zimbabwe ; which is that there must be an observance
of the rule of just law, an observance of the constitution of processes
and procedures. So yes it must include even those within the main
opposition political party and even civil society.
Violet: Obviously it’s difficult to make comparisons as to who has done
worse but we know that in the reports that we are getting from Zimbabwe,
many of the people that have been killed or brutalised are those that
are coming from the opposition or perceived to be opposition supporters.
Now the issue of amnesty as a whole, is this not the sort of thing that
would hamper any talk of a negotiated settlement because those in Zanu
PF will be afraid to be sent to places like the Hague?
Brian Kagoro: I actually think that the amnesty debate should not arise
unless if either one of the parties is accepting that they have
deliberately engaged in violence, in criminal conduct, in genocidal acts
against a person because of their political affiliation. I think what
constitutes the premise of a negotiated settlement in Zimbabwe should a)
look at how to establish stability, political stability, b) look at how
constitutional rules and functions will be shared and distributed, c)
look at how to deal with long term structural issues such as the economy
making sure that the economy is back on, d) look at how to re-engage
with the rest of the region as a law abiding nation and perhaps with the
International Community and by International Community I don’t
necessarily mean auctioning the soul of our country to neo liberalism. I
mean specifically re-engaging so that we can begin to trade, to
re-industrialise in a manner that does not affect adversely the rights
of our people and their livelihoods.
Violet: So who do you think would be the best person in your view who
can bring all these especially the two political parties together to
start discussing such issues?
Brian Kagoro: There are only two men who can resolve our country’s
problems and those men are Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe and if
anyone trying to bring Zimbabwe back to normalcy would have to ignore
all the hangers-on and talk directly to those two men and hard options
must be put squarely to them. I think that people have used a very
softly, softly approach in dealing with Mugabe and the situation in
Zimbabwe has continued to deteriorate in the objective sense as well as
in the subjective sense.
Equally so, I think that there has been a lot of conciliatory approach
by the opposition and I am not sure if they continue to be even more
conciliatory than they are now - they will not be mistaken for fools or
imbeciles. But one must applaud the statesmanship that they have
attempted to show and we must also demand from Zanu PF the statesmanship
that we have not seen yet. This triumphant display, this pretence that
you are still in charge even though you have lost an election is a
splendid display of foolishness because whilst … (inaudible) with
respect to the old man, for the younger members of the ruling party it
seems they are writing themselves out of the history books of our
country and also sealing their fate in terms of ever getting involved
and being accepted by Zimbabweans as legitimate politicians.
Violet: Briefly Brian, can you give us some of these hard options that
you are talking about?
Brian Kagoro: The first hard option is already on the table; you need to
dismantle all militia groups including those that are dotted within the
police force and the army; 2) need to call off the dogs literally, issue
an order that says to people you cannot continue killing because someone
issued the order for people to kill, someone must issue the order for
people NOT to kill, okay. Investigate who is financing the orgy of
violence that we are seeing in Zimbabwe . 3) Surrender of power
according to the constitution or facilitating at least that there is
peaceful hand over of power.
Violet: But how do you force someone like Mugabe to do all these things
because he hasn’t done this in the last eight years, so why should he
Brian Kagoro: Partly because the region SADC has not put adequate
pressure. It is SADC that has not been hard. It is our friends in South
Africa , and I insist, who have often acted like Mugabe’s International
Public relations manager and they have done so to a fairly narrow and
bookish interpretation of what the ideological context is in Zimbabwe or
rather what the political context is in Zimbabwe .
I think now they have egg on their faces and realise that this has
absolutely nothing to do with the broad egalitarian project to ensure
that there is redistribution in the economy. That this is really about
pursuit of personal power and self-aggrandisement; that there is a
systemic and systematic disregard of any form of rules and form of
consensus in decision making and in governance in Zimbabwe. So it’s
incumbent upon the South Africans to take decisive action to send a
clear message. I think soft diplomacy died, was buried and it’s clear
now that you need new diplomacy that is effective so one is not
suggesting megaphone diplomacy but one is suggesting feasibly effective
Violet: Now Brain, speaking about South Africa , Zimbabweans are not
only being hounded down and threatened in Zimbabwe but also next door.
What do you make of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa ?
Brian Kagoro: No, no, no, no if you call them xenophobic attacks you
minimise what they are. These are genocidal attacks, genocidal attacks
that some of us believe may be financed by unknown elements or
instigated by unknown elements. These are crimes against humanity that
the International Criminal Court must investigate; they are not purely
linked to the economically disadvantaged people in the slums. These are
purely organised genocidal attacks against people of Mozambican,
Zimbabwean, Malaiwan, Nigerian, Somali, Kenyan origin.
People who hosted kindly and generously South Africans in the process
that they were fighting for their liberation. If the concern were about
the economy - we have not seen any attacks against Whites; we have not
seen attacks against Asians who dominate the South African economy, so
one cannot excuse it as being linked just to livelihood. There must be a
more sinister agenda that we need to investigate. But it is sad for
South Africa , this is the same country that was preaching African
renaissance and it has gone back to the dark ages.
Violet: That’s what I wanted to find out about the root cause of the
attacks and is the so called “Rainbow Nation” and its very concept failing?
Brian Kagoro: Well firstly this is Kaffir Apartheid, and I am sorry to
use the term "Kaffir", but to have black people exercise the same amount
of savagery that we have seen exercised against them by the apartheid
state is regrettable. You have black people who for over 300 years were
victims of discrimination on the basis of their identity becoming the
main perpetrators of identity-based-discrimination is regrettable. So
this return of apartheid in a black face is something that has caused
South Africa - in the eyes of those of us who consider ourselves
progressive Pan Africanists - to lose its moral authority to speak on
behalf of Africa , to lose its moral authority to pontificate about an
I think we need to revisit the idea of a Rainbow Nation; is it a Rainbow
only for South African-Africans and Whites and Europeans and Americans
that they happily welcome each day? Is it a Rainbow that has no colour
black, meaning for the rest of black Africa? So it’s identity politics,
identity crisis that we are seeing. It is genocidal attacks especially
against Zimbabweans and other African nationalities. It is further
confirmation that Apartheid never died.
Violet: I am afraid Brian I have run out of time but thank you very much.
Brian Kagoro : You are welcome.
Comments and feedback can be sent to violet at swradioafrica.com
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