Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

The crackdown has been both measured and necessary

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Last night when I was rummaging through my bathroom cupboard looking for a Maternity Sanitary Pad I was mulling Stephen Gowans recent article Zimbabwe’s Lonely Fight for Justice. And the word that stuck in my mind was “insulting”.

Years ago, whilst the so-called first world was inventing all sorts of groovy new sanitary pads (with wings, extra absorbency, invisibility etc) here in Zimbabwe I’d specifically trawl supermarket shelves looking for our locally made maternity sanitary pads. They were soft and chunky, guaranteed to keep you safe from overnight blood spills even if the bulk between your legs meant you walked like a sumo wrestler. But over the years our maternity sanitary pads have been getting skinnier and thinner. Just like our country where hyperinflation and unemployment have meant that many people are on the the edge of starvation.

These days I have to pull maternity sanitary pads from side to side in an effort to fluff out the cotton wool. Trouble is when I do this holes appear . . . a bit like the dangerous holes in Stephen’s argument.

Writing such a one-sided piece where he comes across looking like a member of Mugabe’s fan club diminishes the necessary objectivity which is needed to be taken seriously. Let’s have a look at some of what Stephen doesn’t comment on:

- the devastating Operation Murambatsvina
- Gukuruhundi and the killing on thousands in Matabeleland
- the re-colonisation of Zimbabwe since Mugabe came to power
- the appalling drop in the life expectancy of Zimbabweans
- the mass exodus of Zimbabweans
- hyperinflation, unemployment and price controls

And there’s lots more of course.

Stephen makes absolutely no attempt to examine Mugabe and Zanu PF’s role in the demise of Zimbabwe. Rather he blames everything on scary imperialist forces, sanctions and an inauthentic opposition. Conveniently simplistic.

I’m not saying that the opposition and the donor community shouldn’t be criticised. Truth be told I have my issues with the opposition in Zimbabwe – I’m not a member of anyone’s fan club. I stand for the ordinary Zimbabwean who, under the Mugabe government, cannot get a job, adequate medical care, or feed themselves and is constantly under the threat of state violence, often for simply having a different point of view.

Particularly distasteful was part of Stephen’s conclusion where he says

Some people might deplore the methods used, but considering the actions and objectives of the opposition – and what’s at stake – the crackdown has been both measured and necessary.

This made another phrase come to mind – Fucking Foreigner. I wonder when last Stephen left Ottawa and actually visited and spoke with the people of the countries that he analyses?

Come over here Stephen and chat with ordinary folk – women who can’t buy menstrual protection, mothers who can’t feed their children, and opposition activists who have their arms broken.

Speak with Zanu PF supporters as well and you’ll find that they too are angry with Mugabe, the once respected liberation hero.

2 comments to “The crackdown has been both measured and necessary”

  1. Comment by Patrick Smith:

    Good afternoon,
    I’m a reporter on the British journalism magazine Press Gazette and an avid reader of this blog. If possible I’d like to write a story about how you use the blog to highlight issues affecting ordinary people in Zimbabwe.
    You also seem quite critical of the foreign media, and I’d be interested to find out your views on how newspapers and broadcastes in Britain are covering Mugabe’s regime and the opposition to it.
    If you would liek to speak to me, anonymously if preferred, my number is 44(0)275492574 or my email is psmith@pressgazette.co.uk.

  2. Comment by Kubatana.net speaks out from Zimbabwe » Blog Archive » Surveillance and scepticism:

    [...] It’s a thorough, careful and-aside from the petrol bomb side of things-accurate feeling report. The activities, recounted in excruciating detail, are clearly intended to portray “the opposition” as an organised, violent, ruthless force aimed at destabilising the government. It fits snugly into the government’s own propaganda strategy. It’s easy to imagine how they’ll roll it out at regional summits or in conversations with the likes of South African President Thabo Mbeki. It’s written to illustrate that the Mugabe government is under threat, and that any restrictions on civil liberties, human rights or freedom of movement are “measured and necessary”-even if such measures include beating activists, arresting them and holding them indefinitely. [...]