Trial Of MDC-Tsvangirai MP Starts, Brigadier-General Testifies Against Him
Gideon Gono and Robert "The Solution" Mugabe inspect some of the equipment on display at the height of Gono's farm mechanisation programme. He also sourced seed maize and fertiliser to give to farmers in order to encourage productivity, justifying the move by saying even the colonial regime gave assistance to white farmers after World War 2. It is these inputs that have now put a large number of MDC-T MPs in court.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 20 August 2009
The trial of MDC-Tsvangirai Member of Parliament for Bikita East, Edmore Marima opened yesterday at the Harare Magistrates' Court.
Brigadier-General Nyikayaramba (which means "the country says no") testified against the legislator who faces a lengthy prison sentence like the one handed down to another MDC-T MP, Ernest Mudavanhu of Zaka East in Masvingo Pronvince, who was sentenced last month to two years in prison for the same offence. He automatically lost his seat as a result.
The Brigadier General testified that Marima "misrepresented" to officials of the "national food security agency" (called Operation Maguta, army-operated), that he wanted a tonne of maize seed and 2o tonnes of fertiliser for his personal use.
An "audit" later revealed that the MP, after receiving the consignment, only used 100kg from the one tonne of maize seed and 500kg from the 20 tonnes of fertiliser.
Now, in order to fully understand the allegations of persecution that are being brought up by the MDC-T with regards to these trials, it is important to note that earlier this year, a man was also arrested for the same offence and implicated Defence Minister and heir apparent in ZANU PF, Emmerson Mnangagwa. The accused said he had been ordered to collect maize (not seed, but actual maize) from the Grain Marketing Depot in Harare by Mnangagwa.
The courts summoned the Defence Minister to give evidence but he simply ignored this "request" from the court. The man was released after that. But he insisted that the maize he had been asked to deliver to the Minister was to be given out to supporters of ZANU PF in the Minister's constituency, where he was campaigning during the March elections last year.
Now, the MDC-T MPs, almost to a man, also distributed some of the inputs to their constituents. This was the defence put forward by the Zaka East MP Mudavanhu.
The court said it noted this fact but that this was still corruption all the same and the MP had to be made an example of.
Meantime, it is well-known fact that ZANU PF routinely withdrew maize from GMB to give to rural voters in an effort to buy their votes and loyalties. This is apparently fine because none of them has been tried yet.
Yes, a couple of ZANU PF MPs were also arrested at the same time as the MDC-T legislators who are currently facing trial, but it remains to be seen whether they will also be convicted.
Anyone in the mood for taking bets on this? I say no conviction will come to ZANU PF MPs and if they do, they will all be pardoned quietly by Mugabe.
As the government prosecutes (persecutes) these MPs, there are certain criminals we know of, such as the Ministers in Mugabe's government who sold all our strategic maize reserves to Zambia a few years back, leaving country begging for maize and importing same. They are still in government and occupy high posts in ZANU PF. They got away scot-free.
Mugabe and ZANU PF are simply angry at the MDC-T MPs for using ZANU PF tactics to buy votes in rural areas and in their constituencies.
This is why Manicaland is over-represented in the ranks of the MPs on trial. Mugabe lost that province, with all but one seat going to the MDC-T. He believes that it was the use of these inputs that swung the vote in favour of the MDC-T in the area.
This is payback, basically, but the toekn arrest of ZANU PF MPs is a smokescreen designed to throw the world off the scent. We know that there is virtually no ZANU PF MP who did not benefit from the inputs scheme for onward transmission to their supporters.
Still, the powerlessness of the MDC-T means that they can do nothing about any of this, despite the fact that they share the Ministry of Home Affairs (in charge of the police) with ZANU PF.
The MDC-T has now been reduced to begging for "pardons" for these MPs, pleas which are falling on deaf ears, because Mugabe is intent on causing by-elections in Manicaland in order to get back his majority in parliament. Some of the seats in that province are held by very slim margins indeed.
The trial continues and the verdict will be swift.